Sunday, June 28, 2009

Changes - Before and After!

This weekend marked two changes. Small steps, but important to feeling like I am progressing from a "big-boned" old lady image to a healthier, more energetic version of myself.

First, I bought a pair of pants in a smaller size. More importantly, I wore them all day today and they are not too tight, even after dinner. And these pants are the same brand of the bigger sizes that I have been wearing, so it is not due to a different cut, or style.

The second change is due to a different cut and style!


...and after.

I have been 'over-ready' for a hair cut for some time. My hairdresser only works on the weekend and I called several weeks ago for an appointment and her schedule was full. I have been too busy the past several weeks to try to fit anything else in, but yesterday I called and got an appointment. I haven't had bangs in quite awhile, but I figured that I was overdue for a new look. And, if I hate it, it will grow out again before I know it!

More travel planned for next weekend, so my weight control efforts will either be suspended, or not. I can never predict how it will go, when I am out of my routine. I don't know whether it is the planets aligning, or my body getting used to whatever "stage of life" I am in, but I am really not having much difficulty in holding to my eating plan. Which is a relief, because I am overdue for a change!

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Kitty TV

We are finally in summer. We enjoyed mild weather earlier in June, but now it is getting hot! Not as hot as it will be, but it is 'seasonable'.

When it is hot, Zork doesn't get to watch his 'TV'. He loves to lay in front of the screen door and watch for birds and bugs. It is his window to the world!

See how he slips his paws through the gap in the sill and the screen door? That is adventure to Zork!

Our house guests left yesterday evening. They were a little tired from all the 'going' they did during their stay, so they planned to just lay by the pool and relax on their last day.

Who would have thought it would rain? Not the weather man! It sprinkled on and off all day long. Only a tenth of an inch, but that is significant in the desert. The washes were running fast for an hour or so (washes are empty ditches where the water run off is collected and carried to where ever it goes...) and there was standing water in a couple of intersections that we drove through on the way to a restaurant for dinner.

I am sorry that it ruined their plans, but it was a nice temporary cool down, and by cool down, I mean down to 104 degrees...

Not too bad, though. Even with the rain, it is still a 'dry heat'!

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Work in progess...

This is my 100th blog post. I had a grand idea to celebrate with a give-away, but it has come upon me in what feels like the busiest month of my life.

After an unexpected trip to Kansas, I returned home last Monday, and one day later, guests arrived for a short visit. The day of their departure, more guests arrived. All were planned, anticipated and enjoyed, but it has kept me busy and out of my routine.

Even up until a day or two ago, I thought that I might 'catch up' my regular life this weekend and be able to pull it off, but no... So, this will be my 100th post, without commemoration, and instead, I will look forward to celebrating some other random milestone to be named later!

Now, moving on, this is my latest work in progress!

It is a pattern from Hillary Lang at Wee Wonderfuls called "Spring Cleaning". The pattern left the blocks open and suggested filling them in with whatever pattern the stitcher desired, but I followed the photo of Hillary's finished example. My variation is to make the quilt 'redwork' but use different colors for the girl.

I had hoped to show it as a finished project, but that will also be at a date to be named later!

(Edited to add the link to the pattern and instructions.)

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Summer is 25% Complete...

June is flying by and I am trying to avoid being sucked into the draft!

It has been almost two weeks since I left town to gather with my family to celebrate the life of my brother-in-law. It was good to be together with my daughter, my brother and sisters, in-laws, cousin, nieces and nephews. There was much eating and visiting, as usually happens when we get together.

Also, since I have a June birthday, it was celebrated a bit, as well! I received several charming children’s hankies!

The girl in the pink dress is from Dearest Sister and the girl with the dog is from Dear Ms A. I unwrapped them at different times and places and until I put them side by side, I thought they might be "related"...

This is the one I opened first. I love her eyes and her gloves!

They are not from a series, but I think this could be her tomboy little sister!

DS also gave me this bunny skater! I love the cable sweater and the vintage colors!

Dear Ms A presented me with this beautiful bird necklace!

It is a Ruby Crowned Kinglet! I am not familiar with them in real life, but I love this one!

I received many cards, with and without musical accompaniment when opened…

and “art supplies”!

Dearest Sister presented me with some of the raw materials for “Sealing Wax Art”. I am not promising that it will be used for that purpose, though. The instruction booklet is filled with cautions about burning fingers on hot wax! Also, I do not have an alcohol burner. I am intrigued, though, so I may give it a whirl. Who knows? Maybe I will come up with a variation and start a new trend amongst crafters everywhere!

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Taking to the air, again...

I will be away for a few days, traveling with Dr. Niece to Kansas City. The occasion is a sad one, the passing of a dear brother-in-law, but we will enjoy being together with family.
I hope you enjoy these desert blooms from the neighborhood, in my absence!

Pacific Coast Native Iris (I think...)

Very bright orange prickly pear cactus!

Close up of a very tall plant that reminds me of Christmas Cactus... a 6 foot wall for perspective!

Back next week, hopefully with some completed travel projects!


Sunday, June 7, 2009

Same process, different material...

This is the only creative project that I have to show for the weekend.

It is a scrubber, made from nylon net. Not a big deal, really. Except - I read a pattern! Now, I will admit, that it turns out that this pattern is very similar to the dishcloth pattern that I have knit about 200 times, but I didn't really know that when I began. It is the first time I have ever deciphered a pattern by myself, without having the benefit of demonstration from someone else!

Last year, The Mister and I went to the Clark County Fair. It is held in Logandale, about 70 miles North of Desert Crazy Town. Logandale is in the Moapa Valley, which has some water (the origin of which I am ignorant of). So, Moapa is an agricultural area and the county fair has the typical carnival, 4-H displays and tiny girls and boys exhibiting large animals that may represent their college tuition, if they are lucky enough to have raised a champion. It is quite an enjoyable contrast to our every day environs!

There was also a vendor exhibit with the usual folks hawking everything from health supplements to kettle corn. And there was a booth selling handmade items and baked goods to raise money for a local service organization. I bought a scrubber crocheted from nylon net for $2.

It was one of the handiest kitchen items. I say "was" because it met its demise lately, after I used it to scrub a purse (and maybe some shoes...)

Some time last year, I was going through some old Workbasket Magazines and found this pattern for a crochet scrubby, along with a knitted one, in the March 1994 edition. I picked up some nylon net at a garage sale last fall, and today I decided to try my hand at making a scrubby.

Since the net was about 8 yards long, I cut a 3" strip from the raw edge and rolled it into a ball and cast on, just like it was cotton yarn ready to become a dishcloth! One difference became clear immediately! Knitting with nylon net is like drying your hands with sand paper! I started another, but set it aside to finish another day. I need to give my sore fingers a little break!

I taught myself to crochet last winter when we were in the Frozen North, but reading a crochet pattern was more frustration than I could tolerate at that time. I think the crocheted scrubbys would be faster and maybe a little 'fluffier', which would rinse better when they are used. Perhaps my success in reading the knit pattern has given me the confidence to try to master reading the crochet stitches. Since I still have 8 yards of net (minus 3" cut from the raw edge) I have lots of material to use up.

And a new scrubby!

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

"Old School" of Necessity and Choice!

Today, I entered a giveaway. I usually don’t, either because the giveaway is not something that especially appeals to me, or the chance of winning seems pretty slim. But today, I entered Heather Bailey’s three year anniversary contest.

I would love to win some of her fabric, but that is not why I entered. She asked, “What was your first sewing project?” Usually, I am a little vague on when things happened (or where, with whom, etc) and I consult my ‘life-ipedia’, Dearest Sister, for confirmation.

But the answer to Heather’s question came immediately to mind! This was my first sewing project!

The year was 1965, I believe, and DS was busy sewing up a storm in the kitchen/sewing room. (My mother always felt that sewing was an equal priority to eating!) The 4-H fair, style show, etc was coming up and DS went on to win a purple ribbon for her efforts. (You can read that story here). I believe Mama may have been the 4-H sewing leader. My memory is of lots of people sewing up a storm in our house.

But not me. I was not old enough to be in 4-H. I was a bit bent (chapped, frustrated, left out, resentful, etc.) about it, so I went upstairs to the attic. My mother had a treadle sewing machine that was in the attic and I decided that I would use it to make a patch-work apron. (Why an apron? I guess I sat through enough 4-H meetings to know that everybody made aprons when they started sewing.)

I don’t recall where I found the fabric but there were always sewing scraps in the house. Some of the fabrics I recognize as leftovers from clothes that I wore, others were probably from things Mama made for herself or others. So, until the bobbin ran out, (winding a bobbin was a skill that came later!) I sewed up a storm by myself on the Singer Treadle.

How do I know it was a Singer? All my mother’s sewing machines were Singers! Growing up, I really didn’t think there was any other brand of sewing machine.

The end result was pretty wonky, and really, wool is not the best fabric for an apron, but it was my first sewing project.

My most recent sewing project was also on a Singer treadle machine. I bought this machine about six years ago.

Ms A was home for her college break and we were all stoked up for a day of estate sales, but Saturday came with a winter storm that dumped about 8 or 10 inches of snow. We were undaunted, but disappointed since we found sale after sale closed due to the weather. Finally, we found a sale that was open.

To our delight, the buying public had stayed home, for the most part, and there were treasures and they were bargains! As I recall, we found mid-century melamine dinner wear with glass tumblers to match and beautiful handmade quilts. And this machine. It was marked $120, but everything was a third off. I admired it, but passed, thinking that The Mister would surely ask, "Where are you going to put that?" and I really couldn't think of an answer. After we had paid for our purchases and loaded them in the car, I went back and offered $60 and bought the machine.

For a long time, it lived in the garage and when we moved to the desert, it came with us and took up a position in the new garage, covered with a tarp from dust and elements.

I have had a couple of sewing machines over the years. They were hand-me-downs from my sisters who were upgrading. The last one was a machine that Deeply Missed Sister traded S&H green stamps for. It never kept the tension without lots of intervention and when we moved, it was donated to charity.

Two years ago, I told The Mister that I would like a sewing machine for Christmas. Since he always takes me at my word, there was a new machine under the tree. It was a Brother and before I opened it, I did a little research on-line and found consumer satisfaction with it was mixed. I decided to see if the treadle machine might suit my rudimentary sewing needs and I returned the new one.

The Mister brought the Singer in the house, and I cleaned and oiled it and tightened the belt and it runs smooth a can be!

I emailed the serial number to the good folks at Singer, and found that it was made March 31, 1891 in Kilbowie Scotland.

I purchased additional bobbins and a spare shuttle on ebay and made an ‘oiler’ from some wool felt. I bought a reproduction manual from the Singer Company, but found another resource in this book that I already had.

It was printed in 1922...

... but there hadn't been many changes in the previous 31 years, so it was very helpful!

My sisters are all much more accomplished seamstresses than I am. I have never put in a zipper, or a buttonhole. Why would I need to when Wisest Sister was so much better at it than I? Or when there are elastic waists and ribbed necklines? I sewed for Ms A when she was a baby (babies don’t mind elastic waists and ribbed necklines…), but most of my sewing has been craft related.

A straight stitch is really all I need. And this machine makes a lovely straight stitch!