Getting Started

The title of this blog post could refer to anything, couldn’t it? When you girls ask me how I get so much done, the worst part is actually starting and frankly I’m not sure I get any more done in a day than you! If you reported on your daily activities, you’d see what you accomplished by the end of the day, too. Try it – write down everything you do today and you will be amazed!

Read more here

Connie and I want to thank you for your orders! We just finished filling all that we have received so far.

When we ask you to include a mailing label, we just want to save a little time addressing your order. We want to actually use the label you include with your order. Some of you have applied the address label to your note. We would like you to cut out your address label with the backing still on it so we can peel off the back and stick it on your envelope. This is not required – it’s only a timesaver for Connie and me. For those of you who have included an unused label, we thank you.

Betty gazes longingly up at her mom.

Here’s another “get started” opportunity – look at my messy kitchen! I shopped yesterday after I got a haircut and only the refrigerated items have been put away. I hate the thought of cleaning up my kitchen but it has to be done.

Jenny is home from Louisville for a visit and she and a Becky came yesterday to help move plants outside. We did this group of big ones that lived in the quilt shop all winter but they’re safely under a roof for now until the big rains stop.

Here’s a close up of the night blooming cereus preparing to bloom again.

And the pencil tree that is over 7 ft. tall now.

Uncle Sam is living by the door to the quilt shop.

After we moved the plants we headed over to Reed’s house to see his chickens.

Then it was off to The General Store to pick up a chair I bought for $10 which I’m going to put on the porch. It wasn’t in the house even 5 minutes before 2 cats were in it! What about me???? I covered it up and let the cats have a nap.

The upholstery is probably not my first choice but it’s a Lazy Boy and very clean! AND it’s comfortable!

I did some work in the flowers yesterday and then added these broken pots as toad houses. Hazel loves to bark at the toads and this way they can escape to a safe spot.

Now a review.

Uncle Sam pattern, two sizes, $10.00.

Looks Like A Gameboard, $5.00.

Tulip, $3.00.

And now a short “essay” on “getting started”. Connie and I discussed how we get started on a new project and her first advice is what she does – she lays out fabric at night but never starts cutting until morning. She needs to sleep on it and also look at her fabric choices in the daylight. Our sewing rooms don’t always have that pure light as what the natural light is outside.

I think getting started is not nearly as hard as thinking about getting started. Once I’m in action it’s not hard to continue working but the first step is the hardest. Look at all my finished red and white four patch blocks. Now – what to do with them? I’m interviewing patterns from Country Threads books as well as Bonnie Hunter’s books. There are so many possibilities! I just have to settle on one and GET STARTED!!!

But first I have some gardening to do and that dirty kitchen to clean up. Could you use this blog post as inspiration to start something today? Just start. So many of you have patterns that we’ve sent out so pick one of them and start. Then write and tell me what you started. It will be so much easier to return to an ongoing project than that initial step. I’m going to start right now!

53 thoughts on “Getting Started

  1. Sharon Geiger

    Here are some projects that I have started: weighted scarves, scrappy flying geese, star blocks for a Facebook quilting group, and collecting Civil War fabrics for future projects. Of course, I’ve started planting flowers. It has been so rainy here in NE Indiana that even the farmers can’t get started in the fields.

    I so enjoy your blog!

  2. Gayle Lacey

    Hi, Mary! I threw away my two pencil trees because I read they were poisonous for my kitty. Maybe it wasn’t true??? Just wanted to warn you.

    1. CountryThreads Post author

      Gayle Lacey – I have 4 more smaller pencil trees in my house and yes, I think that plant and many others COULD cause upset tummies if they chewed on the branches for too long but I’m not sure they’re poisonous. My cats do not bother my plants but they eat my Karl Foerster grass outside to the ground!! Stupid cats!

  3. Kathy Zuehl

    Thank you for the nudge to get going on my Uncle Sam! But I did start on the sew along nine patch with some 6 X 6 blocks that were in my mom’s sewing room when we cleaned it out. There were like 7 packages with about 20 blocks per package, and I kept thinking to myself, what am I ever going to do with those. It’s not high quality fabric by any means, but it will make a great table cover or even a nice mat for the dog dishes.
    Your blogs are a great inspiration for me! Thanks again!
    Have a fabulous day!!!

  4. Kate Schloemer

    I have accomplished a lot too in the last few days. Working outside in the spring is always so rewarding. Been working in my garden. I think most is planted now..😀
    Today I will finish basting a baby quilt so I can free motion quilt it.

    1. CountryThreads Post author

      Kate Schloemer – after the winter we had, working outside is glorious and yes, very rewarding!

  5. Diane Bauer

    I started Uncle Sam last night! He’s all cut out and I will be hoping to start sewing tomorrow! I brought my saddle home from the barn this morning for its annual cleaning, so when I got home from work this evening I started—and finished!!!—that project rather than getting back to work on Uncle Sam. That seems to be my big challenge—I can get started, but other projects crop up and get in the way of finishing the first project. First World Problems, right???

    1. CountryThreads Post author

      Diane Bauer – I’d say you got lots done – wow! And I love seeing those finished jobs such as your saddle crossed off my list.

  6. Rosemary W

    I just seen a toad under my rhubarb the other day! Yuck! The girls were here so I had them take it away! I don’t like them, especially in my garden! Years ago we were in the garden picking strawberries and popping them in our mouths and we got to the end of the patch and out jumped a toad! Ohhhhhh, ick! He was probably jumping around all those berries I just ate! Now he’s rubbing up against the rhubarb! No toad houses in my garden! Lol!! I’ll send mine your way! By the way, have you dropped off any squirrels over here lately, I seen one in the back yard with a bright red tail!

    1. CountryThreads Post author

      Rosemary W – I’d sorta like to have that fancy pants squirrel here in my yard! Mine are all ordinary. What’s the deal with that guy I wonder? Is this the first time you’ve seen him?

      1. Rosemary

        I think I remember you showing a picture of an opossum in a live cage once that you were relocating and you had squirtedd him with red paint so you could identify him if he came back! Ha ! I assumed that’s what someone uptown did with this guy!

        1. CountryThreads Post author

          Rosemary – REALLY???? I did spray paint a possum’s tail so I could be sure I wasn’t catching the same one every night but I didn’t realize you were referring to that. His tail is actually painted? Well, better a squirrel than a possum, I guess!

  7. Martha Engstler Gettysburg

    I’m inspired to really make a push to start a quilt for my daughter in law and I’m going to use some fabric from the skirt of an old dress. I know I’d feel much better if I could get more organized. I know a gal that I can hire to help and then I’d not get distracted. Love Mary Hawk’s philosophy about indecision. I learn so much from your blogs.

    1. CountryThreads Post author

      Martha E – I agree – I learn so much about so many things from readers!

  8. Mary Hawk

    I once attended a nursing seminar and the speaker said we waste so much time in indecision. She said about 90% of the time when faced with a choice in life, it matters more that you choose, than what you choose. She had gobs of examples. Just do it!
    What a great warm day.

    1. CountryThreads Post author

      Mary Hawk – I feel that I’ve not been able to start anything new because of the UFO’s hanging over my head so I’m going to keep plugging away and then I can start something that I really want to do – like New York Beauty! Sometimes I spend the entire evening sitting at my sewing table watching TV but not getting started on any sewing at all. Just too tired, maybe?

      1. Mary Hawk

        Yes, I agree, can’t sew when too tired. Yet, I put off sewing til all the work is done. Dumb self induced rule, well, it was kind of my mom’s rule. UFO’s bug me too, I get distracted and can’t pick one thing to do so flit from thing to thing! Right now I really really want to get my Mandolin English paper pieced quilt hooked together and off my design wall.

        1. CountryThreads Post author

          Mary Hawk – why is that so ingrained in our minds? That we can’t sew until the work is done! Connie doesn’t feel that way but that idea rules my life! That’s why I can’t wait to get supper over with so I can go to my sewing room!

  9. Kathy hanson

    I recently started something – your 9-patch method with red and white fabrics. It is a really fun way to make the 9-patches and I’m having fun with it! Cats, of course, have to make sure that everything in the house is really ready for people to enjoy – the cats will check them out!
    We were riding toward Minneapolis today and Jerry found a place with yellow headed blackbirds. Have you seen them before? They like swampy areas.

    1. CountryThreads Post author

      Kathy Hanson – I’ve seen only one in my life and believe it or not it was at my own feeder late winter a couple years ago. I even took a bad picture so I could just prove the bird was here! I love sitting outside and watching all the birds visit the feeders this week!

  10. terry

    Speaking of patterns – can you tell me if the Barn Swallows pattern is still available. If I recall it was offered for $10.00. Love the blooming plant. Fortunately, here in California we received very welcome rain throughout the Winter and now I have a glorious yard of blooms. Mostly roses but for the first time in about ten years my lilac bush bloomed, then there’s the amaryllis that are still flowering and many buds on my hydrangea bushes. It is amazing what steady rain fall will produce. Thanks for all you do.


  11. Judith Ann Jaques

    Big project here.Taking out hundreds of hosta. I finally found a wonderful landscape company to do this major overhaul. There were tears when they started digging them out, with a very large machine. This garden has been a major part of my life for over 40 years. I turned 73 on the 14th. I spent the day moving plants. Thank the lord for the puppy that came into my life in Feb. All the stretching over that puppy pen limbered me up some for this garden makeover. People love to get hosta once they are dug LOL. Today I put hard neck garlic on the local marketplace.glad to have takeers. I hate to just throw it all away.I so enjoy following your blog each day.

  12. Paula Philpot

    I like the idea of the toad houses. I love to lay broken clay pots in my landscaping. My day included one washer of laundry, quilted one quilt on the longarm and put another on and did about 1/4 of it and that was by 9:30 am. Then outside to plant my flowers and flower seed since this was the best day to “plant by the signs”. Got that finished and took the containers back to the greenhouse where I purchased. Quick run in the dollar store, watched Gunsmoke and crocheted on a charity blanket. Watered flowers, cooked supper, cleaned kitchen, made grocery list and checked coupons and crocheted more and now checking your blog. I liike having a day with a plan. Paula in KY

    1. CountryThreads Post author

      Paula Philpot – WOW! Just as I thought! If any of you wrote down everything you did in a day, you’d be impressed! I sure am! I would never have had that much done by 9:30! You go, Girl!

  13. Kathy in western NY

    Loved this post….if only i were sitting around a table with a drink and chatting with you all over this. A Nice “new” chair, a visit with your family and going to Reed’s all sounds like a perfect day. I agree with Sue in Oregon that I struggle with the end of quilting and lose my stamina. Getting started is fun with sorting fabrics, cutting and then sewing them together. It’s playtime for me and I owe it to myself rather than clean the kitchen so you remember that too, Mary. The kitchen will get dirty again but if that idea to sew and create is there, just go with it as life is short and we never know when we become stricken with something that will hamper us.

    1. CountryThreads Post author

      Kathy in Western NY – what a stupendous philosophy! I’m going to subscribe to that beginning right now and go straight to my sewing room and work on the kitchen the next rainy day which is coming soon. Thank you for that push, Kathy!

    2. Sue in Oregon

      Kathy….my thoughts, exactly. The kitchen will keep awhile if the creative bug is upon us. And, if I put it away I may never get back to it. Oh, my!

  14. Pat Smith

    I agree, getting started on things I don’t want to do (vacuuming, cleaning bathrooms, scrubbing floors) is the hardest part of the job. Sewing, no problem! I’m especially good at buying fabric and patterns and cutting them out. Where I fall down is sitting behind the sewing machine for hours to put them together. Tomorrow I will vacuum first thing instead of sitting down on the porch with my iPad! That’s another big distraction for me. When I see all you do in a day, I feel really lazy.

  15. Carol

    So I started, a while ago, with purging… not fabric of course, but “stuff” in my house. I had so many “teacher bags”… huge bags that went back and forth to and from school with me for years. I always bought super sturdy bags, some cute ones made of upholstery like fabric, etc. Those were the first things to go. Got sidetracked with 40+ years of unorganized photos…I started out ok with Baby#1 photos, but Baby # 2 was sick for the first seven years so… we’ll, getting started on that project was delayed by decades. But it’s done! Totally done! I got rid of gifts I never used, purses, clothing, little decorations…gone, gone, gone. Too many Christmas decorations… sent to the senior center.
    I just took it one task at a time, one category at a time, and now I have a new appreciation of my real estate here, my guest rooms are super neat and clean, with closets and drawers available for company. My bedroom is paired down considerably. All this makes tidying up so much easier. I soent three hours today dusting and vacuuming and scrubbing three bedrooms, a hallway and the master bath and they sparkle.
    Tomorrow… I sew. Not starting anything new, finishing is on the agenda. Or as you said, Mary, following through.

    1. CountryThreads Post author

      Carol – I started on the photo albums last weekend and will continue because , like Kathy said, you never know when something might happen to hamper our efforts. If I had been able to purge like you, I’d be feeling light as a feather and so elated! Good job! I will take inspiration from your comment!

      1. Carol

        Well, I could stand to lose a basic ton of weight, but I tell you, nothing feels better than having that weight of those disorganized photos off my shoulders! Every so often, I open the closet where three boxes are shelved, one box for my oldest son (studio portraits and school photos in a smaller box, and the unposed daily life and travel shots in the rest of the box. The same set up in box #2 for our second child, and then a box of my husband and my “history”, our childhood and school years and years of marriage without children. Historical “papers” … school honors, diplomas, etc also stored there. I know where everything that I don’t really need in life is, and when our last days have come and gone, our kids can sort and toss and laugh and cry… but for now and forever, that job is done! Yea!

    2. Cynthia Sabinske

      Wow you got so much accomplished, this is my plan for the summer!

  16. Cheryl

    About the new chair 🙂 If something new comes in the house it must first be ‘owned’ and sat on by Cosette, my siamese. We brought in a kitchen island without the drawers in it and she was in there If I stretch out a new quilt top she is on it. She is a big cat but even the smallest box HAS to be sat in. I love it!

  17. Sandy Hicks

    My mother always said that “nothing will eat a toad because they will taste bitter”. Perhaps that is why the dogs slobber at the mouth after tormenting toads. I just remembered this after reading the posts. I too will have to put out some proper “toad houses” as we have them also. I just ordered a couple patterns but sent along two stamped addressed envelopes to help speed up your process. I thoroughly enjoy reading your posts and the comments too. Keep up the good work.

  18. Kim J LeMere

    Toad houses? who knew and what a clever idea. I need to order your Uncle Sam pattern, he is to cute.

  19. Launa

    Toad houses! Those brought back memories of so many , many years ago when a cousin and I went to visit her paternal grandparents farm for a few days. Her grandma pinched holes in a tall coffee can lid and I caught a few toads to take home on the Greyhound bus. I let them loose outside at home! Thanks for the memories, Mary.
    The Pencil plant is one of my favorites. Doubt if the garden shop has one here.
    That’s a terrific floral Lazy Boy chair bargain you bought, too!
    I’ll be sending a mailing label with my order for Gameboard. I keep projects organized in cut down boxes like you do.
    Last night a few Elk visited our property and this morning the same Mule Deer doe and three yearlings spent time eating new grasses. It’s just starting to sprinkle here.

    1. CountryThreads Post author

      Launa – oh, what that bus driver must have thought if he knew what was in the coffee can! Haha! So did you end up with a toad population at your house? I just mowed around the pond and they’re lined up on a piece of concrete sunning themselves. I know rain is headed our way – I’m trying to soak up sunshine today!

  20. Starrla Opferman

    I always have toads but last year I did not see a single one :-((, I have no idea where they’ve gone because I didn’t see garter snakes either.
    Sometimes getting started on a quilt is hard for me. I have been wanting to do a Seven Sisters for several months. We just completed hand quilting an antique one at our church and I am applying the binding. It is lovely and was hand pieced and not perfectly but along with that and it’s stains it still is very special.

  21. Sue in Oregon

    Getting started doesn’t seem to be as hard for me as Finishing. I have 4 projects going and started looking longingly at another one. Then I left the sewing room and found your blog post in my email. What is wrong with me?? I really do get hung up on the thought of actually quilting something. It has helped me tremendously though to see your straight line quilting and how nice it looks.
    Oh, and I have nearly finished a pack of 5 inchers. They are all about bees. I am going to buy another one and make 4 placemats. I could use them as my everyday ones are getting dingy.
    Raining here today and supposed to be that way on and off for a couple of weeks. Sewing time!!
    We don’t have toads….just slugs. lol

    1. CountryThreads Post author

      Sue in Oregon – and I don’t think I’ve ever seen slugs here. Finishing is equally hard but maybe I should have worded it as following through a project?

      1. Sherry Whalen

        The toads might be keeping your slugs under control – we have slugs that love my garden. I think we may have inadvertently ‘imported’ them with some bulk wood chips we got many years ago. I think I will put out a couple of toad houses to see if I can lure a few in!

        You are right – THINKING about getting started is harder than actually starting. It was such a beautiful day – we did get started early today – mowing, tilling and planting got done. It seemed like a long road before we started but it was an enjoyable day!


    2. Paula N.

      We have slugs, toads, snails, frogs, lizards, you name it- we probably have it. Including rain. Had 12” last Tuesday, my bee hives came within a 1/2” of flooding. As far as projects go, sometimes I have a hard time starting, and sometimes it’s difficult to stick with it and finish. I completed Bonnie Hunter’s En Provence and still haven’t had it quilted. My little Singer can’t handle it, and it seems overwhelming to find a longarm quilter, Not to mention preparing it to send to the quilter!

  22. Felicia Hamlin

    I used to put toad houses in the garden, years ago, Mary. Thank you for reminding me, I will put some out. Your pencil tree is huge, the one you gave hasn’t grown yet, but my cereus cactus has. You are right, thinking about when to start can take longer than doing it. Enjoy the beautiful day.

    1. CountryThreads Post author

      Felicia Hamlin – I’m going to give you a new pencil tree! Mine grows like crazy! I think they like to be pot bound and they grow on the beach in Florida.

  23. Diane, Squeak's mom

    My mom would have loved the toad houses. For some reason, she was deathly afraid of toads and frogs–mostly she was afraid of running over one with the car. She never would have hurt them. I am working very hard on small lap quilts for Honor Flight attendees. Our Guild received a HELP call so we are in action.
    I have some four patches ready to go because I was using them for leaders and enders so anytime you are ready is fine. Thanks for the blog:)

    1. CountryThreads Post author

      Diane, Squeak’s mom – you know that old saying about a dog that bites a toad slobbers at the mouth? Well, it’s true because after Hazel has been tormenting a toad and comes in the house, she has saliva running off her chin almost! I thought that was just an old wives tale until I witnessed it. I saw some fancy toad houses in a gardening magazine and thought these old pots would work. I do not like picking up toads but sometimes it’s necessary. I am terrified of running over one with the lawn mower —- and I have done that and I can’t “unsee” that picture n my mind! Hugs to Squeak from Millie!

  24. Carolyn In Kansas Now

    Your kitchen looks great to me! Lots of counter space! I ordered Uncle Sam and Game Board, can’t wait to get started Uncle Sam, hope to have him done by Memorial Day! I provided a label:)
    Look forward to your posts, great inspiration.

  25. Mrs. Goodneedle

    I love, love, love the idea of toad houses; I am totally copying your idea. My granddaughter and I have been working on the perennial garden together; she loves to get in the dirt! I had to apologize to my daughter in law for sending her home filthy. She loves toads, earthworms, whatever she finds in the garden. My Uncle Sam is on the cutting table, I was hoping to have him hanging by Memorial Day but I will miss that deadline. It’s okay, Flag Day is coming!

  26. Susan Fiorito

    Toad houses! What an awesome idea, I never heard of it. My 4 Westie girls are lizard chasers!!! Holy Cow you would think we were getting invaded by the enemy the way they carry on when a lizard happens to come in the back garden. Luckily for the lizards they can climb very fast.
    Once in awhile the poor unfortunate gets caught :-(.
    Thank-you Mary for this blog, I read every post. I have followed for years now.

    1. CountryThreads Post author

      Susie Fiorito – guess it’s too cold in North Iowa for lizards, thank goodness! I agree – the barking is over the top! Just saw a post about the cutest Westie needing a home – could you handle a 5th one?

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