Category Archives: sewing

So excited!

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Guess what! I have a new sewing machine!

It’s a Janome 4120QDC and I bought it after a fair amount of research of brands and prices based on the features I wanted in a new machine. My basic machine that I’ve had for over 20 years is a Janome, and I’ve been thinking of upgrading for a couple of years. Of course, with most stores closed, I didn’t get to play with different machines before I bought one. I ordered this from a local quilt shop, e-transferred the money, and they called me a week later.

I have read the manual, watched the DVD (how old-fashioned!) and tomorrow I will test it out.

One of the things people are finding out right now is how high maintenance they are! Do you usually go to the hair salon every 6 weeks, do you get your nails done every month, get waxed, tanned, massaged, whatever? Well, with all this social distancing, we are having to be more self-sufficient. Luckily I have been cutting my own hair since Christmas. We have clippers, scissors and combs, and that’s all I need to give myself a short back and sides, a bit longer on top. In fact, after I’d done the 23mm job the other day, I went back over it with the 15mm. It’s SO tempting to just keep going and do the lot but I didn’t!

My nails are natural – they grow really well when I’m not working, though I still break one now and then, so they aren’t all even lengths.

And my hair, well, that hasn’t been a natural colour for a long time! When I cut it, the old colour was gone. And I actually quite liked it brown with a bit of grey. So I left it for a few days. But I had bought some more Manic Panic Flash Lightning and some Atomic Turquoise and Hot Hot Pink (thank you, Sally Beauty, for doing curbside pickup) so today I took the plunge and did my whole head!

It’s kind of a tie dye look, isn’t it!?

Yesterday I had a big sewing jag. I was going to make a bag, but instead got sidetracked looking through bits and pieces in my stash. And I’ve had these thin knits for years, bought when I was quite new to working at the fabric store and this stuff was $3 a metre and I bought far too much of it in three or four colours.

I finally feel like I made something worthwhile out of it.

The skirts are simple rectangles with elasticated waists, with a half lining inside in the same fabric. I didn’t even neaten the hems. And the PJs are from a self-made pattern from an old pair.

The tie dye skirt is a rayon fabric that I recently brought home.

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I used the fabric sideways because I needed the extra length to fit around me with enough to spare, and that also meant I could use the selvage as the hem without sewing. (Can you tell I’m a lazy ass sewist?)

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This is my batik stash. I had them all in one drawer. The small messy pile is made up of leftover scraps but the other pieces are good sizes. The turtle ones, second from left, are half-yard cuts from a quilt shop in Maui. After I laid them out, I washed them on cold, hung them to get mostly dry and ironed them. They are now neatly folded and back in the drawer. Yes, the untouchable part of my stash! You know that feeling, saving it for ‘best’, like precious yarn, or the good china!!

And finally (at last, I hear you say) here’s my finished Cakes Two to Tango shawl. It took almost two complete cakes of Lion Brand Mandala.

I love it and want to make another someday.

WIP: Cakes shawl

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I am loving the way these two cakes of Lion Brand Mandala are playing off against each other.

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I have a teeny regret that in the first part I used three small balls of yarn that were separated from the original cake and I feel I should have put them in a different order, starting with lighter pink then going darker (at the top there, against the green). I prefer the stripes that visibly segue into the next colour rather than a hard colour change. But I can see myself making another of these.

I am almost finished with the cakes, but have to remember to leave enough for a picot edging.

I have also made another bag, what I call my Quadrant bag. This is the third one, and it’s 3″ taller than the first two. Did I say how much I really dislike sewing circles and cylinders together? Oh yes, multiple times!!

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And I wasn’t going to make any more masks, but the people at my favourite tea shop think that they may only be able to stay open if they wear masks to work, and commissioned me to make them some. They paid me in tea!

This bamboo flannelette print is just perfect for them.

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It’s been an absolutely beautiful day. Sunny but still with a hint of coolness. Mr Fixit and I went on a totally essential trip to a plant nursery to buy new plants for the garden!

It was nice to get out of the house and a little further afield than I have been in weeks.

And we had a wonderfully simple but tasty dinner of bannock, vegan cheese (Daiya Smoked Gouda, mmmmm), olive tapenade and a huge salad. Feeling blessed and replete!

 

 

Full moon, face masks and a finished object

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I don’t know whether it was the full moon or not, but I was wide awake at 4.30 this morning. So was Mr Fixit. He is frequently wide awake at odd hours but usually I sleep like a log. However this morning we were both up before the dawn.

I was in my sewing room by around 8am and back to sewing face masks. A friend had requests to supply some and she didn’t have time to make enough so she sub-contracted a couple of us to help out. These ones took me two days to finish. Yesterday I did all the cutting out and fusing of interfacing, which was made more enjoyable by the fact that five of us had a video chat while we were sewing in our respective homes. I went back after dinner to do more, but had the hardest time getting the construction right because, whilst it was the same pattern as the previous batch, I was including the wire for the nose shaping and it wasn’t going well. I was headachey and frustrated and gave up in disgust.

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I even dreamed I was sewing masks!

Today, thankfully, it all went a lot more smoothly. I found that my regular sewing machine foot worked best to zigzag over the wire to hold it in place, and to topstitch sufficiently close to the wire once everything was turned right side out.

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Someone’s coming over to my house (well, the front door step anyway) tomorrow to buy some of these. I have to say, I have no plans to make more. Whilst there are some people who are making hundreds of masks at the moment (and making hundreds of dollars too) I just don’t have the stamina.

I finished the beanie too…

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I’m really pleased with the fit of this, and wrote down how I made it in the notes on my Ravelry project page so I can recreate it later. Worked top down, it’s just double crochet with a 5.5mm hook, and then some rounds of front post/back post double crochet with a 4.5mm hook to make a snug brim. Hopefully my friend will like it.

Today was our warmest day of the year so far. I did manage to squeeze in a bit of sunshine toward the end of the afternoon and even ate my (home made) pizza sitting outside on the deck. I would have expected my neighbourhood to be pretty quiet but no, there were lots of vehicles around, motorbikes roaring up the main road, neighbours talking loudly, music, and honestly you wouldn’t have thought that this Easter weekend was any different from usual.

As Easter = chocolate to me, I shall have to walk up to the store for some essential supplies tomorrow!

 

Sewing with a purpose

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Sewing with a purpose

As you know, recently I have been sewing up a storm because, well, you know, the disease-that-shall-not-be-named has created a temporary cessation of my day job. And I’ve never been so grateful for a stash in all my years of knitting, crocheting and sewing!

So what have I been doing since we last met? I made a second one of these:

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While I constructed this I took progress photos, optimistic that I had the math worked out and I could quickly get to the job of publishing the tutorial. Well….no. At least, not yet. I was about to sally forth and make Mark III but was sidetracked by a request from a friend. One of our mutual friends has recently had major surgery and so a group quilt is underway, as is a crocheted beanie and some face masks for the times that said friend has to go into the hospital for follow-up visits.

My contribution to the quilt (with materials partly my own and partly my friend’s) is this:

The beanie, after false starts with different yarn, different hooks, pattern or no pattern, is in progress:

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This is one of my souvenir balls of yarn from Yarndale – Louisa Harding Giardino in the colourway Lily del Valle. It’s a DK weight cotton/acrylic blend. It doesn’t need a fancy stitch.

And then my thoughts turned to masks and synchronistically a link on my Facebook feed provided the perfect pattern. I started making them and then suddenly I was getting requests. So far I have made 13 – I am saving one of the snowboard ones for Mr Fixit, but the other 12 have been claimed by a friend who works in the hospital (admin, not front line). I now need to make a few more,

though once my bias binding and elastic run out I shall have to be inventive about ties. I am also using a medium weight fusible interfacing on the outer layer for more structure and filtration properties.

This period of extended home time will be remembered for the hours of sewing and pounds of bread baked!

 

Ups and downs

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Yesterday was a lazy day – yes, even lazier than most during this time of social distancing. I didn’t really get much done. I sat outside for a while but, even though the sun was out, the wind was cold, so I had a knitted blanket wrapped around me. Mr Fixit was busy tidying in the garden, and making a noise with the wood chipper for part of the time. I didn’t feel like joining in!

I did finish this crochet cowl over the weekend though.

And another small SockSack, this time with some sew-in fleece incorporated for extra squishiness. I do prefer the softer result, compared to the crispness of the fusible interfacing.

Today, I was much more motivated. I think it has a lot to do with the fact that Mr Fixit was at work, and I tend to get more done around the house on a weekday. I made a list. Vacuumed, cleaned bathrooms, watered plants, made bread, did laundry. That felt good. I do love crossing things off my To Do list!

This evening I went downstairs and made a simple drawstring bag. I used a tutorial from sewingtimes’ YouTube channel which was really easy and a slightly different construction from ones I’ve seen before. I like it!

I had to adapt it slightly as my fabrics were both one-way prints. It would have been even quicker to make otherwise.

And this little bucket/box/container whatchamacallit is cute! It’s from a Lizzy Curtis tutorial – she calls it a gift box and suggests filling it with edible treats.

I had to unpick the first attempt at topstitching but the second time seemed to go well…until I looked at the bobbin thread side and realised it had gone all loose and horrible. Pro – the loose stitches are on the denim side which can’t be seen if I fold it as above. Cons – if I want to have the butterflies on the outside and the denim on the inside you’ll see the crappy stitches, and it’s not good enough for gift-giving. Darnit!

What creative things are you doing to save your sanity right now?

Sock Sacks

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I’ve been having fun this afternoon. A friend of mine was sending me Etsy links last night and we were gasping at the price of ready-made knitter’s project bags (ahem$70ahem). I suppose when you take into account the time it takes to make one, plus fabric and other notions, then the price isn’t totally overboard, but when you have the skillz you say to yourself, “I could totally make that!”

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As it happens, one of the Etsy stores mentioned the pattern they were using to make their bags, so I did a quick Google and found the source. It’s Ramona Rose at localredvine and the pattern is for sale here for about $13 Cdn.

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This is a drawstring bag with a divider. The divider can be plain or it can be a zippered pouch. Built in. So cool! Designed for knitting socks two at a time (which I don’t do) it holds the two balls of yarn separately and has two little tabs inside that snap shut to keep your yarn behaving as you pull it from the skein. (As I said to Mr Fixit, it’s always important to keep your balls separate!!!)

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I possibly could have reverse-engineered it, but with the last week being so frugal, with no purchases except for food, I’ve saved more than $13 on gas, lattes and the like. So I thought, to heck with it, and bought it.

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And I’ve already made two. The mushroom/turquoise flower fabric, which I am in LOVE with, was my first. It stands about seven inches tall.

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And the pink camper van bag is about 9.5 inches tall. Here they are side by side. I just realised that this design has everything – a drawstring, a zipper AND snaps.

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There is a larger size yet, but considering the depth (back to front) of these guys, I don’t think you need to go bigger! But of course it depends on what you want to carry in it.

Just to prove I really am in love with that floral fabric, here’s a photo to show you that I now have a total of four coordinated items that I can’t bear to give away! The wallet at the top is in daily use. So glad I bought some of that fabric before it sold out at work.

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Counting my blessings

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I’m feeling grateful today. I choose to be happy about this time off. How many of us complain about ‘having’ to go to work when we’d rather be doing something else? Now we have all this time – Google Calendar says I have no events, or it tells me about a shift I would be working, IF the store wasn’t closed! I am sleeping in late in the mornings. In the evenings, I think, what am I doing tomorrow? And I remember, oh yes, I have zero commitments. It’s very freeing, though I do understand that most of us do benefit from a little structure to our days and weeks to keep us on track.

I baked bread today. I don’t have a meal plan. I have the time every afternoon to decide what’s for dinner, based on the fresh food we need to use up, or what I have on hand. I have the time to pop down to my sewing room and spend some time creating something. I can take a walk or do yoga.

Today I clicked the video icon on a group chat on Facebook and got to talk to three friends, all at once, while we were all in our own homes. How brilliant is that?!

The two little purse/pouches above were made from two of Lizzy Curtis’s YouTube tutorials. Have you heard of her? She’s a Brit who sews, obviously, and she has some  nifty designs. These were both free tutorials. The fabric is from the pile I showed you on the 21st, some of my more recent acquisitions. And I got to use my new snaps and pliers set.

This is what they look like inside:

Quick and easy!

Today I made a less exciting, less pretty item. I was sitting outside with my cup of tea, a little chilly because the sun was barely out, so the sweater and socks stayed firmly on this time. I was looking across at the neighbour’s deck and a lightbulb went on in my head. I had this fugly fabric that Mr Fixit brought home not long ago, thinking I might be able to use it for something. In my recent clearout of my sewing room, I had decided to dispose of it. But wait! It is strong and durable and I can use it!

I measured the space at the top of the deck steps. It was about 36″ square. I cut a 40″ square, turned a two-inch hem, reinforced the corners, and cut a slit inside the stitching. Cut strips from the remaining fabric. Tied it to the deck railings and Voilà! A privacy shield and a little bit of a windbreak too.

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I do have a lovely view from my deck though this iPad photo came out really dark.

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Mr Fixit and I went for another walk this evening. Even though we’ve had some lovely sunny days, the air has been cool, and we still have to wrap up to walk in the evenings. Tonight I had my winter jacket on and a beanie, and for the first part (until I warmed up from the uphill striding) I was zipped up to the chin!

Looks like it’s time for a hot drink and another episode of Hinterland on Netflix. Keep calm and crochet on (or knit, or sew, or…)

 

Craftivity

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Craftivity

Titles are challenging, sometimes, but this word, Craftivity, popped into my mind as my fingers were poised over the keyboard.  Not an original word, probably, but it describes the way I am making the most of the extra time at home. A little knitting, a little sewing, a little crochet.

I started a new crochet project yesterday. I felt it was time to start using some of the “good stuff” AKA Universal Yarn’s Cotton Supreme in the most spring-y Eastery colours you can imagine. After a bit of Ravelry browsing, I decided on the Spring Blossom Cowl (Rav link to pattern page). It looked perfect with its four colour-blocked sections, though my plan is to make it a bit longer so it’ll double up around the neck. I am using my Addi Swing hook, size 5.5mm, and started out with fewer chains because I thought it’d be too wide. Well, after a few inches, I noticed it had shrunk somewhat widthwise. Oh well, I’m not frogging it now. My plan is to do about 12 inches of each colour, then join the ends together. It’s a pretty stitch, and the yarn is nice and soft.

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I have also made myself a sweatshirt-type top using a McCall’s pattern that I bought from work. It’s probably intended for pyjamas, as the pattern includes instructions for leggings, a top with two different length options, two different shaped hem options, and either a hood or cowl neck. The leggings can be made with long legs or as shorts. And there are some cosy slippers in there too. I chose the option with the shorter length, curved hem and cowl collar and left off the kangaroo pocket. (This fabric is quite thin and I didn’t want to drag it down with a pocket. If I make this again in a thicker fleece, I will probably add the pocket.)

The fabric is cool – it’s tie dyed and because it’s double knit it has stripes on the reverse.

I didn’t make any effort to place the colours in a certain position, though I would have liked the deep pinks/blues to have been more prominent. Still, it came together easily, I took my time, and best of all IT FITS!

I have spent a little time each day sitting on my back deck with a cup of tea to absorb some spring warmth. The laundry is up to date, my bathrooms were cleaned yesterday, my half of the built-in closet in our bedroom has been sorted to accommodate the warmer weather, and I am rather enjoying the relaxed schedule. Though, as we all know, there is an underlying tension to everything we do as we wonder how long this odd state of affairs will continue.

I had a couple of video chats via Facebook Messenger yesterday – one with a friend in Germany and a second with a couple of friends who just live down the road. So glad we have ways of keeping in touch. FB, Google Hangouts, Zoom … lots of options for video conferencing.

I even had a Zoom chat with Kathryn of Crafternoon Treats on Sunday, along with some of her other Patreons. She has been recording a daily vlog to chat about how things are developing in the UK along with her daily activities like yarn dyeing, home cooking and crochet.

I hope that you are finding ways to keep calm, stay healthy and relieve stress.

Temporarily unemployed

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Like so many people, I am experiencing what it’s like to be temporarily at leisure due to the measures being taken to limit the spread of the coronavirus. The fabric store I work at reduced its operating hours a week or so ago, then it reduced them again, and a day later I was told they would be closing altogether at the end of today.

Who could have predicted how 2020 was going to go and how fast things would change?

Of course, we crafty types with yarn and fabric and sewing machines and hooks and needles are happy as clams, mostly, with all the extra time to make stuff. Where I live, we can still go out, the supermarkets are open and well-stocked with produce, though not toilet paper of course, or pasta, beans, flour, rice or sugar. We can walk around the neighbourhood and enjoy the spring sunshine, we can exercise or do yoga at home, and I can cook and bake. My only peeve is that I didn’t make it to the flour mill for my usual 20kg bag of organic wholewheat flour before they closed, because I would really like to be baking tonnes of bread right now, rather than dreading having to go to Costco for our usual brand. (I will be avoiding Costco for a while – they are limiting the amount of people who can enter the store at one time, so there have been long lineups outside.)

I am thankful that we are all safe and well, and grateful that as we are all under the one roof I don’t have to worry about any of my sons becoming homeless as  result of losing their job. The youngest works with me, so he’s also temporarily laid off, and the oldest works at the same company as his dad, and their jobs are continuing, at least for now.

Mr Fixit can work from home if need be, but of course if the installers stop working there won’t be much for him to manage. Two sales people and two admin staff in his office have been working from home all this week already. We just have to take this thing one day at a time.

I did a bit of “panic-buying” of fabric yesterday when I realised the store was going to be closed. I bought some interfacing and some sew-in Pellon fleece for bags, and 11 fat quarters in solid colours, and 12 half-metres of clearance quilting fabric.

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The colours are very bright and spring-like. I have already used some of the pink butterfly fabric and the yellow solid.

This was made from a video tutorial. Photos were taken in the evening in artificial light, the most accurate one being the close up of the ‘handmade’ label.

I also made this one from a different YouTube channel:

It has three sections which create five pockets when assembled. There were some awkward bits in the construction of this, and at one point I was replaying the same bit of the video over and over to work out what to do. I won’t be making another! And my topstitching is definitely not good enough for this bag to be a gift, so I will keep it for my own use.

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This is the sports bra that I made from the pattern I showed you last time. I had about a metre of swimsuit-type fabric in the stash. I had also found a remnant of stretchy cotton fabric at work that worked perfectly for the lining. The only part of this that actually gave me any satisfaction was the straps. The rest was a bit of a battle with the slippery stretchy fabric, and the design rather disappointingly has you leave seam allowances exposed on the inside of the band under the bust, as well as the raw ends of the straps, so it’s messy.

I could have forgiven that IF the bra had actually turned out wearable, but it’s uncomfortable. So yes, I learned a lot in making this, and I’m glad I wasn’t using $40/metre fabric expecting something fabulous. Because I didn’t get it!

I hope that everyone who’s reading this is staying well and finding fun and creative things to do to reduce stress. Everywhere you look at the moment, it’s COVID this and coronavirus that, and it’s hard not to worry. Wash your hands, stay home if you can, maybe organise group video chats through Google Hangouts or Zoom if you’re missing your friends. As with everything, this too shall pass.

All about sewing

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No yarny pursuits to report this week. I had four shifts, so less crafty time, and at my knit night I only did a little bit of knitting on the scrap blanket and then put it down as my friends wanted to play Cards Against Humanity instead!

I haven’t shown you these sets I made up as gifts. I added to a couple of things I made a while back to make sets – a continuous zipper pouch with a flat wallet with snap in the maple leaf fabric, and an itty bitty bag and flat wallet to match the drawstring bag in the Pink Panther fabric. Now that my pliers and snaps have arrived from Ali Express I foresee many more bags in my future calling for snaps (or, as we used to call them in Blighty, poppers).

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And then there’s this…

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…can you guess what it is?

Think about something that’s been in the news a lot recently, something that people are panic-buying, hoarding and even selling for lots of money on the black market! Yes, it’s a kind of toilet paper, but it’s made from diaper flannelette.

On my last trip to Costco, I of course did not find any TP as the hordes had already hoarded it 😛 I am pretty confident that we have enough to see us through the temporary shortage, however I thought I’d do my bit to help stretch the paper stuff by making some flannelette pads. These are only going to be for me, as the only female in our house, and only for pee. (I haven’t got to the stage that I am ready to go full-on cloth as far as TP is concerned.)

I bought 3 metres of diaper flannelette from work – my co-workers probably think I’m nuts, but hey, this is certainly not as messy as cloth menstrual pads, and I’ve tried those before. And I cloth-diapered three babies, so I’m definitely not that squeamish.

Three metres folded into layers and cut with a rotary cutter into 4″ squares made 86 wipes, double thick. I zigzagged all the edges, chain piecing just like you do with quilting, and before I start using them I’ll wash them to get any sizing out and make them more absorbent.

A stack of clean ones on one side of the loo and a small lidded bucket on the other side should do it. And I’ll throw the used ones in with my towel laundry.

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I was excited to find this pattern in the discontinued basket at work. I’ve been wanting to sew my own sports bras so that I can make them in a style I like, and so this came at the perfect time. I’ll make the first one in whatever I can find in my stash – I’m sure there’s some jersey knit fabric in there to give me a practice run as to size and construction. The top and leggings are cute too, though the leggings have a lot of seams and even a ruching detail on the ankle length ones. I have a busy week ahead again so not sure when I’ll get to this, and I also have a couple of metres of fabric for a top that I want to sew up very soon, but it probably won’t be until at least Thursday, unless I can optimise my home time and avoid vegging in front of my laptop. Trouble is, after 8 hours of being on my feet at work, on a concrete floor, on the go and constantly interacting with people, I am usually wiped out by the time I get home.

Hope you have a great week. Stay healthy and optimistic. I intend to!