Category Archives: Ask Jo

Ask Jo: How I get so much done

The question I get the very most often is how I get so much done.  Seriously..the answer is I try.   There’s more to it than that but that’s the main response.  I try to get a lot done.

I’ll show you a typical day around here.  This was a week day.  My alarm went off at 5:35am like it always does but this day I hit the snooze.  I don’t often do that.  In fact, I hit it twice.  I wasn’t out of bed until 5:55am.  I am not big on makeup.  I took a shower the night before so getting my clothes on and fixing my hair took under 15 minutes so I was in the sewing room by 6:10am.  That left me about 45 minutes to sew…Hmm.  What could I tackle in that time?

Ah…I’ll finish sewing the rows together on the food quilt that I’m gifting.  but wait.  Oops.  I did something wrong.  I set that aside.  I’ll figure that out later.

Hmm.  I had one more row to sew together and add to this…

so I did.  That needs to be ironed and borders and binding need to be cut but I can do that downstairs.  I grabbed a tote, put the things in and set that by the door.

I had an idea for a baby quilt for Buck’s baby.  I don’t think it will take long so I started pulling strings in the color family I wanted.

There…that’s all set up and ready once I get time to work on that.

I do need get neutrals to go with this project.  I want to use white based neutrals with black print as this is going to Mickey Mouse themed so I have none of them.  My fabric is organized but color so I grabbed a bunch for it.
That went into a tote and I set that by the door.

I looked around the sewing room….I looked at the clock.  Shucks.  That’s all I got done before work today.

I “commuted to work”.  For me, that’s a walk down the stairs.  I’m an in home childcare provider so no real commuting for me.  Remember that when you wonder how much I get done in a day.  I have no commute.  Around here a typical one way commute is 20-30 minutes.  So I can sew in time that regular are commuting to work.

I was downstairs about 30 minutes before the kiddos start coming.  A load of wash goes in…the dishes get put away….I prep for the day.  Breakfast, lunch and even supper get planned.  If I can start something for either meal I do that.

The kids start arriving at around 7:15am.  They come in gradually and I work to everyone situated as they arrive.  The bus comes at 7:45am and by 8:30am all the kids are here.

I’ve been doing childcare for years.  Taking care of seven kids is likely easier for me than it is for a grandma to have two kids on a Saturday.  My entire house is set up so the kids can take care of themselves as much as possible.  Once kids are 20 months or so old, they sit at the table to eat themselves.  They help pass out plates and silverware.  They scrap their own plates.

So many of the things we do, I incorporate learning.  The kids helped me bake brownies on this day.  The kids will help me fold their laundry.  I like kids to learn tasks and get the experience of working together.  I use wash clothes for the kids to dry their hands.  The kids help me do that.  So many of the things other in home childcare providers might do outside of work, I do during work as part of learning.

Once we’re done eating, the kids go into routine.  They scrape their plates.  They go to the bathroom, go potty and wash up.  They make their own napping spots and lay down.  All of the toys are already picked up.  Aside from washing down the counters and a little other work, I typically have some time to do my things.

This day I ironed that baby quilt…

I cut the borders and binding.

A blog reader sent this box of bonus triangles.  I’ve kept it in the laundry room to grab if I get more time one day.  Today I had a little time so I started sorting.
The gray triangles in the black tray got sorted.
Then I pulled the 30’s print bonus triangles and ironed them.
I noticed that there are two different sizes so I put them in a tote and will cut and size them up another day over naptime.

I scanned the box quilt and saw there was one grouping of triangle that needed to be sewn.  I put them in the box to take upstairs.  They will sit by my sewing machine and I’ll run them through one day when I have 10 minutes and don’t know what to work on.

I put the bonus triangles box back in the laundry room.

I let the kiddos lay down and watch an episode of television.  Some fall asleep…others don’t.  After about 35 minutes I noticed Carvers wasn’t asleep so I grabbed this.

The lighting is terrible.  The geese are actually orange.  These were left over flying geese that a blog reader sent in a box of scraps.  I pulled them out and sewed them together.    After seeing how it looked, I wished I would have put the middle row of geese pointing the opposite direction.

I had brought it downstairs and put it in the sewing room a week ago.  I was going to grab it and rip out the stitches while I sat by Carver to get him to go sleep.  It would only take 5-10 minutes to rip it apart…about the same amount of time it would take to get Carver to sleep.

Carver was sleeping before I finished.

I put this on the stairs and I’ll sew it together sometime in the near future.  I’ve been contemplating borders…I want it to be a little table topper.  If it was just a little bigger but I don’t have any of the background fabric so I need to think that through.

I went back out to the kitchen.  Everyone was sleeping now.

I could work on this.  A blog reader sent these scraps.  I’m thinking leftover from a jelly roll.  Last week one day I grabbed a bunch of white on white fabrics I had and decided that I’ll cut more half square triangles and make the rest of the fabric into pinwheel blocks.  I’m thinking I might get enough to make a baby quilt.  We’ll see.  That day over naptime I was able to cut the strips and I put the remaining white on white fabric away that night.  I left this on the island with the intention of cutting it out one day at naptime.  I haven’t gotten to it yet.

I could crack this open.  I bought it years ago thinking if Kayla ever had a baby, I’d make this for a car seat blanket.  Well Kayla’s due in January.  I need to get at it.  I brought it down hoping one day over naptime I could read the directions and maybe get the first step planned.

This was here….it’s my bonus triangle project.  UGH.  I have to come up with a border.  I’ve left it here hoping for inspiration.

I also have the white based neutrals with black prints that need to be cut for the baby quilt for Buck’s baby.

Well looking at the time I could see that I might have time for a blog post…or at least start one, so I left all of the projects and started writing the post.

WOW..I never expected to get this far.  Everyone is still sleeping!  WOW!!!  Well I’m off.  I’m going to go finish out my day and I’ll tell you all about in this evening’s post.  This one already has over 15 pictures and for people who are still on dial up (yes many rural people still are) loading this many pictures is going to be a lot.  So stop back tonight and see how I finish out my day…and see how I get so much sewing in.

Ask Jo: Question from Ruth

I got an email the other day…it was from Ruth.  I tried answer her directly but I got a message back that the email didn’t go through.  I thought I would answer it here in hopes that Ruth might see it…and I thought a couple of you might be wondering too.

Ruth wrote:
Hi Jo,
Am I the only one seeing all these ads on your blog? – See below.  It is very hard to read or enjoy the blog.  I wondered if you actually knew they are there?
I hope you can get them to go away and did not have to add them so you could keep the blog going.”

Here is the picture she attached.

Here’s my answer: Continue reading

Jo Recommends

I often add links in my blog posts for items that I recommend.  Later someone will email and it will say: “I remember that you recommended this or that.  Can you remind me of what that was?”  I find the link and send it.  I’m guessing others of you are likely wondering but don’t take the time to send an email so I thought I would add a page to the blog that lists some of the items I regularly use and LOVE.

Kayla is helping me out by putting a permanent link to this post that you will be able to find at the top of this page.  Feel free to access it anytime.

Here’s blog post I wrote about fixing up my 15-91 Singer cabinet.  I used  Restor-a-Finish I love the product.  I use it on most any furniture that gets scratched.  We have a light and dark oak version at my house but there are other finishes as well.

When Craig and I did the landscaping around the house we used this product for the edging No Dig Edging.  You can find it HERE.  It’s super quick and requires no digging.  Read about it on the blog HERE.

When painting I HIGHLY recommend a no tape edging paint brush.  This  trim brush will change the way you paint.  I HATE taping so this is PERFECT.

I also recommend   Goo Gone:  Latex and Paint Clean Up  if you have old paint or new paint to clean up.  I’ve used it on paint that was really old and it cleaned up nicely.

When making brownies and muffins I always use silicone liners.  I love them.   Amazon has many varieties to choose from.  If you are buying them I recommend getting more than 12 in a set.  I have 24 and that covers most any cupcake/muffin/brownie recipe that I have.

Here is a link to my HP 5255 printer that I LOVE.  You can read my full blog post about the printer and Instant Ink HERE.

It has SERIOUSLY been the best printer I’ve ever had…and still reasonably priced.  I also HIGHLY recommend Instant Ink program.  Find it by following THIS LINK.

This program sent me a color and black and white cartridge.  Then it keeps track of how many copies I make.  Then it sends me new cartridges as I need them.  I pay a flat fee per month.  There is 50 copies for $2.99 a month or 100 copies for $4.99 a month or for busy people 300 pages for $9.99 a month.  I don’t pay extra for the ink.  It’s just a flat fee.  I signed up for the 100 copies.  If I go over it’s 10 cents a copy more.

This plan is perfect for me.  With the childcare kiddos I regularly print around 100 pages.  The pages roll over into the next month of I don’t use them which is great.  I don’t print as much in the summer vs the winter.

I guessed I likely bought at least 4 ink cartridges a year at the minimum.  At $25, or so, each that’s $100.  Now I am paying $60 a year….and I don’t have the hassle of remembering to buy cartridges.  Plus I got 4 months free.  I automatically got 2 free months and then Buck found an online coupon that gave me two additional months.

I am still in love with my wool ironing mat.  HERE IS THE LINK.

Of all the mats I’ve used, this one doesn’t smell and it’s the PERFECT size to be portable.

For now, that’s the things I can think of that I’ve recommended as of late.  If you can think of anything else, please let me know.  I’ll add it to the list.  Here’s my email  [email protected]

You can help support the blog through the links you find in blog posts.  If you click a link it will take you to Amazon.  If you purchase the item, Amazon then sends me a percentage of the sale.  It is only 4% or something like that and it costs you no extra money.  Amazon does that as a type of payment for “advertising” for them.  I do not take advantage of that and recommend odd things…only things I like and use.  I appreciate it so much whenever you use a link.

In the Comments

As many of you know I have a Facebook page associated with the blog.  If you’re looking for it, just search Jo’s Country Junction on Facebook.  Many people will read their Facebook feed and then see that there is a new post on the blog and then click it to come over and read the current post.  Many people use it stay up to date with what is going on.  Others use it to contact me or leave comments.  This latest comment came from Jo’s Country Junction Facebook page.

Monica Thurn Walter wrote:
I am regretfully no longer able to follow your posts. I cannot help promote what you are asking for regarding screening for smokers. Smoking is a choice, leads to an expensive addiction and that’s the risk you take. Two of my dear friends passed from “ non contributory” lung cancer. I will never get over their untimely deaths. They did not choose a habit that could prohibit them from watching their grandchildren grow up. 
Thank you, Jo for many years of your enjoyable blog but I just can’t follow it anymore.”

That comment was written on July 14th at 6:43am.

Earlier that day at 6:04am our daughter, Kalissa, put a comment on Jo’s Country Junction Facebook page that said:
This is the screening exam that should have caught dad’s lung cancer sooner and the same screening exam that caught dad’s lung cancer when it did.  Please talk to the smoker in your life. After they’ve decided to not quit smoking we need to start screening them. Don’t shame them or give up on them. Be their advocate. You could save their life.”

Kalissa also put a link in to this Mayo Clinic article you can read HERE.

First off I want to say that if people choose to follow or not follow the blog matters not on drop to me.  Everyone needs to take care of and manage their own life.  I recently joined a Facebook group only to find that the group was SUPER active and my Facebook feed ended up overloaded with stuff from that group.  It was too much for me and I left the group.  I did what was right for me.  I welcome everyone else to take on these same practices.  If a group is too much for you for whatever reason, move on.  No hard feeling from me whatsoever.

Second I want to say that it so saddens me to know that there are people who shame and blame smokers.

Kramer (my husband who died from lung cancer on June 2nd) and I never fought.  We didn’t argue.  We didn’t have spats….except when smoking was involved.  Kramer would have been the first person to say that the only thing in his life he ever regretted was starting to smoke.  He tried and tried to quit.  I tried and tried to get him to quit.  He tried every outlet there was to try to quit smoking.  It never stuck.  For the first 25 years of being married I nagged and pushed and pushed and nagged.  That didn’t work either.

Then one day after fighting with Kramer for what became our last fight about smoking I looked in the mirror.  I had lost and gained back the same 30 pounds I had lost and gained back time and time again.  Over eating and carrying extra weight was not good for me.  I was borderline diabetic but did I take it all seriously?…not really.  So was I really any different than Kramer?  My over eating and not taking my weight seriously was just as detrimental to me as his smoking was to him.

I finally decided…WHO AM I TO JUDGE?  Addiction is addiction.  Is one addition really so much worse than another?  When I came upon that lightbulb moment everything changed for me.  That was the very last day I fought with Kramer about smoking.  Life went much better.

From that day on I made a commitment to not shame or blame smokers.  We all have our addictions from the person who uses their cell phone over family, to the person with OCD, to the drug addict, to the gambler and so on.  I will not blame or shame them either.  I’ll look in the mirror first and judge my own person before I am off judging others.

Thirdly….this.  So many people who have opinions that vary from others stop talking and quit.  In this case, Monica, was upset that I want a recommendation to be standard for people who smoke to have a routine Chest CT scan.  Monica is upset that she had friend die of lung cancer.  Wouldn’t it be MUCH more prudent for her and I to work together and work to make it standard for EVERYONE to have a routine Chest CT scan??  In a move like that, we both win and together we have a more powerful voice with her advocating on her friends’ behalf and me advocating on my husband’s behalf.  Think of how many cases of lung could be caught if Chest CT scans were offered at age 40…and every five years after that.  Monica’s friends would have likely had their cases caught quicker.  Kramer would have likely had his case caught quicker.  It would have been a win for all of us….instead, we divide with fewer voices advocating against lung cancer.  SAD.

I have no way to know if it was Monica…or who, but shortly after July 14th, when the comment came in, my Jo’s Country Junction Facebook page was “put in jail by Facebook”.  Someone reported my Jo’s Country Junction page as abusing Facebook.  I know of nothing I did.  Is it coincidence that it happened right about the time Monica became angry?  Is Monica the one who “reported” me for something.  I don’t know and I honestly don’t even care.  After a person goes through what I have for the last six months, petty stuff loses its sting.

Because of someone, maybe Monica, maybe not, reporting some imagined wrong doing to Facebook, the Jo’s Country Junction Facebook page is not working like it should.  I am still posting twice a day.  Please go to to find me.  Facebook prompts won’t be working…

Long story short:
-I thank Monica for bringing it to my attention that ALL people should have a Chest CT scan at an appropriate age.
-Monica, if you’re reading, I hope you can get past the anger stage of grieving.  Your friends need you to advocate for them!
-I’m hoping whoever reported the unknown wrongdoing to Facebook can find a way to heal whatever is broken in them so they don’t lash out at others who aren’t quite as strong.