Three Sheets and the Wind

Like so many others, I pin more to my Pinterest boards than one lifetime can accommodate. Admittedly, I seem to be more adept at purchasing  craft materials than I am at actually completing any given project. I thought I would head out to one of my favorite thrift stores yesterday but the plummeting temperature and howling winds forced me to consider I might just have enough of my own stash to get something done (enough supplies? Imagine!). If this blog is a safe place for confessions, I’ll start by admitting that I have an unhealthy obsession with vintage sheets. I’ve picked up a few here and there and though I haven’t yet taken the plunge into vintage frock construction (if you have time, check out a site called “Dottie Angel” and swoon along with me), I have for some time intended to make a few pillowcases from my stash of sheets. I can sooner justify sleeping on the cool and cozy percale than I can justify my obsessive fondling of it (I wish I were joking). Additionally, Paul (hubby) and I are on a mission to use what we have whenever possible and the linens we have should, by now, be condemned.  And so, I went to my stash and chose three of my favorites, and then to my trusty Pinterest board efficiently labeled “Patterns and Tutorials” and set out to make two of the “Fifteen Minute Pillowcases with French Seams.” You should know that nothing at all about this project took fifteen minutes, except for the part where I was required to iron the fabric; when it comes to ironing anything at all, my patience is nil so, score one for me! For those of you who skeeve  someone else’s sheets (while skeeve might not be an actual word, it applies here), consider that a wash cycle or two with vinegar and mild detergent renders those sheets cleaner than most items you’ll see fit to try on in a dressing room. Anywhoo, here’s the finished pair…vintage pillowcasesI knew the true test of craftsmanship would be determined by how well they survived laundering; I’m happy to report that this photo is post-wash cycle and they look and smell like new (well…vintage-new, if that’s a thing). You’ll note that the quilt under the pillows took some mad skills to complete and while I’d like to take credit, I did not make the quilt. Yet again, I scored big at a favorite thrift store and that beauty cost me less than two frappuccinos. The wreaths are made from hand worked ribbon embroidery and I imagine the quilt’s original owner got tired of the frequent pulls and unraveling that is common to worn and battered needlework. I solved the issue by throwing caution to the wind (purposefully referencing wind whenever I can here), and sticking it in the wash, not once, but twice, and then drying it on a full warm cycle. My mission was twofold; the quilt started out as a king size and is primarily cotton, and it was a bit grimy looking. It was too big for our bed and since my investment was minimal, I took a chance. The result was/is a cleaner, tightly puckered quilt with more compact ribbon stitches. It won’t win any awards, but we love the charm it adds to our (in need of major renovations) bedroom.

And since this blog is a we endeavor, you’re probably wondering what my better half was doing while I was tied to the sewing machine (for considerably more than fifteen minutes). I’m happy to report that despite the wind (third time’s a charm!), Paul managed to pay a visit to our very cold hens and hen boss, Gladys, defied all odds and ventured out to meet him for a few pesky pecks at an overripe pear. Typically, chickens will avoid wet feet at all costs, but Gladys seems to think Paul is all hers and she ventures out whenever she hears his voice. Paul is rather familiar with henpecking and thus, finds no reprieve
outside or in.
A Pear for Gladys

It’s worth mentioning that Paul has a few crafty tricks up his own sleeve, not the least of which is making me think he has met one of my home renovation whims with complete and utter agreement and dedication, when in reality, he has cleverly convinced me of an easier, more affordable version of my original whim. Such was the case when I pleaded with him to rip out an entire section of our (outdated oak) kitchen cabinetry because Pinterest demands I (we) install floating shelves. He was speechless the first time I suggested it. By the second conversation he was warming to the idea but had many questions (if you ask why more than three times, it qualifies as ‘many questions’). Finally, we compromised and I agreed to a trial period of his modified version. In what seemed like fifteen minutes (pillowcase time), Paul had ripped the doors off three existing cabinets, painted the inside, and built newer, thicker shelves to accommodate my herbal apothecary jars (fodder for another post) and the dinnerware I imagine I own. I’ve decided I will add a fabric back-board to the cabinets but haven’t yet committed to any of the (many, many, many) yards of fabric in my stash because I’m developing some sort of kitchen theme that hasn’t yet materialized (see what I did there?). And, let’s face it, in home décor, as in politics, choosing a cabinet is tricky business (that’s about as political as this blog will ever get- you have my word). Here’s a quick peek at the early progress…cabinet makeover

And there you have it. Two weekend warriors who hardly made it out of their pajamas in the last forty-eight hours.
In the northeast we are at the mercy of a bitter March wind (#4!) and some unexpected (though we should have been expecting it because we didn’t just move here) snow. The weather is often unpredictable but then again, so is life. I’m looking up at the photo above this paragraph and I recognize that at the time our house was built, none would have anticipated that phone jacks would become obsolete (hence, the one precariously set in between the tiles of the backsplash). We’ve considered ways to hide it and Paul once suggested we retile the whole backsplash (not happening). Lately, I waver in my dedication to all things home improvement because much of my self reflection recognizes a greater urgency in the need for self improvement (not to mention, we don’t have the money to support my home décor board on Pinterest). And perhaps that phone jack, now devoid of all connections, is a reminder of a time when life (a tethered, wires-showing kind of life) was simpler- a time when friends chatted over fence lines and under covered porches. And though social media offers a modern day connection to others, I favor and welcome the opportunity to open my home (and cabinets) to those who care little about the messiness of life and home, and more about time well spent with friends and loved ones. And so I invite you in (electronically or otherwise), to grab a cuppa, pull up a chair, and let’s shoot the breeze (breeze = wind= #5!).










The Beginning

So, here we are.
It’s a frigid day in Mid-March on Long Island and, after chatting with the folks at GoDaddy (understanding about ten percent of the information they shared), it seems my domain is ‘mapped’ and we’re good to go. Writing this blog has been a mission of mine for more than a year. Technical glitches (read: there is no geek in my genes) have prevented me from doing so, and if you asked me a week ago about the blog’s progress, I would have told you I gave up and moved on. Today however, after bitching (loudly) about the auto-renewal setting and discovering I was charged for another blissful yet unproductive year of needleandthorn.com, I decided Divine intervention and/or karma and/or good omen and/or serendipity really, really, wanted me to forge ahead with the idea of building and sharing a blog.
So, again, here we are.
But why? And why ‘Needle and Thorn?’
As evidenced by my prickly little subtitle above, the daily challenges that befall me (and my loved ones) seem worth sharing. About a year ago, I encouraged my husband of nearly three decades (the ‘thorn’ part of Needle and Thorn), that we needed to find common ground (pun partially intended) to rekindle what might have been misplaced during our child-rearing years. We started out as young (appropriately~ green) parents and seemingly, we blinked and our two (spectacular) kids were out of diapers, out of braces, out of teen angst, and out of the house. The blissful state of empty-nesting was lost somewhere between the states of neglected home and neglected marriage. I considered calling the blog ‘Life Interrupted’ because in so many ways, that title applies to how we’ve (foolishly) lived for the past few decades. Instead however, we arrived at Needle and Thorn because the title speaks to my love of, and passion for the needle arts (quilting, sewing, wool-felt embroidery…) and my husband’s love of, and passion for all things green and growing. Together, our hope is to share snippets of our daily, sometimes prickly/thorny  struggles/celebrations/insights and to cultivate a stronger, more colorful foundation that will support us as we navigate the future together.
I don’t suppose I’m off to a great start, since I can’t figure out simple things like where to put my photos and how to add simple italics to a post. But this is real life, and neither we, nor this blog will be perfect. I’ll call upon my Amish friends here and remind you, dear readers, that they believe only God is perfect, and thus, much of their handiwork includes some small, intentional imperfection to serve as a reminder that we (collectively) are here by His design. And whether intentional or not, mistakes will happen (as evidenced by this blog, and our daily lives).
So this, our very first blog post, may be pedestrian at best. But, it’s a start, and it’s ours. Consider that we are planting a seed, or basting a row of stitches, to prepare ourselves for something bigger and stronger to come. We hope to share some of our creative endeavors with you and we encourage you to join/start a conversation (once I figure out how to manage the comments section, I’ll provide more info).
Until the next post, I (we) wish you early spring blooms and straight seams.
mishpaul car pic (3)

American Holly @ Wertheim National Wildlife Refuge