I made another tote!

 - by Jean

Following my first tote I made, I jumped in making my second tote bag!  I followed the market tote tutorial exactly but decided to make some adjustments to better suit my liking.  For starters, I wanted a longer strap.  The 21″ strap was fine for holding but to sling over the shoulder, 6 more inches made it perfect and comfortable!  Grin

Another thing I decided to change was not putting interfacing on everything.  This time, I put the Craft Fuse on the two bottom pieces, along with the outer piece of fabric where the bottom pieces don’t cover, essentially making the interfacing only 1 ply thick on the bag.  I didn’t add interfacing to the handles on this second tote, I wanted a softer floppy handle verses one that stood up straight.  I think moving forward, I may do interfacing on just one piece of the fabric so it’s one layer instead of two in the original market tote tutorial.  I’ll have to test it out and see what I like more.

I did also cut my handles to a width of 2.5″ instead of the original 2″.  I find that with 2 layers of interfacing in the handle made it really hard to turn inside out.  It literally took me a half hour or more to flip it.  So this time I made the handles just a tad wider but without interfacing, it was much easier to turn with the wider width.  My straps were cut to 27″x2.5″ long. With the wider handles, I did fold over the middle of the handle length wise and sewed about 5″ to create a narrower handle, I like it!

Another tote adjustment I made was to shrink the bag down a tiny bit.  This was more so a decision to make a smaller bag.  Original size of the fabric was 21″x19″, I cut my fabric to 20″x18″ so it wasn’t that much smaller but it was a better size for carrying and for using the craft fuse since that width is 20″.

I didn’t put interfacing on the inside lining but I’m not sure how to feel about it yet.  Obviously it’s softer without the structure of the interfacing.  The lining still bunches up a bit like there’s excess fabric but not so much that it’s annoying.  I’m wondering if using a lighter weight interfacing would be more ideal.   I did sew some pockets to the inside lining for my cell phone, pen, and extra pocket for other goodies!  My stitching is less than desirable on the pocket since I put interfacing on that part along with a coordinating binding so it was really thick to sew and I went over it a few times to make sure it wasn’t going to pull apart.  I’ll do better next time.  Yes

One last thing I changed was to leave the opening for turning at the top between one of the handles instead of leaving the opening in the bottom of the lining which later would have to be hand sewn shut. I’m still not that skilled at hand stitching so leaving the opening at the top, I was able to sew it closed with matching thread very close to the edge. I like it, much easier and looks better.

Here are some pics of my second tote bag:

Tote bag pinned inside out

Tote bag pinned inside out

Handles are floppy on this tote since there's no interfacing inside.

Handles are floppy on this tote since there’s no interfacing inside.

I added pockets to this tote.  I didn't put interfacing on the lining so it's soft.

I added pockets to this tote. I didn’t put interfacing on the lining so it’s soft.

The finished market tote, my version :)

The finished market tote, my version Smile

Tote #1 and Tote #2, the front one is slightly smaller.

Tote #1 and Tote #2, the front one is slightly smaller.

Despite the fact this was my second tote, it didn’t take me less time than the first one since I was making adjustments along the way. I really like the colors and patterns I chose for this tote bag. The outer fabric was another remnant find while I bought the 100% cotton lining at regular price. All in all, I’m very pleased with the adjustments I made, one step closer to sewing the perfect tote bag! I can’t wait to make another tote!  Dance

Jean

I made a tote bag!

 - by Jean

Ever since getting my new sewing machine back in December, a tote bag is something I wanted to learn to sew. I use reusable totes all the time when I go grocery shopping. Some of the totes I’ve had are at least a few years old and I noticed that the seams are starting to tear and stitching coming undone.

I love totes, well bags in general. The ones I own and often sold at stores are usually plain and boring, not to mention thin and cheap in material. Even the nicer strong nylon bags I have that cost $10 each are still one ply and have ripped. I haul a lot of heavy items from Costco in them. Well, this is the perfect opportunity for me to create some colorful unique tote bags with pretty matching lining to take with me on shopping trips or general use!  Grin

After reading through a lot of tutorials and watching countless youtube videos on making tote bags, I decided to tackle The Market Tote Tutorial.

The first tote bag I made, I followed the instructions exactly as written, all 36 steps. It literally took me all night and into the morning, probably a good 8 hours to make one bag! I’m not getting rich making and selling bags nor would it be a viable business, Ms Slow Poke. Blush  Some steps had me scratching my head while others were just trickier than it seems.

I think part of the reason it took me so long to do was because I’ve never made one before and didn’t/couldn’t grasp the concept of how to make a tote bag with an inside lining. When you buy totes at stores, I’ve never really seen them with a lining, at least not the grocery totes. That may be so it’s easy and cheap to manufacture in large quantities and would make it easier to wash/wipe clean from grocery spills. I wanted a pretty lining and a more substantial quality bag….well, hand made quality. Smile

So here are the pics for my first tote bag:

My First Market Tote!

My First Market Tote!

It's a big size, can fit a binder and notebook with no problems!

It’s a big size, can fit a binder and notebook with no problems!

It stands and hangs well.  It's large!

It stands and hangs well. It’s large!

The fabric I used were mostly remnant pieces I picked up at Joann Fabrics or Hancock Fabrics, I love sifting through the remnant bin for good finds. The lining piece I bought on sale, I like the bright cheery color and dragonflies and thought it would compliment well. I am quite pleased with myself for finishing this and had the thought to put a label on it especially since I figured out how to print on fabric last week. Label, sewing, qr code, new url, it’s all coming together finally…

I ended up using Pellon Decor Bond I bought at Wal-Mart for the interfacing for this bag. The only difference between the decor bond and Craft Fuse is the double width and it’s folded over. I have a bolt of the Craft Fuse as well but I have to do more cutting since the tutorial called for 21″ x 19″ where as the Craft fuse was only 20″ width while the Decor Bond was 45″ wide folded over, I can cut both pieces at one time. The interfacing may have been a bit too much, everything stood up and it is well structured so it’s not floppy. I had a hard time turning the the bag inside out through the 5″ opening in the lining per instructions. The interfacing just made everything very thick and bulky but it’s not going to fall over, that’s for sure. Moving forward, I would like a longer handle and maybe some inside pockets. For my first tote bag, it came out well, I’m looking forward to making more and perfecting it!  Beauty

Jean

My first Rag Quilt is finished!

 - by Jean

Rag Quilt wasn’t something I initially set out to make, in fact, I had no idea what it was until I stumbled upon some videos on Youtube about them. After watching and reading a few tutorials on rag quilts being a good beginner quilt to make, I’m on board, let’s do this!   Victory

The premise of a rag quilt is that you create a quilt sandwich which consists of a front piece on top of an optional smaller piece of batting on top of a back piece, all sewn together corner to corner forming an X. Then each sandwich is sewn together with a 1″ seam allowance turned to the front of the quilt. When all squares in one row is sewn together, then each row is sewn to the next row with proper seam alignment. Once all sandwiched pieces are sewn together, a 1″ seam allowance is sewn around the border of the quilt. After that you’re ready to use your handy Fiskars 8.5 Inch Softouch Spring Action Rag Quilter Snip to cut 1/2″ – 3/4″ snips into that 1″ seam allowance WITHOUT snipping the sewn thread. These snipper scissors are awesome!! Laugh Sure my hand still cramped after 3 hours of snipping but I suspect it would have been way worse if I didn’t have them. Plus they are sharp and cut through the fabric without problems as long as you’re not trying to cut through 6 layers at the same time.

Here are some pics of my Rag Quilt process:

Making a Quilt Sandwich

Making a Quilt Sandwich

Pinning Quilt Sandwich

Pinning Quilt Sandwich

Chain Piecing Quilt Squares

Chain Piecing Quilt Squares

Sewing together Quilt Sandwiched Squares

Sewing together Quilt Sandwiched Squares

Pinning and Clipping together rows of Quilt Squares for sewing

Pinning and Clipping together rows of Quilt Squares for sewing

Using Quilt Snips

Using Quilt Snips

Snip every 1/2" apart and 3/4" deep WITHOUT snipping thread.

Snip every 1/2″ apart and 3/4″ deep WITHOUT snipping thread.

Snipping is done!

Snipping is done!

Finished snipping the Rag Quilt.

Finished snipping the Rag Quilt.

After washing and drying twice, it's all fluffy!

After washing and drying twice, it’s all fluffy!

The back of the Rag Quilt looks like a normal quilt.

The back of the Rag Quilt looks like a normal quilt.

Printed quilt label with corresponding qr code and shortened link.

Printed quilt label with corresponding qr code and shortened link.

I ended up washing and drying the rag quilt twice. The first time, it’s important to check the link trap often during the dry cycle to remove the build up of lint. The rag edges really shred in the washing machine and dryer. I read people suggest using a laundromat the first time washing and drying the rag quilt, I can see why. It left a lot of shreds in the washer after the first wash, the second wash was a lot less. The same is true with dryer. First time drying, every 10 minutes you should check the lint trap to remove the lint, there’s a lot! Another good thing to do is to take it outside (so there’s no cleanup inside) and shake the heck out of the quilt to remove shreds/lint after each washing and drying. After washing and drying twice, the edges are getting more “raggy”, I’m sure it will look even better after more washings.

I did have to use a pill remover/fabric shaver to get the cotton pills off of the quilt. It seems that the nursery cotton flannel tends to fuzz up and pill. I just want it to look best for presenting since it’s a gift.  Present

Here’s the pertinent info about this rag quilt:

Baby Rag Quilt
Made for: My new nephew Bo
Pieced, Sewn, Quilted by: Jean Eng
Location: Baltimore, Maryland, USA
Date: February 2015
Materials Used:
Front & Back: 100% Nursery Cotton (flannel)
Batting: 100% Cotton Warm and Natural Cotton Quilt Batting
Thread: Polyester
Label: 100% Cotton

All in all, I’m happy with the way it turned out. It’s a lot of cutting, sewing, and snipping but in the end, it produced a nice looking quilt. I think moving forward, I would use regular cotton, not flannel cotton for making this type of quilt. Regular cotton being thinner may make it easier to work with and may rag better too. I would also cut my squares bigger for adult size quilts, this was cut with 7″ squares and 5″ batting squares. I may go 10″ with 8″ batting next time.

Jean

Printing labels on fabric, trial, error, finally success…

 - by Jean

After many trials and errors, I finally got my labels printed on fabric for the quilts I’m making! It’s been a huge learning curve on making quilts and my initial attempt at just handwriting the labels with fabric pens proved to be not as appealing as I had hoped. Turns out that writing on fabric is not quite so easy nor legible.

I read through numerous websites that described the process which many included temporarily adhering by ironing your fabric piece to freezer paper for a backing so you can run it through your printer. The freezer paper gave it some thickness and weight and formed a stiffer piece of fabric to feed into your printer. I didn’t try this with freezer paper but I did copy the same idea and used a product by Pellon called Fuse-N-Tear Stabilizer which is a stabilizer you iron on to the back of your fabric to stiffen it up for machine embroidering. I bought this stabilizer initially to test out the monogramming feature on my sewing machine to see if I could do a simple label. Many sample tests proved that monogramming feature is not a viable option for producing a small label that looked ok enough to not embarrass me. Since I bought 12 yards of the stabilizer, I put it to good use!  Laugh

The next hurdle was getting the printer ink to set without washing away. This was again not an easy task. My main printer is an old inkjet HP Photosmart. It prints fine and I’m familiar with it so I was able to create 4″x6″ stabilized fabric pieces to run through the printer using the built in 4×6 tray. I did the whole let it dry, heat set the ink with iron, soak it in vinegar to supposedly further set the ink, a quick rinse in water and allow to dry. Result was that most of the ink would run and washed away.

Just printing and let dry, wash it and the ink disappeared. Printing and heat set with iron also washed off most of the ink, it left a greenish trace of what the printing looked like from black ink. Heat set and then soaked in vinegar didn’t make much of a difference than the previous method. I wonder if I can just skip this step altogether with labels I eventually printed with success.

The problem with the ink running isn’t so much the methods I used but rather with the type of ink I had in my printer. It turns out that pigment ink is what sticks around while dyed ink will just wash away. Pigment ink is the more permanent ink which also equate to the higher price tag on ink cartridges, it’s said to be non-yellowing, archival, and doesn’t fade over time, typically seen in photo printing. Even though my HP printer will do great photo printing, it doesn’t use pigment ink, it’s dyed. There is also a product called Bubble Jet Set and Bubble Jet Rinse to help set ink to fabric by prepping the fabric to take the ink better. I didn’t want to go that route with extra work and expense until absolutely necessary, plus I’d rather limit my use of chemicals and use more natural products.

I was beginning to think nothing about this whole quilting project is ever going to be easy and go smoothly. But I kept going because being able to print the label means that I can graphically produce a nice looking fancier label with all the bells and whistles of modern day technology and hopefully doesn’t continue to add to my growing sewing costs, I have spent WAY too much money on all things sewing related.  Razz

After scouring the web for a solution to my new problem, reading countless forum threads, watching dozens of youtube videos, and sifting through numerous blog comments, not to mention the constant brainstorming I endured to figure out a way to make it work in the most cost effective way, I realized that I have an even older piece of crap Epson cheapo printer that came bundled with some computer purchase my brother made many moons ago. The only reason I have kept this printer is because it has a photocopy feature that doesn’t need to be hooked up to a computer to work. Every tax season I dredge it out to make copies of forms and documents and it barely works. The ink is super expensive and it runs out fast, it doesn’t print very well and it’s completely finicky and slow. BUT Epson inks are supposedly pigment ink! So my brilliant idea was to see if I can use it print up a label.

Sounds easy enough…. After realizing that despite a 3/4 full black ink cartridge, if the other 3 color cartridges are empty, this printer simply will not operate at all. And I wasn’t about to fork out $15+ for each of the 3 cartridges on this printer to see if using it for printing on fabric is an option. So I had another brilliant idea! Yes  I’ll just buy some cheapo refilled ink from Amazon.com for this printer and swap out the empty color ink cartridges with non-genuine Epson ink but use the genuine black Epson ink that’s pigmented to do my fabric label printing! I ended up getting the 12pk for $15, it was cheap enough to test. If it works and for some reason I want to do color labels down the road, I can always fork out the cash but I seriously doubt it. I can always use the cheap ink for printing on paper.

Two, maybe three days I spent messing with the printer after the ink arrived. The trick of swapping out the cartridge did work, the printer would pop up with a dialogue about recognizing that I’m not using genuine Epson ink…um, whatever! Running the clean nozzle and head 4 times finally produced a cleaner looking image on paper. The true test is on the fabric. I had paper jams, errors and more errors, slow response, non-response…this printer just doesn’t play nice at all Pain  but after numerous threats of its impending death by a second story window toss, it began to cooperate! I’ve learned a few things about this printer’s massive limitations and have finessed it within it’s parameters to produce a decent looking label. The Genuine Epson Ink doesn’t seem to wash off at all in water or through laundering, YES!!!

I still created my stabilized backing in the standard 8.5×11 size but I would cut out 4×6 size fabric pieces to iron onto the backing along with filler fabric for the empty spots. This way I can do my graphic design in a 4×6 environment and print it off on different sections of the page without wasting a full 8.5×11 piece of fabric. It peels off easy and I can reuse it a few times by ironing a new 4×6 piece to replace the one I printed and peeled off. Less waste is joyous!

I’m really happy with the way the labels came out. I used a white 100% cotton muslin fabric and the black ink really popped. I did set it in a pan of vinegar to supposedly set the ink more after I heat set it with the iron for 15-20 seconds for a few rounds. I did test with vinegar and without, frankly I can’t tell the difference. Neither washed off in soap and water and both looked similar without fading. If the Epson ink didn’t work out, my next option was to get a lower end Canon PIXMA as I read others have had success using a Pixma. Glad I didn’t have to spend more money now than I did, I’m sure my husband is happy too! Eventually it would be nice to get a newer wireless photo printer, but for now, this will do.

Check out my new quilt label printed on fabric:

Sections of fabric fused onto 8.5"x11" stabilizer for fabric printing

Sections of fabric fused onto 8.5″x11″ stabilizer for fabric printing

printed quilt label

Printed fabric label sewed to a quilt square, how cute is that?

Printed fabric label sewn into the quilt, looks awesome!

Printed fabric label sewn into the quilt, looks awesome!

Printed label here has been washed twice and it still looks great and the qr code still scans!

Printed label here has been washed twice and it still looks great and the qr code still scans!

One of the big pluses to printing your own labels on fabric is that you can customize it however you want, whether it’s on a page of labels or each individual one. Here I have decided that since starting out with my sewing projects and quilt making that it’s a nice idea to label them with different unique QR codes that reference a shorten url to a page that talks about that particular sewing project. The reason for my own vanity shorten url site is to have more control over all my links. The shorter the url, the less complicated the QR code graphic will look. On fabric, a less busy qr code graphic may be more important than on paper.

I have read that quilt labels are very important to give a history of when, where, why and by whom the quilt was made, linking to a page is an extension of that, to give a fuller background. Despite the week I’ve had, it’s been a good learning experience and I’m very happy at the final results! Grin

Jean

I made my first quilt for my new baby nephew Bo!

 - by Jean

I’m so excited on the new addition to the family! He’s living in a cold climate and what’s better to welcome baby Bo into the world than a snuggly baby quilted blanket? Well, I guess warmer weather would also be nice, I suppose.

Over the holidays I got a new Brother XR1355 Computerized 130-Stitch Sewing & Quilting Machine and so my current joy is learning how to sew. It’s computerized and works great, plus I got it at Costco at a really good price too! It’s leaps and bounds better than the sewing machine my mom has (probably 20+ years old) that I would sometimes borrow to make pillows or fix ripped seams. That’s about the extent of my previous sewing abilities, throw pillows and mending clothes.

I contemplated on getting a nicer sewing machine that I could grow with that can do embroidery but I didn’t have an extra $250+ bucks on top of what I already paid sitting around to buy a better one. Besides, I wasn’t sure how much use I’d get on it since I didn’t sew that often. Well, truth be told, I’m hooked on sewing and learning how to sew various different things I use, it’s actually really fun, frustrating at times but fun! Time consuming but fun! I’ve stuck myself so many times with pins but still fun!   Grin

So far I’ve made pin cushions since I needed one (or 5). I’ve also made a draft stopper for my mom’s basement door, she was (is) using just a towel to keep the draft out, I haven’t given it to her yet. I love picking up random nice remnant home decor fabric just to use for stuff like this….and throw pillows. I also have made dog bed pads and cushy pad for the dog crate. Oh, I did make some dog booties but that will be another post. I had this crazy idea to make a baby quilt while my sister in law was pregnant. I didn’t tell her what I was planning to do since I wasn’t sure if I can pull it off.

My first attempt at making a quilt has been a challenge. There is so much information online and I must’ve watched 2 dozen youtube videos on quilt making and spent hours reading tutorials and gawking at pictures of baby quilts. Well, they don’t call it home made for nothing…it’s definitely not perfectly stitched straight and I’m learning as I’m going. Initially I wanted to make a regular quilt but then I saw these rag quilts that looked interesting and had read they may be a good beginner first quilt to attempt. So I did a bunch of research and did some calculations and set out to cut out all my squares, front squares, back squares, and inside batting. It took a long time to pick out the fabrics and took longer to cut them all out, and even longer to figure out how I want them placed. Then I realized that I actually had enough fabric to do two quilts so one would be more of a thinner blanket and the other is thicker with batting. Back to the store for other materials, buying fabric is addictive, I think I may have a problem…

I ended up using some extra squares of fabric to make a super cute quilted pillow to go with the quilts. I wasn’t sure if it would be cute, it was an envelope style and first time piecing quilt squares together so it was either going to be a major disaster or the cutest pillow ever! Glad it was the latter.   Yes

quilted baby pillow

Quilted Baby Pillow

back of quilted baby pillow envelope style

Back of Quilted Baby Pillow Envelope Style

It was really good practice for me and I also did a rag quilt sample to see how it looks. I haven’t started on sewing the pieces of squares together for that quilt but have all the squares cut out. I hope it goes smoother than the quilted blanket I almost finished last night. I spent most of the day working on it, pinning and repinning. The snuggle fabric (minky type) I bought was hard to work with since it’s so soft and stretchy. Any mistakes I made sewing where the backing fabric bunched up slightly, the seams had to be ripped out and resewn. I think it took 3 times longer to rip the seams out than it did to sew it in the first place. And I learned a lot working with that material….the main thing I learn is to not use it, haha.

Here’s what I learned about working with snuggle fabric:

  • Always use a rotary cutter for cleaner, less snowy cuts of this fabric.
  • Always cut the fabric slightly bigger than the front piece by at least 1 inch all around. I made the mistake of cutting it to the same size and when it pulls and stretches, it totally was skewed. No matter how many pins (straight and basting pins) I stuck in the fabric to hold it in place, it would shift and lay slightly crooked by the time I got down to the bottom.
  • When “quilting” the front and back together, never pull, stretch, lay the weight of the blanket off the table where it will leave you with extra back fabric. I learned that the hard way. I sewed a line down the middle, and then a cross line intersecting. Well the intersecting line bunched and i overlapped my sewing. Taking out stitches from the snuggle fabric side is a major pain in the ass. I think it literally took me an hour or more to remove those two lines. The next go around, I relaxed the fabric all around and not force anything. I let it feed through slowly. I’m probably not the best person to explain this. Sewing 9 lines through the quilt took me hours to do and it was ok once I was painstakingly done.

After all that, I realized that the super cool looking multi-toned blue thread I bought was really sewn all over the place and very visible against the lighter patches of fabric. Oops! On the pillow, I used a cream color thread and it barely showed my mistakes. Blue thread was probably not the best choice and I didn’t really notice how terrible my lines were until I was done.   Frown Hey, they don’t call it handmade for nothing! I can find other things to obsessed over, like the label (sigh).

basting quilt

Basting the Quilt Sandwich together, so much sewing and pressing

quilted baby blanket

The almost finished Quilted Baby Blanket

snuggle minky fabric back on baby quilt

Snuggle (Minky) Fabric back on Baby Quilt

baby blanket and pillow set

Baby Blanket and Pillow Set

In that last pic, you can kind of see what I mean about the blue thread seams on the blanket vs the white thread on the pillow. For my first quilt, it didn’t turn out too bad, it’s cute Smile

Last night I was obsessing over labeling the quilt. I did add a label after the fact that was hand written with fabric ink on white cotton but I am rethinking it and testing a printed version. I just have to figure out how to make the ink not bleed nor fade from laundering. I have an idea of using a qr code on the label to correspond to the blog post that talks about that particular quilt so if you found me by scanning the qr code on a quilt label, yay, it must’ve worked! Here’s the pertinent facts about this quilt:

Quilted Baby Pillow
Made for: My new nephew Bo
Pieced, Sewn, Quilted by: Jean Eng
Location: Baltimore, Maryland, USA
Date: February 2015
Materials Used:
Front & Back: 100% Nursery Cotton (flannel)
Pillow Form: 100% Cotton
Pillow Fill: Poly-Fil
Thread: Polyester
Envelope Style Pillow case is removable for laundering

Quilted Baby Blanket
Made for: My new nephew Bo
Pieced, Sewn, Quilted by: Jean Eng
Location: Baltimore, Maryland, USA
Date: February 2015
Materials Used:
Front: 100% Nursery Cotton (flannel)
Back: Snuggle/Minky Fabric (polyester)
Label: 100% Cotton
Thread: Polyester

 

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Thanks for visiting!

Jean

Good intentions revived with SimpleJoysofLife.com after 4 years

 - by Jean

Back in 2011, I set out to start this blog, SimpleJoysofLife.com (still makes me smile seeing those words) and I’m not sure what happened. I had every intentions to make it the best blog I’ve ever put out. Through the years I’ve thought often about picking up where I left off but I didn’t, I got distracted with other aspects of life.  So much has happened in the last 4 years and I can’t very well backtrack and write about them as though it just happened, so I will do the next best thing…..just start anew and fulfill my good intentions.   I’m very happy and excited to start it up again, it’s good timing now, perhaps not so much before. Stay tuned. Smile

Chris Cornell’s Singing is like Being in Love

 - by Jean

I checked out the latest single by Chris Cornell titled “The Keeper” that’s currently shown on his website. I have always been a fan of Chris Cornell and every time I hear his voice singing, it touches me so deeply within. I don’t know what it is about his voice, it’s like magic!

Hearing Chris Cornell’s singing is like being in love

Being in love is the closest description I can give to how I feel when I listen to Chris Cornell sing. If you’ve ever been in love, you know the feeling I am describing….

The feelings of being in love

To me, it’s like you feel this deep consuming warmth that permeates your heart center and reaches deep within to touch your very soul. And every time you breathe in, it’s as though the entire world stands still and quiet and all you notice is that feeling of love and oneness. When you focus your attention on that very feeling, you notice that it expands like the love energy will literally burst and shoot out into the universe. Maybe that’s what stars really are…bits of expanded love energy in the sky. And the more you stay still and feel that incredible love, a tear rolls down your cheek. It’s magnificent, it’s the most beautiful thing to witness and experience.

Chris Cornell AudioslaveAnd hearing Chris Cornell sing feels that way to me. Just the way he uses his voice is absolutely amazing, such a gift to the world. I had the opportunity to see Chris Cornell in concert years ago up in Philly when he was the front man for Audioslave. That was one of the best shows I had ever been to and I have been to A LOT of concerts in my day. I really wish I was fortunate enough to see him on his solo tours but tickets sell out super fast for them. Chris Cornell’s first solo album titled “Euphoria Morning” is still one of my all time favorite albums. I wish I had seen him on that tour. Chris Cornell’s second album titled “Carry On” was introduced to me by this guy I dated years ago and I really like it a lot too.

This new single “The Keeper” does not disappoint at all and touches me deeply, I like it a lot. In Love

The Art and Skill of Merging Lanes

 - by Jean

I am a self proclaimed Expert Merger! What is an “Expert Merger” you may ask? Well I’ll tell you!

no traffic merging I’m very skilled at merging my car into driving lanes on the road! Grin Whether it’s on ramp, off ramp, traffic or not…well, I guess if there’s no traffic, then there’s no need to “merge”, I think merging lanes is a skill that not a lot of people have mastered.

How do I make such bold claims? Because I’m on the road driving behind these non-merging drivers and feeling the frustration of their hesitancy in merging lanes.

Merging Lanes is a Joy!

Today I was driving on an off ramp from a highway that merged onto another highway. In fact, this highway I was getting onto was at a split with yet another highway so it can be a bit confusing to some who’s never driven on it. But lucky for me, I navigate that road often enough to know what to do. Unfortunately, I ended up behind someone who I will categorize as a “non-merger”.

merging lanes Not only was this non-merger going super slow but they were straddling both lanes trying to decide which one they are suppose to take while oncoming traffic was fast approaching. For me, I didn’t need to merge over to the other highway but I wanted to be on my way and not get stuck behind a non-merger.

This is where Expert Merger strikes again!

As soon as the non-merger moved over more than half way with their lane straddling, I saw the opportunity to speed up and go around them! With a glimmer of joy in my eye, I seized this opportunity and I was on my way to my destination which I believe was me going home from the gym. I saw in my rear view mirror all the people wanting to be in my lane but unfortunate for them, the non-merger had delayed their attempts at merging lanes too.

In that brief delightful moment, I felt a smile form on my face. I was on my way and avoided a potential accident situation with non-mergers.

The Art and Skill in Merging Lanes

merging lanes Perhaps not just a skill, there is an art form in merging lanes. Not only do you have to be observant and aware of your surroundings, you usually have only a second or two to make a decision and then go go go with it! Timing is important and anticipating where your car at the current speed is able to merge into the speed and space of the oncoming traffic is an art form. It’s amazing how the brain can calculate through it’s senses all the information necessary to successfully perform such tasks as merging lanes.

See the opportunity and seize the moment, that, to me works in merging lanes and in other things in life Smile Smile the next time you’re merging lanes too!

Taking Time to Smell the Roses

 - by Jean

roses I can’t help it, I love flowers, especially roses! So whenever I am within 20 feet of these beauties, I will “stop and smell the roses“.

Sadly, a lot of the fresh cut roses you find in stores don’t offer up much of a scent. I’m not sure why that is, whether the scent has been hybrid cross-bred out of the modern day versions….or maybe I just sniff the cheap ones at the grocery store. Razz

Nevertheless, I am not opposed to taking the time to smell the roses at the stores. And I don’t just sniff one bunch, I’ll sniff them all until I find a rose that has even a slight scent. The scent of roses is very intoxicating. It is also said that the rose scent can have uplifting qualities for your spirit. The energy level of roses and their scent is rated very high so smelling a nicely scented one can make you happier, more joyous!

Aside from the lovely scent, roses are a beauty to behold. Looking at them makes me smile and such beauty must be captured on film…..well, digital these days! Wink Check out my series of gorgeous roses pictures from the store and at home.

Roses sold at the store

These were at the local Sam’s Club:

roses

Taken at Costco I believe on a different day:

roses

My aunt’s rose bush outside of her house, these smells soooooo good and are so pretty:

roses

More store displayed roses at Sam’s Club, they really have some pretty looking roses but most of them have no scent:

roses

Roses I actually had at home

roses As much as I like taking pictures of the gorgeous bunches of roses at the store, every once in awhile, I like to splurge and buy myself some roses. It’s much nicer when I get them sent to me or brought to me by a guy…what girl doesn’t love roses, right? In Love

 

 

Hey look, I actually bought some at some point:

roses

Roses were sent from FTD to my house and they were absolutely breathtaking!!:

roses

Closeup of the roses sent from FTD:

roses

Roses in the wild

Sometimes I take walks around the neighborhood where I live and there is a house that has these beautifully scented roses right along the sidewalk. Even though the house is on a dead end street, I’ll still walk up that way just to smell the roses. Here are some pictures I’ve taken through the years of roses I find in the wild.

This was taken in Denver in a rose garden:

single rose

This also was taken in Denver in a community rose garden:

single rose

The Single Rose

And lastly, the simplicity and beauty of the single rose. These are close up pics from bouquets of the past…Oh how I love thee!

I love the way the water beads on this rose:

single rose

Beautiful pink rose in ambient lighting:

single rose

This rose was a part of a bouquet that was sent to me via FTD after my trip to Denver:

single rose

This rose along with a huge bouquet of other flowers came on my birthday from a friend. It was ordered from FTD but was arranged and delivered by a local florist:

single rose

Delicate and classy pale pink rose, this picture has been one of my favorites for decades, I refer to it as the perfect rose:

single rose

I hope you have enjoyed my pictures and that maybe it will inspire you to take a little time to go smell the roses too or go buy some flowers for someone you care about! Kissed

The Joys of a Sharp Kitchen Knife

 - by Jean

I love food and really enjoy cooking. One thing that is a pet peeve of mine is a dull kitchen knife! To me, it is very hard to be efficient and get things prepped for a meal when you’re using a dull knife. In fact, it is easier to slip and cut yourself with a dull kitchen knife as opposed to a sharp kitchen knife. Why? Because with a dull kitchen knife, the blade can slip off the item you’re cutting and potentially slice your finger whereas a sharp kitchen knife will cut the item with more ease so there is no slippage. But don’t get me wrong, I have cut myself on sharp kitchen knives before but that’s usually because of user error or trying to rush through cutting something.

Super find on a great kitchen knife set

Years ago, I had picked up a super big Calphalon kitchen knife set in a large knife block at the old Hecht’s/Macy’s for a fantastic discount! It was originally a $600+ kitchen knife set retail and with their super sale and added bonus coupons, I ended up walking away with it for $128!! It’s got so many kitchen knives and slots for extra knives too so I can grow my set through the years and that’s exactly what I did.

How I discover the Furi Kitchen Knife Sharpener

furi kitchen knife sharpener

After awhile, the blades do get a bit dull and with good knives, you still have to have them sharpened, preferably by a professional. One day back in 2007, I was browsing through on Amazon.com and was reading reviews on knife sharpeners and decided to give the Furi Kitchen Knife Sharpener a try. It was less than $30 bucks at the time and there were a lot of good reviews on it.

It arrived quickly and I tested it out on one knife to start just to make sure it wouldn’t ruin my knife. I was amazed with about 8 passes of the knife through it’s diamond fingers, my dull 8″ chef’s knife was very sharp and was able to slice through a tomato with total ease! Yay! Clap

No more dull kitchen knives again!

kitchen knife sharpening with furi

It was so easy to do, I open up the Furi knife sharpener to expose the sharpening mechanism. The unit has a rubber bottom that grip well to my cutting board or counter so it doesn’t slide off while in the sharpening process. I firmly hold the sharpener with my left hand and I basically pull the kitchen knife towards me in its entirety from the base to the tip over the diamond fingers. It’s designed so that both left and right handed users can use this unit just by flipping out the correct corresponding side for sharpening and grip. It is fast and easy to use and sharpens my dull kitchen knives in a matter of seconds. I love it and I love having sharp kitchen knives again. In fact, just today I sharpened a couple of knives before cutting celery, onion, and tomatoes and was thrilled once again over the joys of a sharp kitchen knife!

And because the Furi Knife Sharpener is so compact in size and light weight, I often take it with me along with a chef’s knife in a case to other people’s house where I know I would be preparing food. That’s how much I love a sharp kitchen knife! And if they are nice to me, I usually end up sharpening their kitchen knives too since it’s so easy to do! If you’ve never sharpened your knives in the kitchen, get a Furi Knife Sharpener and you’ll know the joys of a sharp knife as well!