Spoonflower Cheater Quilt – Lesson 1 & 2

A few weeks ago, Spoonflower announced that they’d be having a Design-A-Long creating a cheater quilt using Instagram photos.  Instagram has become a sort of visual timeline for my life.  I don’t use Facebook at all anymore, but I post a photo to Instagram most days of the week as a sort of, “What I’m Up To,” kind of thing.  It’s fun, and it’s a great way to post a short update, brag about a new knitting project, share something funny you saw, or scope out who else is drinking your favorite whisky (and posting about it).  I’ve got SO many photos in my stream, so the idea of putting a few years of photos into a quilt sounded like a fun thing to me.

Lesson One was pretty simple – sorting photos – so I didn’t cover that here.  Basically, I sorted out for six blocks by color so I had 25 photos of each color.

Lesson Two was this week’s homework – creating collages using PicMonkey.  Typically, this is something I would’ve done in Photoshop, but the PicMonkey interface is really easy to use for this project and made quick work of creating the collage blocks.  Yellow is probably my weakest square (I just don’t take photos of yellow things often enough?), but I like how they all came together!  The Blue and Green are my favorites and happen to be my favorite colors anyway, and the purple one came out pretty well too thanks to my penchant for purple flowers in the garden.  The instructions said that if the colors didn’t work out the way you wanted, you could add effects in PicMonkey to make them fit better, but I really wanted to leave them as they were.  That means it’s not entirely perfect and each block isn’t exactly perfectly representative of the color, but I think it’s still clear enough that it’s not just a jumble of random photos in each square.  What I love most about this is that it’s almost three years worth of stuff – from flowers in the garden, to showshoeing Mt. Washington, a vacation to Scotland, waffles for breakfast, and having beers with friends, there’s so much life in these blocks.  Each tiny square holds a special memory.  It’s really exciting to see this coming together, and I can’t wait to order fabric and get going on the sewing part!

Red Orange
Yellow Green
Blue Purple

Sepia Saturday 268: Street Parades, Revolutions, Russia, Banners

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Another tough one for me! I have nothing that really fits for this at all – no Russian ancestry (none known anyway), no photos of demonstrations.  However, it’s easy to imagine these two gents with their instruments marching in some sort of parade, so I’m going to call that close enough for this Sepia Saturday.  It’s well known that Alfred Herbert Powis (on the left, affectionately referred to as “Herb”) played the trumpet as part of a number of different bands.  Seated next to him, holding some sort of french horn (a piccolo french horn perhaps?), is Bert Brown.  I haven’t quite been able to pin down who “Bert” is, but it’s possible he’s Albert Brown who lived in and around Clearfield County, PA.  Herb was born in 1892 and the two look to be about the same age, so I’d imagine Bert was about 28 or 30 when this photo was taken.

The stamp box on the back indicates this was taken somewhere between 1907-1929.  Herb served in WWI and passed away in 1926, and this looks to be from his post-war days, so I’d say somewhere around 1920 or thereabouts would be good for a date.  You can just barely make out a ring on Herb’s finger, and he was married in 1918, so that helps set my idea of a date.  The location is most likely somewhere in Clearfield County, Pennsylvania, and it’s pretty interesting that they took a photo somewhere in the woods instead of in a nice studio, but it makes for a pretty backdrop.  The uniforms appear to be non-military, but would be something I’d expect an organized band to wear.  It’s really a lovely photo, and clearly Herb and Bert were close enough friends to have a photo taken together and shared with family.


Petit Vour February 2015

February’s Petit Vour has arrived!  This month’s box includes the theme, “Love is Bold, Love is Kind,” highlighting the love shown by using cruelty-free products.  The product card goes on to say that they, “wanted to share the most mood enhancing and confidence boosting beauty products,” which carries through pretty well.  There’s a coffee-mint scrub that can be followed up with the chocolate mint body butter, two perfume samples and an amazing full-size mascara.  I’ll say it again, I’m not vegan – I eat meat (albeit from local sources where I know the farmers and how they treat their animals) – but I definitely support cruelty-free products, and vegan beauty products tend to have better ingredients and a higher quality.  Anyway, onto the box contents!

  • Balanced Guru Scrub Me Body Scrub – 8 oz / $23 – (Sample is 1 oz, value of $2.88)  I received this sample is the December 2014 Goodebox as well.  I’d still love this a lot more if the spearmint wasn’t so front and center in the scent – I’m just not that big on mint, and it smells kinda like spearmint gum.  That said, it is a fantastic exfoliator, and the coffee part of the scent is a nice wake-up in a morning shower.
  • Ellovi Mint Chocolate Body Butter – 3.5 oz / $26 – (Sample is .5 oz, value of $3.71)  USPS must’ve beat the snot out of this box, because mine arrived cracked down the side (how that even happens, I don’t know, because the container is really sturdy).  It also looked like this melted and froze at least once because there was an outline on the lid where the product had settled sideways and showed up frozen flat in the bottom of the pot.  No idea.  Anyway, USPS flounder aside, there’s still product to try and OH MAN does this smell delicious.  Simple ingredients, and it smells like mint chocolate chip ice cream or Thin Mints or Andes Mints.  It’s pretty greasy for use on hands, but I’d imagine that following up after a good scrub with the Balanced Guru scrub on dry legs and arms would be amazing!
  • Harvey Prince Damask Rose & Gardenia Perfumes – 8.8 mL / $26 – (Sample is two 1 mL spray containers, value of $5.91)  Okay, I’m not a big fan of floral scents, but these seem to be straight up Rose and Gardenia with no other notes trying to push out the rose and gardenia.  My sniffer is a little broken due to a rotten head cold, but at first try, the rose seems really nice – totally basic, not too sweet or overpowering.  The gardenia too, shockingly, which I think I might actually like better.  It’s not a scent I’d ever pick out for myself, but it’s working really well with my skin and has a nice warmth to it that’s quite pleasant.  So, these were really nice surprises for something I wasn’t sure I was going to like at first look!
  • Lily Lolo Vegan Mascara – 7 mL / $20 – (Sample is full size, value of $19.98 per lilylolo.us)  Interesting note on the price, the same mascara is £10.99 on their UK site which comes out to about $17 given the current exchange rate.  The product is pretty great though.  It’s not as thick and doesn’t build as well as other mascaras, but it’s really great for a soft, everyday look with the bonus being that it doesn’t make my sensitive eyes puffy and itchy.  It doesn’t feel as heavy or stiff or plasticky either – very natural and like it’s not even there.  It removes easily with soap and water, no special makeup remover needed which is a huge win in my book.

Overall the total value for the box comes up to $32.48 which is on the lower end for Petit Vour, but still double the cost of the box.  The mascara alone covers the cost, so it’s absolutely worth it, and one of the better boxes, IMHO in the last couple of months!

Sepia Saturday 267: Large and Small, Radios, Broadcasting

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Better late than never, I suppose!  It’s been an incredibly hectic month around here, but I’m still trying to keep up with Sepia Saturday (or Sunday, as the case may be) even if I’ve let the regular blog posts fall by the wayside.  The closest thing I have to this week’s prompt is something rather dear to me that I’ve been itching to fit into a prompt.  In 1925, when my great grandma Olga Powis was only 25, she got a job as a telephone operator.  She continued at that job for 33 years until the system switched to a new system in 1958, making switchboard operators obsolete.  As a single mother who raised my grandpa after his dad left very early on, I’m sure this was a great way to help her support her family.  The photo above shows her at the switchboard, and she took time to write a note on the back (later in life), “June 1955, On the job, Number Please.”

The way my dad tells it, she was quite the handy gal, and would regularly go back behind the board with the hot poker from the fireplace to make repairs, basically soldering back together bits of the board.  The spirit of tinkering with something to get it right, fixing things by yourself, taking things apart to see how they work is definitely alive and well in my family from my grandpa, Olga’s son, to my dad and me and my brother.  For me, it was empowering, in a way, to know that my great grandma may have helped set the stage in her era, for me to be able to be a woman working with computers and technology.  Whether it’s learned behavior or part of our genetic makeup, I’m not sure, but there are so many stories about all of us in those four generations fixing, tinkering, and taking things apart to see how they work.  It’s nice to think that it might have started with one strong woman who wasn’t afraid to fix things herself.

The article below is about the end of the switchboard system and mentions her by name (along with a photo) and alludes to the fact that the voices of these operators will be missed as people will now be able to dial numbers directly.  (Click the article to see a larger version)

Olga Powis Kitko


Sepia Saturday 266: Valentine’s Day


The theme for this week’s Sepia Saturday was Valentine’s Day since the holiday just happens to fall on a Sepia Saturday.  I am not a huge fan of the holiday and never have been, so I’m going off the rails on the theme and am just focusing on a sweet love story.  IMHO, if you love someone, you shouldn’t need a special holiday to go out for a nice dinner or buy a gift.  My husband won’t be home for Valentine’s Day, but I know he cares for me through the little things, and it’s much nicer to be surprised by a bouquet of flowers brought home on a whim instead of prompted because of some special holiday.  That said, I’d never turn away a Valentine’s Day sentiment, but it’s nice to be thought of throughout the year instead of on just one holiday.

Anyway, on to that photo!  The date is what loosely ties me to the theme.  My mother, at some point, had taken a bunch of photos and copied them along with the dates/information on the back.  This one is dated February 17, 1945 and labelled as having been taken in France.  In the photo is my grandfather, John Rachocki (1914-1984).  He married my grandmother about two years prior to this photo being taken and had been in the Air Force for about two years when they were married.  Grandpa passed away when I was only four years old so I don’t remember him very well.  I’m told he was a gentle giant, standing just shy of 6 feet tall, and only spoke when he had something to say.  That of course meant he wasn’t an open book when it came to his feelings, so when my mom asked if he loved grandma, he would reply, “Would I be here if I didn’t?”  We found out later, after grandma passed away, that he had written many love letters to grandma while he was overseas and she kept them hidden away for so many years.  He might not have expressed his feelings openly for the world to see, but it’s clear that he loved her in his own quiet way.