Elizabeth A.S. Brooke

Crafting, traveling and everything in between.


My new sewing room!

I’m looking forward to sewing in my new craft space!

Louis sewing room View 2


Louis sewing room View 1

It would be better, though, with different flooring. Carpet traps a lot of dirt and isn’t a great option for people with dust mite allergies and other respiratory problems. Maybe one day we can save up a little money to replace it. That may be awhile since I’ll be in school for 4 more years!

The new space, like the former one, is in the basement. This basement has less windows than our old one, but I should be able to sew more comfortably with track lighting, more controlled temperatures and less water. The old space limited my sewing time because of the lighting, temperature and, occasionally, dampness.

The former sewing spot in Va. We had dissembled the table for easier transport.

The former sewing spot in Va. We dissembled the table for easier transport.

With lots of windows, the former basement let in a lot of sunshine, but in the summer, the hours between 3-5 p.m. were unbearable because the sun would heat up the space. And at night, I didn’t have very much lighting. I often had to use a floor lamp positioned directly over my head to thread the needle.

In the winter, it wasn’t uncommon for the basement to be too cold to stay down there very long. The last few years, however, have been a little better since we added more insulation around the basement perimeter.

Then, like many basements, there was the occasional water during rain. It wasn’t too much of an issue, especially after Chris water sealed the walls and placed a French drain at the south wall, but water was still common during a period of rain. The new home has a sump pump and has already been water sealed, so dampness doesn’t appear to be an issue.

The first projects I plan to complete are a dress I started 3 years ago — before I returned to school — and design and make a wristlet to hold my iPhone, keys and id. The dress only needs a collar and a hem. Before the move, it had been draped over the ironing board for more than a year. I am anxious to complete it so I can wear it in this Kentucky heat!

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Cooking (and baking) gets faster

One big plus to moving from 2500-feet above sea level to 466 feet? Cooking and baking are faster!

The first two loaves I’ve baked have been much browner than I’d like. Here’s a prosciutto loaf I made with hard salami.

Salami loaf

And I baked the bread for the minimum recommended time.

Last night I tried cutting the time down by five minutes. I think that did the trick.

Cheddar Loaf

This is a cheddar loaf. I haven’t cut into this gorgeous bread yet. I’m dreaming of toasting it and slathering it with mayo for a extra special egg sandwich. Or maybe making the ultimate grilled cheese and dipping it in spicy tomato soup. Mmmmm!

The prosciutto loaf, by the way, is also a new one. It was tasty and is more versatile than you might think. I spread a knock-off brand of Nutella on it a couple of mornings. It wasn’t bad. The loaf dried out a little sooner than I would have liked, but I think that’s due to the over-baking.

Both recipes, of course, came from Rose Levy Beranbaum’s The Bread Bible.


Settling in

We officially moved into our new home last weekend. I’ve been rearranging things, unpacking and generally settling into our new space. Chris didn’t begin his new job until Wednesday so he was around the first part of the week to help.

This weekend we’re adding shelves and a light to a basement closet, adding drainage pipes to our gutters, hanging pictures and setting out decorations. We hope to spend some time exploring more of our new neighborhood before another long work week begins Monday.

Things from this week:

  • We saw DeSales High School 2014 graduates walking down Kenwood Drive to Iroquois Park, presumably for their graduation. Many people cheered and honked car horns as police vehicles escorted the seniors across roads and side streets.
  • I’ve got my library card! The librarian, who registered me, is pretty darn cool. All the libraries in the city are linked so you can order a book and have it shipped to your home branch. Then you can drop the book off at any city library. No need to have it sent back to the branch you checked it out from.
  • Kentucky requires you to visit two different offices to get your driver’s license and tags. To receive the tags, the sheriff’s office has to inspect your car.
  • Like North Carolina, if you’re not registered with one of the two major political parties you don’t get to vote in primaries. I like Virginia’s system better. You get to vote in either primary no matter how you’re registered. That’s great for when the real race is the primary. Oftentimes the only contenders are from the same party.
  • In some large cities, residents and employees have to pay income taxes to the municipality.
  • Fences can be a source of tremendous stress. If people would be true to their word, life would be much more pleasant.

I start a summer program June 30. That’s six weeks to get into a routine here at home and to finish getting things organized and into place. Classes begin Aug. 4. I need to pick up some school supplies before then — a required iPad, a study table or desk, etc. The remaining tools will be bought during orientation the last week of July .


Quick update

I’m peeping in for a quick update. The last couple of weeks have been spent meeting with Realtors, looking at houses, speaking with inspectors and making plans. Oh, and packing, driving and unpacking a 20-foot U-Haul. We couldn’t have been able to do so much without the help of friends and family, to whom we’re very grateful.

Lots of changes are happening, and they’re occurring much quicker than I thought possible. Though I’ve been really stressed, which I think has exacerbated my asthma and allergies, I can’t help but stop and acknowledge that God is good. After firing the first Realtor, we found a blessing in Anne. She’s been a great resource and has been quick to respond to inquiries during our house hunt.

After walking through several disappointments, we found a home that was too good to be true that had only been on the market for 10 days and was in the neighborhood we liked. Our offer has been accepted and now we’re in negotiations about the house inspection. There are quite a few things we want to address, but many can be expected for an older home and are acceptable at a home at this price point. They are, however, still negotiation points. Some things, however, should be fixed before moving forward. I hope the current owners are amenable and understanding. So far I feel like negotiations have been fair and honest. Hopefully we’ll have a home ready to move into on Final Moving Day in a few months.


Scraps of yarn

For the past several weeks, Chris and I have been slowly culling our items to things we really need and things we can’t part with. We’ve set aside multiple stacks of books, kitchenware, tools and clothes for upcoming yard sales or to be dumped into a donation bin. We’re both really bad about hoarding papers. From interesting articles to papers we wrote in college to tear sheets from years of newspaper work, there’s boxes and drawers full of paper we haven’t looked through in years. Paring down has been really hard to do.

I can’t speak for Chris, but for me, a lot of my hoarding comes from a belief that items may find a useful purpose in the future. I come from a generation of folks who will wash out barely used Ziplock bags and aluminum foil to reuse. Every hole-ridden sock or threadbare T-shirt might find new life in a quilt or as a cleaning rag.

Here is an example:

Scraps of yarn

I tossed out five sandwich bags of yarn scraps I was saving to stuff into sewn or crocheted toys for my niece and nephews. “Instead of spending money on Polyfil, why not use leftover yarn?,” I always thought. Those toys were never made, but I continued to fill bags with yarn.

While I was going through my yarn stash, I remembered something Margaret, a former sewing instructor, said. Margaret, a proper British lady, taught a beginner’s sewing class I attended with my mom at a Triad (N.C.) community college. She would say something along the lines of, “You Americans are so afraid of wasting thread. It costs less than $2 a spool. Cut it off and leave a long tail!” The point was that a long tail of thread would prevent the stitches from pulling out. I thought of that with a smile as I threw away the baggies full of colorful yarn.

After years of living in the same house, we’ve got lots of metaphorical yarn scraps lying around. It’s taking quite a bit of time to go through it all. What do you do with all that’s set aside? Pass it along to other people, who, in turn, will add it to their own scraps? There’s something to be said about living more simply. You have less stuff to tote around.