Still Workin’

Some days things take longer than others. You know those times, when the internet lags, but all the work you need to do is online with approaching deadlines and then the power goes out. Yep, that’s how these days can feel. Some folks complain about the weather being too hot. Some folks give their opinions over politics. Some of us just keep on truckin’. I find that I’m still working on some ideas and projects that never seem to end. 2020 holds that theme of never-ending. When will Covid-19 “end”? When will the political banter “end”?

The Neverending Story

Perhaps we all need a winsome Luck Dragon like Falkor to take us away from all the woes of the world. OR maybe we can use some creative outlets to break the tension, anxiety and uncertainties. Then, those outlets might allow us to think more clearly and solve the quandaries of today with less quarrel. I allow my creative outlets to produce results that hopefully inspire our readers. Whether in the garden, kitchen, studio, or makerspace, it is my goal to keep us positively motivated. We are all in this time together. Let’s make the best of it!

Seize the Season

One way to make the best of life is to use that which is at hand. BLUEBERRIES are now at hand, or should I say in season at this very moment. I made a beeline to Peek-a-Blueberry Farm in Bath, NY to get my hands full of these azure colored gems. Since our most local berry farm in town is closed due to Covid-19, I had to do some research. If you have never picked your own fruit, promise that you will put this on your bucket list. That sweet farm I found even provides a picking bucket and I overfilled it. With all that abundance I tested a scrumptious Blueberry Lemon Loaf recipe from Isa Does It by Isa Chandra Moskowitz. If you are local to the Southern Tier Library System, please check out the book for all the vegan inspiration. If you are a reader from a far-off universe, test this recipe from V is for Vegetables. This recipe far surpasses the old adage of making lemonade from life’s lemons.

Masks are Lemons

If you read Work with Whatcha Got, this mask was in progress. It certainly has become a Lemony Snicket! I wanted to test a different pattern in an extra large size to compare it to our Face Mask Pattern and Tutorial. I wanted a slouchy effect that felt more like a bandana tied around my head than a close-fitting face mask. This tutorial is one of the most popular on YouTube, so I wanted to give it a whirl. The pattern size is slightly larger than the one Tangled Hangers provided, but after a few tweaks and retries, I struggle with the design. It’s just too big on my face. Dastardly Device! Luckily, the majority of my Work with Whatcha Got ensemble is complete and ready to reveal.

The headband I created out of the excess fabric from the skirt hem. It fits very well and holds down those stray hairs on a hot day. To make a similar one, follow this tutorial and share your creation in the comments. I wanted to accent the tank top with some fabric from the skirt to tie the two together. There was a sheet of paper towel closest at hand, so it became my pattern paper. I creased the paper in the seam gap on the shoulder strap and cut out an abstract shape. The pattern was traced onto the fabric, then pinned in place on the shirt. I decided to alter the shape just before the final application.

Tell me what you think of my work. I enjoy this comfortably cool “new” addition to my wardrobe as much as I enjoyed the journey of upcycling the “lemons” from my closet. Although some parts of the project took longer than expected, it feels great to meet my goal. While we can’t control what comes at us tomorrow, we can Keep Calm and Create.

I’m still working on creating new programs for the (dare I say) Fall season. In the meantime, I have to return to this free (until August 31) Anti-racism Training. There is a lot of work ahead of us. The work begins with you. The work begins with me.

That’s a wrap for this stationary moment. I’ll check you on the flip side!

Work with Whatcha Got!

Working with What I Have

As a special #SeWednesday treat, we’ve been working with Jesse Beardslee, owner of Themis and Thread . Jesse’s sewing expertise has been guiding our audience on how to Work with Whatcha Got on the Southeast Steuben County Library YouTube channel. I decided to take some of the lessons and put them to use by working with what I have in my home.

Work with Whatcha Got- Upcycled Skirt

Using my creative license, I roughly followed the tutorials. The outfit I assembled needed more alterations to even fit or wear correctly. I worked in reverse order of these tutorials. First, I began with the skirt of my outfit. The skirt is actually the last of our #SeWednesday tutorial series. I invite you to the Premiere of Work with Whatcha Got- Upcycled Skirt on Wednesday, July 30 at 6pm.

Skirt Alteration

The purple skirt I chose from my pile of items to be mended needed nine inches of fabric removed and a hem to make it more comfortable. I am short and long skirts make me feel shorter. In order to wear this skirt with confidence, I put it on and placed a pin at the length I preferred. To give a visual idea of the full length of the skirt, I let my trusty assistant (dress form), “Laverne” try it on. Once I cut off the excess fabric, I also cut the lining and prepared it for a hem. The lining was hemmed 2 inches shorter than the outer fabric, to avoid seeing it. My trusty machine, ‘Nina offered a decorative hem stitch to the outer fabric. The skirt now falls just below my knees and feels much more my style!

Stitched Tank

A tank top I purchased last summer was torn after I washed it! I was inclined to return it to the store, but the time and cost to do so never calculated correctly in my mind. I am frugal. I knew that my time combined with the fossil fuels I would burn to drive 30 minutes in 2 directions cost much more than the value of this shirt. I also knew that my sewing skills could handle this problem lickety-split! I did not know how nervous I was to sew knit fabrics. As Jesse coaches us in the Work with Whatcha Got series, don’t fret knits! Just use a zigzag setting on your sewing machine on a long stitch and go slow. This stitch fix can also be done by hand sewing, but I like to make machines do the hard work. —-Nina is fine with that 🙂

Accessorize

Accessories are key to any outfit. Last week’s #SeWednesday tutorials guided you how to create an Upcycled Belt . I saved the excess skirt fabric to do just that, but also had enough to make a headband, belt, and this newly required, yet fabulous accessory we never anticipated to be required in our lives! Can you guess what I’m making to finish off my style? That’s right, it’s a face mask. We must accept these fashion features in our lives for an uncertain amount of time. Just like scarves, earrings, and hats, face masks are part of our ensembles. Why not have them coordinate? I only used the outer skirt fabric, because it is cotton. We only want to use natural fabrics to breathe through. The polyester lining will be used in the future to make a handbag or cosmetic pouch.

Upcycled Flower Pin

In the last tutorial of the Work with Whatcha Got series, we also learn how to make a fabric flower. Taking the extra skirt fabric and sewing notions, I whipped up an accessory to my outfit. I decided to finish the back with a pin and reinforced backing fabric. Now, I can wear the pin whenever I choose.

Hair Flowers

I had “sew” much fun making that flower, that I found another alternative. By adding a bit of bias tape sewn as a loop, then stitched to the backing fabric, I created a hair accessory. Bobby pins or barrettes will fit in the looped bias tape, holding the fabric flower to your hair style. Check back next week when I reveal my entire ensemble.

Yoga in the Parks

If you missed the news, we have a LIVE AND IN PERSON Yoga in the Parks series this summer. Join Elizabeth Moses of Crystal Heart Yoga every Saturday at 9am for a fresh start to your weekend! The schedule is as follows:

August 1
Caton Park, 1180 Riff Rd, Corning, NY 14830

August 15 and August 22
Hornby Park, Kerrick Hollow Road, Corning, NY 14830

August 29 and September 5
Lindley Little League Ballfield, 9136 Presho School Rd, Painted Post, NY 14870

Top Secret!

As we aim to stay active and creative, I’ve been exploring our region. Treasure awaits you! There is a secret I am developing. This might be a clue. I dare you to guess. You might want to register in the game now, before it’s released at the end of August…

That’s a wrap for this stationary moment. I’ll check you on the flip side!

Patio Pizza Pots

Grow bags are a something I learned about in quarantine. Their name describes them precisely. These are bags meant for growing! Since grow bags are made of fabric, aeration and drainage are optimal versus the common plastic or terra cotta flower pots. They can be sourced online or even made on a sewing machine. While just about any supply was out of stock in stores during lock-down, I was able to purchase this pack of bags from the big name we dare not mention. Although I took the easy route to obtaining these bags, they can be sewn with many types of fabric. A couple of patrons sewed dozens of grow bags in our makerspace, Creation Station to plant sapling apple trees in the making of a small orchard.

How to Sew a Grow Bag

If you have the will to make your own bags, follow these instructions from Northern Homestead. They recommend using weed control landscape fabric to make the bags instead of using it under your mulch in the garden beds. I concur that landscape fabric has little weed control ability and am certainly intrigued to make bags with the roll I purchased, but never used.

The bags I purchased are durable, more so than the landscape fabric will create, but I’m willing to test that theory for curious minds. Perhaps making grow bags will be a lesson we cover in an upcoming #SeWednesday. Whatd’ya think?

Grow Bags First Test with Ginger

Ginger was a crop I learned to grow this season. I also learned she’s a temperamental girl in this Northeast climate. Our spring literally sprung temperatures to both extremes. It was deceptive weather patterns and an anxious gardener that helped hinder the health of the green sprouts you see above, but the grow bags had their first test and won my approval! For a second try, I decided to put to test a program idea that was in development with Bluebird Trail Farm before our lives were flipped for the foreseeable future. Let me walk you through making a Pizza Patio Pot.

Tomato Plant First Aid with Grow Bags

The main ingredient of pizza, after dough, is tomato sauce. A neighbor gifted me a flat of tomato plants–that’s 32 plants! My empty garden beds filled quickly, leaving about 12 plants that still needed love. I took the strongest of the leftovers along with the grow bags and attempted a little tomato plant first aid. Extreme day sun and another frost bit these plants hard, but I wanted to see how much resuscitation I could actually provide, while possibly inspiring some of our readers.

Potted Plants are Happy Again

Using the recipe for Square Foot Gardening, I filled up three bags with the materials I had left. Each bag holds seven gallons of dirt, so I felt it worth the risk to place 2 tomato plants in each bag. I had three beets and three basil plants to add to these pots and decided they could be the most delicious Pizza Patio Pots for any gardener. *I would add beets to my pizza, yes I would. For those opposed to beets on pizza, I recommend adding herbs like oregano and parsley that you like in tomato sauce.

Protection from Wood Chips

After the bags were filled with the growing medium, I wanted to add a layer of wood chips as mulch. As I added the layer of chips to finish each bag, I cupped my hand to cover the tiny basil plant and protect the leaves from damage. I often get lost in the YouTube rabbit hole of curiosities and found these Back to Eden garden tours with Paul Gautschi who recognizes the power of wood chips for bountiful gardens. This was just another layer of experimentation to my experiment. Would the wood chip layer help maintain moisture to the plants, while feeding the plants with nutrients as the chips break down throughout the season? Watch a video with Paul if you have a few hours to be inspired by his admiration for nature’s free fertilizer.

Pizza Pots in Process

Once each grow bag had their layer of wood chips, it was time to water these puppies and let them process their magic over the growing season. We saw the driest June and July in over a decade of living in the Fingers Lakes, so the little green watering can was my best friend for several weeks. I kept the bags on the grass, so water can flow right through, but they can be place on a patio or porch, as long as they receive enough sunlight. Remember water will flow through, so if you might want to protect the surface upon which you place these pots. I found that baking sheets work very well for keeping the water from sitting on a wooden porch step. Any liquid that is collected gets absorbed over time.

The Three Amigas

After four weeks, the towering tomato plants above are those I resuscitated. Either the wood chips or an attentive gardener helped them regain health. Each plant is starting to provide cherry tomatoes. The beet leaves are growing large and luscious. I look forward to a fresh salad with them soon. I implemented branches as a support system so the stem stay upright. You could opt for tomato cages instead.

Jesse Beardslee of Themis and Thread

Join me as we continue the #SeWednesday series, Work with Whatch Got. The talented Jesse Beardslee of Themis and Thread and Hector Handmade will guide us on how to sew an Upcycled Waistband or Separate Belt using materials we already have in our closets. Follow this link to watch the premiere this Wednesday, July 22 a 6pm EST.

When you’re finished with the tutorial, set your scopes for the skies. July 22 is our last chance to easily catch a glimpse of Comet NEOWISE for another 6,800 years! Be sure to reach a high vista for the best view. I am waiting for my chance to show the snapshot skills I built in the Photo Fun with Dan Gallagher class we hosted over the weekend. My Nikon is charged and ready, I hope you are as well.

FREE, LIVE and IN PERSON Yoga Series

We have a terrific announcement for all aspiring yogis. The Yoga with Elizabeth Moses video series we have hosted online since lock-down is now in person at area parks for the next six Saturdays! Please mark your calendars to travel our coverage area and practice sun salutations in together in nature! July 25 and August 1 are our first park visit. Set your GPS for Caton Park, 1180 Riff Rd, Corning, NY 14830.

Stay creative and keep in touch until we meet again.

That’s a wrap for this stationary moment. I’ll check you on the flip side!

Sacred Herb Spiral

As I prepared for the end of days with the Great Pause of 2020, the best way to maintain my sanity was to garden. I know a lot of Americans began to step away from their technology as the weather warmed up and stepped their shovels into freshly tilled earth. This was the way I survived Quarantine and want to share the trials and progress.

Scrap metal and Varmints

Pinterest is usually my platform for inspiration. I love to discover trending crafts and Do-It-Yourself projects to tackle, then share my experiences with our readers. The Sacred Herb Spiral is one of those projects that immediately spoke to me. Luckily I had a spot on my homestead to revitalize. Some junk metal that housed mice and other farm style varmints (Bleh!) for several years finally moved to the curbside. Time for improvement.

Unearthed Soil

My husband became a major resource of muscles and determination to help see this project through to completion. I admit I’m a bit lazy once the heat beats down and the weed roots travel deeper than my arm… Leaving this patch of land unused and unloved for years proved how much love we needed to return in order to see the balance in reciprocation.

Setting up the Layout

Druids used this type of gardening method. Herbalists and Square Foot Gardeners appreciate this technique for keeping beneficial perennials with medicinal properties close at hand for herbal concoctions. The design can be built vertically to accommodate small spaces. The space we chose is on a slope and allows for a meditative walk in, around, up, and out.

Preparing the Path

The herbs I added in this garden plot were all started from seed from a local vendor that I HIGHLY recommend, Fruition Seeds. They are a seed supplier, very local to the Finger Lakes (FLX) region, so the seeds and crops they produce are proven to grow in Upstate soils. The folks at Fruition are also the BEST supporters of all gardening questions. I barely wait a few hours before receiving a very thoughtful response to a question that I initially felt awkward to ask for fear of being too silly. Remember, that old adage about unasked questions…ask away! Feel free to do so here, that’s what this project is all about.

Meditative Spiral

My main purpose for this garden plot was to provide a meditative space for walking and clearing thoughts. There are optional plans to consider the four directions or coordinate plants to earth’s elements. Instead of getting too deep into plant placement, I went with my gut on where each plant belonged. If I change my mind, I can rearrange whenever I choose. Allowing your artistic license to have authority is the best part of any creative project.

Structure Nearly Complete

After researching various ways to accomplish a Sacred Herb Spiral, I knew I wanted to keep the surface flat and allow a guest to enjoy this walk as much as I will enjoy harvesting it. We created a spiral with a rock path for walking. The areas of dirt on each side of the rocks allow for planting. All of the rocks you see were dug from cultivating this plot of ground. The amazingly rocky Upstate soil never ceases to provide the sediment!

Planting Time!

After the spiral structure and rock path was complete, the fun part of planting arrived. Now here is where the wonky part begins. My seedling tray was mislabeled.(!!!) Plants I assumed were one thing began to grow into a totally different specimen! I know this is all user error, or multiple errors combined (insert giggles and eyerolls)… so much for gut feeling on where plants should go. My goal was to place tulsi basil in the center, as the star of the plot. I am actually not quite certain what is growing in the center. I assume it’s marshmallow, but only time and the flowers will tell me. There are more question marks on this map than I want to admit, but confess I will. That’s part of this project. I’m sharing my successes and failures so you can learn from my mistakes.

A bit of Confusion

Despite a few seeding errors, I love this space and enjoyed the process. I learned that the stings I got on my skin were from a highly revered Stinging Nettle, which is more of a weed in my garden. I have much to learn about this bountiful healing herb.

Ironically, this spiral garden was constructed the day of George Floyd’s murder. The intent for this space to heal the soul promptly proved it’s purpose. With grace, we dedicate this space in memory of all beings whose lives are cut short.

Pollinator’s Promise

Now that I’ve shared this precious process with you, I hope you are inspired to take on a similar challenge. Gardening is the simplest way to stay active and connected with Mother Earth and oneself. After a rough day, the last thing I want to do is weed, but once my hands are in the dirt, I see the progress and feel the rewards. I always recognize the stress deplete and disappear while I am in this happy space. I wish the same for you.

The e’Scape Plan

I invite you to return soon for more creative endeavors. Do you know what those green spirals are? They are the flowering stems of garlic called scapes. Check back next week for a recap of my adventure on canning and storing this first-of-the-season farm harvest.

Image by Dan Gallagher

Before I close, I want to highlight an upcoming online class scheduled for Saturday, July 18 from 11-1pm EST. Register today by clicking this link for Photography Fun with Dan Gallagher. Do you want to take the best photographs with your camera, but need real-world some guidance?  Invest in your dream and start learning creative photography from an experienced photographer and teacher.  Dan Gallagher will show you how to use the settings of your camera to achieve shots you’ve only seen in magazines.  Interchangeable lens camera preferred, any camera can be used to learn new skills. This class has limited seats and will be hosted on Zoom. If you are eager for more library program options, check out the calendar packed with options for all ages.

Jesse Beardslee of Themis and Thread

I like to call the middle day of the week #SeWednesday. We’ll be sewing together on July 15 at 6pm with Jesse Beardslee of Themis and Thread. Learn how to “Work with Whatcha Got.” This will be the first of a three part sewing tutorial series. Jesse will guide you in creating an Upcycled Dress Bodice or Separate Top. Tune in on the Southeast Steuben County Library YouTube channel for the 6pm premiere on July 15.

There is sew much fun on the horizon. I look forward to learning with you. That’s a wrap for this stationary moment. I’ll catch you on the flip side!

Face Masks Forward

It’s SeWednesday–or is it?! *** Covid-19 is taking over our lives, but I thought another kind of takeover would be more fun. I invited Tangled Hangers Designs to takeover our blog for the day. She’s been busy in her studio sewing face masks for our community, but made time to offer a Face Mask Tutorial. She included a little video and provided the pattern. Her design includes five size options, as well as a pocket to insert a filtration fabric. Reports change daily on the value of a face mask, but a unified stance has risen in the maker community. Supplies will be provided to the front line if they must be stitched in every home in the United States. We are all in this together. Without further ado, let’s get by with a little help from our #FLX friends.

Ha! It’s not Wednesday (or maybe it is??), but watch for more #SeWednesday installments for sewing instruction and exploration. Tell us if you are making face masks or helping #ProtectTheFrontline in other ways. Show us your results if you sew-along with this tutorial. Tune in today at 4pm for a Watch Party on the Southeast Steuben County Library YouTube channel to see the creator at work. The video will be available for future reference. ❤ Read Creation Stationary, but don’t be a stationary creator. Get making!