Monday, June 8, 2015

De-Stashing Junk ... better know as cleaning house

Over the summer, my younger daughter Josie will be staying while she is finding a job and an apartment while getting ready to head for Carl Sandburg's welding program.

As the Father's Day weekend is coming up, so is More on 34, a garage sale that starts in Aurora, IL, and ends just outside Galesburg, IL. I, of course, am right on Rt. 34 and have a garage! Thus, in the name of riding myself of unneeded "stuff" am having a seriously cheapo garage sale in order to clear out my house and basement so that I may focus on those things I really want space for.

One of those things is books! I have like hundreds of them. And, while every time I look at them I remember why I purchased them, most often, I do what everyone else does. We go to "the Google" and search up the information that we need. Remembering this has been very helpful in minimizing my book hoard.

While I will be seriously selling off stuff I don't need any further, the second half of the plan is to take everything that hasn't sold by Saturday evening and donate it to the Salvation Army or Good Will and not bring anything back into the house.

If you've downsized from a big house to a small house, you know exactly what I mean about de-stashing your stuff. It is truly amazing what we collect and tuck away in odd corners, then forget about. Worse yet is when you have "stuff" from various grown children who think you will hold there things forever! My oldest daughter just rented her first apartment, and while it is seriously empty, we've had the worst time getting her to visit and sort the things she has stored in our attic.

It's time for a deadline!

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Fully Planted

All the garden beds are finally up and fully planted. And, most of my pots are planted too.

The newest garden bed is full of more tomatoes for canning and eating. The radishes went crazy and the peas look like they may bloom at any time. Down in the last bed, green onions are coming along, and the bok choy is finally looking like real plants instead of wishes for plants.

My pots include my houseplants, pansies, petunias, coleus, tomatoes, cucumbers and watermelon. I've also got basil, sage, rosemary and chocolate mint. 
Looks like it's time for a new bottle tree!
And a revised set up for my bottle wheel. Eventually, my daughter going into welding, has plans to build a better stand from pipe. Then we'll have to consider building a new stand for my chandelier.

I've also a spot in my east-facing kitchen window where I am starting sweet potato slips to plant once the peas finish up. Just look at those roots forming!

A ginger plant has begun sprouting on my window shelf and I've just the perfect pot for it!

And, this sweet monster is waiting for June before taking his trip outside. This plant is easily six feet across. Once it gets outside, it will probably double the size it is now.

Tomorrow is sewing day. I've traced off Style Arc Barb Stretch Pants and have a nice blue fabric to use for the first test pair. I bought the pattern as a download and was pleasantly surprised at how easy it was to tape the pieces together. Very well thought out. Review to follow for my Plus-Size Contest.

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Spring Blooms

With the beautiful weather yesterday, I took my camera out to capture the spring blooms in my garden. So many different flowers are blooming. There are pansies, coral bells, dusty miller, mums and hostas in front of the house with irises edging the outside of the fence. Inside the fence is my collection of hostas and Egyptian onions.

My early rose is sending out some beautiful blooms with more to come. I just love how that pink pops amongst all the green. Just in front of this beauty is a golden Dew Drop hosta and several pansies.

Its hard to resist their beautiful colors and smiling faces when I start buying my summer annuals. I have no talent for starting my own plants it seems, unless it comes to easy ones like squash, peas or radishes!

For which I just pulled my first real handful. I will use those later today when I make tacos. I might even use the spicy leaves instead of lettuce! And, wait until you see who I also found hiding with the radishes.

This little guy is actually over an inch long. Research says he is a Caterpillar Hunter Beetle (Calosoma scrutator). As to why he was roaming amongst my radishes, I couldn't say. But isn't he just gorgeous. The green has an almost gem like quality and it was hard to let him wander back among the radishes looking for whatever bugs he could find.

And, my irises. Since I planted them as they came out of the bucket from my old house, I am not sure how they ended up segregated. After looking at them, I've decided I need two more colors to fill the gaps between. The front corner that you can just barely see the leaves of has pale purple with dark purple edges. I think I should find some pink purple combos and maybe some yellow and purple ones. Eventually they will need to be lifted and separated, but that won't be for at least a year. Although, at the rate they are growing, it might be this fall.


Thursday, May 21, 2015

My Spring Garden

I just love spring. The flowers start popping their little leaves from the ground like babies poking their heads from under a blanket. Then they grow and flower stalks form.

I just adore Irises and have some beautiful purple ones that have followed me through three moves. Along the way some yellow ones have added themselves to the mix. The purple ones are an older variety and just smell of grapes and lilacs.

Their beautiful variety in shades of purples inspired me when I was creating a logo for my graphics portfolio.

If you should want to take a look through my portfolio here is the link LJR Creatives . I put work I've done for contests, fabric designs, volunteer work and examples of artwork created in a variety of styles.

Spring also creates a desire for fresh vegetables over who-knows-how-old "fresh" vegetables from the store. Already I have pulled beautiful red radishes and am looking forward to spring peas. Leeks, onions and bok choy are also coming along nicely. I planted seeds for yellow straight-neck squash and noticed yesterday the first leaves have sprung from the soil. I have tried to start tomatoes and peppers, but it just never seems to work for me.

In my other garden beds, Roma tomatoes planted in early May are really developing into healthy size plants. Better Boy and a heirloom striped orange are in another bed. Yes, that means 8 Roma plants, but I will be canning those into sauce for the winter. I still have another variety of slicers and the grape tomatoes that go into pots on my patio.

The next bed is planted with peppers! Sweet Banana peppers, which are long and yellow, are on one end. Early in the month, a Bunnie got up there and ate the leaves off two, but I covered them and they look like they are coming back. I planted red bell peppers just last week (we will see if I can wait until they are red, ha ha).

My last bed is still pieces next to the garage, waiting to be put together. There will be the last of my tomatoes going in there as well as some bush cucumbers. Then there will be over 10 pots of various herbs as well as beans, zucchini and more cucumbers. Plus I will replant the spring beds with more beans once the peas finish.

And, the finishing touch, each bed has marigolds planted in all the corners. Some beds have them planted across each end. There will also be pots of flowers, in addition to the sunflowers that are already coming up in places they should not. Later today I will take some pictures while I'm gardening so I can share them with my next post.

Time to get back to classwork!

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Minimum Wage History, Briefly

In the last several months several news reports related to raising our federal minimum wage have come to the forefront of our attention. Fight for $15 (Chicago), Fast Food Forward (New York), or We Can’t Survive on $7.35 (St. Louis) are all groups organized to help low-wage workers bring this to the public’s attention. So where did our minimum wage originate?  (Gupta, 2013)
The concept of a minimum wage has been debated from the early 1900s, with over 14 states enacting legislation by 1923. Most legislation at the time was applied to women and children in hopes to avoid legal battles. Various states also set up central minimum wage commissions that covered a broad range of industries, unlike countries like Australia, who set up industry specific commissions. Unfortunately, most of these laws, which were continually being challenged by industry, were declared unconstitutional by the U.S. Supreme Court because they “violated employers’ constitutional rights to enter freely into contracts and deprived them of their private property (i.e., their profits) without due process of law.” (Neumann & Wascher 2008, p. 14)
Interest in a federally mandated minimum wage came to the forefront with the economic environment brought about by the Great Depression. In 1933, President Franklin D. Roosevelt was able to successfully get his first attempt at a minimum wage through as the National Industrial Recovery Act (NIRA as part of his “New Deal” program. NIRA pushed employers to accept a 35 to 40 hour workweek and a minimum weekly wage of $12.00 to $15.00 per week.
NIRA would be short-lived as the U.S. Supreme Court, in Schechter Corp. v. United States, would vote the Act “an unconstitutional delegation of government power to private interests;” all nine justices voting together. (Grossman, 1978, para. 4)
The wage-hour legislation would be a continuing campaign issue for President Roosevelt in 1936, but it would not be until June of 1938 that he would be able to sign a compromise bill featuring a 25-cent minimum hourly wage with an automatic increase to 30 cents one year after signing. Additional provisions were in place for increases up to 40 cents per hour by 1945 and steps for overtime hours and rates. Also included were provisions for a sole administrator under the newly created Wage and Hour Division in the Department of Labor. (Grossman 1978)

"No business which depends for existence on paying less than living wages to its workers has any right to continue in this country.” (President Franklin D. Roosevelt, 1933, Statement on National Industrial Recovery Act)

            Also important to the minimum wage debate is the development of the poverty threshold. There was no official definition of poverty before 1963, the year Mollie Orshansky, a former family and food economist for the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and social science research analyst for the Social Security Administration. Her in-house research project “Poverty as it Affects Children” used information from the USDA’s 1955 Household Food Consumption Survey, for which she was also a major contributor.
            In 1964, President Lyndon Johnson declared his War on Poverty using a rough measure provided by his Council of economic Advisors. As an indirect result of this, Mollie is tasked with extending her original analysis from families with children to the broader population. This bulletin was published by the Social Security Administration in January 1965 as “Counting the Poor: Another Look at the Poverty Profile.”
            Shortly after, the Office of Economic Opportunity (OEO), the agency tasked with the lead in the War on Poverty, adopted Mollie’s extended threshold in May, 1965, as its working definition, but it wouldn’t be until August, 1969, that her threshold is made the Federal Government’s official statistical definition of poverty. (Fisher, 2008)
Understanding how our minimum wage came about and what our poverty line is based on is essential to developing an opinion about the current minimum wage issue. Considering the track record for the original minimum wage act and the most recent minimum wage increase, will the current minimum wage raise proposal be enough?
Fisher, G. (2008, January 1). Remembering Mollie Orshansky—The Developer of the Poverty Thresholds. Retrieved December 7, 2014, from
Gupta, A. (2013, November 11). Fight For 15 Confidential. Retrieved December 17, 2014, from

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Gazing Balls

Several years ago, my late husband purchased me some beautiful glass gazing balls for my garden. They were shades or blue and green with glow-in-the-dark swirls. Were being the focus word here.

When the last beautiful orb broke, I decided I would not purchase any more so easily broken glass gazing balls.

My research into suitable replacements led me to gazing balls made from bowling balls. They seemed like a simple and easy replacement for the fragile glass gazing balls. The more I looked, they more types or styles of gazing balls I found, from solids to mosaics.

The one above is not my first, but my fifth. In another post, I place pictures of all my other garden balls along with some of my other garden art.

This ball is only partially complete as I ran out of the smaller frosted stones, even when I found the blue ones and frosted them my self. So I have to find the right size blue or green stone to complete the ball.

I also have this pink one in progress ...

The bowling ball was a beautiful pink marble color. The hearts are plastic table decor from Dollar Tree. Unfortunately for me, I only purchased 4 bags and will have to wait to either find some at a garage sale or buy more at Valentines to complete this ball.

Neither ball is grouted. My next post will show those I've already grouted, along with a few of my other favorite garden decorating items.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

So, I've Started College

It is very different to be a college student while I have one currently in college and one starting in the fall.

I've also been doing a lot of cleaning and sewing. I am about three weeks from having my third house completely cleaned out. I'm rather excited about this.

On the other hand, there's nothing like moving from a very large house to a fairly small house to help one understand how much stuff one owns. It also gives you an idea that you might have to divest yourself of quite a bit of items, not only to make your life easier, but because you don't have the space for the items.

I've been sorting my fabrics, laces, ribbons, trims, elastics and other sewing related items in my basement on to shelves. There is nothing like finding out exactly how much fabric and assorted related items that one owns. Sew, I'm finding that I have much more than I realized. Thus, the uptake in the amount of sewing that I'm trying to do. I made dresses for a friend's granddaughters and just completed a shirt for her. I cannot wait to give it to her.

I think the colors in this shirt will look very good with Sue's coloring. I am thinking of seeing what I've got to make the girls some Easter dresses. I just need to make some more time to sew.

I also just completed a commission for my MIL. She's a very special to me. Not only is she my hub's Mom, but she has survived cancer. I hope that the new bride she gave the table runner and placemats to really loved them.

I'm going to be doing more embroidery for sale, I've just got to put my etsy listing in place. I plan to also do custom sewing, like formals or wedding dresses. I also am teaching myself to do custom corsets. I've got 5 shelves of fabric currently, but I'm assembling 2 more. I've still got over 12 boxes of fabrics to sort out. I am amazed at what I truly have and it helps to be able to see the fabrics, not just the boxes.

You never really know what you have when you have everything packed into boxes. I'm finding fabrics and trims that I didn't remember that I had and others that I remember and have been looking for. When I touch certain fabrics, I remember why and for what outfit I bought them for. I am going to have my children (esp. my girls) come set up bins of fabrics I've purchased for them. I'm going to attach labels stating the pattern the fabric is intended for, and will pre-wash/dry them so that they are laundry friendly.