Sewing & Quilting Mode is Waking Up!

I've been busy the past few days planning sewing projects. We've been in the 5th wheel now about 7 weeks but I haven't done any sewing yet. I have to be 'in the mood' to accomplish anything. Things are improving though because I'm in the planning stages for a few quilt projects.

I took our 6 year old granddaughter, Talia, out to lunch yesterday and then to the fabric store to pick out some fleece. All the girls are wanting twin-size fleece blankets and matching carrying bags to put them in. I was thrilled to get to JoAnn's and discover a whole aisle of nice fleece on sale for 50% off. I strongly encouraged Talia to stay in THAT aisle. (BTW, we had a LOT of fun. Ended the day with ice cream. Yum!)

Talia's favorite color is pink, one of her favorite critters is ladybugs, and her favorite thing in the whole world is strawberries. She found a luscious pink & white fleece with very light red ladybugs all over it. They're almost pastel and resemble strawberries. Talia was thrilled!

The original plan was to take each girl out separately to the fabric store to pick out their own fleece, but right next to Talia's fleece was the perfect fleece for 3 year old Lydia. She loves lavender and ducks! The fleece is pink but has lavender-ish hearts with the cutest ducks all over it. Again, it was half price! Wasn't going to take a chance it would be gone - or not on sale - when I was ready to take Lydia shopping so snapped that up as well. Lydia and I will have to do something else on our outing.

Think I also saw something very appropriate for 4 yo Lauren, but it wasn't on sale so will have to mull. Maybe it will go on sale in June. One can only hope.

I've decided to still take Alli, who is 9 years old, out next week to pick out her fleece. She's 9 and at an age where Gramma might just get it wrong so not going to take the chance. She, too, will be limited to the sale aisle but I think she'll find plenty to choose from.

Hope to have these all made by the first weekend of June - a week from now.

Have also measured all our windows so that I can order fabric for new window coverings. I have found a really inexpensive online source for semi-sheer 118" wide fabric. Still not sure yet if I'm going with Roman shades or Austrian shades but want to get them made soon. Hate, hate, hate these venetian blinds - and many of them are damaged. I think my big hang-up in making a definite decision on type of shade is finding just the right thing to use for the slats in a Roman shade. Normally, you use a thin wooden slat, but since I'll be using a semi-sheer fabric, I'd like to find a clear plastic to use. Guess I'll have to go visit the local Home Depot and see what I can come up with.

I have the fabric for the binding on Lydia's heritage quilt. Just need to get it on.

It looks like I'm going to be making a signature quilt for dear friends of ours in Joplin who lost everything. All our friends here in Rhode Island know them so we thought this would be something special they could wrap up in. Have decided on this pattern for the quilt top: Four Hour Quilt It looks relatively easy and will leave lots of room for people to write messages. I'll be doing the "One More Time Around" at the bottom of the page. Something different from the multiple squares quilts I've done in the past for signatures. Others here will help finish it off.

A great tip when doing signature quilts: Iron freezer paper onto the back of the quilt wherever people are going to write on it. Stabilizes the fabric and makes it easier to write on. Peels right off when signing is done.

Have been to The Remnant Shop here in Hope Valley, RI. He's got some lovely, good quality, quilting fabric for $4/yd. Plus there's the shop down in Westerly that's going out of business. Guess I need to pay a visit to each place.

Busy, busy.

Til next time,
Gloria - The Internet GADabout


I haven't posted in a couple of weeks. I can't believe I've been that busy but Mike and I looked at each other recently and said, “Aren't we retired? Why are we so busy all the time?” It was a good couple of weeks but I'll post on that later. This post is more serious. A lot of emotions are floating around in our hearts right now and I need to get this down.

Getting rid of 'stuff' can be hard.  As you know, we made the decision in December to retire and become full timers by April 1st.  We were renting so selling our home wasn't an issue.  In actual fact we had to have a lifetime of stuff gone before the end of February as we'd already made arrangements to be in Florida for the month of March.  Talk about a rush of emotions for the 2 months we were getting rid of stuff! 

We sold most of it via Craigslist & a Cafe list.  The first big thing to leave was hard (a grandfather clock purchased with some inheritance money after my mother died) - as was the last (my digital piano).  But once we had our 5th wheel and were on the road in April, I felt like this HUGE weight had been lifted off my shoulders.  Simple and frugal is oh, so much better. (Check out my blog post from January 18.)

We've spent most of our married life in New England but we lived in the Joplin, MO area the last 2-1/2 years - until we became full time RVers this Spring. (It's still our home base). Friends there were saddened that we were getting rid of 'stuff' but we kept telling them that 'stuff' isn't what matters.  God and people are what matters.

How that lesson was brought home Sunday evening with the tornado!

All of our friends in Joplin are safe but one young couple who hasn't even been married a year are especially in shock.  She is from Texas, he from Montana.  His work was in the Joplin area and they belonged to our ecclesia.  Initially, they rented a duplex in a lovely, upscale neighborhood.  They were robbed twice.  So in February they moved to a 3rd floor apartment, thinking it would be safer.

The apartment was right behind the Home Depot and Walmart in Joplin that no longer exist.  Their apartment is gone.  They have lost everything but were not hurt.  We are so thankful for that!

As I wrote to her last night..That which doesn't kill us, serves to make us stronger.  They must be getting really strong. (Actually, looking on the map at the damaged areas, I imagine the duplex they were in originally was probably destroyed as well.)

Events like that force us all to stop, reflect, and put things in perspective.  Yes, it was hard getting rid of our stuff.  Looking back, I wonder if it wouldn't have been better to just have had a big, one-day sale.  Kind of like just ripping off the band-aid and getting it over with. 

Then again by doing it the way we did, we know the big, sentimental stuff went to people who really wanted it and will take care of it.  That's kind of comforting, too.

I also know that having lived in our traveling condo now for @ 7 weeks, I'm loving the simpler life style. We had company for a BBQ Sunday evening. I did a major cleaning of our abode plus did the dishes all in 40 minutes. THAT was wonderful!

By the world's standards we are poor; right now all we've got is our Social Security coming in. Hoping that will change over the next few months as we find ways to supplement our income and still travel. But this is so much better than stressing over a house or rent payment and all the accompanying bills. Plus you think twice about what you're going to buy because you have to consider storage space and overall weight.

As sad and concerned as we are for that young couple, we know they will survive, pick up the pieces and move on with their lives. I just hope they've learned valuable lessons that we didn't learn until years later.

Yes, we need essentials but we're better off without all the extra 'stuff' that this present society seems to think we 'need'.

Til next time,

Gloria - The Internet GADabout

Milestones & Improvement

Today is a milestone day...Our twin grandchildren, Michael & Rachel, in British Columbia are 1 year old today. So hoping to see them in August. Jed & Alycia are good about sending pictures or short videos periodically but we still feel like we've missed out on so much! It's hard being long distance grandparents. Having a really good time with the 3 girls here (9, 6, and 3) of Sarah's and Seth's little Lauren, who is 4.

I am finally improving from whatever I had. I still tire easily and the cough is still lurking around. Still didn't feel well enough over the weekend to go out but got messages from our son and daughter wishing me a Happy Mother's Day. Then in the evening, our daughter and family showed up with dinner and cake and ice cream. It was lovely!

Monday morning for the first time in over a week, I realized my chest didn't feel pressure or hurt anymore. That was a HUGE step! Also, for the first time in over a week, I stepped outside this 5th wheel. It was wonderful. Bright, warm, sunny day with brook babbling away and just enough breeze to make all the pine trees 'hum' as I call it. (The campground is actually called Whispering Pines). I love that sound. 20+ years ago we owned an old farmhouse in Jaffrey, NH. Behind the house outside our bedroom window was a row of tall pine trees. Loved the sound the wind made going through them at night.

We went to Seth's to do laundry. I got the first load started, then put Mike in charge while I went off for a bit to do a couple of errands. Yee Haw! I was alone in the car (we've borrowed a small car from family while we're in the area so we don't have to keep filling up the diesel truck) and able to go where I wanted!

First stop.....

The local quilting shop. When I left for Missouri 2-1/2 years ago they were just moving into their present location from another spot. I was really saddened to see signs in the window Monday saying everything was 20-50% off because they were closing June 1. It's a lovely shop and the owner is so nice. But she's older and her husband isn't doing well so she's decided it's time to retire and stay home to help him. Sad on many of which being that there's not another fabric store of any kind within 20 miles of this area. It just seems that there are less and less quality fabric places around - and yet I keep hearing that sewing is starting to make a comeback - not just quilting. I certainly hope so because people are going to need basic skills if the economy does as predicted.

Yes, I did get some fabric. Bought enough fabric to bind a quilt my mother started many years ago. I also picked up a 1/4 yard of 2 other fabrics that were giving me color inspiration for a Lone Star quilt I'm planning.

From there I went to Walmart and bought a little gas grill we'd been wanting, a DVD player, and a universal remote because the TV was missing its remote. Had already made arrangements with Seth to come out today to hook up everything.

I was gone between 1-1/2 to 2 hours and was completely drained when I got back to Seth's. There was one load of laundry left to do so I threw in the quilt fabric with it and then melted into a chair with my laptop until it was finished. I went to bed early last night cause I kept falling asleep in my recliner - something I just never do.

Seth was here early this afternoon and got everything hooked up and working. We had watched "The King's Speech" on one of our laptops but decided to watch it again this afternoon. So much better on a 27" screen with the audio coming out of the stereo speakers in the ceiling!

Tomorrow we head to Providence to pick up a rental car for Mike. He has to go back to Missouri for some paperwork and neither of us were keen on him flying. I will stay here alone while he's gone. Hopefully, I'm going to get major Spring cleaning done and cupboards/storage sites rearranged. He was commenting over the weekend that he's finally figured out where things are. I burst out laughing and told him not to get too used to it cause I was going to change everything while he's gone. :)

One of the things neither one of us like about this unit are the mini-blinds in the windows. Have never liked mini-blinds and these aren't in great shape. I think I have a plan that we both like. Austrian shades made out of a semi-sheer batiste. We know from experience that semi-sheers (vs sheers) have enough opacity at night to provide some privacy AND they provide a little insulation to reduce cold and heat entering through non-thermal windows. Someone mentioned doing Roman shades instead but the Austrian shades' fullness would add a little more insulating factor, I think. I've found a place where I can get 118" width fabric for a little over $5/yd. Just need to get window measurements so I can figure how much I need. Thinking I will go with something else in the 2 bedroom windows. Mike doesn't like ANY light at night coming in through the windows.

So, I have the potential of being very busy soon. But it will be a good busy and not have deadlines. No pressure! Like those kind of projects; they go much smoother.

We finally have a firm date for the repair of the slide out. We're leaving the campground June 14th to go stay at Mike's sister's for a couple of weeks and take care of his mother while they are gone to South Africa. We looked at each other yesterday and said, "Duh! Why don't we just make arrangements for the rig to go in then for repairs since we'll not be staying in it those 2 weeks anyway?" The repair shop agreed so everything is working out fine.

Til next time,

Gloria - The Internet GADabout

Frugal Fixes - Great Day!

What a day yesterday was! Sorry if the previous post seemed a bit disoriented and befuddled. Today, I'm still weak and coughing my head off but do seem to be slowly improving.

Yesterday was a wonderful day around the 5th wheel. After I got all curled up in my recliner with my blanket around me in the morning, Mike decided to go attack those power jacks in the front of the rig and see if he could figure out why they wouldn't turn on. He'd been outside about 30 seconds when I could have sworn I heard the jack motor come on and then stop. About 5 seconds later Mike came bouncing in the door doing the wildest happy dance I've ever seen him do. (Should have had my camera – LOL).

He had decided before going out there that he was going to begin at the jack motor and follow every single wire going out from it to check for loose connections, bad fuses, bad switches, etc. The first thing he did was follow the wires that go from the motor to the external switch. On the way there's a 30 amp fuse. He sort of flicked that with his finger as his hand went by and VOILA! Everything started working. He had taken that fuse out earlier and checked it; it looked fine. The casing was in good shape as is the solder that holds everything together. We've decided it must be a fuse that's starting to die. We'll be laying in a few extra fuses so we never have this problem again. We were soooo tired of hand cranking those jacks up and down. Mike was a riot; he was so happy!

While things were going well for him, I suggested maybe he should work on a few things that needed attention inside. There is a 27” TV in the entertainment center that came with our unit as well as a VCR. But the stereo is missing as well as a DVD player. We brought our own stereo and CD player with us but nothing had been hooked together yet. Mike can be really good with electrical things but not electronics – that's a whole 'nother ball game. He did manage to get some things hooked up and even had the CD player working with the sound coming out of the ceiling speakers. We need to still pick up a DVD player. I think we'd be wise to ask our son or son-in-law to come out and help us with hooking everything up together so we'll be sure they all work. LOL But the CD player working was a major accomplishment. Nice to sit here and have soft music playing.

Still on a roll, he decided next to tackle the directional reading lamp that's over my recliner. It's been very temperamental not wanting to stay on. Finally, it just quit completely. He knew it wasn't the bulb so took it apart and fiddled with it for a while. Success! It's working again. Neither one of us trust it very much; it just seems kind of 'mushy' inside. (Note: by this afternoon it had quit again. Time to buy a new one.)

He and I just felt so good today that between his labors and my suggestions some things were getting fixed in here that didn't need a service call. We've always tried to be self-sufficient when we could. Just because we're retired doesn't mean we should give up on doing as much of our own repairs and refurbishing as possible. It's part of being frugal.

By the time he'd done all that, he was getting restless and kept talking about the mini-lathe he wants. I suggested he look at them online. (We've been watching for a good used one but it's just not happening.) He found that the one he'd been thinking seriously about was on sale for just under $200. A little more than we really wanted to spend right now but after watching him pace and fidget about, I finally agreed that the time had come for him to buy one. He was off like a shot to the store about 20 miles from here. Not only did he get what he wanted but they knocked the price down another $50 so that he would purchase the 2-year warranty – he still came out below the listed sale price. No, he doesn't have the chisels yet but will soon. Yay! He's got a hobby!

As for his micro-managing I talked about in a previous post, it all seems to be settling down. Life is getting easier.

I also realized today that all the stress we'd been dealing with the last few months must be working its way out of our systems (maybe that's why I've been so sick) because for the first time in eons, I'm actually starting to get ideas in my head for a quilt I want to make AND some knitting I want to do. Now if I can just get rid of this cough.......

Til next time,

Gloria – The Internet GADabout

I'm Officially Retired!

It's been a week and a half since I've made an entry. Lots happened and then everything came to a coughing halt!

We're slowly figuring out how to use and/or fix things on this 5th wheel. We're also thinking more seriously about the changes we want to make. There are places where there was plenty of room to put in another drawer but instead there's just a blank piece of wood. Mike is going to rectify that. Will certainly welcome more drawer space.

Our biggest problem has been the black water tank valve. Suddenly, it wouldn't work. We weren't sure if it was just stuck or broken but the 'honey' wagon here at the park wouldn't come empty our tanks until it was fixed. That meant we had to hitch up and tow the rig to the dump station. It's not that far but it gets annoying to have to get everything ready for travel for such a short distance and time. Mike has been researching what it was going to take to fix it.

Thursday was a fun day. Our 3 yo granddaughter, Lydia, came to spend the day with us here at the campground. She liked it here so much that she asked me where my toothbrush was cause she needed to borrow it. I explained that one didn't use someone else's toothbrush and asked why she needed one. "Because I'm going to stay here with you and Grampa and I forgot my own toothbrush." Gotta love kids!

Friday, I officially 'retired' by applying for Social Security. I was pleasantly surprised on Monday to find out that I made too much money over the years to qualify for spousal benefits and would get SS based on my own earnings. Should see my first payment in June.

Saturday we did laundry, opened a new bank account (needed a bank that was nationwide), I practiced the piano to play at Meeting on Sunday, then visited Mike's mother and took her out to dinner. I was really, really tired when we got home but didn't think too much of it until I woke up at 3 AM sick with a cold/flu virus. It hit me like a ton of bricks and everything we were planning on doing around here came to a screeching halt. It is now Wednesday and I'm improved some but still not totally over it. Had to sleep in my recliner last night so I didn't cough all night long.

But because we couldn't do other things, Mike had time to research and figured out how to easily put a new valve in the black water pipe. Yesterday, I dragged myself out of bed long enough to guide him in hitching up and getting over to the dump station. Once the black water tank was empty, he was able to install the new valve and now everything works great! We won't have to hitch up to go to the dump station any more.  The Honey Wagon will come to us.

Our next project is to get the front power jacks working again. 2 weeks ago they just suddenly stopped working. Mike has checked fuses and not found anything wrong but a forum we're on made some other suggestions. Think he's going to work on that tomorrow. Don't want to have to pay someone to fix them but using the hand crank method gets tiresome really fast.

Since I've spent the last few days up in the bedroom in my 'nest' as I've started calling it, I've been thinking about quilting and knitting projects to get working on. Will be really glad when I feel well enough to get started on something.

Hoping tonight will be the last of the worst of this bug. Before going to bed I have been putting Vicks Vaporub on the soles of my feet and then wearing socks. I know that sounds strange but it's an old-timers' trick that really works. The soles of your feet absorb the Vicks really fast and you don't have that stinky smell up by your face. Hopefully, this will be the last night I have to do that.

Til next time

Gloria - The Internet GADabout