Tale of Two Tote Bags

I have an enormous file of patterns, torn out of magazines or photocopied out of library books, that I’ve been accumulating for many years . One of them is for a tote bag that I’ve always wanted to make.

I chose to make it for someone’s birthday, but thought I should make a test tote bag first, in case the pattern was wonky. I followed the directions, but the fat quarters I used were on the skimpy side, so when the tote bag came out long and skinny instead of almost square (as the photo of the tote bag on the pattern looked), I figured it was because the fat quarters were a little smaller than normal:


No worries, I can always use another tote bag, even if it’s so long it looks like you could store wine bottles in it (hmmm, there’s an idea….). Anyways, I chose some fat quarters for the birthday-gift tote bag, and was pleased to discover that they were the exact size they should be (18″ X 22″). I followed the pattern to the letter (it only had one illustration, so I had to read and re-read it), and here’s how it turned out:


Better, but still not square or even almost square. So I went over the pattern instructions very carefully, and came to the conclusion that there’s an error in it; there’s no way you’re going to get anything but a long rectangular tote bag out of that pattern. Lesson learned: never assume that a pattern’s directions will be right, even though most of them are. Fortunately, the recipient seemed pleased, and that’s all that counts!

Late Summer in the Garden


Late summer in the garden is always kind of sad, because it’s just a matter of a month or so before we see the first snowflake. But the garden isn’t done yet. This sunflower, one of the few that wasn’t beheaded by the squirrels weeks ago, looks pretty good.


Morning glories, zinnias and a few struggling petunias congregate together. The morning glories have climbed about 12 feet up, over the neighbor’s evergreens:


The carnations are doing fine (they smell great!), while behind them it’s the first year for the autumn joy clematis, which has just begun flowering:



The gerbera daisies are hanging in there, and in the cold frame, our third crop of green beans are thriving where the lettuce grew earlier this season. With any luck, we’ll be eating fresh green beans again in a week or so:


But winter will be here before long. When I was in Madison this week, I saw several trees with gold and even red leaves already.


Homemade Yogurt


I have been forced to make my own yogurt. The brand I loved, Brown Cow, was bought by a larger company, and now it’s runnier and has a smaller cream top on it. :(  Given that the price has gone up lately, I decided it’s no longer worth what they charge for it, and I needed to find something else.

As usual, the Internet comes to the rescue. I read several make-yogurt-in-your-crock-pot recipes, and they were pretty similar; this one was done best, I think. I started in the afternoon with a half-gallon of organic milk and a little store-bought yogurt, and by bedtime, I had a beach-towel-wrapped crock pot on my counter. And the next morning, I had yogurt!

I added a bit of vanilla to a bowl of this perfectly white yogurt, topped it with homemade granola, and proceeded to eat the best bowl of yogurt ever. I’m sold on making my own yogurt now. Given that my crock pot is nearly 40 years old (one of the longest-lived of our wedding gifts, I think), I’m thrilled that I’ve found a new use for it.

Summer of Sewing

I took a break from quilting this summer in favor of a few sewing projects. I made matching dresses for my little granddaughters that they wore when we all got together in July:


I turned some old tops of mine that were made out of very good fabric into leggings (the dark pink ones are capris) for my youngest granddaughter, using the principle of repurposing that I learned from my gram so many years ago:


Then I made Baby Girl one more pair of leggings out of some fabric I bought at a fabric sale:


It’s so much fun to make little duds! I also made some other projects that I will share in future posts. Before long, I also hope to start another quilt :)

Z is for Zoos

ABCs of Homeschooling - Copy

Z is for zoos… and then there are museums and parks and arboretums and many more educational destinations you’ll find outside your home.

Yes, you need to be home in order to homeschool. But you also need to include the outside world if your children are to be truly educated. Learning about the world around them is key; since kids love and thrive on experiential learning, taking them regularly to zoos and other fun and educational places is well worth your time and effort. (Let’s face it: it’s fun for us, too!)

I hope you’ve enjoyed “The ABCs of Homeschooling” this summer. See you in September!