Just Do It

Nike is on to something. “Just do it” is really great advice. The fact that you miss 100% of shots you don’t take and that fear of failure kills more dreams than actually living them out is enough to get me to act on an idea I’ve been kicking around for a bit.

The small town I live in has virtually no learning activities offered and we are a good 45 minutes away from towns/cities that have classes and skill share opportunities. So I’ve been thinking about teaching sewing (which I’m good at and love) right in town where local people can have a chance to learn a great skill and save money on gas and time, as well as keeping the class affordable for everyone, too.

So…I took the Nike challenge and set up a series of classes for this month to help people learn how to sew on their machines and to guide them, step-by-step, through using a sewing pattern and through the garment construction process. It’s to be an informal and small class that will be hands-on. Sure you can read books and watch videos to learn skills, but learning happens at such a profound speed when you have the opportunity to apprentice with someone who has the knowledge you would like to gain.

Now that the excitement of setting up all the classes and booking the venue is wearing off and I wait to see if anyone will actually sign up, the fears and doubts creep in and I think maybe this is all silly and who would want to learn sewing when you can just buy shit already made and I don’t have a degree so maybe that makes me unqualified to teach anything?! YIKES! What have I done????

I keep reminding myself that what I have done is created a space and time to give the opportunity to people in my community to learn to sew from a professional seamstress with over 15 years of experience in a comfortable learning environment close to home. Whoever does come to my classes will come because they desire the skills to sew well and I will help them get there. I love helping people to help themselves and I love teaching and sharing what I know and what works for me.

If this idea is a failure and nothing comes from it, at least I can say I tried and I am sure I will learn something from it all.

SEWING CLASSES Taught by Tillie Vuksich

Sewing 101-Learn to use your machine July 6 (8am-11am/1pm-4pm/6pm-9pm)

Sewing 102-Sew a little girl’s dress. July 16(8am-11am/1pm-4pm/6pm-9pm)

Sewing 103-Sew a little boy’s button down shirt. July 20(8-11am/1-4pm/6-9pm)

Sewing 104-Sew a tote bag and zippered pouch. July 27(8-11am/1-4pm/6-9pm)

 

$24 for each class. Max of 10 students per class. You can choose from three class times.

Learn on your machine and make new sewing buddies!

Classes held in the meeting room at Mill Village Motel in downtown Eatonville, WA.

Sign up at least two days before class to hold your spot. Pay class fee with Paypal (tillievuksich@yahoo.com) or by mailing check to: 10710 440th St E, Eatonville, WA 98328

Questions? Email me at tillievuksich@yahoo.com

(There is a small supply list for Classes 102, 103 and 104 that I will give you at sign up)

All I do know for sure is that I always have fun sewing and these classes will be educational as well as enjoyable and you will leave with the skills to sew from a pattern or your imagination. And to sew like a pro!

 

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My, my, my…

Well, I am back! After what feels like ages, I am tapping at the keys and here to fill you in on what a busy – insert the word “unfocused” here – person I have been.

I have finally finished some carriers for my Etsy shop: Petz Couture. They are awesome and I hope they find a good home soon!

A good friend of mine is about to have her third child. A little girl this time and I’ve knitted and crocheted some darling dresses for her. I absolutely LOVE making baby things! They are soft and small and will be filled up with a sweet new baby. Yes, I love babies and, no, I don’t want to have another. I look back on my days with five small children and wonder now how the hell I did it?! I know for sure I can’t do it now. I like sleep way too much to go back to those sleep-deprived years.

BIG NEWS: We have decided to move somewhere warm. It’s been something my husband has talked about over the years, but I was resistant…until now. I think I’ve hit that age where I realize I’m not getting any younger and life is to be lived in the now. Putting things off is so easy to do, yet sometimes the day never comes when you actually fulfill those wishes and wants. So we are living in the “now” and planning our next adventure. Details to come…

But what I am most looking forward to at this very moment is a vacation with one of my daughters to Florida to see family and soak up some sun!!! Spring break on the beach is a dream come true. Can’t wait until it’s just a Tuesday on the beach, you know?! Soon it will be a daily event with my family. This makes me happy and excited for our future!

I will be posting some giveaways as we get closer to our move. I’m packing light and keeping it simple for this adventure. Plus, I like paying-it-forward when I can.

Wishing you a wonderful day and a peaceful night!

~Tillie

 

Never Too Late To Learn Something New

We have three-amazing-acres with great soil and sun. It’s been fun growing a veggie and fruit garden over the last eight years. We have grown flowers too, but now I realize there is a need for local, organically grown flowers and I can help out with that (I am a helper by nature…whether that’s good or bad remains to be seen, but that’s the way God made me and I won’t complain).

In order to be a successful flower farmer, I took a series of classes at the Oregon Small Farms Conference (February 20th, 2016) and I learned a TON! It was an amazing gathering of minds!! It only cost me $45, but what I learned and the people I had the opportunity to meet was priceless.

It was held in Corvallis, Oregon at Oregon State University. Saturday was the Small Farms of Oregon conference, but I took only the flower growers classes out of the 30+ classes offered. There were vendors selling their gismos and gadgets and organizations sharing their mission throughout the day. A lot of info in one place with the friendliest of faces.

My first class was taught by Shannon Algiere called “An Intro to Growing Specialty Cut Flowers.” She was awesome and told how she practices resilient agriculture and uses sustainable farm practices.

My second class was called “Business Planning and Marketing for Cut Flower Farmers” taught by Diane Szukovathy of Jello Mold Farm, Molly Sadowsky the Manager of Seattle Wholesale Growers Market in Seattle, WA, and Joan Thorndike of Le Mera Gardens. I can’t tell you how instrumental this class was to my research into flower farming! These women are my personal heroes!

The last class of the day was “Beyond the Annual Field: Successful Strategies for Growing and Selling Cut Flowers in the PNW Shoulder Seasons.” I learned from the best in the biz: Tony & Denise Gaetz of Bare Mtn Farm, Vivian Larson of Everyday Flowers, and Kendra Neveln of Glenwood Farms. They showed me that I can extend my growing season with some easy additions like a hoop house and unheated coverings.

I was late to the next day’s event, the PNW Flower Grower’s Meet-up, because I was so inspired and I was planning my flower farm! But it was a great meeting with awesome people and a ton of information to help with all things flower farming.

Thanks for all the people who put on such an informative event and for the sponsors who helped make it possible!

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Sew Like A Pro

I’ve been sewing for over 10 years now and have learned a lot “the hard way.” So to speed up a newbie seamstress’s learning curve and help you achieve professional results, let me tell you about a few of the most effective ways to take your sewing to the next level.

Here’s my top five best tips to get you started making couture pieces you’ll be proud to show off:

  1. If you are looking for a sewing machine or are ready to upgrade, then the best advice I have for you is to buy the best you can afford and only get the features you really need. I have a Bernina Activa 230 and it has the ability to go from sheer fabric to denim with a ton of features that I absolutely love and use a lot. Go “test-drive” machines at dealers before buying one. It’s an investment that will pay off huge when it’s a joy to use and can tackle every job you use it for.2016-02-06 21.05.56.jpg
  2. Get a really good iron! And use it religiously! Nothing like pressing your seams to take a garment from looking homemade to “Where did you buy that?” Pressing seams as you go is essential to professional looking sewing. My iron is a Euro Steam Evolution. I LOVE it! (and I’ve had some real crap irons in the past that leaked on my fabric or never got hot enough) Invest in the best you can afford.
  3. Sewing machine needles are cheap, but so very important, and need to be changed often because they go dull with use. I change mine with every project. It’s also in your best interest to choose the right needle for the fabric and weight. They are all labeled with the brand name/type of needle/size of needle. The two numbers that you want to recognize is the needle size and it’s listed by the European#/American# like this: 90/14. The Euro numbers range from 60-120 and American numbers go from 8-19. The larger the number the bigger the needle size and tougher the fabric it can handle. So silk charmeuse, which is light and airy, will require a needle size of 60/8 or 70/10 and for a heavy, thick leather you will use a needle size of 90/14 or 100/16. There are also needles specific to jersey fabrics with stretch. Those needles have a rounded tip to help stitch between those stretchy fibers and not break them.  Choose right and change often!2016-02-06 21.04.59.jpg
  4. Patterns can make or break you in time and materials, as well as make you lose your mind when they are so poorly drafted that you basically have to redraft the whole thing to get good fit or for all things to line up correctly. I started out using Simplicity patterns and felt there was something wrong with me, like why couldn’t my garments ever look like the picture on the pattern?! But it wasn’t me, it was the poorly written directions and the lack of quality control they use in their mass-produced patterns that was the problem. I have since learned to use Burda, Ottobre, and Japanese patterns which have such great fit and better directions or diagrams that you are destined to create a great looking version of the pattern with less waste of time, materials, and mental hardship.
  5. Don’t be afraid to make mistakes. Those are “learning moments” and can actually speed up your experience level. Get a couple seam-rippers and keep them handy. Try it all; zippers, buttons, linings, sheer fabric to leather, dresses to curtains…just do it! Don’t worry if it doesn’t come out exactly as you pictured it in your head, you will get better with every project and before you know it you’re sewing like a pro!

*Sewing & Stitchery EXPO is February 25th-28th, 2016 at the WA State Fairgrounds*

Let’s Just Say I Tried!

In my small hometown of Eatonville, WA, a film crew was shooting a reality TV competition hosted by John Cena (15 times World Champion Wrestler of WWE) and I was super fortunate in meeting John and his beautiful companion, Nicole Bella, at dinner one night when out with my daughter and her friend.

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After dinner the girls asked him for a picture, which he very kindly obliged, and then I introduced myself and asked if I could interview him and the crew about the filming in Eatonville. (I really love writing and I love this town. I thought this would be a great way to help promote our town in a positive way.) John took my card and said he would be willing to do an interview once they were through taping the show. I was elated! I think us girls went to bed smiling that night.

I was so excited to do this interview that I wrote out all my questions, researched the show and the people involved, and how to spin it so Eatonville gets some props for being an amazing town with great natural space to enjoy.

But…I never did hear from him. Which is a bummer. However, I still feel like sharing what I know.

The show is called ‘American Grit’ and is said to air sometime this year on FOX. Leftfield Pictures and FOX produced this 10-episode reality competition TV show using Pack Forest as its playground for military-grade and survival themed challenges. With 16 of the toughest men and women split into four teams, each with a mentor, competing for a million-dollar prize.

The four mentors are made up of some outstanding military heroes. They are: Rorke Denver, Navy Commander and SEAL who starred in the 2012 film ‘Act of Valor’; Noah Galloway, Purple Heart recipient and ‘Dancing With the Stars’ 3rd place winner who lost his left arm and leg in combat as an Army Soldier and has since started a fitness and health charity called Survival Straps; Tawanda “Tee” Hanible, Marine Gunnery Sergeant who founded an organization to connect Veterans with at-risk youth to mentor called Operation Heroes Connect; Nick “The Reaper” Irving, Army Ranger Sniper and author of ‘The Reaper: Autobiography of One of the Deadliest Special Ops Snipers’.

I actually met the mentors at breakfast one morning before I had any clue as to who they were, and they were all really lovely people and very kind.

So there you have it! My first article on the TV show ‘American Grit. Unfortunately, I have no quotes or interviews with the producers or hosts or mentors. All I can say is that I tried. I introduced myself to all and gave my card to everyone and kept my fingers crossed. I’m new to journalism so maybe I was supposed to do it all differently. Who knows, maybe they will call me up and say “Hey Tillie! Let’s do that interview now.” (I can dream, right?!)

I wish the cast and crew all the best! I am really looking forward to watching the show with my family.

Sidenote: John Cena was in the film ‘Sisters‘, starring Tina Fey and Amy Poehler. It’s hilarious and a must-see! I took my teen daughters to see it, then my Mom, and just took my sister, Maddie! I laugh hard every time and now can say the words along with the characters at my favorite parts. Tina & Amy nailed it! It’s funny, but true. Go see it before it’s out of theaters.

 

Nature’s Gift

Ever since I was a little girl, I’ve been in awe of Nature.

There is magic and mystery in all that is Nature. I love being outside among the plants and animals, they talk to me – not in the creepy “hearing voices” kind of way, but like a knowing deep down in my gut that there is vast wisdom and knowledge within Nature and if I am quiet and receptive it will share it’s secrets with me.

So it’s no surprise that I am a big believer in natural medicine and practice it in my life. My husband and kids tend to roll their eyes when I go off on the virtues of what Mother Nature has blessed us with, but it does nothing to change my feelings or convictions. I still grow herbs in my garden and wild harvest herbs every summer to use in my homemade medicines.

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One is a powerful and safe, all-purpose skin salve that I make every year and share with anyone who lets me know there is a skin problem they are having trouble with. It’s easy to make, safe and effective, and so cheap you will understand why doctors and pharmacists aren’t telling you about these things – because there’s no money in it for them! It’s basically free. A gift from Nature! People offer to pay me, but I won’t accept it. It would be too much like re-gifting. I enjoy sharing what I know and have.

So if you would like my recipe for the herbal skin salve, let me know, I’m happy to share it with you! I also make an herbal dog shampoo that is great for your dog’s skin and repels fleas and ticks while healing any wounds or hotspots. It smells pretty nice too!

I truly want to be a doctor of Natural Medicine one day. Not for the money, but for the knowledge to help people who are sick and suffering. Nature has all the right medicine for our bodies so it’s important we care for planet earth so it can care for us.

 

Number 10 of 2015

For number 10, it’s my worst-best moment that comes to mind.

The “worst day” because I felt like my heart was breaking. I almost got divorced. We had even said the words and started talking logistics. It was that serious.

The “best day” because it marked the turning point-you know the one, where it can’t get any worse and must get better from there.

I spent a night alone in the local motel. It was by choice. I had had enough of the fighting. I needed to remove myself from the situation.

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Having teenagers is tough. But when you are fighting with your spouse over parenting these difficult, and selfish, adolescent-beings and then those kids are fighting you over everything and harmony in your house is out of whack…well, what do you do?

My solution was to say “I’m out!” And after a quick stop at the grocery store to grab a toothbrush, magazine, bubble bath, a chocolate bar, a bottle of wine, and a pad of paper I checked in at the motel where I found peace in the solitude and tried to figure out what to do next.

While sitting in a warm bubble bath reading my magazine and sipping some wine (a literal “Calogon, take me away” moment), I felt all the knots and stress leave my body. It had been a hard few months of teen drama coupled with marital strife. I was done.

I love my family, don’t get me wrong. It was out of love that I left the house. If I had stayed, the fighting and negativity would have continued.

While lying in my motel bed, I wrote down all my feelings. I wrote a pro’s and con’s list for everything I considered a solution. I put down my needs and wants. I prayed before falling asleep at 7:30pm.

What I came to realize is that I need put my foot down with how the kids treat me. I am not only responsible for how I treat others, but I am responsible for teaching people how to treat me. If I let people act rude to me or neglect my feelings and I don’t speak up and say “that’s not okay” then I’m partly at fault for how people treat me. I own that. No one reads minds and many can’t read social queues, so I know I have to speak up and tell it to them straight.

I also realized I needed to speak my truth to my husband, again-not a mind reader or even a hint taker. So I spoke my truth to him, which was that I needed more fun times with him and less bickering and I needed better communication.

I won’t lie, it was the hardest week of my life with many tears and heartache, but I don’t regret it. It helped to bring about balance and harmony again in my household. We all have things to work on, like speaking kindly to one another and making time for each other. Sometimes in this fast-moving, busy life of ours we lose sight of the important things. We take for granted the people we love most.

But sometimes, just sometimes, it takes a radical step like removing yourself from the fight and regrouping. It takes putting yourself on the top of your list and tending to your needs for once. It takes courage to admit that you can’t continue down the same path and that things have got to change. It’s hard, because that change could mean so many different outcomes and none of which are known. But you know what? Change is the only thing that will create a new outcome, a better one.

My advice to anyone who is in a relationship that started out wonderful but has grown stale or difficult is to do something different! Because that shit ain’t working and life is too short not to try to have your best life. It’s completely possible.

My kids have gotten so much better at showing me respect, and my husband and I are in such a better place. We are going to renew our vows on our 20th anniversary, in two years, and we are making date-night a priority.

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No one’s perfect and life will never be, but when you have honesty and love in your heart then you are pretty darn close!

Well, that wraps up the top 10 moments of my 2015. It’s been a full year of personal growth and crafty goodness. I look forward to taking what I’ve learned into 2016. I know there will be new challenges and many changes (our oldest goes to college next year and our second oldest will be doing running start), but I know I can handle what comes my way.

I wish you the best New Year! I’ll see you in 2016! ~Tillie