About marymargaretripley

I am a professional Bakery Manager at a privately owned grocery store. I also owned my own bakery for over four years. I have been baking for 15+ years professionally. I also teach canning and preserving classes and have been gardening since I was 5 years old. I live in Western, NY with my husband, teenage son, Bernie the Cat and Muffins the Hamster.

SAL-Crown of Thorns #10

I do admit I am mad at myself for not finishing this project up this last three weeks. I just couldn’t quite get it done though. Too nice outside, festivals to help out at, holidays, work, Vacation Bible School….you get the picture.

Here is where I was last update:

Here is where I am now:

Impressive right?

Just a small amount on the side then I am done!

Please visit the other bloggers in this group who are stitching some amazing things!

See you in three weeks with a happy dance! -MM

SAL #9 Crown of Thorns

I really can’t believe it’s been 3 weeks since our last update! I still haven’t finished this project. Summer has finally arrived here in NY and I have been in my garden and outside on hikes when I am not at work.

I did make some progress though so hopefully you can tell the difference. Here is where I left off last time:


and here is the point I am at now:

More of the thorns is completed and I am slowly making my way to the left side of the chart.

I hope to complete this project in the next week. I might need a snow storm to get it done though!

Please visit the other stitchy bloggers in our group by clicking on the links below. We post from all over the world!

See you in three weeks – MM

Young Crafters Series – Evelyn Naujokas

I met friendly, young, Evelyn Naujokas while I was shopping at a small, local, home goods store in a neighboring town. She was watching the store for the owner who was on vacation out of the country and while people browsed she sat behind the counter patiently waiting to cash them out. I noticed she was working on a rag hooking project. This piqued my interest of course, being a stitcher myself.

I struck up a quick conversation with her intrigued by her quiet attention to her project. This was her first rag hooking project, which an older friend of hers had started her on. I asked her a few questions about her experience with the project which she happily answered. She cashed out my purchase and then I was on my way.

A day or so after that conversation with Evelyn I couldn’t stop thinking about her and her WIP (work in progress) so I messaged the owner of the shop, who is a lovely woman and friend and I asked her if the young woman watching her shop that day would be interested in sitting down with me for an interview for my new blog series on young crafters. She said absolutely!

Evelyn and I met a week later at the local library and for almost an hour we chatted about the things going on in her life, most especially her new love for rag hooking.

First let me tell you what rag hooking is. Rag hooking in my mind is a bit different that rug hooking in that you are using strips of old fabric instead of bits of yarn. While scraps of rags helped to use and not waste leftover fabric to make rugs a hundred years ago, now in the twenty first century people hand dye fabric to make it a craft instead of a necessity. A pattern is hand drawn on the canvas to be used and the fabric strips are pulled through with a crafter’s hook to make a raised loop which after hooking many raised loops along the hand drawn pattern an image forms.

I asked her how she became interested in this type of craft considering there are so many other kinds of crafts to learn. She said her boss at the restaurant she serves at part-time hosts a rag hooking crafters group once a month for food and conversation and of course hooking. Evelyn said she used to watch the group and what they were working on and after a few times of her boss observing her watching the group, presented Evelyn with her own rag hooking kit!

A little background on Evelyn….She comes from a traditionally conservative family with three sisters, all of them crafty in some way. They love to go to flea markets and turn their finds into treasures. Each of her sisters and parents have different crafting styles ranging from sign and furniture making, to watercolor painting and gardening. Evelyn is currently a student at Monroe Community College majoring in Interior Design but she also expressed interest in being a Sommelier. A Sommelier is a Wine Steward who works with managing wine selection, purchase, storage, sales, and service in the hospitality industry.

Part of our conversation turned to how rag hooking helped her manage her stress level during school finals and other stressful times in her life. We even talked about her view on social media and the good and bad that can come from using our phones and being on media like Facebook and Instagram. We both agreed it was very easy to waste large amounts of time on social media and browsing the Internet mindlessly. Evelyn said what she loved about hooking was at the end, when the project was done, she had something tangible she had accomplished. She does not get that feeling from scrolling through Facebook. What she did like about social media was seeing new ideas and styles.

I really enjoyed my time with Evelyn and I plan to stay in touch with her to watch her progress on her project.

I think crafting really brings people and their creativity together. I belong to a Stitch-A-Long (SAL) group where a group of us from all over the world, update our progress on our Works in progress (WIP) every three weeks. Now how would I have ever gotten to know these wonderful ladies if not for my stitching?

I plan to post throughout the summer, stories of different people I hear about that are bringing back vintage crafting styles. Believe it or not these types of crafts are not just for “old ladies” anymore. Instagram shows young people with extraordinary talent in long forgotten crafts.

There is so much more I could write about my conversation with Evelyn Naujokas but suffice it to say I think she is a very talented and personally engaging young woman with a good head on her shoulders. Thank you Evelyn for indulging me with my new blog series. It was truly a pleasure!

See you next week everyone with another young crafter’s story! -MM

SAL 8 Crown of Thorns

Good morning from sunny New York! I really can’t believe it’s been 3 weeks since our last check-in.

I have been working mostly in my garden so not as much progress has been done on Crown of Thorns as I would have liked but here it is…

Where I left off last time:

And where I am now:

I have 4 more colors to do on the crown and then done!

Please visit the other stitching blogs. These ladies are working on some amazing projects!

See you in 3 weeks. -MM

Not Impressed With Our Debt – Week 44 of 80 – Challenges

Remember when I told you about a trip to the emergency room in November last year and as of yet had not been billed for it? Well I finally got the bill…all $3200 of it. Yeah, and I have insurance and I still had to pay over $4000 for an emergency visit! This high deductible crap is getting old.

To add to our debt this month we desperately needed a new lawn tractor to mow our large yard. The one we have been using was getting too run down and the expensive repairs really didn’t fix the problems the mower had so we reluctantly bought a new one. We felt that a quality mower from a real dealer was the way to go. The initial cost is more expensive but the quality is 10 times better than a mower from a Walmart or Home depot. This new mower like the medical bill, cost us about $3200.

So our debt went up $6400 this month.

I considered giving up for a few months on these financial posts because our debt went up instead of down which just sounded awful to me and because I have two other blog series I want to pursue this summer.

However, after thinking about it more I  want people to know that things aren’t always going to be rosy when you are trying to get rid of debt. My husband told me I was making paying off our debt sound too easy and that to the reader we weren’t struggling every week. We ARE struggling every week. That is a reality for us, but do people really want to hear about reality? The bottom line is every single week we are paying off our debt regardless of the setbacks.

There is always going to be something that comes along that is a set back for a while. Vehicles come and go, home repairs from storms, new mattresses and those pesky medical bills to name a few but you can’t let it slow you down or break your commitment to paying off debt. Two steps forward, one step back? I guess that’s the case for us this time. Debt has its highs and lows.

When I started this series of posts I didn’t really think many people would read them. Do people really care that much about debt? You know what though? I have been surprised by the number of people that have come up to me and have mentioned how much they look forward to reading my debt challenge posts and to keep doing it.

Is there any good news you ask? Our home equity balance is now at $228. You know what that means right? Happy dance to come this month! I will have a BIG post when I make that last payment in a few weeks.

Keep at it my friends…keep at it. -MM

SAL 7- Crown of Thorns

What a gorgeous weekend it has been for us here in Upstate NY! Sunny and even warm today is the forecast. Before I run outside and play in my garden here is my three week SAL update.

Three weeks ago I left off with almost having the bottom finished:

After three weeks here is how far I have come:

I have finished the entire bottom half though it is hard to see with the wrinkle mark from the hoop. I got quite a bit done on the thorns!

I hope to finish this project in the next two updates. Although it’s been an amazing piece to work on my eyes definitely need a break.

Please visit the other members of this fun and extremely creative SAL group. If you are interested in joining us please contact Avis who is at the head of the list of Blogs.

See you again in June! -MM

SAL #6 Crown of Thorns

Good morning everyone! I got quite a bit done on my Crown of Thorns WIP this last three weeks.

Here is where I left off:

Here is where I am now:

The whole left side of his face is done and the right side is done to the edge of the pattern except for some on the bottom.

Still looks eerily real doesn’t it? Next I will work on the crown of thorns.

One thing I have been having trouble with is the quality of the thread. It tangles very easily and breaks often which is very frustrating sometimes.

Please check out the other blogs in or Stitch A Long group by clicking on the links below!

See you in three weeks! -MM