It’s Hard To Believe…

…that this is an improvement to how her house has looked. But it is way improved! (She won’t show you how it looked at its most chaotic).

Lots yet to do

Little Red-Haired Girl is always by her side

She could be ashamed, but she’s not. She’s in the process of making new seat cushion covers and a drape to cover the rest of this raggedy old sofa. She picked it up for free for her sister three years ago and it has ended up back with her. It’s just too comfortable not to find a way to use. Just about everything she has is previously owned.

The carpet that came with the house when she purchased it was one of those off-the-roll-oatmeal-colored popcorn Berbers that quickly packed down and looked worn and awful. She can’t stand carpet for all of the dirt it harbors so yanked it all out early on. Her friend up the street lined his driveway with it for working on his cars. She’s been living with terribly ugly red concrete slabs with black glue from stick-on tiles; but it gets so, so cold in winter and the cold permeates so thoroughly throughout that she just buys cheap area rugs so she can bear to walk around. When they get too ugly and worn, she uses them as weed barriers for solutions while she is planning and implementing the food forest dream all around “The Compound”.

The goal is to create a mosaic tile floor and sew rag rugs that can be washed.

She helped her friend move from one storage to another yesterday and while picking up his rental at U-haul discovered that the furniture pads they sell there for $7.95ea, about 6×7, are the same felt that is used for laying commercial grade carpets; perhaps a little thinner, which is a good thing. She hopes to buy several to stitch scraps to for rugs.

Free sofa she picked up for her sister that ended up back with her. It's too comfortable not to use.

Ms. SpoolTeacher has a little house. There are seven-ish rooms in about 1025 square feet, not including TheGarageThatWantsToBeAWhereWomenCreateStudio/ (TGTWTBAWWCS) space that was converted by a previous owner to accommodate a relative. The main house has two bedrooms, one bath, kitchen, living room (including a little entry) and an extension added somewhere along the way that is divided into a laundry room (off the kitchen) and a mud room (she calls it, off the living room).

The house has lots of issues. It’s like a giant sieve; leaks everywhere, bad windows, poor insulation, ceiling cracks, etc. Too cold in the winter and too hot in the summer. The heat pump is ineffective so she never uses it. It was built in 1945 and the “improvements” that were done to ready it for sale just before she purchased it were mostly cosmetic and deceptive. She saw through most of it, but was willing to take on the challenges anyway. It fit her budget.

Trying to continue on her adventure of providing her own “right livelihood”, she is suffering in place until improvements can be made.

The lead image is after a session of complete and utter chaos that she could no longer tolerate.

Throughout her career as an Interior Designer, she has accumulated hoards of fabrics and sample swatches that she intends to use to create one-of-a-kind items to list in her online Etsy shop.

Because TGTWTBAWWCS is so, so cold during winter, she tried to make the living room work as a sewing center for doing client alterations and creative sewing, but it just got to be more than her nerves could bear.

So, out to The Studio went most of the chaos…

Almost all of her sewing resources and implements are out in The Studio now, waiting to be fully organized. She has long been working to reduce the contents there and has made some really good strides toward getting it to where she wants it to be; giving stuff away, offering some of the remaining contents from her now closed Lollipops & Polka Dots Variety Shop to a young friend to sell in her own Etsy shop … donating to local charities, staging collectibles in the carport for posting in the shop as well, etc., etc. …

The Carport Project

The Carport Project

Spring being as near as it is has diverted her attention a little as it is already getting a little late to be starting seedlings, but one step at a time. Her house being the sieve that it is, she needed to build the warming tray using incandescent rope lights she had seen a link to online. That had to be put on the front burner. Next will be to create something from all of the containers she doesn’t throw away to hold the seeds for sprouting .

Seed warming tray with incandescent rope lights

She has a serious spring “bug” and would so much rather be out there with her hands in dirt.

A post about Bealtaine Cottage resurfaced again on Geoff Lawton’s Permaculture Facebook Page lately and she made the mistake of following the link which served to stir up restless inspiration in her to get with her own dreams of creating a “food forest” on her little property.

At this point, food growing is not feeding all of her needs. Doing sewing and alterations for clients is random and unpredictable. Her career working for others in the design business was given up long ago, mostly so that she could pursue creating her own right livelihood; “Do What You Love, The Money Will Follow“. Her soul could no longer bear the part she was playing in the non-sustainable consumption dilemma Corporatocracy insists is the only way to build an economy. Not that she wouldn’t revisit that option if she could sell products that meet certain criteria; but so many of the businesses she utilized once upon a time have changed their structures to more of a DIY model and employ low wage workers to act as counter clerks filling in the blanks of a computer generated ordering system. Of course, the quality of knowledge and service is sorely lacking, and the merchandise is of questionable integrity to her, but people are motivated by the imagined discounts they get this way. Many of the businesses have simply gone away or downsized. And, of course, she has gotten older. Design is one field that age isn’t necessarily seen as a deficit, but competition is fierce for the spots that are still remaining. The main reason is that the market has dwindled. Many people just don’t have the expendable income that they once did. As a matter of fact though, she did recently post a Craigslist ad for her service of using what people already have to create a new look.

So, it’s kind of a Catch 22. She moved out to a little Podunk town to live the life she imagined but it is too far from a big enough city to create an income the old-fashioned way, with a slave wage labor J.O.B.B. (four letter word). Soul bankrupting enterprises.

She continues striving for her dreams…

Some of the madness you might have expected to see if you came calling for a fitting at her house…sorting swatches for projects, thinking of a crazy patchwork cover for the sofa (too chaotic for her anymore), or shifting furniture for the millionth time. She’ll be doing most of this now out in TGTWTBAWWCS. She has finally pared down the furnishings to be just what she needs and wants to make the space practical and comfortable for herself and any visitors. The rest yet to do is improving the pieces that are there, mosiac tiling the floor, making area rugs, slip-covers and such. #WhatYouCanDoIfYouKnowHowToSew!

DSCN0882

So, she will just keep on keeping on with all of the dreams she has for SpoolTeaching classes, up-cycling clothes in to one-of-a-kind items for Etsy, working on the First Do No Harm Front Yard Farmacy, improving her compound, and tending to her little family of acquired, rescued, inherited and beloved pets.

Lucy playing in the sheers

Lucy, tangled up in sheers

$17 vintage thrift store find, Woodmark, crewel fabric wingchair

Vintage Woodmark Crewel-Upholstered Wingback found for $17 at Habitat Store (Sold pair listed on ebay for $1,295!)

The Mud Room

Purple-haired Raggedy Ann made by Ms. SpoolTeacher sitting in the Mud Room waiting for (an) Andy

Apricot tree pruned, ready for spring

At least she got the fruit trees pruned and ready for spring. Now to plant the fig.

It’s A Wonderful Life

The Star Client

Star Client

Ms. SpoolTeacher posted an ad for her Peripatetic Design services on Craigslist recently and had no idea what would come of it.

Would you like a new look without purchasing new things? It’s amazing what can be done by rearranging things you already own for a completely new, fresh look. Just need more organization? That too. Is clutter an issue? No need to throw things away (recycle) unless you want to. There is always a way to make a lot of stuff look better. Groupings, consolidation of like items will minimize the impact and can create a museum quality. $45 p/hr plus mileage trip fee to and from your home from Benson, AZ. Skilled, professional, life-long designer/decorator with great color sensibilities and exceptional organizational skills. No implements required, we’ll use what you have.

This she could do 24/7. She loves, loves, loves to deal with the details of “things”.

true freedom

Lone Mountain Collage, San Francisco, CA

Her first real job after returning from a little summer scholarship at the Academy of Art College in San Francisco, (right after graduating from high school), was as a “store decorator” at Levitz Furniture. She was only 18, and very intimidated by the others who seemed so confident of their design skills. Her duties were to daily make rounds of all the aisles and replace any items that had been sold out of the vignettes.

The store had a wonderful stock room full of accessories and that was her domain and resource center.

Looking back now she can see how, even then, she enjoyed focusing on the smallest of details. For some reason, it soothed her anxieties.

She could often be found rearranging the contents of a china cabinet to get all of the elements just right. She also loved to clean the stockroom and reorganize it.

When Ms. SpoolTeacher asked Star Client how she found her ad, Star Client explained that one day she was placing accessories and she had her husband hang a collection of stars above her cabinets in the kitchen. After which, she plopped down on her sofa and felt exasperated. She had had enough. She was feeling overwhelmed with all of the “stuff” that she had kept as her most favorite of things that were the result of her downsizing event some time before.

She didn’t want to get rid of a thing, but she had had enough.

Very often, it is just an objective perspective that is needed to reignite the passion to complete the task.

Star Client asked her husband to, “Please get on Craigslist and find a decorator”.

When she rolled across Ms. SpoolTeachers ad, Star Client told Ms. ST that “That was it.” The words of the ad expressed exactly what she wanted.

The email from Star Client to Ms. SpoolTeacher said, “I have a lot of stuff that needs to look better.”

Star Client and Ms. SpoolTeacher had a wonderful time working as a team, going through her treasures and finding their new homes.

If Ms. SpoolTeacher had put an ad for a perfect client, Star Client would have matched the contents to a T.

The minute Ms. ST arrived, Star Client took her on a “tour” and they dug right in. Ms. ST looses herself easily, and they had finished the first room before she thought to take “before” pictures and got so busy in the end taking the ones she did, that she forgot two rooms! Oh well.

Here are the results of their team effort in the main areas. They pretty much touched and moved just about every accessory and numerous furniture items, except of course, the stars!

I have a lot of stuff that needs to look better. I have a lot of stuff that needs to look better. I have a lot of stuff that needs to look better. I have a lot of stuff that needs to look better. I have a lot of stuff that needs to look better. I have a lot of stuff that needs to look better. I have a lot of stuff that needs to look better. I have a lot of stuff that needs to look better. I have a lot of stuff that needs to look better. I have a lot of stuff that needs to look better.

They only took one little break and back at it again, the pups wandering in and out and around their feet. Mostly they just laid around and snoozed.

Mostly they just laid around and snoozed.

This time when Star Client plopped herself down on her sofa, she said, “Whose house is this? Much better!”

"Whose house is this?"

“Whose house is this?”

The thing about it is, it looked very nice before. And she had lovely things to work with.

Ms. SpoolTeacher says that this is The Star Client you always hope you will get the chance to work with.

What a fun day!

TGTWTBAWWCS

#TheGarageThatWantsToBeAWhereWomenCreateStudio

DSCN1664

While working on the “studio”, a long, long section of beige corduroy surfaced that was just lovely for starting the #ScragglyCouch project. She cut it in two equal length pieces and laid them side by side to decide whether to seam as one or not. She’s heavily sided to the separate piece theory.

The #Studio is making great strides. Lucy is often out there too to offer her candid advice,  “See, if you do that, I’ll be able to jump all the way up to here!”… Kind of “Look Mom, no hands”, happy go la la crazy little kitty.

Lucy approves most everything. She likes all the nooks and crannies and “that they can all be accessed at arms length for mommy to rescue me if I get stuck.”

Everything is out in the open so that it can all be seen, handled, found without an hour’s search.

Several boxes of collectibles went out to be mingled in to the #CarportProject, (for taking pictures to post on Etsy)..

vintage, collectible boxes, #CarportProject, EtsyThese boxes came out to be sorted/mingled. Staging area for collectible vintage to sell

The #CarportProject’s gorilla racks have been improved to make sure the rain is averted from them and that the sun isn’t doing damage.

Vintage Ceramic Animal Vases

Some favorite things (Vintage Ceramic Animal Vases) came inside and are doing much to lift the spirits of Ms. SpoolTeacher. She often goes through a blue phase when summer falls to winter. She loves and misses the long summer, sun-filled days.

It makes her want to make “Crock Pot Kitchen Sink Stew” to at least warm up inside.

Oh, my gosh is it Good, Good

Most gardening is tending to tenders or building soil. Some seeds have been sown; but It’s getting colder than normal it seems.

Nursery for tending the tenders, herbs, avocado trees, fig treeThis area is becoming the “nursery” as it gets some nice sun from am to late afternoon. It’s on the south side of things. She’s going to build a straw bale cold frame for the herbs because she has been moving them around for the right environment and it’s getting to be a big chore. They will go back to the front behind the #ScragglyTree where they will get several kinds of light during the day. She thinks the cold frame will make it possible not to have to move them around.

Straw bale cold frame with old windows

Clicking the picture takes you to the article where this picture is posted.

 

Hugelkultur, soil building, front yard farmingThe #1HugelkulturBed in the First Do No Harm Front Yard Farmacy has a layer of straw on the front that has beets and artichokes growing in the grooves where she added compost to get them started. The back half had sweet potatoes that the vines finally died once the cold came to stay. She left the roots in and just covered it all with straw. She may try to plant the grooves, (if she gets with it). South Forty Triangle Lot, mounds, Hugelkultur

The two new mounds on the #SouthFortyTriangleLot have sprouts all over; lettuces, clover, cilantro, leeks.

She is so excited to have her studio reaching the point where she can do some serious creating. She’s been separating fabrics and in the process, building “ensembles” that she intuits will make nice companions and she imagines what they will become down the road.

ensembles of things, intuition, intuit, projects

Putting them together goes a long way to triggering her memory of what she had in mind. She is so happy that she ordered those clear boxes to sell at her shop. Glad, in some ways, that they didn’t sell.

This is part of her creative process and it is rather grueling as it is truly, “work”, but she feels so happy to have found a way to keep her dream, of working from home, alive.

First Do No Harm Front Yard Farmacy

Clicking picture takes you to First Do No Harm Front Yard Farmacy on Facebook.

going under the straw

The #RaisedBed got covered with straw to help build the soil over the winter. It’s in shade most of the day, so not much would be interested there now.

In between waiting for images to upload and feeding little critters here and there, Ms. SpoolTeacher found another bag of big yardage pieces and started imagining if the cushions on the sofa should be covered individually.

should individual cushions be upholstered?

She really likes the idea of a “mosiac” of fabrics. should individual cushions be upholstered?

But she does ultimately realize that she doesn’t think she’ll love busyness on a piece that big; so they will definitely need a neutral side to reverse to.  fabrics that need to find uses quickly

She has so many fabrics. Sometimes she wants to just do a “truckload” sale of her whole house and go “Glamping” across the USA with the three #WildGirls in tow. That would just be another project of the same kind. “The grass isn’t always greener”, she recalls.

#TheGarageThatWantsToBeAWhereWomenCreateStudio is nearing a reality so might as well see it to fruition and keep moving. Nothing could be done until things were where they could be assessed for their value/best use.

The whole point is to find the closest thing to self-sustaining living as possible. Sewing has always been her “fail-safe” (as her sister would say). Her determination is to not ever feel like she spent her life doing something she was waiting for it to get over. She’s been able to do that for over 19 years now. It hasn’t always been easy, but it has always been worth it.

TGTWTBAWWC, what it means: Being 60 something, being free to sew for fun/profit but not needing to, having a First Do No Harm Front Yard Farmacy continually progressing and becoming something she can imagine might sustain her, being able to have a “Studio” where she can pool all of her resources and talent to create things, being home to attend all of the tenders and the wonderful little critters that hover her feet following her all around the grounds keeping her company, the #WildGirls. “The grass is plenty green”, she says out loud to herself. Plenty green indeed.

It’s impossible to imagine that the world needs to be hostile while feeling that kind of personal peace. Why can’t everyone have it. Seems so simple.

“Don’t hang around and let your problems surround you…You can always go, Downtown.”

Ms. SpoolTeacher is notorious for dressing up like a bag lady and going “to town” just to get away for a minute.

Ms. SpoolTeacher as a bag lady

She loves to just put on whatever makes her feel warm, comfy and cozy.

Hope you all are farming now. It’s so good for your soul. Sewing too, if you’re sew inclined.