Saturday, October 31, 2015

And Here's the Reason Why

I have been absent from this blog for a bit and here's the reason why.  I have been busy sewing.  I am still sewing but thought I would share a bit of what I have been doing.  This is ALL I have been doing, I haven't even been reading and that is something because that is my all-time favorite pastime.  So, here are a few of my creations  -- haha -- sounds like some sort of designer-speak and that I am truly NOT.  But anyway, here is what I have been doing for the last several weeks.

First off, I made a little slip for Bean.  You can't just go into Sears and buy 2 packs of little slips for little girls anymore (you can buy them online from Mennonite women who charge a lot of money for them).  So, rather than line the dresses, I decided to just create a little slip.  I used a really soft cotton/poly batiste for this -- the same thing I have used to line dresses before and it worked well.  I just adjusted the dress pattern -- lowered the neckline, enlarged the armholes a bit , and shortened it enough to be shorter than the dress (no draggy petticoats here!) and voila -- a slip.  I bound the neck and armholes with single fold bias tape and made a placket in the back with a button on it.  Unfortunately I didn't have any cute little white buttons  so it is closed with a hot pink heart shaped button that I didn't take a picture of because I will probably replace it at some point.

Sorry for the lousy photo quality but I did do a bit of decorative stitching down the sides of the placket -- the first and only time I have used the deco stitches on my machine.  I am such a trend setter.

Here is the dress.  It looks a bit like a gunny sack here but Bean really likes little a-line dresses.  This pattern went together like a dream -- probably the first time in all my years of sewing that THAT happened.  It is a cute little medallion print with some little buttons.  I would have put more detail on it but my daughter is very much the minimalist so I am keeping things simple.  It fits her really well and now that the weather has cooled so much she will have to wear a sweater with it.  There is a long sleeve option which I might use if I make more.

And last, for definitely not least, here is our little "saint" costume.  You can't see the detail but that dress has a sweetheart waistline.  What a pain!  I had to alter a pilgrim collar to create the cape but the mop cap pattern worked great for the hat. 

And, without further adieu---

Meet our version of St. Elizabeth Ann Seton -- an American saint who lived during Revolutionary War years, was an Episcopalian, married with four children.  She was introduced to Catholicism in Italy after the death of her husband.  She lost two of her four children and went on to become a nun, form an order of sisters, start several schools and was sainted in 1979. 

Bean is very inappropriately wearing one of my hand tied rosaries around her neck but it wasn't long enough to tie around her waist so, they improvised. 

That cutie in the coral shirt is MY baby!

So, folks, that is what has been going on here.  Who knew that creating three little things could so totally destroy a house, make a mess that has taken me days to straighten up and robbed of me of my reading guilty pleasure. 

On to the next project.

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Miss Me Yet?

For anybody who might be looking for me I have gone on a bit of a sabbatical.  I am trying to finish some sewing so I have had to curtail my computer fun for a while.  It seems that getting online "for a minute" morphs into hours and hours and I don't get anything else done.  So....yes, I am taking a bit of a break.

I had two little dresses to make - I have completed one.  I had the saint costume to make -- that is completed except for ribbons on the hat.  I had to sew Girl Scout badges on the vest -- now I remember how dreadful that is.  I have two quilts to finish.

So, I decided to start another project! Of course!  I have ranted and raved here in the past about the inability to find some essential articles of clothing so I decided to take the situation into my own hands.  You can no longer buy little girls underslips.  Oh, you can if you want to purchase online from Gehman's Country Fabrics in Lebanon, Pennsylvania.  A little girl's slip is $7.99.  However, you can't go to the mall, to Sears, and buy the two-to-a-package little slips anymore.  I went to Joann Fabrics armed with a coupon and purchased enough batiste to make two slips.  I have used this fabric before to line some little dresses but I didn't want to do that -- I wanted a slip.  So, I altered the dress pattern I was using -- a little shift dress -- cut out the armholes a bit and the cut the neck down.  I created a placket in the back seam, bound the neck and armholes and will add either a button or a hook and eye and voila! a slip.  It is very soft fabric and I think it will work well to add just a nice little layer.  I will take a photo when I finish. 

Anyway, that is what I am up to and I am on a roll -- if I stop I may never start again.  So...back to the machine.  Be back soon!

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Decluttering -- Other than the Closets and Drawers

Lately I have felt overwhelmed and I am not sure why.  Yes, looming health questions are playing havoc with my nerves but that isn't all of it.  I just feel overwhelmed.  Things are bothering me.

Noise bothers me.  When I was a child growing up we always had the radio or the television going.  My father kept late hours so when I went to bed it was never silent.  The day I got married and went to my apartment with my new husband was a day I will never forget -- for obvious reasons -- but some not very obvious ones as well.  As we retired for the night we shut down the apartment and I became very aware, disturbingly aware of how dark and quiet it was. I was almost frightened.  It was so different than what I was used to.  I remember childhood days with the windows open blowing the white organdy curtains.  I remember smelling the little wildflowers that grew in our unlandscaped back yard.  I remember the smell of the air after it rained.  I remember the jingle of the Tiner's ice cream truck and the kids playing in the yard.  When did these lovely sounds and smells get replaced with noise.  Just noise.  Traffic noise, electronic noise, white noise to sleep -- just nerve jangling noise.

Now, noise bothers me.  I crave silence.  We recently changed our television service -- we got rid of cable and went to an antenna, Roku, and Tivo.  It is wonderful.  I no longer have the urge to mindlessly flip through channels with the constant noise droning on and on. 

Darkness bothers me.  We have a very open floorplan house with many windows and I have to have those windows open.  Gone are the days of me wanting everything closed up tight with dim lighting and coziness all around.  I want it open.  And light.  And quiet.  I remember sleeping with the windows open and the curtains open.  I remember being able to hear my uncle, who was ill and lived across the street, coughing at night.  I remember being able to see the blinking red light on the tall building downtown where my father worked at night at the television station (yes, I could see it from my bedroom).  I remember things being open and not having to worry about having things locked up like a fortress.  I remember the screen door latch -- that was enough to keep intruders out.  First thing in the morning the door would come open and the screen latched and that is the way it stayed all day. 

Clutter bothers me.  I wasn't always that way.  My mother and I would have words over the state of my dresser when I was a teenager.  I had to have everything I owned on top of that dresser within view. That wasn't quite her idea.  She would clean it off and I would junk it up.  One day we actually had an argument over it.  She won.  Now ....  I can't stand stuff on the furniture. 

I want it quiet, open, and light without anything sitting around.

I am pretty much addicted to facebook.  It is not good for me.  I have always had a tendency to get "down in the dumps" -- not full-blown depressed (too busy for that) but moody.  I am finding myself to be that way more and more lately and I blame it on facebook.  So, recently, instead of just closing the computer only to come back a half hour later to see what is going on and who is on and who is saying what, I have started logging off because, basically, I am lazy and logging back on is just too much trouble.  Last night, however, I was looking critically at what I was actually paying attention to and there is no wonder I could be slightly moody.  The political posts, the prepper posts, the terrorist posts, the abused dog posts, the abused children posts, the critically ill children posts, the posts about all the dangers for the kids, the posts about how everything we eat and drink is killing us -- it is just too much.  I am getting too much of all of this stuff. It is so troubling and there isn't anything I can do about any of it. 

So, I decided to "declutter" my facebook account.  I deleted some people (sorry!).  I reduced contact with others.  Now the people that I will readily hear from are people that I actually know and have active communication with -- most of them are family.  I looked at the groups that I am a part of -- most of which I had no idea I was a part of.  I deleted almost all of them. One is particularly bothersome because the moderator is pretty much of a bully.  I deleted the game apps (except for Words with Friends that I play with my daughter).  I deleted all personal information although there wasn't much up there.  I breathed a sigh of relief and felt great accomplishment when I was done.  It is amazing how we get sucked into stuff like that and it is also amazing how we get into so many things on the internet without our knowledge.  It seems every time I do a search for something I am getting ads for that product or I am put on some sort of mail list.  I even get ads for things my husband searches for on HIS computer.  I don't especially like the feeling that everything is so incredibly "out there". I am not a particularly paranoid person but I don't doubt the existence of "big brother".

I have also had to come to terms with my 'thing' with technology.  I love it but it doesn't love me.  I find it frustrating.  I have had each generation of Nook and each one is different with good points and bad points.  My most recent acquisition of the Samsung Galaxy Nook blah blah from last Christmas is annoying.  It overheats, it runs out of memory even with an SD card and I basically put it in the drawer because it was too much trouble to deal with.  I still have my Nook HD that I like to play a couple of games on but not on a regular basis.  I love my little Nook Glowlight because I don't have to charge it every chapter or so.  And, I love my little Asus netbook.  I have been reading real books because you don't have to worry about them running out of charge in the middle of a chapter.  How could something so simple trump something so innovative, timely, and sophisticated?

Am I just getting old?  Is the world just moving too fast for me?  Am I slowing down?  Hopelessly out of touch?  I feel myself going backward in time -- I am creating my personal space -- the one I actually live in -- to be more like it was forty years ago.  I am not particularly happy in the here and now.  Now, don't get me wrong - I don't want to LEAVE the here and now -- I am having too much fun with my family and there are other aspects of my life where I feel energetic and young(er) and interested but there are too many things today that are too negative and too sinister -- has it always been that way and we didn't know about it?  Are we living on the information highway too much?

So, the only way I know to deal with things is to limit my exposure to all the negativity -- less FB reading and more blog reading.  Less news coverage and more book reading.  Maybe that is putting myself in a bubble -- ostrich, head, sand sort of thing but I am afraid that is what I am going to have to do or my head is going to explode.

I Get It

I arose this morning before the sun.  I opened the curtain hoping to see some sort of wildlife.  There was none.   It is still after the windy "cold front" that moved through yesterday threatening the never-ending summer.  It isn't cold but a change in the air is detectable.  It is thoughtful sort of morning, misty memories floating through my consciousness.  Somehow, in an instant, I understand. 

When I was growing up I lived a different sort of life from my peers.  My father was "famous".  He was a local newscaster for the CBS affiliate station.  He expected us to adhere to certain standards.  We had to look the part.  I am not sure why, we were just plain people from south Texas.  So, from a young age I went to the beauty shop.  When I was about 12 I insisted that that little ritual stop when the beautician wouldn't quit doing my hair in Shirley Temple curls.  It was the 60's for goodness sake.  Our house was post-World War II tract housing but my mother furnished it in the latest trends.  I remember it well -- blond, limed oak furniture, a sophisticated tweed, one armed sofa, a black soapstone lamp that you could actually plant ivy in.  Somehow I never thought that was a good idea -- water, electricity - yeah, not a good idea.  I remember the kitchen -- blue and while tile counters (called drain boards, back then) and my mother had this lovely speckled linoleum (I purchased the same thing, twice, for various houses) and she painted the walls parchment beige and cabinets a lovely mocha shade.  A woman ahead of her time, clearly. 

In the mid 50's we lost the tweed sofa and tubby occasional chairs -- replaced with a t-seat sofa and matching chairs.  I loved that set and have, in fact, purchased something quite similar for my own home. Mother was a mover and a shaker -- didn't like to settle in on something for too long -- when a style changed, so did she.  I can sort of understand my father's dismay for this constant updating.

At some point in the early 60's my mother decided we should move to a larger house -- one she knew well because it belonged to a friend.  We moved.  This necessitated a change in furniture.  Out went the lovely mid-century modern and t-seat suite and in came the Early American trend, so popular at that time.  Larger house meant larger furniture.  It was lovely but oh, my, what a pain to dust.  All those little turned legs and nooks and crannies.   She decorated and polished.  It looked like a department store. 

Around 1967 we made another move -- back to the original home which they still had.  Hmmm....smaller house (a tiny house by today's "tiny house movement" standard) and large furniture.  Large, heavy, dark furniture.  I missed the mid-century modern but it wasn't my call.  Mom still polished and hung colonial decorations asymetrically on the walls.  We lived in a harvest gold and avocado green world -- colors I never particularly liked but carried on into my own home due to popularity.

In 1969 our version of the tiny house burned down.  We were in it.  We got out.  Everybody was ok -- even the dog.  However, something happpened to my mother.  Not physically.  Emotionally the desire to be house proud left her in an instant. 

We moved back into the house after the rebuiltd  It looked the same -- sort of -- but it was missing some of the charming things that made it nice in spite of its' tiny footprint.  The faceted glass doorknobs were gone as were the lovely paneled doors -- replaced with brass hardware and slab doors.  Not the same.  The tile in the kitchen with the site-built cabinets were gone and replaced with stock, ready to hang, cabinets and formica.  Ok, no grout to bleach on a regular basis but---- there was no grout to bleach -- the routine was broken.

As was my mother.  From that point on, my mother didn't hang on to anything material.  There was minimal decoration, things that were lost from the fire weren't replaced, There was nothing sitting around, no knick-knacks, no plants, nothing.  She didn't care.  I didn't get it.  Home was different.  My mother was different.  What had happened to my life?

Yesterday, I got it.  I believe my mother had reached the time in her life that I have reached now although she was considerably younger at the time.  It is the realization that material things just don't make you happy.  Material things are clutter.  Material things are things to be dusted, and cleaned and moved around and shifted and clearly things to multiply in the night.  I have heard other people say, after fires and other natural disasters, that material goods just didn't have the same impact on them as they used to.  Some people, in fact, look at it as a blessing.  I wouldn't wish any sort of a natural disaster on anybody anywhere under any circumstances but there is something about starting over that is cathartic.

Yesterday I walked through my house and I looked at it, critically, from the front door and tried to see what others see when they walk in.  It is crowded.  There is too much stuff.  It grates on my nerves. It makes me tired.  I think that is where my mother's head was -- she was just tired.  Granted, she was only 46 years old at that time but she was tired.  I am tired.  I don't wish to spend my time dusting spindly little legs on furniture.  I don't wish to spend my money on decorations that need to be stored or dusted or washed (thank you Hobby Lobby for all the lovely seasonal decorations that I won't be buying).  I understand where my mother's head was when she would clean the house (always smelled like Pine-sol and lemon oil) and then just want to sit down with a book. 

I get it.  It has taken me longer than her but -- I get it. 

Thursday, October 01, 2015

Boy, Was I Wrong!

I thought that my elder years would be spent lolling around, eating bon-bons, watching game shows on tv and generally vegetating.  Well, I guess I was wrong.  First off, I don't feel like an "elder" person -- I still listen to rock and roll music for goodness sakes!  I am pretty up on pop culture (much to my husband's dismay) and I still like fashion and makeup an such -- oh, and bon-bons, too!

However, what isn't happening is the lolling around.  I am as busy now as I ever have been and for that I am thankful.  I don't think I would "loll" very well.  I am learning new things (crochet) and I am cooking from scratch -- all.the.time.  I am also sewing-- a lot.

So, while I have been away from here for several days, I haven't been sitting still.  I have been sewing.  I am making a quilt from these fabrics --

It is a very simple quilt with the "map" as the center and then borders of the other two.  I am handquilting it, without a hoop or frame, and I have pinned it with over 800 safety pins spaced 2" apart.  I didn't think that quilting without a hoop would be possible -- or at least enjoyable -- but it is.  I haven't had any hand pain at all and that has made it a very enjoyable project.

Also, coming up at the end of October is Bean's school's answer to Halloween.  It is called "Saints and Angels" Day.  For pre-k 3 and 4 she was an angel.  This year she gets to be a saint.  She also got to choose her saint and she chose the obvious -- St. Elizabeth Ann Seton -- her school's namesake.  St. Elizabeth Ann Seton appeals to my daughter's interest as she is an American saint, born during the American Revolution era and was originally Episcopalian. So, St. Elizabeth Ann Seton we will be.

So, I am adapting this pattern -- and doing it by hand, I might add because I have discovered that sewing clothing by hand (couture) allows me to sit in front of the television as I stitch and not in the back bedroom by myself.

I am using the blue dress pattern with the cap from the upper left view and I am lengthening the pilgrim collar to be a cape.

And then, the Bean needs some fall dresses for church.  I am making this one up out of something -- not sure what.  I made a muslin (first time ever) for fit and surprisingly, it fit! So, on I will go.

So, that is what I have been doing while I am waiting for more medical tests -- I am still waiting for an appointment (they will call -- SOMETIME) and trying to maintain some form of sanity.

And cooking -- I am enjoying cooking, for some odd reason, even though my husband doesn't seem to enjoy my cooking -- unless it is bread.

On a somewhat sad, yet humorous note, I have been forced to recognize that I am not a spring chicken anymore which probably means that I should cut my hair because old hens don't wear long hair -- right?  Anyway, I had to attend a funeral yesterday.  I have lost about 1 1/2 inch in height which means my slacks are too long.  I decided to wear some heels of the lower, kitten style.  Bad, bad bad decision.  I have arthritis in my feet and haven't worn heels in years -- YEARS -- I could hardly walk.  My toes hurt me so much last night I thought I was going to cry -- I seem to have arthritis in the joints where my tiny little delicate toes attach to my feet.  I figured I would be fine this morning.  Again -- WRONG! I can hardly walk -- my right foot hurts so much!  I think I will be doing a bit of decluttering with all my heels!  That way I can make room for my new orthopedic shoes which I will probably need after this.

Lesson learned.  Oh well at least I get to go shoe shopping! That is always fun.

So, anyway, that is what I have been doing.  I will post quilt pics when I get a little farther along.

Have a great day!