Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Senior Art Parties

It seemed such a good idea at the time... to bring arts and crafts to little old ladies at local assisted living centers. So many of their activities and events are passive -- watching a play, a ballgame, sitting on a bus for a city tour. Yawn... With arts and crafts they have to engage their brains and their hands... they have to interact... "Can you pass the scissors? Is this the right glue? What are we doing?"

Sometimes they struggle...

Sometimes they whine...

Sometimes they concentrate really hard that when their name is called really loud, even if they have their hearing aid in, they don't hear you.

And when they are all done, despite the struggling and grumbling... they are amazed at what they have done. Sometimes I am pretty amazed at what we have done too.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Power Tool Tuesday!!!!!!!

More than Merely a Drill

What can be said about a simple drill.... quite a lot really. Drills aren't just for drilling anymore -- we use them as screwguns and as sanding drums, they are required to drill pilot holes. Drills come in various battery powered sizes and lots of electric varieties.

The goal, for our purposes, is to focus on what we are most likely to need and use.

Pictured here are a 1/3 horsepower electric drill, a 12 volt battery powered drill and an 18 volt battery operated drill:

The most powerful is the electric -- but, being tethered to a cord, it is also the most unweildy. On the other end of the spectrum is the light-weight 12 volt drill, center, which doesn't hold a charge for very long and doesn't have the power for more than very light tasks of drilling an occassional hole -- to hang a picture or screwing together a piece of flat pack furniture. The 18V, right, is the workhorse. It has almost the power of the 1/3 horsepower eletric drill, but is self contained and can go anywhere. Up ladders, across the house, up on the roof or under the sink. Take note, that the 18V battery is twice the size of the 12V battery. It is somewhat heavier than the 12V, but not prohibitively so.

Ninety percent of the work I do, building furniture, outdoor structures and household projects, I use the 18V. (There is now a 24V available -- I haven't felt the need for a more powerful drill and have not found myself hankering for bigger-better-more. The 24V is heavier and perhaps better for professional construction situations. For my uses, the 18V is practically perfect in every way. )

A drill is the core tool of home-use power tools. It can be used to drill pilot holes to make furniture assembly easier, to install wall mollies for hanging large pictures and shelves. It can also drill holes for bird houses, dowel rods or even in china. It can be used as a screw gun, to drive screws into decks, roofing materials or subfloors. It can run a drum sander. Of all the power tools I use, the drill was my first power tool and the one I use most frequently.

Let's look at the range of bits and what they do:

a) Drills range in size from teeny-tiny to GREAT BIG -- the only limit is the size of the drill insert. Notice the shaft of the larger bit is stepped down. Size matters.

b) Types of bits differ based on the type of work they are expected to do. The gold-toned bit is Titanium which is extremely hard -- it holds a sharp edge and is less likely to break. (Of the smaller bits I am endlessly breaking them, no matter what they are made of.) Because they hold a sharp edge so well, titanium shows a difference in quality when drilling through fine hardwoods or even soft woods -- they will be less tear out and shredding. The black bit is high speed steel, not so strong as titanium, but for average occassional use it does everything you will need it to do, which is drill a hole. The silver one is an average cheap steel bit which is fine for occasional use.

c) Paddle bits or Spade bits -- these drill larger holes that we use to run eletric wires through studs or to drill a hole for a bird house. Spade bits range in size from 1/3 of an inch to 2 inches. These can also be used to make a hole for a dowel rod that we would use as a pot rack or a towel bar, curtain rod -- lots of household uses

d) Forstner bits drill a perfectly flat bottomed hole. Let's say you are making a paper towel stand -- the kind that holds the roll of paper towels on end. The dowel needs to be inserted into a wooded base in such a way that the dowel is flush inside the connection. A regular bit will make a tapered hole, which won't provide the depth or adhesion needed. A forstener bit will drill to the required depth with a perfectly flat hole providing perfect adhesion for the dowel.


Saturday, May 26, 2007

Sweet Little Rose o'Mine

It occurs to me that I learned about growing roses exactly the way I learn most things -- I fell face forward into them and got stuck a few times. *sigh* Sometimes things just don't come easily... junior high, boys, high heels, mothers-in-law... Roses fall into that category -- things that might be nice, once you wend your way through the tricky bits.

I'd always heard roses are hard to grow -- that there are powders and feeding schedules. I'd heard there is a precise and singular pruning method. I'd heard about aphids and powdery mildew and ... and... oh, the New Dawn Roses are divine... but what sold me was not their delicate pink color, although it is lovely. And it wasn't the tightly packed come-hither blossoms, which beckon me nearer and nearer. "Come closer," they say. "Aren't we lovely -- aren't we a thing out of a faerie tale? Don't you think we are perfect?"

No, not the color, nor the shape, which is nicer than nice... what it was was ...the scent... the scent of a New Dawn Rose is as delicate as a whisper. As I pass by it makes me turn my head, an aromatic double-take, did I smell that? Am I sure? Another whiff.... ahhhhhhhhhhhhh

And so, despite the thorns and the scary care tactics and a frightful article on pruning... I followed my nose, bought this rose anyway and ... and... it grew. And blossomed. It cascades over a fence and looks like something Alice might encounter in Wonderland... it smells like the blush of First Love ... I have never fed, pruned or powdered it (unless you count my tossing an over-ripe banana at it's feet as feeding) and it reminds me that even when I am scared... Do It Anyway -- the worst that can happen is Something Wonderful! Good advice, coming from a Rose. Go out and do something scary.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

It's All About the Clothes

There are baby clothes and there are Baby Clothes... and I like to think every woman alive knows the difference. If the baby is merely generic -- the brand new baby of your boss's assistant's sister and you've somehow been squeezed onto the Baby Shower Guest List then what you do is drop by a store, any store, on the way to the shower and pick up something. You hope the same store sells those handy gift bags. Had you thought about it, which you didn't, you'd have dug a bag out of the back of a closet.

But if the baby is SPECIAL -- the long awaited infant of your best friend, dearest neighbor or a close co-worker who has saved your bacon a time or two -- then you do one of two things... you go to the best store in town select the most exquisite scrumptious enchanting baby outfit you have ever seen in your entire life, take out a loan and buy it. Or you sew.

I'm not sure sewing for baby holds it's own against a mortgaged romper from Too Suite Enfant Emporium... but it should. Because when I sew for baby, it is a Big Freakin' Deal. There is the selecting of the pattern, the Deciding on Fabric... fabric alone is an event for which I'd like to see gold medal standards. The fabric can not be too tough or too delicate. It can not be infused with fire retardant, spit-up deterrent chemicals. Unless the baby is already here and you know the gender, then the color must be sufficiently androgynous. Next you cut out all the impossibly tiny pieces -- those people who sew doll clothes, Barbie clothes, are clearly deranged. And never mind the pieces being so small -- there are all the sewing notions -- zippers, buttons, snaps... all or any of which are tiny and fiddly and you need to think through this part because that mortgaged gown will start looking really good when you are fussing with a half inch button hole. Yes, yes, there is velcro which is mightily handy and too bad the hook part of this brilliant invention is too scratchy to risk stitching into a baby gown.

This is the one and only time in your life when you will sew French seams. And no matter how careful you are, if you are very lucky, at minimum a half inch of one seam will hang out and there you will have to decide whether to rip it out and begin again or keep right on stitchin' with hope the mother will never notice... hmmmmm.

Sometimes I sew baby clothes because there are things you just can't buy any more. They don't sell kimonos or sacks like they used to and for a brand new baby fresh from a bath and ready for a late snack followed by a diaper change, there's nothing easier on and off and back on again than a kimono. But usually when I sew baby clothes it is the Show Off variety. The clothes with pin tucks and ruching and cut work and embellishments I can't pronounce and have to focus through crossed eyes to actually do.

But when the baby is Special, (not "this will get me a raise" special -- but Dear to My Heart Special, "I will Watch You and Protect You" Special... ) it makes me feel a little special too, to pull out the stops, knowing that I can, knowing that I will.... I like to think also that somewhere in the brain of the child who wears a home sewn gown there is a seed of awareness... something in his head absorbs the fact, Mm, "French seams... nice." And there it is -- THAT's the difference.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

The Children's Garden cont'd

I can not call this project the Wretched Wreck of a Deck anymore ... all the wretched decking is gone. In fact some of the floor joists were reused to build an arbor... more on that later, though I will say I am astounded anything from the deck was salvagable.

Any good project begins with a proper foundation. The foundation of this garden is the ivy esplanade at the back wall. I've built a harlequin patterned trellis wall. It doesn't extend entirely to the left corner as that area is where the gingerbread house goes.

Because I really hate spending large dollars on a simple nothing sort of project, instead of buying precut lattice strips, I ripped a 2"x3" into half inch strips. There are three 2"x3"s here -- at $1.47 each. Wild and crazy girl that I am, that trellis cost $4.41 plus tax. Total. Had I purchsed real lattice strips the cost would have been $57.60. (Because time equals money, it's worth noting that I cut all the lattice strips in 20 minutes. It would have taken longer than that to drive to Home Depot or Lowe's and back.)

Moving on.

The lattice has been painted, the soil just below the trellis has been ammended and ivy has been planted:

Grow Ivy, grow.

Wee little steps -- the next step is to add a load of soil -- the ground is really a hard, trampled, irregular mess back there. It might be solved with a rototiller -- but I don't have one. For the cost of renting a rototiller I can buy a load of dirt, which I need in other areas anyway

Now, back to the salvaged floor joists of the Wretched Deck Rip Out. An arbor has been built on the other side of the workshop. It has four salvaged posts and five salvaged windows. I've had this project in mind since I bought this house. I didn't know quite where the arbor would go, but I knew what it would look like:

I placed it here, to the left of the garage workshop, to visually balance the Children's Garden, situated in the space to the right of the garage workshop.

There is still so much work to be done. There is a pond to dig, a gingerbread house to build, a sandbox to install, plants to move in.... and this guy is awfully eager to move in and find a home in the new Children's Garden:

Meanwhile ... he'll just reach down there and snag a carrot or two to snack on.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Behold, the Carrot

I am of two minds regarding healthy food -- on the one hand I think it's a fine idea to eat right. Healthy food, healthy brains, healthy body. What could be better than that? On the other hand -- the hand I use to grab cream cheese and curly fries and potato skins and gravy and.... cookies and those wee lemon squares with sugar on top... my dreams are not made of broccoli bunches or aspargus spears. I am not a fan of vegetables.

And yet, I am devoted to being healthy, trying to be healthy, taking the right foods into my body, which makes the effort such an, well, an effort.

And so, like tending an errant child, what I have done over the years is every trick in the book. I know every sauce there is to disguise broccoli, every distraction imaginable to get the peas from the plate to my lips... I know every possible place to hide a carrot. Here are my Top Ten Favorite places to hide a carrot :

10. Pureed and swirled into sweet potatoes (which are scrumptious and therefore not a vegetable.)

9. Chopped into little bitty pieces and blended into meat loaf.

8. Layered with mashed potatoes (and cheese and bacon and sour cream -- ah nuts, now we've missed the Healthy Point), ok, lose the cheese, bacon and sour cream -- top with a smidge of high-flavor low-fat gravy.

7. Shredded and added to a sandwich -- a peanutbutter, honey and carrot on wholewheat is very nearly decadent... very nearly. It's no deep fried Snickers, but so little is.

6. Sliced, blanched and featured on a fruit-veggie-cheese platter, with a low-fat dip.

5. Pureed and blended with chicken broth, plain yogurt and flour to make a delicious Good God Good For You low-fat gravy.

4. Julienne sliced, very thin, and used in place of a cracker for snacks like salsa, chicken salad, even egg salad.

3. Blanched till just tender and added to fruit kabobs, drizzled with honey

2. Sliced into sticks and rolled with flavored cheeses and cold cuts.

1. The number 1 way to hide a carrot -- finely shredded and added to pancake batter. Add some nuts, some spices -- next thing you know you have spiced carrot pancakes. Yum.

And so there we are -- Fooled, Foolish, but Healthy-er. What tricks do you pull to fool yourself?

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Another Pretty Thing

I am one of those people who just can't help themselves -- I walk around the planet redesigning it or taking in designs and color combinations that work and wanting to carry them from here to there. Carpet designs, rock formations, colors on this house or that dress. And lately I have dared get my hands on things I did not previously consider my purview, a sort of coloring outside the lines in real life. You know what happens -- as soon as those lines are blurred, nothing is out of bounds. Furniture gets painted crazy colors and dresses get cut in funny shapes.

And so, when Teresa, at Aunt Ts Paper Arts, had a giveaway of these plastic $1.00 pencil boxes up for grabs I was game in a heart beat. I think she had five of them to give away and I was one of the lucky recipients. The proviso was that the pencil box had to be altered and photographed. All righty.
The purple is textured card stock and the green is torn paper.
The plastic flap is clear-ish with a color copied butterfly under it that shows through pretty well -- better than it does here in Blogger Photo Haze. All the butterflies are color copies from old encyclopedias and science books. Also, the plastic flap has been scallop-trimmed, edged with copper foil and hole punched for brass wire and beads.
The snap is covered with a crocheted flower -- I tied a silk ribbon in the center for a shot of color. The tassel is made of embroidery floss (I have a ton of embroidery floss and not even a spare ounce of patience to spend embroidering) and it is attached to the side with an eyelet.
My favorite aspect of this little pencil box is the little girl standing there. She is my grandmother and I have reduced apostcard sized rose to fit into her hand. She needed it. I love this photo of my grandma -- it is one of two that I use quite a lot. In this one she is about six and has an intelligent face. It is a face that says, "I have better things to do -- are we done yet?" I have an image that a minute after this picture was taken they turned her loose and she darted away as fast as her legs could carry her.... dress tails flying, hair bow falling and abandoned. I think that is my motto for the day... maybe for the week, TURN ME LOOSE.
(If I get an extra minute or so today I'll take some closer shots.)

Monday, May 14, 2007

The Wretched Wreck of a Deck Project -- The Planning Phase

I had a good deal of trouble from the start envisioning what should go here. I thought this was because the wretched deck was in the way, crowding my vision...

... then the deck was peeled away, pitched aside, still nothing came to mind... A fire pit? A dance pavillion? A Suite at the Plaza? What?
And then... and then... a Gingerbread House! Truly. And a sandbox. And a pond... a Children's Garden.

A little thatched cottage (with a dutch door) at the back left, a bird bath, a raspberry bush to the right ... There in the center is a table and a couple of chairs -- a nice place for a snack or lunch or to pot up new plants. For the pond, I have been eyeing Ms. GreenThumb Jean's Tea Kettle Fountain... I have a pump that has been awaiting a place... and I think dishes will be a splendid addition.

On the back wall I have a harlequin of green -- that's an esplanade of ivy. I did get the structure for that set. It's twine now... but I am thinking what I need is something more substantial, something like affixed lath.

The little drawing gives me a direction, a notion of what goes where. Part of the plan has included watching the sun -- seeing how much of it shines where and at what time of day. The little house is placed where the sun shines the longest -- so even then it's shaded. And I thought it would be a muddy mess till the end of time.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Is It a Baby Yet?

From the minute my son and daughter-in-law announced the impossible, or rather the unexpected, that they are expecting, I have been impatient for this baby. Frankly they told me too too soon. She wasn't even showing yet... so I have waited all this time... alllllllll thiiiiiiiiiiiisssssss tiiiiiiiiiiiimmmmmmmmmmmmeeeeeeeee. Apparently they don't know, seemingly they are unaware... I am Baby Crazy. I LoVe babies. I LoVe little kids. I even like teenagers.

When my baby was on his way I became Mommy Mame over night. I repurposed furniture, stitched bibs and gowns and blankies. Great, GREAT with child, I laid carpet. I was in nesting overdrive. Once he was here I sang songs, recited poetry, told silly riddles, read stories. There were Halloween costumes, books, balls, bubbles, crayons, paper, scissors, glue. I set up a sand box in our apartment. Are you getting the picture? I'm a warm fuzzy fun mommy about to become a warm fuzzy fun Nana. I thought my own nesting days were done, but last week I built the changing table (refashioned really) -- this week I stitched and dressed this: The wicker is ancient but very sturdy. The fabrics are all new -- the minute I saw this silk plaid I knew instantly that this was the piece I wanted for the bassinet. The rest of the fabrics and trims, the taffeta, chenille, the denim, and lace, were all from my stash. (I have a sinful stash.)

So now all we need is a baby... to love and snuggle and squeeze to pieces. Even this Teddy Bear looks impatient, don't you think? There are five weeks to go... what to build, make, reconfigure next? A Merry-Go-Round? A Gingerbread House? Suggestions anyone?

Thursday, May 10, 2007

I'm Not 25 Anymore...

Perhaps it is obvious I am not 25 any more. Admittedly, there are telltale signs I am not 25 any more... crepe papery eyes, slightly saggy jowls (ever so slightly), a preference for comfy shoes (so long as they are cute) over slick hot high heel shoes, no matter how cute. But if I suck in my belly, lose my cheater readers and wear an outfit that gives the illusion of both a waistline and a bust, from a distance, in the right light, I do look 25.

Not that I want to BE 25, mind you... I would NOT ever again want to BE 25. Being 25 was hard -- I didn't know who I was , where I should go, or what to do. Actually I did -- at 25 I did know who I was (at 5 I knew who I was) -- I just didn't feel confident that it was all right to let her out.

At 25 I was more strong than brave, but I was working on it... at 25 I was a mother and trying pick a path through the maze of un-doing my life as a wife. To stay, to leave... if I left I knew for sure that the person to do the hauling and heavy lifting of my bags and belongings would be me. Fine. I was strong. A tough girl. A capable girl. And so I did. I carried my bags and my boy, I carried my books in a heavy bookbag through four years of college and it sure never occured to me that cutting my own weeds would pose even a question, much less a problem... when I was 25.

But now... now that I am not 25, now that the boy is well grown, the bags are permanently parked, I can easily forget that I am not 25... Time marched on when I wasn't looking, I wasn't aware... till I wield this weed eater for 15 minutes or so and for the rest of the day my arms ache. AChe. Aaaaaaaaack. I am SO NOT 25.

Wednesday, May 9, 2007

Pretty Little Poppy Pins All in a Row

It seems it will be ages and ages till my own little corner garden is in bloom... so I felt the urge to make my own little ribbon garden -- Pretty-Pretty-Poppy-Pins-All-In-a-Row:

It's hard to say which one I like best... the pinky-peachy-coral one? The Yellow? The Purple?

A very wise friend once said... "Good Luck... we make our own you know." I didn't then know what he meant, but more and more I think I get it now. I have to put my thinking cap on, figure out what I want, know that I am smart enough, hard-working enough to make it so. And then make it so. Step by step... just like making these pretty-pretty-poppy-pins. So I am off to the work shop to make some more of my own luck. What about you? What sort of luck are you making for yourself today?

Tuesday, May 8, 2007

The Wretched Wreck of a Deck Project, cont'd

This should have been in yesterday, which turned out to be such a busy day I am amazed I managed to squeeze in lunch let alone pictures. Here is what I have accomplished in the wretched wreck of a deck area:

It doesn't look like much... till you peek at the BEFORE.

That was a lot of hauling and piling. I may have arbor plans for those big 4x4's -- once a hundred or so nails are yanked out of them. There's a lot of work to do before then -- stay tuned.

Meanwhile, feel free to pat me on the back for all the hard work I've done so far... my muscles ache from moving all those timbers and brush and possum bones, yes, possum bones. So go ahead and tell me, "Atta Girl - Nice Job!"

Monday, May 7, 2007


Here's the whole story as to why my then boyfriend's objections were so inappropriate at the restaurant when I first mentioned to him this changing table project.... Oh, where does one begin?

OK, you know those people whose first response to anything, ANYTHING, is "OMG, what an impossible idea! It simply can not be done!" So there we were in a nice Italian restaurant, a little salad, a little wine, flitting from topic to topic, here comes the chicken marsala, a little more bread would be great.... I mention that I want to make a changing table, out of those drawers Adrian has.

You would have thought I had suggested tearing the roof off my own house after dinner. Or hiring myself out to be a stripper... no, that, at least, would have entirely shut his mouth. The point is, his response was ... well, strange. "A changing table -- what are you thinking, making a changing table? How is THAT going to work?" The then boyfriend began to explain not only how impossible this project would be, but as soon as he realized how ridiculous he sounded, rather than backing down and exploring the possibilities, he cranked the objections up a notch. In graphic detail. "OMG, do you know what babies do?" Considering mine is ten years older than his... yeah, I had a clue. But he had to be sure -- he had to make certain everyone knew -- everyone within the six tables surrounding us soon knew what babies do. "They POOP. And they PEE!!!"

He got all worked up, almost panic-stricken, at the notion of my taking a set of nothing drawers and re-purposing them into a changing table. I will bet there are people who were dining near us that night still shaking their heads over this overheard dinner conversation.

So, there we are, the whole story of how discussing this project in a restaurant was such a bad idea. Canoli, anyone?

Sunday, May 6, 2007

Ta~ Dah

After a long day it is finally finished -- there's that corner:

This where this project began -- two sets of nothing drawers.

And here it is finished -- the whole thing, a changing table for my upcoming grandchild.

Cute little legs, handy oak shelves, chenille drawer pulls, copper details... Is this what happens when they let a woman loose with power tools?

Here's a link to the drawer units: Sturdi-craft

Did you guess a changing table?

What Is It?

A week or so I ago I was busy building a thing -- a Marvelous Thing and I gave a wee little hint -- that it's made of lumber (when I am pressed, clearly, I do not think fast on my feet -- it was a pitiful clue). There was a picture of a block of wood with a third of a hole cut out.... here is another picture or two and a slightly better clue:

And here's a little more...

And the clue: when I was describing, explaining this to my then boyfriend we were in a restaurant. His objections were not only so vehemently opposed as to be obnoxious, (note I said then boyfriend) the setting, a restaurant, was inappropriate for such a discussion.

I am pretty excited and delighted with how this project is coming along. Perhaps by the end of the day it will have been completed -- the more sure I am the faster I work... we shall see.

Wednesday, May 2, 2007

Another Project ... I soooooo Need one of those

I couldn't help myself -- you know that voice inside your head that shrieks, "STOP -- THRIFT STORE!!!" I was on my way home from two house cleans and a Senior Art Party -- in other words, Pooped. But the thrift store in question seemed, at a glance, to be on the seedy, disreputable side. My favorite kind. It was in a bad part of town, in an old building with new carpet, pinatas and old bicycles lining the sidewalk. The grubbier the store the better I like it. Somewhere in the back of my mind believes that in this type of run down establishment is where grand treasure hides. Or there's an overflowing button box in there with my name on it. Or it could be a vinatge cape with my name on it. Or a stack of old postcards and photographs with my name on it. There is a lot of stuff that could have my name on it. I can't possibly retrieve my treasures if I am not willing to park my car and walk in the door.

And there they were. Looky. Legs!!!! I got me some legs . They are perfectly balanced and stand there all by themselves. I think once upon a time they were the dramatic front legs of a tattered brocade fainting couch abandoned in a confiscated brothel... Look, they are my legs, it is my story. I absolutely had to have them. they are walnut and I do not need another project in this life time... but I will make room for these legs.
I'm just going to gaze at them for a while. Ain't we got fun. Ta-ta.

Tuesday, May 1, 2007


Holy-Moly and who saw this coming? DecoDivaDeb has tagged me in a '7 Weird Things' Game. (She knew just who to choose!) The plan is for me to reveal 7 weird things about myself. How does one narrow it down to a mere 7? How?

Here are the rules…. each player starts with 7 random weird facts/habits about themselves. People who are tagged need to write on their own blog about their seven things, as well as these rules. At the end of your blog, you need to choose 7 people to get tagged and list their names. Don’t forget to leave them a comment telling them that they have been tagged and to read your blog!

So here are 7Seven7 Weird Things About Me:

1. I am Afraid of the Dark -- no, not just a little leary, nor a tad ooky. Flat out terrified, I will not go down into my own basement or into my own backyard after dark.

2. I know how to juggle. I bought my son a book, JUGGLING FOR THE COMPLETE KLUTZ, in hopes that he might actually TRY something, anything, physical. The book came with juggling balls. Did he learn to juggle? No, but when I am on his very last nerve he hands me three balls and pats me on the head knowing I will soon be juggling away, out of his hair.

3. I have a story published in a ghost book -- about being haunted by my dead ex-husband -- he haunts my workroom.

4. In high school I beat 18 boys for the role of The Artful Dodger in the musical OLIVER. I was awesome!

5. I can recite about a dozen classic poems (Longfellow, Whittier, Cooke, Hunt, Field, Kipling) anywhere, any time, just because... I don't know why.

6. I do not know the multiplication tables. There it is, the dirtiest of my dirty little secrets.

7. I built my very first bench when I was four -- not recognizing this fabulous feat of preschool prodigy engineering, my parents did not enshrine it under glass. Amazing.

Are those weird enough? I should say so. Now for my 7SEVEN7 Tagged Blogs -- this is the hard part. However, here are my 7:

1. Oblique Angles -- Linda is the smartest, funniest, snarkiest person I know -- that last trait alone puts her in the top Favorite Blog Spot.

2. Maggie Grace Creates -- this is a new blog for me, but since I've been stopping by I almost (ALMOST) miss being a mom to a teenaged kid. (ALMOST) She writes charming and warm tidbits about her family; she is a Thinking Mom and there aren't enough of those. Run see her -- you're going to love her stuff.

3. Paper Pony -- this is such a charming blog. It's colorful and fanciful. Go peek -- you'll be hooked just like I was.

4. Moonbeams in a Jar -- in addition to being a quilter of amazing talents and patience, her posts are always warm and kind, yet funny. It's a great combination -- like the right pieces of a quilt.

5. Daisy Cottage -- this feels like home... only cleaner, better organized and prettier. This blog is as cheerful as a summer afternoon with a long cold lemonade.

6. Back Porch Musings -- I go here when I feel the need to set back, rest my feet up and just absorb post after botanical post. When she says "back porch", she means it. If you have a green thumb, or just wish you did, go see Pat's Back Porch.

7. Sara in Mali -- I have known Sara's mother since... 1978 -- but I have never met Sara -- she wasn't born yet. And now she is a college graduate, she is in the Peace Corps, she is in Mali. Or she should be again very soon; Sara had to come home briefly. This is such a cool blog, documenting the everyday events of a Peace Corps volunteer halfway around the world. Beware, the post under the heading , BAD DAY TO BE A SHEEP, is not for the squeamish.

I hope you go to places you've never been before.

Power Tool Tuesday

Maybe you've guessed -- I LOVE my workshop. This is not your dad's workshop -- I'm guessing your dad did not have pink chintz curtains or vintage art prints in his shop. I do.

For as long as I can remember I have loved to watch men make things with big noisy tools. I liked to watch them cut wood at precise angles to make saw horse legs, picture frames, bookcases. I could watch heavy equipment moving the earth, digging foundations, tearing down buildings for a while, but I always came back to watching men cut and make with power tools -- it was always men, I never once saw a woman wield a power tool in my life.

Maybe that is why I came late to power tools -- I didn't think I could. I didn't know I was allowed.It's a funny story how I finally got around to buying my first drill -- I'll tell it sometime. But for now this post is about tools, having them, making them work. I had to teach myself how to make each one go. Sometimes I did that by trial and error -- I've messed up everything, twice. Somethings I learned from books or articles or Norm on TV -- God Love Norm. And sometimes I've asked, begged, someone who might know and hoped like anything that I could decipher their explanation and directive. (Men speak in torque and amps, women speak in "What button do I push?" We're just not speaking the same language.)

I love making things -- everything. I like making food and drapes and tables. It's all the same to me. I want what I want the way I want it. I will stand in a store and think, "Oh those pillow shams (drapes, tablecloth, insert textile drygood here) would be nice if they were padded, pleated, lined, longer, pink. I feel this way about household items that are sewn or sawn, stapled, glued, hammered or drilled. I want to make it myself. I learned to sew early and it was not lost on me that woodworking is in many ways very like sewing. There is a certain order, there are precise cuts, an entire project can be ruined with one mis-step.

But if you are like me and you like to make things and you'd like to learn to make things using power tools I am planning to do a Power Tools Tutorial Tuesday. You can come into my shop and learn a thing or two about the tools -- what they do and how they do it.

My first power tool was a drill -- drills are endlessly useful. They can be used to drill holes and also as a screwdriver. They can be used to make big holes and little holes. There are differnt types of bits to do different kinds of jobs. There are titanium bits and carbide bits, there are spade bits and forstner bits. There are electric drills, hammer drills, tiny battery operated drills and great big mamma-jamma battery operated drills. And there's a drill press. Here are my drills:

I only thunk this up today, that it might be a good idea to do a Power Tool Tutorial Tuesday. If you think so, leave comment and let me know if you want to learn more about power tools and what we can do with them. I have all kinds of toys not pictured here -- including a scroll saw, a biscuit cutter, air nailers and three kinds of routers. We can learn to make loads of fun stuff. Would you like to play too?