Aug 29, 2013

New Space, New Passion, with a Little ROLL Playing...

For those of you who emailed me or left comments, wanting to see the result of my sewing project that I started a couple of months ago...well today is the day. The "project" was more about creating a new sewing space than   actual sewing itself.

Like so many other creative spirits, my creative mind wanders much wider than my narrow abode can handle. After a long rehabilitation of knee surgery last November, I decided to take up my very long lost hobby of sewing. I can rest my knee, while trying to relearn skills that I haven’t used in 30 years! It wasn't long before I realized that sewing took up quite a bit more space than my writing and photography career.

I also realized that I liked having all my textile goodies within sight and my reach while designing my projects. However,  the more I dug them out, the more I took note that I had no place for them all: Scrap materials, threads, buttons, trims, vintage lace, tablecloths, yardage, and bolts of fabric from all those years of designing for my clients and from my travels. 

You may remember a few posts back my starting a project? You can read about that adventure here called  "It was a Crime of Passion."

My sewing projects quickly turned into treasure hunting as I rediscovered my textile stash that had been packed away in plastic bins that now took claim of my living room. I spent more time searching and less time sewing and pooped out before my projects really ever got started!

After weeks of this material mania mess, I decided that our tiny “dining area” was going to be my new sewing area. But my big dilemma was how to turn that area into something I wouldn’t mind looking at everyday, not have it look like a “craft room,” while not losing my only dining area since I do enjoy cooking and entertaining guests. That is a large order to ask of a tiny space.

Right smack in the middle of my remodeling brainchild, I got a wonderful email from my good friend, and creator-of-all-things-good, Jo Packham. Jo Packham from Where Women Create has partnered up with and gave me the opportunity to review some items that I think my readers would love. Knowing my creative and talented readers, I felt this would be a perfect time to share some of Create-ologie's items with my readers, who will undoubtedly be as thrilled with the selection as I was! 

I also have a special coupon just for you! Save 10% off your entire order by entering "Elizabeth Maxson" at the checkout on   

And so I am going to share with you  a peek of what I found. I was thrilled that I discovered two perfect Create-ologie pieces for my sewing/dining room dilemma: Rolling furniture! They are great assets for my sewing needs and I could easily roll them out of the room when I wanted to entertain! 

I always loved the industrial look and I found this industrial console table on wheels as the perfect extra worktop space I need while providing extra storage underneath. 

When I am wrap up a day of sewing, I simply put my project underneath and cover the table with my antique grain sacks! 

The matching industrial shelving unit also on wheels is the perfect size for my yardage and I can roll it next to me while sewing. I love the way my textiles look on it and it fits in perfectly with my decor. 

While perusing, I also stumbled upon this great glass/bottle drying rack I am using to hold all of my trims! What a perfect solution for my need to see my stash and have it near me while I designed my projects. It turned out so beautiful, I keep it in the room all the time. 

I needed some of the  shelving in my china hutch for sewing items, so out came my silver goblets to make room, and onto the drying rack they went with their stems wrapped with my trims. Triple bonus! I get to admire my goblets, they hold my trims, and and now I have more space in the hutch for more sewing goodies. 

When I am in the mood to entertain, it takes no more than ten minutes (yes, I timed it to see), to toss my sewing items on the console table, roll it into another room along with my matching rolling metal shelf, toss a cover over the table, pull up some chairs, set the once sewing/now dining table, cook some fab food and wait for friends to arrive for a tasty meal. For bigger gatherings, I am thinking the console table would make a fun buffet server, rolled to the side.

I’ve been showing you just “sneak peek” shots of my space... are you now ready to see how the whole room turned out? 

Like I said, I needed a real sewing space that I can live with daily, but do real work in, but still have a place to dine and entertain:

So, when I my tidy up my sewing area, it looks like this:

And when I am happily playing with projects, it looks like this:

And within only ten minutes, I can turn it back to a dining area like this:

What freedom to have a creative corner to really play in, mess up, and have all my sewing stash within an arm’s length away. Yet, it cleans up quickly, blends in as an extension of my living room and not as an interruption to our daily living. I found a lot of practical and creative ways to store a lot of sewing items that are right in the room, out of the way, and look as though they are just part of the decor. 

I will share how I did this with many more tips and lots more photos of my creative storage areas in an upcoming issue of Where Women Create, which I will show... 

Tips on my practical storage ideas...

Show you how to use what you already have:

And how you can recreate what you have into something new:


There is a whole part of the room that I haven't even shown you one bit of, but it will be in Where Women Create. Here is a sneak peek of that recreated area:

It gives me great pleasure to have a creative sewing space in our tiny bungalow, and yet I am able to serve dinner for friends as well.

And I am loving that I pulled out my French gum ball fringe which, many years ago, once hung in my kitchen in my apartment above my store.

One really nice surprise of my new area is that I didn’t expect to get so much pleasure just looking at my new space when I am watching TV, only a few feet away. Also, I am so happy that I not only did I not “lose” my dining area, but actually gained more space with just a little creative roll playing!

If these items inspired you...then you haven't seen anything yet!

These fab work lamps, I found at World Market. They clamp on the table, which I love because it allows for max table space. They are super bright and I can easily adjust them, swing them, or turn the lamp towards my project.

Please take a gander at and do a little (or a lot) of fun shopping. I promise you, you won't be disappointed.

I have a special coupon code just for you! Save 10% off your entire order by entering 'ElizabethMaxson' at checkout on I have no doubt you will find the perfect item that you just can't live without. And what a great place to start early shopping for Christmas gifts as well.

And yes, I will be showing a few things I have sewn in the near future...until next time...may you find a creative space that allows you to express your passion and your unique talents.

from my house to your house 


Aug 16, 2013

Reality Check

R O A D    T R I P    P A R T 3!


I am hoping that this week has been good to you and that you have a great weekend ahead of you, as well. The last two posts have been about our little visit to what I call "Amish Land" an area in Ohio that is the largest population of Amish in the United States. Another name I have for this area is "Fairyland" as the entire time we were there, the entire environment seemed almost like a movie set.

On my last post, I promised you that I would write about our most memorable event. It involves an Amish family that in someway, I just fell in love with for so many reasons.

This adventure begins at the farm above. This is the only real photo of the farm that I have of my memorable moment. It starts with our day, a special list in our hand, given to us by an inn owner, who was raised Mennonite and her husband was Amish. She grew up in the area and knew all "the good places" to go and visit and a few on the list included actual homes/farms of the Amish that craft baskets or other wares to be sold. Most of these items are sold at the local stores, but they will sell their items directly from their house as well. Trouble is, a lot of them don't advertise on their property, or if they do, it is a very humble sign, easily passed while in a moving car.

We arrive at the "red farm" and turn onto the dirt road, leading up to the house. I put my camera down on the floor of the truck, so I wouldn't alarm any of the property owners with my big ole' lens poking up over the dashboard. But, boy, do I have to tell about DYING to take photos!!!  

I will do my best to describe what I saw, as you can only imagine how much I wish I could have snapped away....I did manage to sneak in a quick photo of their huge line of laundry as we drove past it, on the dirt road. The house was still not in sight quite yet....

My barber husband pulls up slowly and to my left is a huge, white farmhouse, and to my right are several huge, red out buildings and barns. Fencing, trees, a wagon...the entire "set" was there, just unbelievably beautiful.

But just as we parked, we looked up (and I am SO glad I didn't miss this next site)...we looked into the yard of this huge farmhouse, and there was a big old oak tree, and under it, a mother and her ten (yes ten!) children sitting in the shade, all of them barefoot, making baskets. Now, I am really DYING that I can't snap such a serene and beautiful moment.

She hears us, and puts her basket down, and comes up to greet us. She is small, very pretty, big, big eyes, dressed all in dark navy dress, and it closed with straight pins - no buttons or hooks! I swear, if I was a guy, it would have looked like I was ogling her chest, but I was studying how neatly she had her straight pins - those sewing pins that are so common - that is what was closing the front of her dress. She had her little cap on, and most importantly, she was wearing a huge, very welcoming smile. The pic below is part of her farm on the right (and maybe the left, too, I don't know). I took this pic as we were hunting on the map for her home, and just at the top of the hill, on the right, is where we would be turning onto her dirt road, but little did I know when I snapped this pic that I was actually getting a little bit of her home area. Once we turned right, we drove down a bit, past those buildings on the right, and her house would have been down, past these building, on the left.

She greets us and I believe her name was Rebecca (?) but not sure about that. We tell her that "Loretta sent us" and she is very happy to have us look at her baskets. I point at the tree where her basket laid, and said it looked like she was busy. She said she was just taking in the cool shade on a warm day, and she was teaching some of the younger ones how to make baskets.

We turn to go to her farmhouse, and we walk under a HUGE and very old grape vine that is just filled with grapes. The vine is on an arbor that covers the entire length of the sidewalk and we make comments about how beautiful it is. She stops and smiles and looks up at the grapes and agrees and says it is very old. I admire her for not taking something she has probably walked under a 1000 times for granted. She looked at the vine as if she were seeing for the first time. I think I enjoyed watching her enjoy her own vine, than the vine itself.

These are not her grapes, as I said, I couldn't take any pics of her home and area, but these we saw later, and these are just about the size of her vine, except her vine was covering an arbor the entire length of the sidewalk to her front porch.  What a treat to walk under such a beautiful arbor every day!

She motions us over the big front porch, which is filled baskets. Her little ones stay close to her legs, and two, hang tight to her skirt, but never take their huge, blue eyes off us. She then invites us into her home, and the front room has two large tables on it and some shelves that hold all her baskets.

I look admiringly at all of her baskets, and comment on how beautiful they are. Right then, one of her little boys, no taller than my knee, taps me on my leg and holds up a little basket to show me. His big blue eyes and blond curly hair stole my heart. The mother tells me that he is showing a basket that he made himself. I examine the basket very carefully and bend over and tell him that this is a wonderfully made basket! He grins and runs and gets another little basket and holds it up to me. I take it and exclaim that I can't believe he can make such things at such a young age and I tell him it is so very beautiful.

The mother had been talking to my barber husband, and she glances over and laughs and tells me that he now just playing with me, that he didn't make that basket, he just likes showing them. She smiles and says something to the boy in their language, and very obediently, he goes right to her and leans against her leg.

Of course, while inside, I try to take sneak peeks of the home, not wanting to be rude. But I just loved her home! So very clean, simple - but in a very good way - and very warm and inviting, for it being so sparse. How I wanted to open the doors in the room and look all around!! Polished wooden floors, gray/blue paint trim and white walls. Nothing hanging up, but some very beautiful chairs are around the room.

Above is a pic of a farm not far from Rebecca's and how lucky to have been there to see the cattle crossing the road!

We all go outside to the porch and take a look at all the baskets again and my barber husband asks her if where he parked is okay, or in the way? She glances out, smiling, all happy, and tells us our truck is fine. She says her husband and cousins should be coming back soon so they can "thrash the field" this afternoon. I watch the barefoot children play in the yard, nearby, and found it so charming that their mother was barefoot as well. So proper, and friendly, and yet, she is barefoot, enjoying the cool grass under the tree, I am sure.

As I look at all the children, not loud at all, but just playing nicely, I make the comment to her that she must really stay busy and cook a lot! She misunderstood me and she thought I was referring to her cousins staying for dinner, and the extra work that would be for her. So she replies, "Oh, no. Not really extra work. I cook everyday so much, that two more men don't make a difference. Besides, I already made two extra pies, a pudding, and two chickens are roasting...." And she says it all so matter-of-factly, but so happily. I look at her, and she doesn't look tired at all, in fact, she looks really refreshed. It isn't even noon and I glance over at the long line of laundry that she has already washed and hung up in addition to all the cooking she already made that morning! 

I smile and tell her how much I love her dress (I would find antique buttons to sew on, I think I would pass on the straight pins!) And I tell her how cute the children's clothes are too. She smiles very happily and thanks me, and I ask her if she made them. "Oh yes, I sew all the clothes for my family." She tells me again, very matter-of-factly, and so humbly, as she ruffles the blond curls of the little boy leaning against her.

And my not-so-humble barber husband, points at my dress and happily tells the young mother, "My wife made her dress too! She is learning to sew again and she made that..." I smile, very happy that he is so proud of me and my "sewing" while also noting how we just don't even come close to the word "humble" like she does so very effortlessly. But I know my barber husband is just proud of my "jumper dress" that I made out of a linen curtain....another story for later. 

She smiles at my dress and asks if I sew a lot? And I explain that I am just taking it up again, but I enjoy it. She smiles brightly at me, with our common bond. She gives some instructions in her language to one the children and the little girl runs off somewhere. I am just in awe at her simple ease with herself, her children, and she seems so at peace...and so energetic! 

We finally choose a large blanket basket (and as I type this, I realize I don't even have a pic of it to show you!) and she is very pleased, as it is the largest basket she has. We are more than happy to pay for this craft, and meet the woman who made it.

She calls to her boys to get a little pull wagon so they can roll it out for us to the truck. And off they ran, all happy to be of assistance to the strangers on their front porch. I am realizing that our visit is almost over, and how I wish it could have lasted longer. I would have loved to spent the afternoon with her, learning how to make a basket and ask her probably a zillion questions, as I am always so curious about other cultures and love to learn about people.

The little boys return with a little pull wagon and load the large basket on it and start to push it down the sidewalk. Rebecca thanks us and waves good-bye and her attention immediately goes to her other children an she talks to them in her language. The children seem just as curious about us, as we are about them...I saw several looking over their shoulder at us as we left.

The littlest girl, about two or three tagged along side me, and her little toes were coming very close to the wagon wheels, so I warned her to stay back some. I said this twice, before I realized she didn't understand English yet. So, I just bent down and scooped her up, out of the way of the rolling wagon and she just grinned at me as I placed her out of the way and tousled her blond curls to say good-bye. I have no idea what happened to her little cap, but I have a good idea that finding her cap is like in our culture, trying to find a baby's missing sock. Seems like babies always are pulling off only one sock and losing it. I have a feeling that hunting down the toddler's cap, is very much like a lost comes off when the little girl feels like it, and where it ends up, is probably anyone's guess.

We sit in our truck and I glance over at the beautiful farmhouse and then down at my camera, and I am so tempted....but wait! The little fairyland event isn't over yet. We have to wait and give room for the big wagon with two huge horses, being driven up the little dirt road by a little boy! Now this was too much.

Since we were already down the dirt road some, I quickly snapped a photo, as they were at a distance. We had to back up, as we realized they were coming up our way! And I managed to get one more pic. These pics do no justice to the entire scene, though.

If only you could see just how young and little these little boys were. We sat in the truck and the one waved to us as he very easily maneuvered past us and to the red barn. We sat and watched (I call it being curious, others might say "nosey") and out came some Amish men, beards and all, pulling out some very old tractor equipment or an engine of some sorts. My barber husband craned his neck, as he was now dying to go over to the men and watch them hook up this farm "machine" thing...

It was time to really leave now, and I watched behind me, like a little kid with her nose pressed against the back window of the truck and watched the huge family just go about their daily business of living.

I wanted so badly, one photo of the place, and I wasn't paying attention, that we were at the end of the road, and so I pulled out my camera, trying to snap at least one photo memory of such a nice visit. I didn't get anything but a crooked, blurry house and fence...or so I thought...

To my joy and surprise, when I got home and downloaded my photos, what do I see peeking out of the doorway? An Amish boy! I think this was one of her cousins? He didn't look like her children. I barely saw him, as he is in the shadows, just as curious about us as we are about them. I lightened the shadow up a bit to see him better, and I have to say, this is probably my favorite photo. What a nice way to end our visit...that this boy found us worthy of a "peek" and all along, I wanted so badly to "peek" more into their lives as well. 

We might have more in common than we realize.

After I got home and relived the visit through my pics, I kept going back to our visit with Rebecca and her ten children. I couldn't for the life of me figure out why I was so enamored with her. It wasn't until a few days later, while admiring our new basket, did it hit me why I found her so fascinating.

In our blog-obssesed, reality-show, tell all, announce all, advertise our talents, become-a-star-overnight with You Tube culture....I think I found it so amazing to come in contact with a very talented, very beautiful, very hard-working, but seemingly very happy woman who has zero interest in "showing" what she is capable of doing. Here she is, a young, beautiful, mother of ten, who sews, cooks, creates crafts - all without electricity - and she has no need or desire to "show" others her talents. 

She is a walking, living, breathing "reality star" with no design for any spotlight. Not even a small one. Heck, I had to ask her if she made all those clothes...she never once came out and told me until I asked! 

This very talented, loving, welcoming woman has no website, Facebook page, nor blog. This very caring mother of ten doesn't have a reality show about raising all those kids (again, without electricity....!). She didn't hand me a beautifully designed business card either. Her humble basket-for-sale sign nailed to the tree didn't even have her name on it. She is not competing for "followers" and she doesn't lose sleep about all the other baskets that are for sale in the area either. She knows she does a good job, and actually, that is all that really matters.

She knows.

  And when I look at her long line of laundry, I don't see just clothes or hard work. I actually see a big family hanging out together, with a mother who cares enough to see that her family has the best that she has to offer them.

I am willing to bet that in Rebecca's house, there is no such thing as "guest towels" or "the good china for company" or "guest soaps" either.  To her, her family gets the best of what she can offer, and if the outside world never really finds out about how beautiful she is, or talented with the thread and needle, or crafting baskets, or how she can whip up "two pies and an extra pudding" so effortlessly on a wood stove...things we in "reality show" world would find so amazing. 

Her world is her reality. She feels no need to "show" her reality because she is busy living it - happily. 

And that is what I think I took away from this very memorable visit with Rebecca. She is busy just living her life. 

While her life might be so hard in so many ways (no air conditioning, washing clothes by hand, cooking on a wood stove in the summer, sewing all the clothes....), she also has the joy of doing, creating, and living her life to the best of her ability with no blogging, Facebook, website, or You Tube influences that can, at times, wrongly convince her that she isn't "doing enough," or "talented enough," or "pretty enough," or "smart enough" to do all that she is doing. We don't like to admit it, but I haven't met a woman yet who hasn't admitted that too many visits on Facebook or lingering on beautiful blogs during a time she isn't feeling up to par, can have its negative affects as much as positive. Rebecca doesn't have the influences of magazines, talk shows, or celebrities reminding her constantly that there is "more" to life, and she better not miss out! She doesn't have commercials or billboards reminding her she is getting older, and looks are important.

What a joy that must be. 

And what a joy for me to be so simply reminded that being content with my life, as is, is really just fine.

May you find joy to live your life as you desire. And may you also have no desire to prove to others or seek validation, that your life is really just fine, as is.

from my house to your house,

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