Friday, January 31, 2014

For Oatmeal and Chocolate Chip lovers :)

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Lots of emails have come in asking for my recipe for Oatmeal Chocolate Chip cookies…

I’ve tried many recipes over my lifetime – and I have to say that these are the best ever.

I use old fashioned rolled oats ((Not quick oats))  and real butter.

The dough is very firm, and I chill it before scooping it out by rounded tablespoonfuls onto the cookie sheets.

I find it is best to NOT over bake them ---10 minutes is sufficient for my oven at the cabin, let them set a while when removing from oven to let them cool and firm up a bit before transferring to a wire rack.


1-1/2 cups packed brown sugar
1 cup butter, softened at room temperature
1 tsp vanilla
1 egg
2 cups Old Fashioned rolled oats ((May also use gluten free))
1-1/2 cups unbleached flour ((May also use gluten free))
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips ((6 oz))
1 cup chopped walnuts ((optional))

((And yes, you can omit the chocolate chips and substitute raisins or craisins...wonderful!))

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Heat oven to 350°F. In large bowl, mix brown sugar and butter until blended.  I admit to using an old hand held mixer, no counter space for a big kitchenaid at my house!

Mix in vanilla and egg until light and fluffy. Add in oats, flour, baking soda and salt; stir in chocolate chips and nuts.

Drop dough by rounded tablespoonfuls about 2 inches apart.

Bake 10 to 12 minutes or until lightly golden brown.  Cool slightly.  Remove from cookie sheet to wire rack.

Of course, these are BEST when still warm and melty from the oven….but even 24 hours later, they are still chewy and oh so good!

Shown here on my Great Grannie’s china, chai tea with a spot of cream on the side.

The boys just texted – they are on their way back to the cabin from their day of snowboarding, exhilarated, happily tired, and HUNGRY!

There are sweet potatoes baking in the oven. 

We grill a lot at the cabin ---and since I bought a huge package of pork chops last time on sale, and froze half, we are having the remainder tonight.  Simple fare – I’ll do a salad and a steamed veggie on the side and we will call it good.

After dinner the boys will head back down the mountain.

There has not been as much sewing today ----it was busy having two gas fireplaces installed.  When the cabin was quiet once more, I slunk off for a much needed nap.

PDFs of the pages of my new book started coming in this afternoon as well, and I have spent time with those, SO EXCITED, even though I know this is SUPPOSED To be a WEEK OFF for me….

It’s just not possible to leave it.  I’ve tried to leave this time just for family, but things keep creeping in.  Nevertheless – I’m TRYING and have sent “back in touch Monday” emails to quite a few people.

It can wait until then.

It’s the weekend!

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Breakfast with the Boys!

Basking in normalcy over here…..

This is for those who leave comments of “Don’t you ever stop?”  “Do you ever sleep?”  “Can’t you give it a REST!?”

Yes.  Yes I do!  And very well thank you!

Maybe they were feeling like my go go go pace was making them look bad ----but there are times like this 10 days home where it is just nice to be NORMAL.

And I love getting to just play MOM.

Jason and his buddies Alex and Dominic arrived last night, instantly filling the cabin with young ((although still very grown up!)) voices and filling us in on what is going on in their lives.  It’s exciting to be in your late 20s and early 30s.  And I really like Jason’s friends.  He has chosen well!

We chatted while burgers went on the grill – you know men arrive hungry.

We left them down in the family room watching tv when it was bedtime ----

I awoke to the aroma of coffee and man-chatter as they dressed and packed the van for their trip up to Beech Mountain, which has better and longer snowboarding runs than Sugar –and it’s a bit more affordable – these are hard working guys on a budget.

I crawled out of bed, and took my place in the kitchen!

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Sadie patiently waits for any “fall out” from breakfast!

Yes, I admit it..I’m a sneaky photographer, most of the time they don’t even know I’m at it….I love candids!

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Hi guys!!

Eggs on the griddle, smell of bacon in the air!  Gotta feed these guys some decent protein, they are going to need it today!

They will be back for dinner tonight, and then head back down to Columbia, SC after dinner as all have to work tomorrow.  They are out the door and gone…..that’s one job done for the day.

Next up on the agenda is waiting for the gas company to come hook up the gas fireplace insert.  I’ve had emails asking where we found ours, and it is from Northern Tool, click HERE for more info.

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This is the model we chose, and it fits right into the fireplace opening. 

It has a blower fan on it to distribute the heat, and I love how rustic it looks in there, like it was meant to be there.

We are replacing the wood stove down in the basement with the same gas one shown here as well….the mess, the uncontrollable heat due to no thermostat, having to buy wood, or buy pellets….just not user friendly when we are only here part time.  The cabin is already hooked to gas, so it’s a no brainer to switch to these, and yes, they do have temperature control!

I’ll be busy staying out of the workers way as they take care of business.

It will be a good time to be back at the kitchen breakfast bar trimming away on bonus triangles…

Happy FRIDAY!!

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Thursday, January 30, 2014

Lorinda & The Kitties….

 Who can resist cat photos?

I certainly can’t!

And when Lorinda’s email came with photos of her quilt, I zoomed right to the photo that had these gorgeous cats inspecting her quiltwork!

She writes:

Just wanted to tell you thank you for your great patterns and willingness to teach and share.  My oldest daughter sewed this quilt from clothes that she had worn growing up.  The dark blue is from grandpa.  The lavender is from a maternity top that I had worn.  The borders are leftovers from a dress I had sewn for her when she was 8 yrs old. 
Lots of memories sewn tightly together in this quilt.  She left for college before I could get it quilted but I finished it this weekend.  It just needs the binding but I was so excited, I wanted to share it with you.
Lorinda’s Quilt!
Love the sunshine from the window!!
I guess I should say that I love to sew  and DD has fought against sewing for a good part of her growing up, so when she asked me to help her to find an easy quilt pattern for her to do, I was excited beyond words but tried to be cool and took her straight to your blog.  She chose Strip Twist. 
I helped her sort her fabrics and showed her how to use the rotary cutter/ruler and how to sew a 1/4" seam.  She printed out your instructions and went to work.  It's not perfect by any means but first steps never are and love means that it doesn't matter.  I wanted to thank you for sharing so much with us.  I appreciate all that you do.
Here is the front, I took it when we finally had some sun shine, still too cold to go outside though.  The sun light makes it seem a little washed out than it is.  The second is when I took it out of the machine to see where I needed to sew next and the cats jumped right up and gave their approval.
Lorinda has blogged about her quilt HERE.

You can find the free pattern to make your own Strip Twist quilt under the free patterns tab at the top of the blog HERE.
Things are quiet at the cabin, but it should get busy in the next couple of hours – the guys are on their way!
I’ve spent most of the day at the machine..making a mess in the scraps and piling up more Maverick Stars blocks.
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What a lovely delicious mess!
Boxes and bins and baggies of crumbs.  Sorting pieces, pressing, stitching….what a beautiful mess I’m in!  I’ve sewn 20 6” blocks today…I’ve got 20 more to go.  But for now I’m done down there.  Time to switch gears for the evening.
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My view from the van’s passenger seat!
The roads are still snow-covered ---but the sun was out in full force, with temps ranging between 25f and 30f as we ran to town for errands.  Along with food for hungry men, I came home with one fatigue mat for in front of the cutting table, and a double roll of Nexcare tape for making my rulers NON SLIP!
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One roll for here, one for at home!
You will find the Nexcare tape in the bandage section of your local drug or big store like Walmart, where I got it.  The clear waffle weave is easy to read lines through, and it works to keep the ruler from slipping.  I blogged more about it HERE.  

I have put the tape on BOTH sides of the ruler since I use both sides for cutting pairs of triangles.
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Sunset finished with a beautiful golden glow off the west side of the upper deck.
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Good night, mountains!  It’s been a lovely day of staying inside and sewing away--
Burgers will go on the grill as soon as Jason and his buddies arrive ---baked beans are simmering and I’m frying up the rest of last night’s left over baked potatoes for cottage fries –Hungry boys will need a good hot meal!
Oatmeal Chocolate Chip cookies will spoil them rotten for dessert ---
I’m looking forward to a cabin full of man-chatter ----do you think I can interest any of them into a game of Farkle?
I doubt it – there is a dart board more to their liking downstairs…
Have a great evening, everyone!

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Of Star Blocks and Triangles….Yes MORE Triangles!

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I didn’t spend ALL day trimming triangles…

I worked on completing Maverick Stars blocks turned into Wonky Wishes blocks ---

Until I had enough of a stack that I could start laying them out.

I’m really liking these…but the setting of them is still stumping me just a bit.  I didn’t want to do “ordinary” you know?  I want something wowser for them, but maybe wowser will happen all by itself when I put them together?

I know the stars kind of disappear – it’s a very blendy low contrast block, but I like that effect.  I love the combination of modern fabrics mixed with old traditional ones and novelties, and a sprinkling of recycled plaids.

This quilt was “continued” as another way to dig into that over burgeoning 2-1/2” squares drawer ---

2-1/2” units are not my favorite size.  I generally like my piecing smaller and tend to use the 2” squares more ---so these have grown and grown and grown as I continued to cut them ((Let this be a lesson!!  Only store what you are going to use!)) and I have two projects running to use them up.  This one…and the Split 9-Patch Leader & Ender Challenge.  ((How are you coming on that one?!?!))

Here are 20 blocks laid out on my floor:

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I like the light  areas of carpet showing between the blocks..

I think a light sashing of some sort….will bring the stars out more the way the carpet has.

It’s not very big….and a little voice is nagging at me that this will not cover either of my sons who are 6'3" and 6'4" respectively…and I need to make it one row longer and one row wider.  So I still have 10 blocks to go…that’s 40 more stars. 

40 more stars will use up 360 more 2-1/2” squares.  So yes, I’ll keep sewing on this one a while longer, watching the 2-1/2" squares drawer recede a bit farther while the sashing idea percolates.

On the Trimming of the Triangles front…

I got tired of standing at the cutting table in the basement.  The floor down in the sewing nook is tile.  Not only is tile HARD on the feet-- even with shoes on, it’s DANG COLD as well!

The basement is on a concrete slab, and with it being under 20 f degrees for most of the day, even though the air in the basement is warm, the FLOOR is freezing, radiating right up through the bottom of my shoes to my poor chilly feet.

We will be making a trip to town today and on the list is a fatigue mat for in front of the cutting table.

Still,  standing and cutting for hours on end is tiring, and after the Hubster had gone to bed, I moved my cutting station to the little kitchen breakfast bar:

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That’s my comfy seat cushion on the chair!

Baggies of triangles, a good sharp rotary blade, and Netflix on my Toshiba tablet = one happy girl!

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I finished Season 5 of Damages, and emptied the little lunch box!

I am in no way done in the triangle department.

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These are from 2 other quilts…the purple ones on the left are from Lazy Sunday.  The green/brown and other batik ones on the right are from Texas Tumbleweeds, both of which are making an appearance in the next book due out SOON, so very SOON now….and they have sat untamed in baggies for way too long. 

((And is anyone else wondering what they would do without gallon sized zip-lock bags for their quilting parts?! I can’t live without them!))

It’s a small goal to get these tamed, trimmed and pressed so they are ready for another project to snap them up.

It’s mindless work.

But you know what? With as busy of a schedule I’ve been keeping – doing something so simple that does not have a deadline feels like a luxury.

The gift of having a day free to do nothing but watch movies and trim triangles?  BLISS!

For info on saving bonus triangles in useable sizes click HERE.

If you have baggies of untamed triangles and want a great way to trim them, click HERE.

Jason and his buddies will be arriving late this evening.  There will be freshly baked cookies waiting for them.  ((It’s a mom thing, I know!))

They will get a good night’s sleep and I’ll feed them a good big breakfast and they will be off to Sugar for snow-boarding tomorrow which should be fantastic with the newly fallen snow.
After snow boarding they have to head right back to South Carolina as all have to work on Saturday, but it will be great having them here for one night.

For those working toward our next Mystery Link-Up – it’s getting closer!  SUNDAY is the day, not Monday.  We are celebrating Groundhog’s Day with a link up post.  I’ll leave it up for a week, so you can add your link anytime until Saturday, Feb 8th at 11:55pm EST.

I’m looking forward to all that you have to share!

Have a great Thursday, everyone ---

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Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Taming of the Triangles!

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Boy do those bags hold A LOT!

I have been sorting and trimming triangles all afternoon!

There were some in a bag marked 2.5” – but they WEREN’T 2.5. 

They were cut right, but the seam on them was just too wide, and they were somewhere between 2 1/4” and 2 3/8” ---

It’s all about getting that 1/4” a bit scanter than you think because where we fold the fabric to press to the dark comes from OFF the other side of the thread….What we think of as the 1/4” seam line….really needs to be where the FOLD LINE is…so the stitching is just shy of that.

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Cut right, but sewn with too wide of a seam.

The only thing I can do to save this one is to trim it down to the next usable size…2”

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The stitching is in white.

Can you see that the stitching falls above the marked seam line on the ruler?  You might have to look close to see it.  This shows that the seam allowance is too wide and will not give the right result.

Where the stitching needs to fall is BELOW the marked seam line on the ruler, so the seam line becomes the FOLD line where we press over to the dark so our triangle squares will be the size the need to be.

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Lining up with the Easy Angle Ruler to trim to the next size down!

I have placed the black 1/4” dotted line just above the stitching on the diagonal..and slid the 2” line to the top of the unit….This way the square will open where it needs to.

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One cut!

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Perfect 2” square! 

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This little lunch box came packed with already sewn bonus triangles ready to be trimmed.

But there must be 1,000 in here!

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I’ve been watching “Damages” season 5 on Netflix and trimming, trimming trimming.

After this morning’s post a comment was made that it takes just as much time to trim them down the road as it would to trim them as I go so it really wouldn’t matter.  Maybe so…..but to me saving baggies ((or even cute little lunch boxes)) of untrimmed triangles is like letting the dirty dishes pile up for a year before you decide it’s time to wash them.  Are you going to really WANT to tackle that pile after a year? I don’t think so….

Having these ready is going to be SO NICE for when the right project comes along….and I’ve got some ideas already!

But I’ve got to get to the bottom of the lunch box first…..

Steaks are on the grill, the baked potatoes are nearly done, and salads have been made.

A quiet night is planned at the cabin, where the temps never got above 25 today.

Maybe things will thaw tomorrow --- or maybe they won’t.  It doesn’t matter, I’m happy where I am!

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Cold and Beautiful!

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This was the view this morning as I bundled up to take Sadie out for her much needed morning walk--

I couldn't get her to go out last night before bed – she was having NONE of it!  So out into the 13 degree morning light we went, my feet crunching on the newly fallen snow, and Sadie’s nose down into the white stuff, sniffing for the right place to get it done…

That was the shortest morning walk ever, and she knew as soon as she had taken care of business to high-tail it back to the cabin door to get in out of the cold!

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Cabin in morning light, sun just coming up on the left ---

It might not look steep –but there is ice under the snow which was what caused us much grief last night trying to get up the mountain to the cabin.  I’ve heard it all evening last night from people in Northern areas where road equipment is readily available and weather like this is often “Nothing” to them. Chains, really? YES, REALLY!

Here --- there is not equipment to handle the way out country roads, and if you don’t have 4-wheel drive, it’s tough to get up the roads when they turn icy.

People laughed at our need for chains….but without chains we would not have been able to make it up the mountain – there were several vehicles already off to the sides, in ditches – because they tried without chains, even 4-wheel drive trucks didn’t make it!

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Love the morning light!

If we were on flat lands, there would have been no problem, but tires alone could not find traction on iced over slick and steep country back roads.

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This is the fire place insert ready to be hooked up tomorrow!  I can't wait to feel the warm glow, and curl up to read a book in the much unused living room.

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Lights in the sewing nook area are AWESOME!

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Bonus triangles in baggies!

I cleared out the under the cupboard for stashed back bonus triangles and I couldn't believe what I found!  These are left from several quilts, all in the same size – the bonus of doing a sew & flip corner with a 2.5” square. 

I want to do something with these – I’m not sure what yet – but I have learned something.  Press and de-dog-ear AS YOU MAKE THEM!

DO NOT just store them in baggies for later – because this is what happens…years down the road I’m still looking at these and all the work it will take to get them pressed, squared and de dog eared and I’m daunted at the task ahead of me. 

At least the ones in the purple bag in the front are ones where I used the triangle-buddy method found in my Bonus Triangle Tutorial to have them come out the right size:

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2” with dog ears removed!

I will never ever just toss these in a bag again.  I want them useable.  They need to be stored in the right size, pressed and de-dog-eared and ready to be sewn into something.  

It's worth it to just do it right as you make them --so the job is not saved for later. ((Which we know never comes!))

I plan to spend the day sewing away!

However you spend your Wednesday, I hope it’s a good one!

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Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Snow Bound!

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This was the road as I traveled west on highway 421 away from Winston Salem towards Wilkesboro.

Yes, I was a bit worried…I don’t like traveling with this stuff going on, but I needed to get up to the cabin and the only way to go was to keep going.

I was met in Wilkesboro by the Hubster and his brother Bruce, driving the pick up truck, with the dog along for the ride.

It seems that the turn off up to Buck Mountain was impassable and maintenance folks were busy sanding ----Dave & Bruce came to meet me so one of THEM could drive the van with me, and the other could drive the pick up and perhaps ALL of us  would soon make it up to the warmth and comfort of our cabin.

UP the hill? Are you KIDDING?

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The road off the highway is completely snow packed!

The snow is still coming down at a good pace and shows no sign of stopping.  By the time we reached the hill UP the mountain, we could see there was no going up ---the sanding was still going on, and other cars had pulled off the road either to wait it out, or someone else came down to pick them up and carrying them back home…..leaving the cars that couldn’t make it up the hill parked for the night.

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Still sanding!

We tried going up in the van….and that was a NO GO, and we slid back down and had to park off to the side.

A plan was hatched……run back to Wilkesboro ((about a 15 minute drive)) for chains for the pickup –we could leave Shamu parked at the bottom of the hill, just off load all of my stuff into the back of the pick up and we would be fine…

And back to town we went.

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The Blue Ridge mountains are so beautiful in the snow!

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At this point it is also only about 19 degrees, darkness is starting to fall and the wind is blowing icy crystals every which way.

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Chains were purchased!

((And restrooms were available, thank GOODNESS!))

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Chains were attached!

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And Sadie watched on!

The ride up the mountain was hair raising.  We slipped, we slid, we spun and I held my breath and white knuckled Sadie until we reached the road that leads to the cabin, and warmth and safety!

There is a pot of potato soup on the stove.

There is cornbread in the oven.

I am going NOWHERE!!

Shamu may stay parked at the bottom of the mountain until the roads thaw, whenever that may be.

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It may snow all night!

But I’m here.  And I’ve got quilts to attend to ----

As soon as dinner is complete, leaving us all with warm full bellies and a relaxing evening ahead!

Much love from a snow covered Buck Mountain,

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It’s Snowing at the Cabin!

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 It's just barely started, but it is supposed to continue.
I’m headed here today!

There is a lot of hustle and bustle happening up at our little place.

On Sunday, The Hubster’s brother Bruce arrived in Charlotte, coming to spend a couple of days up at the cabin doing 4-wheeler guy stuff. 

I knew that I had a lot of catching up here at home to do before I could come up, but I’ll be ready by noon today –and I’ll stay through the weekend.

Relaxing?  THINK AGAIN!

Wednesday morning, Bruce gets dropped back to the airport in Charlotte, and DH heads from there to Hickory where he has meetings for the day, returning to Quilt Villa in the evening.  I'll stay and sew with Sadie at my side.

THURSDAY morning, weather permitting…I have plans to head down to Gastonia to meet up with some friends for a Mary-Jo’s fix!  And I'll head right back up to the cabin when we are done.

Jason and a couple of his buds are coming up on Thursday Eve to stay at the cabin ---they are going snowboarding up at Sugar Mountain…there will be mouths to feed!  I will happily be playing the role of chief cook and bottle washer.

The gas company is coming on Friday to hook up the gas fireplaces ---

When I get to the cabin this afternoon, a birthday gift is waiting for me…..

What does a quilter who sews in a dark basement need more than anything?


The electrical guys came yesterday to install the fluorescent lights in the drop ceiling of the basement family room and my sewing nook.

Take a look!

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I had been sewing with those light poles you see still up against the design wall.  And when that wasn’t enough light, I used a garage type halogen light to really light the place up..but this is SO MUCH BETTER!

The door you see open goes to the storage room, the furnace, hot water heater and other “man tool” stuff is in there.  There was not a switch to the light in that room either, you had to work the lights by a switch on a surge strip….now THAT is fixed.

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Directly opposite the sewing nook

Can you tell where the previous owners hung their photos? LOL!  It’s just a knotty pine paneling and we’d like to change that out for the same split log interior siding that is upstairs at some point…but for now, this works.  Maybe I’ll hang a quilt there?  But see the two lights?  There was a dropped light fixture at the one closest to the door…and it’s not that high of a ceiling anyway, so that thing was hanging down RIGHT THERE all the time…this is better.

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Men At Work!

More lights are going in here…we will leave the fan, but remove the light fixture…this is my favorite place to curl up with hand stitching.

I started unpacking my suitcase last night…and since so many have asked….”SHOW us what you got at A & E!!” I’m almost embarrassed to say it isn't much!

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I am always looking for fun ones to use as backgrounds, and these I couldn't resist.  I had to keep the purchases small though, my suitcase was already full, and quilt luggage was at weight limits.  I showed MUCH restraint, don’t you think?

Speaking of neutrals – I wrote more about what I like to use and how I discern what is what HERE.  Take a read!  I hope it helps you look at your fabric stash a bit differently.

And with that…I’m off to unpack, so I can repack, I'm cabin bound!

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