Friday, June 5, 2015

Feels Like Kind of a Lot But It's Not Really

Hello dear friends,
Just climbed up and out of the rabbit hole better known as Pinterest. Currently: 52 Boards, 2,068 Pins, 499 Likes, 31 Followers, and 86 Following.
Source: Google Image Search
So... hi and how are you? I'll have some sewing to report one of these days. I am certainly full of ideas and patterns and tutorials!

You might know that I'm pretty much a "one thing at a time" kind of person. I love to complete projects, no matter how long it takes. I seldom have more than one sewing project going at a time.

The past few months, though, some things have occurred before the previous one was resolved.

Here's a recap:
* I slipped and fell in mid-February. Many appointments and tests, two months of physical therapy (which included an at-home exercise routine that was updated weekly until it is now an hour every day) that still might not be completed, and most recently the first of ??? nerve block injections have required many hours each week, with much hope and confidence but no guarantee of results. (Like life, eh?)

* In mid-March, I had a medical event that I thought and hoped would be a "one and done" but which instead was the beginning of a new chapter in the health aspect of my life. I'm grateful as always for such excellent health care. But change.

* In early April, a relationship of decades took a hit. The natural fallout is that it has affected relationships with others. "What will it take to restore these relationships?" is what I'm wondering about as I try to move forward. That's in addition to whether restoration is possible. Partial, maybe?

Some time since my last post, I learned that Nancy Zieman is being treated for bone cancer in her leg. Nancy Zieman's Short Video Note
Nancy (we're on a first-name basis, in my mind) is on my list of "Top Ten Women I Admire." For her sewing expertise, of course.
But she is so much more than that to me and so many others.
In no particular order:
* Nancy didn't let the effects on her appearance from the Bell's Palsy that she contracted as a teen keep her from hosting a weekly nationally broadcast TV show about sewing for how long? Twenty years? More?
* She started a business in her home, first with one piece of paper that expanded to Nancy's Notions catalog and website. Such an entrepreneur!
* Nancy and her husband adopted two (I think) boys. I remember when Tommy (now Tom, I'm sure) modeled some Nancy-made clothes for her TV show.
* And so, so, so (sew, sew, sew) much more!
Nancy inspires me most, I think, by her graciousness and her generous heart, both of which are obvious to all and through all that she does.
We're praying for you, Nancy, for peace and strength in this storm, for all who are caring for your health, and for all your family and friends who are close to you.

My last thought for today is that Pinterest has given me some mental and emotional relief during these past few months.

Thank you, Pinterest! I'd love to have you follow me ( sandracarden ) and/or some of my boards. And if you're on Pinterest, too, please let me know so I can follow you, too.

These days, this prayer is an encouragement to me:
Blessings and peace...

Friday, February 27, 2015

Upholstery Samples Cross-Body and Shoulder Bags

Next up are some zipped cross-body or shoulder bags I've been making. These are from a "book" of samples that have a bit of sheen as well as a horizontal weave. I used quilt-shop fat quarters to line them. I started with a pattern by Joan Hawley of Lazy Girl Designs, Runaround Bag, then experimented with different sizes, proportions, and straps.

I think that they are plain rather than "busy"—but maybe other people would prefer dangling zipper pulls and embellishments on the bag fronts. Please (really really really) let me know what you think and/or would prefer. The more voices, the better.

I have enough of these fabrics to make a few more, but I wanted to show you what I've been working on. The background is an Omnigrid cutting mat with a 1-in. grid so that you can see the sizes.

This one was made from some of the upholstery fabric I used for the tote bags.

Here's the back pocket.

Front of bag

Front zipper

Another bag, front zipper

That's my brown sugar teddy bear, holding the pockets open.

Blessings and peace...

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

My All-Time Favorite Peanuts Cartoon Ever

This is my all-time favorite Peanuts cartoon. Ever. Somehow it disappeared in a move 20+ years ago, and I thought I'd never see it again. I hope you enjoy it.

Monday, February 23, 2015

Upholstery Samples Tote Bags

I love solving puzzles. I almost bought a piece of “fleece” at Joann’s last week; the pattern was all-over puzzle pieces. But I stopped myself thanks, in part, to the line at the cutting table. Jigsaw puzzles, crossword puzzles (as long as they’re easy), and sewing puzzles. I am putting this experiment into the last category. Sewing is very mathy, at least when you veer from the original pattern or instructions.

Remember my telling you about receiving some upholstery samples? Upholstery Samples.
I’ve made two tote bags and several smaller bags. Up first are the two tote bags.

Bag #1:
My first question about making a tote bag from these upholstery samples was, “What’s the largest size I can make the bag without piecing the front and back from smaller pieces?” I didn’t have high expectations for this one, so I decided to brush up on pocket-making skills in the hopes that the bag would be usable. The khaki canvas at the lower portion of front and back, as well as bottom, was added to the length of the bag.
And the answer is this:
The proportions are a bit odd, but that's okay.
The bag is 8.5 in. wide x 11 in. tall x 4 in. deep.
Here is my first attempt at gusseted pockets in the lining:
I followed the excellent tutorial at The Inspired Wren, except for my adaptations and experiments.

My construction challenge was what also appealed to me about the bag; that is, the sturdiness of the handles because of their being stitched into the bottom seam. The bulk of the bottom seam, which was at its thickest, was 12 layers of canvas fabric where the straps are seamed together. That gave my machine a workout.

Bag #2:
How can I make the bag a more proportional width without adding the clutter of more print pieces? I increased the width by adding canvas to the sides of the front and back pieces, as well as where the canvas already is.

Here's the result, again with the gusseted pockets in the lining:
The bag is 12 in. wide x 11 in. tall x 4 in. deep.
My second question was, "How can I reduce the bulk of the bottom seam, which was at its thickest, 12 layers of canvas fabric where the straps are seamed together?" The solution cane in two ways:
1. I decreased a bit of bulk by replacing the lower portion of the bag front canvas with quilting cotton (which would be covered by the bottom front panel). Result: 10 layers of canvas and 2 layers of quilting cotton.
2. I offset the straps by moving the front strap 1/2 in. toward the front, and the back strap 1/2 in. toward the back. Result: 6 layers of canvas plus 2 layers of quilting cotton. Aha! Significant reduction in bulk. Yea!

Here’s how it looks after the front handles and pocket are sewn onto the front and the back handles are pinned (well, Wonder Clipped and painter’s taped) onto the back, just before stitching the back handles down.
This view is (from top to bottom) (A) top of bag front with front pocket attached, (B) quilting cotton, and (C) front handles. (D) is the bag back laid out bottom to top.

And here’s a side view of that reduced bulk, accomplished by offsetting the straps.

And here are both bags:
Now that I have this figured out, I can go into production. Sort of. I'll keep adapting the bag, and it won't surprise me one bit if I add a zipper or two.  

Blessings and peace...

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Slip and Fall and more

Oh brother. Small stuff, I know. But still...
1. I slipped and fell on what I thought was slush; didn't realize there was ice under it, at the inside part of the entranceway of a large chain drugstore (begins with W) the other day. Landed on my right hip and elbow. Cashier saw it happen. Reported to mgr. W's claims adjuster called me the next day. Sending me papers to complete and return.

Especially because of my concern about possible stability effects on the titanium I have in my spine, I saw my dr. Time will tell.

Anybody have experience with a slip and fall? Feel free to send me an email or leave a comment here. Thanks!

2. I am under the weather for the third time this year -- and it's only the middle of February. nothing big or scary, yes, I'm grateful, but it's annoying to lose time over and over again.

3. Yes, I have been sewing! I've made two tote bags and 5 or 6 dressy purses. And more in the pipeline. Photos to come.

4. I had the most fun teaching sewing to a seven-year-old girl, now that she has an American Girl doll.  She made pants and her older sister made a skirt, all for the doll. Three of her sisters (one older and two younger) were "involved" too. I could fall down the "sewing for American Girl dolls" rabbit hole.

5. When I'm under the weather, I can meander around Pinterest, creating new boards, pinning this and that. I don't know how to add Pinterest to my blog but that doesn't keep me from enjoying it.

Blessings and peace...

Saturday, January 3, 2015

Standing Position for Photos, Slow-Cooker Knob, and More

In no particular order (obviously):
Why do some fashion sewing bloggers stand pigeon-toed for their photos that they put on their blogs?
~ ~ ~
I have three slow cookers. Each has (had) a knob for the settings (Off ~ Warm ~ Low ~ High). I have broken two of these knobs, so I now have to remember which slow cooker I used most recently, pry the knob off, and use it on the current slow cooker. Lovely. It seems that the new slow cookers have gone digital, so those knobs are going to be more and more difficult to find. So... 1) If your slow cooker goes belly up (stops working), you might want to save the knob, and 2) If/when that happens and you don't want to save it (more fill for your junk drawer?), please send it to me!
~ ~ ~
Bloglovin': Oh me oh my. I receive a daily email from Bloglovin' that includes snippets with links to blogs that I follow. This is great. However. It is at the edge of impossible to leave a comment accessing the blog in this way, at least from my iPad and iPhone. So even when I have read a post, I haven't been able to comment (easily). So I've decided to use my blog roll to visit sites. Why this hasn't occurred to me before now is a mystery to me.
~ ~ ~
I wish that websites for businesses that have a bricks and mortar presence would please please please include the following information on 1) the home page, 2) the contact page, and ideally 3) every page. I cannot tell you how many times I have looked and looked and looked for this information and it is either completely lacking or tucked away on one page.

Business name
Street address (including any major cross streets nearby)
City, State and Zip Code (for U.S. locations, obviously)
Telephone number with area code
Hours of Business
Date this information was last updated

Example (made up)
Gardenview Quilt Shop
456 Main St. near Fourth Ave.
Marion, IL 60606
(555) 444-6666
Hours: Tues, Weds, Fri, and Sat: 10 to 4. Thurs: 10 to 7. Closed Sun and Mon.
(last updated Jan 1, 2015)
Thank you. Really.
~ ~ ~
I completed the second tote bag. I tried out a couple of ideas. One was good. Photos to come. Maybe after I learn how to sync the photos I take on my iPhone with my laptop. Maybe sooner.
~ ~ ~
Off to a university basketball game.

Blessings and peace...

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Not Really an End of Year Summary

1. It was 50 years ago that my aunt told me, "Don't write anything down on paper that you wouldn't want printed on the front page of the newspaper." I'm looking at you, Sony, but also at everyone, including myself. It's so easy to treat electronic communication (not sure whether text messages are electronic) the same way we treat oral conversations: as if what is being said disappears into thin air immediately.

However, every email, every text, the content of documents (those that are created/revised on computers or mobile devices), and maybe every photograph can be retrieved. It's a good assumption to think that they *will* be retrieved and used against you. And me, ordinary, little, peon me.

So, as (name?) used to say on Hill Street Blues, "Be careful out there!" (Or on there!)

2. I don't care at all that people enhance the appearance of their hair by adding extensions, weaves, hair transplants, wigs, and hair pieces (toupees). BUT! Don't certain male television hosts who wear hair pieces have anyone to tell them that their hairpiece looks totally fake? Are these hosts surrounded by "Yes" people? Do these hosts not watch themselves on television? There, I feel better.

3. Have you noticed the disconnect in television ads for prescription medications? The background music sounds so calming, so soothing, so moderately cheerful--while the narrator is listing every dreadful side effect. The scenery is lovely, green, and lush; frequently close to the water. The people all seem to be in no need of medication for anything! They look strong and fit, attractive in appearance and dress. Their hair (there I go again about hair) is shiny, cut, and styled. Their teeth are straight and white.

Anyway, I find the disconnect interesting and disconcerting.

4. "Comparison is the thief of joy." Theodore Roosevelt.

I've been reading a few sewing blogs lately and am so thrilled and delighted for everybody's sewing accomplishments. I must admit I've had to remind myself a couple of times of this quote. I don't tend to be an envious or jealous person, but once in a while, it surfaces. So I'm just reminding myself of this.

5. This past year, I had a few ups and downs. In no particular order: Bronchitis and pneumonia for five months (so grateful for modern medicine!); I "unretired" and worked (freelance technical editor) like crazy the past couple of months; I (finally) opened up to my doctor about a depression that sank me to a low point last fall, where I stayed for several months—despite all my efforts to overcome it—and am now on a medication and dosage that is helping me (so grateful for modern medicine!); I received several boxes of upholstery samples, which I have started to use. I've made two tote bags so far, practicing things like gusseted pockets, different ways to line a bag, attach straps, and so on. Easy, interesting, enjoyable.

6. I'm hoping to drive/ride on Route 66 some time between now and mid-April (then I'll be 67). So far, I've been reading about it, wondering if I have the nerve (?) to take this trip by myself. It's fun to think about.

7. I am very excited about the "fresh start" that a new year offers. I'm avoiding reading about resolutions, plans, self improvement; it's too easy for me to get drawn into them and not follow through. I tend to make resolutions for today or this week.

I've missed you all and hope that I will be here more in 2015. Here's to you and yours having a bright and cheerful 2015!

Blessings and peace..

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Better, finally, and a couple of questions

I am so grateful that the bronchitis & pneumonia I've had for past 5 months (!) is resolved. Finally! Now to make up for lost time: where to start?

How about this: We need to buy a new 40-in. (thin, OK, I think they all are now) flatscreen TV. Do you know what to look for -- to buy, stay away from, features? Thx!

I just acquired several (don't know what they're called, books?) of upholstery samples. Ay-yi-yi. Can you say easily distracted?

I welcome any and all suggestions, tutorials, project ideas for what to do with these.

Thanks and it feels good to be back!

Blessings and peace...

Monday, August 18, 2014

That Print Skirt

A friend took a few pictures of me wearing my new print skirt. If you're interested, you could compare the skirt on me to the skirt on a hanger. Because the fabric is so drapey, it doesn't look full at the hem (on me) like it does on the hanger. But it feels comfortable when I sit down, unlike a pencil skirt would (pencil skirt = leg hugger). Please let me know what you think about the length. The next skirt will be for fall.

Oh and I made the green shirt, from a Louise Cutting pattern (Perfect Blouse maybe?). I took it along for the weekend, even though it needed a good steaming or pressing, not having worn it in a couple of years. So it hangs kind of funny. I have my Laura Star (steam press) heating up right now.

Blessings and peace...

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

My Breakfast Cereal

When I learned that my cholesterol was (really) high two years ago, I started making some changes in my diet. I have made many modifications to it over the past two years, but one thing has stayed the same: my breakfast cereal. It's very high in both kinds of fiber, soluble and insoluble, which help to lower my cholesterol and also to have a feeling of fullness for several hours. You can read about other benefits of a high-fiber diet everywhere on the Internet. This breakfast cereal is one of the changes that has helped me to lower my cholesterol by more than 100 points (mg/dl) — and keep it there.

Several friends who have seen my breakfast cereal have asked me how I make it. It looks sort of like oatmeal but darker. It tastes a little sweeter than other cooked cereal. My seasoning blend is, I think, what sets it apart by the sweetness and flavor it adds. I think that the cinnamon and other spices have health benefits, too.
One batch yields approximately 30 servings. Each serving costs approximately $.50 (U.S.) and provides 14 grams of fiber, both soluble and insoluble, which can help to lower blood cholesterol levels as well as other health benefits.

Seasoning Blend:
1 cup ground cinnamon
2 Tbsp ground ginger
1 tsp ground cloves
1 tsp ground allspice
2 tsp ground ginger

Set this aside.

1 lb coarse wheat bran
2 18.5-oz boxes oat bran
1 cup seasoning blend (I usually add the remainder to smoothies.)

Pour these 3 ingredients into a very large kettle and mix thoroughly.

Store in oat bran boxes (just emptied) and mason jars.

To use:
Pour 2 scoops (just less than 1/2 cup) cereal mix into a medium bowl. 
Add 1 Tbsp ground flax seed* and stir.
Add 3/4 to 7/8 cup boiling water and stir. Let it rest for a few minutes.
Optional: Add fruit, nuts, and 1/4 almond milk.

* I buy a 1 lb bag of flax seeds and grind them in my Vitamix, then store in the freezer to keep them fresh.

Blessings and peace..

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Yes I Did Finish My Skirt

Here's a hanger shot of my skirt, completed this afternoon. My photographer is at a Broadway show right now and I wanted to publish this post.
The skirt hem is uneven on the hanger. On me, though, it's straight all around. :)

Yesterday, my husband, telling me his plan for tomorrow (today), "Wait. Why should I *pay* to go to the Central Park Zoo? New York City *is* a zoo!" He's having so much fun. It will be great to have him back home tomorrow.
Blessings and peace...

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Good News Update

I heard back again from C********. They wrote:
Valued Customer:
There are no local service centers in your area that does work on the machine. Please be advised that we do not have outside service centers. All repairs are done in our own facility, by specially trained service technicians. The parts are not repairable and can only be replaced.

Whew! Finally an answer to my question. Armed with all of those numbers they requested, I found a new work bowl and the piece that fits on it, both at their web site and, for a much lower price, at Amazon. I decided to buy the work bowl first, then, if I need the piece that fits on top, I could buy that next. Amazon Prime = free shipping, but I would still have to pay for return shipping.

The work bowl just arrived and it fits right on my machine. I put the rest together, plugged it in, and listened to the whirrr of the food processor. Yea!

Thanks so much for all of your comments; they really cheered me on in my marathon. :)

Maybe just maybe I can finish that skirt soon. It's almost completely hemmed and just needs a waistband, which I have already cut out.

Blessings and peace...

Saturday, July 26, 2014

A Bit of Customer Service Correspondence

I'm making progress on my skirt, at about the same pace as this easy-peasy lemon-squeezy question I've been going back and forth about regarding my food processor:

Me to C********
Date: July 17
My C******** food processor is in need of repair. Please let me know of any local authorized repair centers so that I can take it in for repair.
{my name}
{email address}
{home phone}

C******* to me
Date: July 20
Thank you for your inquiry. We apologize for any inconvenience you may have experienced. What is wrong with your machine? Based on the information you have provided, we need the model number, serial number and the color of the unit. The model and serial number can be found on the bottom of your unit.  Please reply, with history, to this email, providing us with the required information so we can further assist you. If you prefer, we welcome you to call our Customer Service Department at 1-800-726-**** with this information.  Please keep in mind the Customer Service Agent will not have access to your e-mail information. The hours of operation are 7 AM -11 PM EST Monday through Friday and 9 AM - 5:30 PM on Saturdays and Sundays, excluding major holidays.

{employee first name}

Me to C********
Date: July 22
Model #: DFP-11
Serial #: I did not see a serial #.
Color: Off-white

Problem: The bowl locks onto the base with no problem. However, the cover, the piece that fits onto the base, doesn't completely close/lock. As a result, the machine does not work.

I'm not sure why you need all this information just to let me know of any authorized repair centers in western New York, but I have answered your questions.

I look forward to hearing from you -- I have some carrots to grate! :)

Thank you,

C******** to me
Date: July 23
Thank you for responding with the required information. Unfortunately the serial number you gave is invalid. The serial number is a 5 digit number possibly followed by a letter or two engraved into the bottom of the unit. Please find the engraved number. Please look on the bottom of the original work bowl, there should be a part number. What is that part number?

If you have any further questions please reply, with history, to this email. We welcome you to call our Customer Service Department at 1-800-726-****. The hours of operation are 7 AM -11 PM EST Monday through Friday and 9 AM - 5:30 PM on Saturdays and Sundays, excluding major holidays. Please keep in mind the Customer Service Agent will not have access to your e-mail information.

{employee first name}

Me to C********
Date: July 23
The number that is engraved on the bottom of the base is 60701 K. (It didn't indicate that it was a serial number, but your telling me that it is a 5-digit number helped.)
The part number that is on the bottom of the original work bowl is DLC-865AGTX.

I look forward to your response to my original question.
Thank you,

C******** to me
Date: July 25
Valued Customer,

Thank you for your inquiry. We apologize for any inconvenience you may have experienced. Do you by chance have a proof of purchase (wedding registry, gift receipt, bank statement, credit card statement, or sales receipt) to show that the unit is less than 3 years old? If so, please attach it to this email in JPG/PNG format. Please reply, with history, to this email. We invite you to call our Customer Service Department at 1-800-726-****. Please keep in mind the Customer Service Agent will not have access to your e-mail information. The hours of operation are 7 AM -11 PM EST Monday through Friday and 9 AM - 5:30 PM on Saturdays and Sundays, excluding major holidays.

{employee first name}

Me to C********
Date: July 25
Hello again, C******** Customer Service,
This was a wedding gift purchased for us almost 18 years ago.

I don't understand why my first question still hasn't been answered, that is, Please let me know of any local authorized repair centers so that I can take it in for repair.

We've gone back and forth, with you requesting one or two items of information, and me replying each time with the information you have asked for. Then two days later, a reply from you asking for another piece of information.

I've never said or suggested or implied that I want to send it to you in the mail or that I think it is still under warranty.

Once again: Please let me know of any local authorized repair centers so that I can take it in for repair.

Thank you,
{my name}
{email address}

What can I say? Stay tuned!
Blessings and peace..

Monday, July 7, 2014

Sewing Is So Mathy and Mystery Solved

On June 30, I wrote:
Next up will be a 5- or 7-gored skirt. I tried to make one with inseam pockets, but it was not wearable because I didn't allow for the pulling (the pockets open) that would occur. That pulling emphasizes my tummy. Oh, no! I don't know quite how to overcome that, so this next skirt will be with or without pockets.

I increased the width of the panels of 7-gore skirt that I'm working on now by 1/4" per side = 1/2" per panel—because of my previous skirt attempt described above. That would result in a skirt that fits and has a bit of ease.

Before stitching the seams of this skirt, I referred to my notes and stitched 3/8" seams on 5 of the 7 seams, leaving 2 seams unsewn to allow for making inseam pockets before stitching those last 2 seams. So far, so good.

In preparation for the pockets, I read the pocket notes I could find, did a bit of online searching, created a pocket pattern piece, and was ready to sew the pockets. "Wow," I thought, "this is going great!"

Only because I'm very thorough, I decided to look at the too-small skirt, just to confirm my plan for the pockets. Well, how-dee-do. I stitched the seams of the too-small skirt with 1/2" seams INSTEAD OF THE 3/8" SEAMS called for in the pattern instructions.

Mystery solved. So that's why the skirt was too small. Think that 1/8 of an inch (the difference between the instructions and what I did) doesn't matter? Read on...

1/8" x 14 (the number of panel sides, 7 panels x 2 sides per panel) = 1.75".

So I sewed the skirt almost 2" narrower than I should have. There went the wearing ease.

For my current skirt, I had added 1/4" to each panel side:
1/4" x 14 (the number of panel sides, 7 panels x 2 sides per panel) = 3.5". This would give me plenty of ease. Actually a bit more than I needed, but I decided that I didn't want to fiddle with adding less than 1/4" per side (too much work).

So, when you correct the seam allowance error (1.75") + the newest skirt allowance (3.5"), the total is now 5.25". Of wearing ease. Too much. Which I confirmed by pinning the remaining seams and trying it on.

So now... my plan is to stitch these seams 7/8", which will reduce the overall width by 2". (I will then add the pockets, then trim the seam allowance.) In other words, the newest skirt will have 3.25" wearing ease. Which is very close to the wearing ease of the previous skirt—if I had sewn 3/8" seams instead of the 1/2" seams that I sewed. These 4 panels will be a bit narrower than the other 5, but I am currently striving for something that is wearable.

Anyway, see what I mean about failure?

On June 29, I wrote (near the end of the post):
Failure means I'm learning. Growing. Improving. Alive. Doing something. Living a life.

Lesson learned: Double, maybe triple check the instructions and previous versions of the same project.

I'll leave perfection for others. What's that saying? "Perfection is the enemy of the good." "Perfection is the enemy of done." "Perfection is the enemy of completing a garment sewing project that is wearable." <- My adaptation, which I just might have to print and frame in my sewing room!

Ha ha. Posting about my failures (instead of only the successes) is certainly giving me more to talk about!

Blessings and peace...

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Seven-Gore Flared Skirt Progress

I've been working a bit here and there on a seven-gore flared skirt. It's a pattern I've used several times, changing the number of gores, how flared it is at the bottom, and the length. Here's the front three panels, stitched and topstitched.
I am intentionally not matching prints.

Next I'll work on the pockets. My brain has a hard time with these, especially when I'm not following a pattern. That means I'm done sewing for tonight.

Did someone say pattern weights? Here's my largest pattern weight:
On another topic. We went to a Brad Paisley concert the other evening, and as usual, I worked myself into a state of anxiety before we even got there.

I get lost so easily; I'm definitely not the person to be responsible for getting us anywhere. Oh, and I always think for a moment, when looking at a map or even in conversation that EAST is on the LEFT and WEST is on the RIGHT. I actually have to correct myself every time. (Can you even imagine how many times in my life I've done this?)

I've always attributed this (ahem) "endearing quality" to my being left-handed—in a right-handed world.

Anyway, I always feel anxious when we go someplace new or that I haven't been to in a while or when we're taking a different route. Add going into a huge parking lot, knowing that it will be dark when it's time to leave. How *ever* will we find our car??? My husband, who drove, doesn't worry about this one single bit. I don't understand!

Sometimes I wonder whether it's because we moved a lot when I was a kid. Or because I don't know where I lived for my first four years. Maybe we're born with an internal GPS and I lost mine somewhere along the way.

I've tried a lot of strategies to lessen my "getting lost" anxiety, but I haven't found one that works for me. I tell myself, "Look, you've gotten this far. Sure, you've gotten *temporarily* lost; who hasn't. You'll be fine. Get a grip!"

We're going to another concert tomorrow evening, but thankfully, it's close by and at a location I know very well. And the parking lot—well, you just have to remember whether you've parked on the grass or the road.

Blessings and peace..

Monday, June 30, 2014

Little Sewing and Next Project

So, with my new mantra about failure, I'm all energized to sew again. Here's a set of three zippered cases I made last week for a friend's birthday, using the same pattern as for the ones I made last fall. I posted about it, so feel free to look back for details and pattern information. The smallest is about 4 or 4.5 inches wide, and the largest is about 8 inches wide. My failure (other than having to undo and redo various steps because I wasn't paying close enough attention) was that I have no idea how to take photos of vinyl. If you know how, please don't keep it a secret!
I still have quite a bit of this vinyl with ladybugs on it, so I'll keep making them.

Next up will be a 5- or 7-gored skirt. I tried to make one with inseam pockets, but it was not wearable because I didn't allow for the pulling (the pockets open) that would occur. That pulling emphasizes my tummy. Oh, no! I don't know quite how to overcome that, so this next skirt will be with or without pockets.

Blessings and peace...

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Failure Is Not an Option

First, a bit of humor on a Sunday afternoon. Here's a comment from a (not really) reader:

It's a рity you don't have a donate button! I'd most certainly donate to tҺis brilliant blog! I suppose for now i'll sеttle for boօk-markіng and adding your RSS feed to my Google account. Ӏ look forward to brand new updates and will talk about this website with my Facebook group. Talk soon!

Hеre is my webpage ... {link to Anonymous's website or may I say spamsite}

Those of you who have blogs receive this kind of comment all the time. Me, too. In fact, before I write a blog post, I look through my previous posts' comments to make sure that none of the spam comments were actually posted. I've had to remove a few, but it's just another time sink.

And now for what's on my mind today.

Failure is not an option.

I'm a failure as a blogger. How did I get sucked into this belief? I've been pondering my lack of blog posts. I've written about a hundred posts, in my mind only. These past months have been a season of changes for me. I'm still immersed in some of them. How much do YOU like change? Me: not as much as I thought!

Lately I've been pondering this "failure is not an option" idea. I want to understand it.

A few of the opposite beliefs; we've all heard/read them:

  • Fall down seven times; get up eight.
  • Try, try, try again.
  • We learn more from our failures than our successes.
  • A million more.

Going back, way back, my first memory of school, I remember it as clearly as if it were last week. I was in second grade. The teacher was writing words on the blackboard and asking the class to read them out loud.

I was already pretty good with words, so I raised my hand and read "antique", pronouncing it as an' tee cue. Of course the teacher corrected me, an teek'. I felt mortified. My face was beet red, tears filled my eyes. I wanted to disappear. Really disappear.

That's a pretty strong reaction, isn't it? Strong enough that I remember it more than 50 years later. I don't know which is the failure: the misplaced confidence in my ability to pronounce a word OR that my mistake had such a strong effect on me. Anyway, maybe my fearing failure, avoiding failure, goes back that far. Maybe not.

So today is the day that I'm going to turn this one upside down.
  • Failure is great.
  • Failure is a gift.
  • Failure is a blessing.
  • In fact, I welcome it.

Failure means I'm learning. Growing. Improving. Alive. Doing something. Living a life.

So there, failure, come on over. I've got room for you right here.

Blessings and peace...

Thursday, June 12, 2014

My Patriotic Pedicure

I had in mind to do this a couple of weeks ago, before Memorial Day. But I have had an opportunity to help our neighbors several times a week for the past month, one of whom is now in a nursing home, so I rescheduled my "pedicure time" until today.

Usual pedicure supplies
Nail polish in white, dark red, and dark blue
Much nail polish remover and several cotton swabs to clean up the edges

Here's how I did it.
Step 1. Regular pedicure preparation.
Step 2. Apply base coat/ridge filler.

Step 3. Apply two coats of blue polish.

Step 4. Apply two coats of white polish close to but not touching the blue or top/bottom of other nails.
Step 5. Apply red polish from side to side in three rows, one of which that meets the blue, one strip in the center, and the third strip at the outer edge. Then apply dots on top of dark blue section.

Step 6. Apply top coat and let the patriotic festivities begin!

Yes, I did this myself.
No, I don't think I have too much free time. haha
Yes, I know that dots are not stars.
Yes, I know that the current U.S. flag has 50 stars on blue background, one for each state, and 13 stripes, one for each of the original colonies. This is an (ahem) artistic representation, friends!

Patriotic U.S. Holidays, spring/summer 2014:
Memorial Day:
Memorial Day is a federal holiday in the United States for remembering the men and women who died while serving in the country's armed forces. The holiday, which is celebrated every year on the last Monday of May, was formerly known as Decoration Day and originated after the American Civil War to commemorate the Union and Confederate soldiers who died in the war. By the 20th century, Memorial Day had been extended to honor all Americans who died while in the military service. — Wikipedia

Flag Day:
In the United States, Flag Day is celebrated on June 14. It commemorates the adoption of the flag of the United States, which happened on that day in 1777 by resolution of the Second Continental Congress. — Wikipedia

Fourth of July:
Independence Day, commonly known as the Fourth of July, is a federal holiday in the United States commemorating the adoption of the Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776, declaring independence from the Kingdom of Great Britain (now officially known as the United Kingdom). Independence Day is commonly associated with fireworks, parades, barbecues, carnivals, fairs, picnics, concerts, baseball games, family reunions, and political speeches and ceremonies, in addition to various other public and private events celebrating the history, government, and traditions of the United States. Independence Day is the National Day of the United States. — Wikipedia

I have been writing some blog posts in my head, one of which is about failure, something I've been learning about (um, again, still, again). What do you wish you knew about failure earlier in your life?

Also, I'm thinking of taking some risks in my blog, of the information-sharing type. Do you have any interest in knowing more about me? Have you considered revealing more about yourself in your blog? What have you considered when making this decision?   

Blessings and peace...

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Sew for the Body You Have

Oh how I want to do this—sew for the body I have instead of wait til I lose the weight I gained back. I can't explain why I haven't been able to do this, although I've seen lots of reasons that this can be so difficult.

Has your sewing stalled because of your shape or size or weight or because gravity and/or aging are taking a toll?

Have you overcome this? Are you making any progress with these issues?

Please help me and anyone else who might read this.


Blessings and peace...

Monday, March 24, 2014

Respect the Knife

Oops, I did it again. I cut the ring finger of my right hand while cutting cauliflower, so off to Immediate Care I went. Didn't I do practically the same thing about a year and a half ago? Um, yes. Different finger, different vegetable. Just like last time, it was my own fault. (Louie blamed the cauliflower; how sweet is that?)

I should print this out and frame it and hang it in my kitchen.

Grateful for Immediate Care, the expertise of the Physician Assistant who stitched it up, health insurance that paid for most of it, and family and friends who are helping me.

P.S. I am starting to think about sewing again. Whew, I was beginning to wonder where my sewing mojo went. 

Blessings and peace...

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

There's Something About Maxwell

Maxwell was born in Hickory, North Carolina, on March 17, 2000, which means that he was 14 years old yesterday. He is a British Shorthair, and he looked like this when he was about a month old, and my daughter, Emily, visited him for the first time.
Here he is with three of his litter mates.
Emily brought him here when he was 13 weeks old, and he looked like this.
And a couple of weeks later:
When Li'l Grey (one of his many nicknames) was about 9 months old, he was diagnosed with a virus in his optic nerves. What started out as a painful condition developed into a chronic health concern that is managed with daily medications, Interferon drops in his eyes, and lysine crushed and mixed with his food twice a day.  When a flare up starts, we add up to three additional medication drops, which we keep on hand so that we can usually "nip in the bud" any flare up. It has been several years since a flare up has fully developed.

Even with this problem, Maxwell has a Very Good Life*, and he brings us great joy and much laughter. He is sweet and friendly; he likes everybody.

About 10 years ago, it is quite possible that Maxwell saved our lives, yes! He alerted us (by reaching up a wall, over and over again, until I checked it out) to what turned out to be an electrical problem in a wall, which prompted Louie to turn off the power until he (Louie) opened the wall  and discovered some overheating wiring! If Maxwell hadn't alerted us to it, we would have gone to bed, and it's likely that a fire would have started and been well under way by the time a smoke detector would have sounded the alarm!

Maxwell is very polite. When it's time for his dinner, he comes into the kitchen and crouches down, staring at where his dinner would be if only someone would fix it for him, please! I think he'd prepare it himself if he could.
He is my very own Office Max. I had to take a photo of my laptop keyboard—because he just loves to sit on it and pluck off the keys—so that I could pop the keys back on in the right places. One time he started to create a macro, and another time he was busily composing an email. Perhaps to one of his brothers?
Always one to love tissue paper (he's opening his Christmas present here)...
and a help with holding down pattern pieces in my sewing room.
Maxwell is not afraid of a little workout.
His newest interest is jigsaw puzzles. (He swishes off *many* pieces from the table onto the floor. Every day.)
He comes upstairs every night at about 9 pm for his treats (Monday, Wednesday, and Friday: hairball treats, all other days: tartar control treats). I give him his treats, he runs downstairs, then reappears 5 minutes later as if to say, "Okay, I'm here for my treats now"—as if he hadn't just had them! Every night!

Because it is stress that is the greatest "cause" of a flare up, we maintain a steady routine for him. He is never left alone overnight. My son, Chris, maintains Maxwell's medication and feeding routines and sleeps here the once or twice a year that Louie and I are both away at the same time.

Last Tuesday night, I returned home from Florida. On Wednesday morning, the very minute I removed the last item from my carry-on bag, Maxwell did what he always does, positioned himself on the bag and settled in for a nice nap, while outside it was a blizzard (really). Here's his day in photos:
These are just a few of the reasons that today, I say, Happy Birthday, Maxwell! We love you, Li'l Grey ~ Maxwell House ~ Blue ~ Mr. Tomato Head ~ Mr. Maxwell!

* "Capitalize the Important Words" is an editorial style choice, although not one endorsed by the Chicago Manual of Style (or any other style guide, really).

So, what do you love about your pets?

Blessings and peace...

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

A Not So New Year's Resolution, But Still

It's been a bit of a wild ride, interiorly speaking, and now that I'm posting again, and it's still January, I thought I'd share my resolution with you. Actually, I didn't create it; it's something written by Blessed John XXIII (Roman Catholic pope from 1958 to 1963, who surprised the world when at the age of almost 80, convened the Second Vatican Council). This is called "The daily decalogue of Pope John XXIII."

A person (I) could improve their (my) interior (and exterior) life tremendously by focusing on this daily for a year. Or longer. Actually, after reading this each morning, I just might select only one or two to incorporate into my life that day. It would likely still result in progress.

Only for Today

  1. Only for today, I will seek to live the livelong day positively without wishing to solve the problems of my life all at once.
  2. Only for today, I will take the greatest care of my appearance: I will dress modestly; I will not raise my voice; I will be courteous in my behavior; I will not criticize anyone; I will not claim to improve or to discipline anyone except myself.
  3. Only for today, I will be happy in the certainty that I was created to be happy, not only in the other world but also in this one.
  4. Only for today, I will adapt to circumstances, without requiring all circumstances to be adapted to my own wishes.
  5. Only for today, I will devote ten minutes of my time to some good reading, remembering that just as food is necessary to the life of the body, so good reading is necessary to the life of the soul.
  6. Only for today, I will do one good deed and not tell anyone about it.
  7. Only for today, I will do at least one thing I do not like doing; and if my feelings are hurt, I will make sure no one notices.
  8. Only for today, I will make a plan for myself: I may not follow it to the letter, but I will make it. And I will be on guard against two evils: hastiness and indecision.
  9. Only for today, I will firmly believe, despite appearances, that the good Providence of God cares for me as no one else who exists in this world.
  10. Only for today, I will have no fears. In particular, I will not be afraid to enjoy what is beautiful and to believe in goodness. Indeed, for twelve hours I can certainly do what might cause me consternation were I to believe I had to do it all my life.
— Blessed Pope John XXIII

And you, friends? Does any of this resonate with you? How are you coming with your New Year's Resolutions or your Word (or Phrase) for the Year?

Blessings and peace... – — – — – — – — –

Monday, October 14, 2013

My First Sew Along: Make a Garment a Month

Inspired by seeing the cute green button over at the right, which I've seen on several sewing friends' blogs, I've decided to join in my first sew along. It's a personal challenge to make one garment each month. From Sarah Liz, who is hosting this sew along, "I think being in a group is motivating, and is a great way to "show and tell" to other people who also share a love of sewing." Here are the rules:
  1. The garment must be for you and not for someone else - this challenge is also about personal sewing space and your sewing needs. This is special sewing-for-you time.
  2. Choose a garment at the beginning of the month that you want to make up as your garment of the month. It can be from a pattern, an idea, a picture from a magazine, snoop shopping - whatever you like. Post this choice for the month on your blog and tell everyone what pattern you are using or what choice you are making.
  3. Blog about the garment when you have finished it (and in between if you want to). Please take a photo of yourself wearing the garment - and if you feel that you would like to, style the garment as well.  Clearly label the post "Make a Garment a Month" - my garment for "month".
  4. If you want to link back to my blog, you are welcome to do so.
Wish me luck! Off to ponder... what shall I make?
Blessings and peace...

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Atticus Is a Very Special Kitty

UPDATE Wednesday, October 16: Today is the last day that I am offering matching funds. So far, $375 has been raised, and with my matching funds, it's at $445 toward the goal of $526. Keep reading to learn all about Atticus and this fundraiser to pay for his recent surgery. Thanks!

My daughter, Emily, was living in an apartment complex in Charlotte, NC, when these photos were taken. Several feral (and lost and abandoned) kitties found their way to her second floor apartment at dinnertime every day. Emily provided food, water, and kindness. She was able to capture a few and have them examined by a vet and spayed/neutered. Oh, and that's when she started getting allergy shots because she is allergic to cats!
Limpy Kitty (whose name is now Atticus) was my favorite of them all. He didn't let his disabilities (a significant limp and very poor eyesight) keep him from being open to Emily's kindness; in fact, he was a friend to all the other kitties (and quite the handsome suitor to some, according to the appearance of some kittens, if you know what I mean). We learned that some time before Emily lived there, Atticus fell (or was dropped) from a third floor balcony; he somehow survived despite his injuries and getting no care.

It wasn't just Atticus. There were Vivid Kitty, Li'l Black Sleekster, Marmalade, Mittens, Baby Kitty, and Tenor Kitty. Oh and Darla and Gateway. Emily cared for them all.
Atticus and Baby Kitty

Li'l Black Sleekster

Vivid Kitty and Tenor Kitty

They mostly lived in the wooded area next to the complex, and one or more would arrive at Emily's just in time for dinner.

When the apartment complex changed their policy about outdoor kitties (Do Not Feed The Outdoor Cats!), Emily was able to relocate a few through, including Atticus who went to live with Kelley, where he has been for several years. Emily and Kelley (and Betsy, who brought Emily and Kelley together) have become good friends through it all. BTW, these were only a few of the kitties that Emily helped. Some were camera shy. >^-^<

Kelley is one of those people who has such a heart for special-needs cats and dogs. She has several of each living with her, and she gives them all a safe, loving place to live out their days. Atticus is blind, but as far as I know, other than his limp, for which there is no longer any treatment, has been doing well.
Kelley and Atticus
Atticus recently needed surgery to remove one of his eyes because of inflammation and pain. Kelley lives on a fixed income, and she needs help with the cost of the surgery, which was $576. More than half of it has already been raised.

In appreciation for Emily, who cared for him for more than a year, and Kelley, who has cared for him for several years, (and in honor of our Maxwell, who has made a few appearances here and has eye problems of his own), I just made a donation. And I will also match every donation that you, my blog readers, make (by this Wednesday, October 16, and mention me or my blog in the comments of the donation page (rather than here). This link will take you right to the page to help pay for Atticus' surgery: You Caring. I checked out the organization and it is 100% legitimate.

When someone thanks me for something or other, I usually say, "We help each other!" This is one of those times that—togetherwe can help Kelley and Atticus.

Sewing content on my next post, I promise!
Blessings and peace...

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Not Just Another Apron, to Me Anyway

When last we talked, I showed you the remaining fabric from the 3.5 yards of "autumn leaves" quilting cotton fabric, which I've been using to make table top items (placemats, table runners), shown here and here.  

My plan was to make an apron. Good news: I did it!

Better news: I also used some darker blue/teal linen, part of it was repurposing some linen pants I made (ahem) some time ago and a little bit of it was from my "resource center" (AKA stash).

I decided on a chef's apron style because that is such an easy style of apron to make. Except that I would be piecing fabrics. And I've been learning that when using quilting cotton, I prefer my aprons to be two layers (yes, I am messy in the kitchen), so I decided to make it reversible. And I prefer the neckband to be one piece (not ties) that is large enough to go over my head—while I have my glasses on—but high enough in front when I'm wearing it, so I decided to insert some elastic in the one-piece neckband. Oh, and I like a pocket and a towel on each apron (so, reversible = 2 pockets and 2 towels). It wasn't so much mathy, like some sewing projects are, but it was definitely a thinking-several-steps-ahead kind of sewing project. I thought, "I'm making it, so I might as well make it just the way I want it." Isn't that one of the reasons we sew?

I was going to create a tutorial but decided against it because, really, who wants to make a chef's reversible apron with a stretchy neckband and a pocket and towel on each side? So I'll just show you a few highlights and lowlights.

I used almost all of the fabric. Here's what's left (and the brown fabric was not part of the original group):

I have an apron that a) fits me, b) I will use a lot, and 3) is reversible so I won't have to launder it every time I wear it (I already shared that I am messy), and d) is pretty.

I figured almost everything out enough ahead of time, so my brain cells were on high activity, part of my brain-maintenance program. Examples: I gathered the towel at the top. I pinned the towel toward the inside so it wouldn't be stitched into the side seams. I stitched both waistbands (one for each side of the apron) on at the same time to minimize the likelihood of some very crooked stitching. I positioned the pockets, which I made to fit the iPhone I will buy one of these days, and the towels for my lefthanded self.

My corners are inconsistent. I know that this is just an apron, so it's okay for this project. However, I really want to improve my corners. Here's what I do: I stitch, turn the fabric 90 degrees, continue stitching. (Sometimes I stop 1 stitch short of the corner, turn the fabric 45 degrees, take 1 or 2 stitches, turn the fabric 45 degrees, and continue. I see no difference in the resulting corner.) Press the stitched fabric flat. Trim the corner (maybe not close enough?). Press the seams open, if possible. Turn, using a large knitting needle (so, blunt tip) to push out the corner. Sometimes the result is excellent and other times, it's mediocre. I want consistently excellent corners! I welcome your thoughts, links to tutorials/instructions.
See? The 2 top corners are good, the 2 bottom corners are not.

I thought I was finished, so I put it on and asked my personal photographer to take some photos. The camera does not lie. It confirmed a thought that was floating in my mind: the top front sides seem weird (click on the photo to see what I'm referring to):
reverse side of apron
I know how this happened. Because my fabric wasn't wide enough, I thought that this would work:
Um, no, actually, it created sort of flaps. No chef's apron has flaps. If I wanted flaps, I'd have kept them. But I could see how they would get in my way. So I did a bit of trimming and restitching and topstitching.

For the next one, I would reshape the pattern piece for the bodice and also make the bodice a bit shorter. I think I'll go draw a new bodice piece right now, before I forget. Because I will happily make more aprons like this one!

And now, what to do with that last piece of autumn leaves print?
It's only the print fabric I am determined to use up; the others can be incorporated into other projects. Here are my ideas:
  • Make 3 dark blue/teal linen towels trimmed with the print border, similar to others I've made, shown (with a tutorial) here
  • Make 9 coasters, the idea of which makes me wonder whether they'd keep dampness from the table surface, plus I don't have a use for them
  • Make another table mat by cutting the strip into three sections and piecing them so that it might look (remotely) like a 9-patch quilt block
Any other ideas?

Blessings and peace...