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My Mission Impossible

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It was sewing a queen size quilt with a standard sewing machine. I will admit, it is not impossible. Was it fun? Oh no! I actually completed two large quilts on my machine before I got my quilter with a 9" throat.

The trick is to roll the quilt up as you progress. I actually learned that from my grandmother, she quilted a queen on a standard machine. Start in the middle and work your way out. Then you only have one half of the quilt in the throat instead of the whole thing. Practice with a mini sandwich from the same fabrics and batting beforehand to figure out the stitch length you want. I ended up doing a lot of rolling and tucking, rolling and tucking.

Machingers Gloves help in this process a lot, as does a walking foot. The gloves take so much strain and pressure out of my arms while you are quilting.

It's more work but I feel like we appreciate it more if that makes any sense.

How Trees Work, Or Understanding Trees

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When trees are in among other trees, they have to use most of their energy to grow tall and straight to get as much light as possible.

When a tree is out in the open, it can get more light by spreading out and not shading out any of its own branches. So the same tree grown in different places will look different.

If you keep pruning the lower branches, the trunk itself can get thicker and stronger. It encourages canopy growth, but bigger/wider canopies don't necessarily translate to vertical growth. Removing the two lower branches will help redirect growth to the upper canopy. It leads to epicormic growth causing a few new long, streight and usually vertical growing branches to form.

If you want the tree to grow taller, remove one of the codominant leaders, fertilizer twice a year with a slow release fert, auxins and giberrellins are the two main hormones associated with tree growth, and give supplemental water in the summer to help prevent stress. This will make your tree grow taller.

Made in USA

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If Made in USA is important to you, you should know that almost all companies use this as a marketing scheme.

The product is cut and sewn in the US, but all the sourcing of fabrics and materials is from China, Bangladesh, Vietnam, etc. Many small time manufacturers will have an ethics section on their webpage, often cited their sources for fabric.

Only a few places, mostly expensive selvedge denim, actually have the full supply chain in the US. Every piece of clothing you own was made by a person working long hours hunched over a sewing machine. It was hard and unpleasant work.

If a designer wants that work done domestically it's more than "a marketing scheme."

Yesterday's Heros here in Richmond, VA sells taylor stitch shorts - you may contact them for sales over the phone and shipping, if you don't want to sign up. Keep in mind, buying clothes this way is expensive.

Let's Sip and See Shall We?

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We've been given a wonderful chance to be the parent's of two very happy and healthy children. Our daughter just turned two in June and our son hit eighteen months a couple of weeks ago. I think that things like the eighteen month mark are special because of the amount of development that you see in that relatively short amount of time. Things change substantially in the first weeks and months and they only progress from their.

Its the small things, the little wonders

When I was born my mother received a big baby shower, though, I guess since I was already here by that time it was more a sip and see style (did they call them that back then?) instead of a full shower. Her sister made a cake and aunt's brought food and drinks and I was passed from one set of waiting arms to the next. Of course I don't remember any of it. Though I do have photos to back up the stories which really lets me visualize the whole thing as if I was remembering it myself.

Many of the women that were there played a role in my early childhood development. While some of them have passed on, I still visit many of them on a regular basis.

And I have been really lucky to have some of them take a role in my children's lives.

Having family, friends and community is one of the things that I think make a "happy and healthy" childhood possible.

Without that we would be islands unto ourselves. Alright, I reworked John Donne's famous work there, but it is true.

It goes:

No man is an island, entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main; if a clod be washed away by the sea, Europe is the less...any man's death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind...

But those words are just as valid today as they were then. In some ways I think that we have forgotten them, allowed ourselves to become isolated and distracted by our modern world. And in so doing have lost touch with community.

For Example

Simple food

When I had my first child, only the very closest people, the ones that knew us from childhood made us a meal. When I was growing up, my mother, made every one that needed it a meal. We would use those throw away casserole dishes that you could buy and make them something. Something hot, filling, and tasty. They could take it out and bake it when they needed it and then since they didn't have to wash the dish leave it at that.

But it went both ways.

We also got food from neighbors, friends and even strangers in the community when they learned of a passing, or the birth of a child. (I am the oldest of four children. I was thirteen when my kid sister was born.)

It was all made possible by the sense of community. I see this as a sort of glue that holds us together, but it is one that is only so strong as those who realize that it is there.

In many ways our community has grown exponentially. It goes out over the borders of our town, state, and even for some our country. But through this stretching it has been diluted, that, in many ways it has lost much of its meaning.

The Family Baby Shower

That is why when my brother told me that he and his wife would be having a child this year I needed to make use of the values that I was given growing up and organize a celebration for them. And use it as a way to bring the family together.

To include people that make up the fabric of our lives and give us all a chance to maybe regain some of what has gone missing. That innocence that has been crushed over time.

A lot of this may sound old fashioned. And to a certain degree you would be right in that assumption. It is old fashioned.

But let me ask you ... does that make it any less important?

Does a baby shower somehow loose in importance when it doesn't seem like "the modern" thing to do anymore?

For me and most everyone that I hold dear, the answer is most certainly no.


Baby showers are a as modern or as old fashioned as you want to make them. I think that that really goes for just about anything you do. For example, when my mother used the disposable casserole dishes, she took an old idea and improved it with a modern convenience.

Since we are having a "family" (of course there will be friends their as well) baby shower this in itself is a modern occurrence.

Breaking the Taboo

Where there should not be

I don't know if you are aware of the different taboos that surround baby shower but I will assume that you don't.

Showers in general have been historically speaking very strict when it came to the whos and hows aspect of the celebration. I bring all of this up, because up until modern times it would have been unthinkable for me to go ahead and plan a baby shower for my sister-in-law. It would have been an affront to people's good tastes. That is why my aunts threw my mother a sip and see rather than an "official" baby shower. They avoided offending people by making it something else. And since my mother's pregnancy wasn't the easiest thing in the world for her (the other three were better) she was more than happy not to have to deal with these sorts of problems at that time.

We have contemplated the possibility of having a similar style, a sip and see (here is an article on that explains it better than I do), since we feel that we have some extra breathing room. At seven months things have gotten a little tight (pun intended) and everyone involved in the planning (which is a surprisingly large group) has mentioned the possibility of pushing it back. But that is besides the point.

Another baby shower, let's call them rules that we would be going against is making the whole thing open for both men and women.

The idea of excluding men for the baby shower is one of those things that I find personally frustrating. When people talk about "old fashioned" that is really what comes up in my mind. A man's duty as a father doesn't end once the child is conceived, his job is only then just beginning. By segregating and making rules about and having a woman's only celebration we are essentially strengthening something that should have never been their in the first place.

This is another reason why we have been open to alternatives to the standard shower.

But there are plenty of options out there. And we are thrilled to have the chance to find the one that best suites everybody and their busy schedules (one reason we haven't finalized our plans and sent the invitations out yet).

And it is a chance to party

So far we are left deciding between:

  • Couples baby shower
    • This is pretty much what I have been saying the whole time. It is essentially a baby shower but everyone is invited and the festivities are more like a big party.

  • BaByQ shower
    • I think that this is really just a variation on the couples or coed theme but with a tacky name. A name which I really don't like, but as you can estimate it is themed around a BBQ so the food would be easy, and a hit.
  • Sip & See
    • We have been going in this direction for some time, but there are a couple of factors that make it one of the easiest for us to organize.
  • I am fine with any of them really. No matter which one we pick it will be perfect, however clichéd that might sound to you.

    Since we are still undecided I have held back on the invitations. I had originally wanted to make all of the invites for the shower myself. I have had a craving for a paper project lately and I felt like it would have allowed me to get it out of my system. But the longer we wait the less realistic I think that will be.

    My little sister was looking around online and found these along with a number of different options that we can use. Either we will pay somebody to make them, but for the price I would rather do it myself, or we can have a printer print them for us.

    But before we can order the invitations we will need to decide on the style of baby shower we're going to be having.

    Maybe you can see the problems we've been having, lol.

    We have been laughing a lot during the process, which was the entire point. It has brought us closer and we have been able to strengthen the bonds of our family. And that is, the whole point isn't it?

    Edit: We have decided to make it a sip and see shower since it will be close to the holidays and everybody will have a little more free time then.

    The sense of having somebody there for you

    Proper Fertilization is Key

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    When the Snow Melts

    This seems to be a common idea people have about winter, and getting the fertilizer down before spring hits. When the snow melts they think that they can fertilize and have it sink into the ground.


    It seems logical, sort of, but let's look at it like this.

    One of the major causes of the algal blooms in our lakes is due to overfertilization. The reason is that when the next rain comes along, everything that hasn't been absorbed flows right out the lake. Fertilization really isn't necessary if you mulch the grass clippings back in through out the season.

    Companies want you to buy lots of their product so their recommendations are very high. If you do fertilize, please make sure to use much less than the recommendation.

    You can definitely over-do it as is apparent with my neighbor's lawn now he has a bunch of bare areas and wants somebody to repair it for him.

    It is going to be costly.

    Follow the Holidays

    Still, just because you can over do it it doesn't mean that it is all bad.

    Good rule of thumb is to follow the holidays for fertilizing.

    • Easter, first good fert and preemergent
    • Memorial day, weed and feed
    • 4th of july if its not too hot and dry

    Dont fert if grass is in heat dormancy, should have grub protection going down now. Labor day big fert and prepare to overseed and aerate if needed. If its still hot and dry push it off a few weeks closer to halloween.

    Which Order?


    Using a good top dressing with a higher peat will really boost your nutrient value better than just lots of fertilizer as the more organic matter in the soil will hold onto them better.

    If you get the soil too rich too quickly you open up to diseases and weeds while your lawn is establishing . To much nutrients quickly will also make your current grass bolt expending their energy quickly.

    Yet you should take it in steps. The reason is because gradual improvements will make your grass stronger and easier to maintain.


    I spread it last year in May, late June and early August. However, there's some things that you should use other fertilizer for.

    Milorganite is great as a general fertilizer to put on several times a year. It's fantastic for the summer because there's no risk of burn in. If you're overseeding or reseeding, you should choose something else. Milorganite is slower releasing, so for a new lawn, it's not going to help as much for the seedlings. I use it and my grass is the deepest green color and healthiest of any lawn in my neighborhood.

    Basically milogranite is a good summer fertilizer, but it's not for the fall. Slow release organic fertilizer needs microbes to break it down. Cooler temps slow microbes down.

    There is so much you can do right, so much that you can do wrong.

    When in doubt, contact a landscaping company to have them give you a recommendation. It might be better to just let someone else treat their lawn than to buy spreader/bags/ rent aerator/thatcher.