Sunday, August 28, 2016

Little Miss Muffet

I am not a fan of spiders, but I signed up for a tuffet class.    What a fun project -- much faster and easier than I had expected and cute as the proverbial button.  It still needs legs, which have not yet been delivered, and it is intended as a Christmas gift.   My guy friend says it has no practical use at all, but that won't stop me from making another -- I just won't make one for him!  He's right, too, it would be no support for his big feet!
He and my grandson spent a day doing a soldering project, the second they've worked on.   I love seeing my 11-year-old grand develop skills I hadn't even discovered until I was in my 60s.  He is a quick learner and a good student, it makes my heart swell.  And I love watching the big and little hands working patiently together.
I performed a couple more weddings in the past week, one Bride happy and relaxed, the other less so. It is always amusing to me to see what mountains can be made of molehills.  I wish them all the very best and hope they all find contentment once the stress of their wedding day is past.    And our search team was called out this week to look for a local man who had gone missing.   We were not there long, and it was not a happy ending, but we know from experience that it helps the family a little to know that they had the support and encouragement of strangers and that they did everything they could.

In between it all, I am working on the usual hodgepodge of sewing projects, trying to use scraps in order to justify buying ever more fabric.     In honor of the impending birth of my latest great niece, the daddy's sister organized a quilt circle.  When older sister Frannie was born a couple of years ago, the aunts and uncles and grandparents all joined together to make the building blocks of a baby quilt, and now we are doing it again for the new baby.  Frannie's square, two years ago, went so quickly for me and turned out exactly the way I'd hoped. 
But this time, inspiration was slow to strike and, even after I decided to make a bunny square,  things did not go well.  Bunny Number One looked demented, a bit like a bunny serial killer.  
But thanks to a few suggestions from my granddaughter and guy friend, I ended up with a bunny I could live with even if I didn't exactly love it.   I hope the new baby will be forgiving.  :)
If you could see the mess on my kitchen table you would expect me to have a lot more to show for the effort!  It is time to get serious about Christmas sewing, and the list of projects is getting longer every day.

Summer is quickly drawing to an end.   The Littles go back to school next week and it won't be long before most of my time will be spent indoors.   Hopefully that fabric pile will shrink a bit then.  In the meantime, I am enjoying as much outdoor time as I can.   We are hoping for one last canoe trip next week, fingers crossed for good weather.   I hope your end of summer is as happy as mine has been.   There is much to be grateful for.  :)

Sunday, August 14, 2016

Showers of Blessings

This week was the Perseid Meteor Shower, predicted to be the best in years.    They claimed that, at its peak, there could be 200 meteors an hour, a mind boggling thought!  Although my results were not quite as spectacular,  I did see a few gorgeous, meaty meteors and several handfuls of shooting stars.   A long, long way from the media claims, but well worth missing a little sleep.


In hopes of finding a darker place to star gaze, we drove last week to the west coast of Michigan, to a small town called Ludington, and spent the wee hours of one morning laying on a blanket on the sand dunes a little north of there, watching falling stars.    We used my Golden Passport to park for free in the National Forest there and walked to the beach.  This area of Michigan has rolling hills of sand that go right up to the edge of Lake Michigan.  The area is absolutely gorgeous and, after dark, absolutely dark.  We snuggled into the sand and ooo-ed and ahhh-ed until past 3 am.  With the stars above, clearer than they are near civilization with a wide swath of milky way, and the sound of the water a few feet away, I could have stayed there all night if only there had been a potty!

On our drive there and back we stopped at four quilt shops to pick up their row-by-row patterns and a bunch of other stuff I just couldn't resist.   When I got home I discovered that the prices at one shop were lower than my local JoAnn Fabrics, so I will be driving back that way again soon!  All in all, the trip added a new stack of to-do items to my endless pile of sewing projects.

A day or so later, when skies cleared again, we went out into the countryside nearer home and saw a dozen or more shooting stars that (late) night, too.   It has been raining since then, but we are watching the sky, hoping for another chance or two to witness the celebration in the sky.  It is such a thrill to watch those trails of light!

Today I helped as one of the "communicators" at a 5k Walk for Hope, sponsored by Survivors of Suicide.   My job was an easy one, I acted as liaison between the officer in charge of the course and the communicators who relayed messages about people who needed water or assistance.   It was a hot and sunny day so I was exhausted at the end of the race, even though I was not the one running.    The message of today's race is one dear to me -- it is okay to ask for help.   Be gentle with yourself and let's take good care of one another!

Friday, July 29, 2016

End of July

Another month has slipped through my fingers!   It's been a fun time, but moving way too fast.   It's really true what they say about this journey on the down-hill of life, time gathers speed as I go.   My darling granddaughter had a nasty scooter accident this month and banged herself up badly enough to force her to take things more slowly for a bit.  Of course I hate that for her, but the forced respite has given us time for her to practice making art on my fingernails.   She is quite the little artist in many modes, and she really got a kick this week out of using fingernails as her canvas.   Right now she is using a book as a tutorial, but it will be fun to see what she comes up with when she's gone through the index of owls and tennis shoes and koalas and penguins.


I finally (almost) finished my first bag; it just needs me to add the long strap and strap hardware.  I made so many mistakes on this bag; the pattern was so confusing that it was a very frustrating experience, and a miracle that it turned out as well as it did.    And with any luck at all, no one will know where the mistakes are except me . . . oh, and you, of course.     Seriously, SO many mistakes.  I botched the inner bindings, I forgot the end pockets, I cut off one of the double zipper pulls . . . it goes on and on.     And did I learn anything about slowing down and following directions?   Apparently not.  When I started to cut out the next attempt, I made my first goof with my first cut, so the bag will be smaller than the directions intended it to be.  Oh well, I will hack everything into place and live with the result. 
My honey is still out of town, probably for another week, but we talk almost daily and text and write letters . . .  and today he sent me flowers!   So very sweet.   It's been a long time since anyone sent me flowers, and I have never known anyone so thoughtful.    So far so good . . . and fingers crossed.  :)
The weather dropped more than 20 glorious degrees after raining the other day, from 93 to a perfect 68.  It has bounced back up again but only to the low 80s, perfect summer weather.  The lack of rain has kept my grass from growing much -- a good side effect -- and it has made my backyard birdbath a very popular place.   When I was filling it today one of the local squirrels came out to chat and with very clear 'hand' gestures he indicated that he would like me to get him some peanuts.   And then he waited patiently by the back door while I did exactly that.   Scary cute.

Summer is passing by way too quickly but it's been a good one here in my part of the world.   I hope you are having summer fun, too, wherever you are!

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Hot Time, Summer in Saginaw

Today is my son's 40th birthday -- how time flies!  He has been a joy to me from the minute he was born.  I remember it like it was yesterday, which clearly it was not.  Both of us are a lot older than when this photo was taken right after he was born.
I made him a birthday cheesecake last night, which is something of a tradition for me, and I burned my hand in the process, which is probably also something of a tradition.   I have always been clumsy in the kitchen and it gets worse every year!    But we enjoyed the cheesecake today, and I love hearing his children sing to him.  They decorated their house last night to surprise him.   Their happy family makes for a very happy grandma.  :)

It feels like I am so very busy but really there is nothing much new to report.   Our Search and Rescue group has gone on a couple of recent searches and those are always learning experiences.  Our hope is that we will get more skilled and provide more education with each search so that local communities and families won't have to face search emergencies alone.  Local law enforcement is not trained in search science but is often hesitant to accept our free, trained assistance, so it's a constant up hill battle just to get allowed in and too many people stay lost for too long as a result.  Law enforcement will actually tell us that they don't need our help because they don't know where to look, and it is hard to convince them that we can help them by determining the best place to start.   In many states, including ours, hundreds of people go missing every year and too many searches are postponed and abandoned.  There really is a better way, and we keep trying to teach people about it.

We are having a burst of brutal summer heat this month.   My daughter in Louisiana says it is cooler there than it has been here, so you know it is way too hot for my Michigan blood.   Meanwhile, on the home front, my air conditioning is not working properly.   Even with the AC running at full tilt, the house hasn't gotten hotter than 85 degrees  (or cooler than 83, so it is not an emergency, but it is annoying).    I am hot, but I am also anxious to learn how much it will cost to fix.   But since there are people in this recent heat wave who are in way worse shape, my appointment is not for several more days.   The heat has cut into my energy level but I am an excellent slacker, so it's not as great hardship as it would be for some, but it is definitely not ideal. 

My honey is out of town (and I am missing him terribly),  so I am home more this week with a lot less fun stuff to distract me, and the warm environment has caused me to reduce my activities in general,  specifically my sewing.   But I sewed quite a bit last week at his much cooler house.   I've made a number of little bags and am working on a carry-on-sized travel bag that I hope will be useful and pretty enough to justify making more as gifts.  I'm also hoping it cools off a little so that I can comfortably sew here at home again soon -- I've moved my machine downstairs where it is cooler, and have a whole stack of projects I'd like to get to this week. 
This is the very best time for food, our local farmers' markets are bursting at the seams.   I've tried a couple of new okra recipes and am loving the fresh fruit and sweet corn and tomatoes!   But back to school stuff is on sale in our local stores, so I know it won't last much longer, even though I am hoping for a lot more summer.   I have that mix of emotions, wishing for cooler weather but not wanting the summer to end!   I haven't been out in the kayak yet or dipped a fishing pole into a river, so I have lots to do in the next few weeks.    Things are good in my part of the world.  I hope the same is true for you. 


Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Mid-Way

The year is now half over and I would slow it down if I could because this has been a good one!   It has been a beautiful summer here in Mid-Michigan.   It gets hot, but not for long enough to suffer, and then it gets cool, but not for long enough to matter.  Lots of sun and, although we could definitely use some rain, it has been otherwise perfect.   My kids have opened their pool after a lot of work and the Littles (and I) are loving it!  Not that I have had much time for pool-ishness, it's been a busy few weeks.
The 4th of July was lots of fun.   I saw a fireworks display on purpose for the first time since my kids were small.   And I loved it!   I was surprised at what a great job my town does with fireworks,  I never would have believed it could put on so amazing a show.

I have been sewing an assortment of stash-busters.   I made a gift basket for the girlfriend who introduced me to my Sweetie, using a cute (free) pattern I found on Craftsy.  I loved the way it turned out, except that the final step, top stitching along the upper edge,  ended up with a nightmare of birds' nest tangles on my old (now gone) machine.   I needed to pick it all out and then do it over on someone else's machine.    The basket took me about an hour to make (not counting the tear down and re-sew that wasn't as much fun).   I am guessing that future ones will go faster, so I am planning to make more, maybe to use as packing boxes for Christmas gifts.   My friend's gift basket included a candle (soylicious, the melted 'wax' turns into a massage oil), Cupid socks, a bracelet with an "unexpected miracle" charm, bath gel and some wine.   It made her laugh.
I am using smaller scraps to make little cosmetic zipper bags and I want to try a bag soon that uses an old metal retractable ruler inside for the closure.   I love these quick projects that take so little time and make, if only the smallest, dent in the clutter in my sewing cabinet that is stuffed full of fabric.

I am also pulling out all my pre-cuts and sewing them into quilt tops.  Nothing fancy, nothing planned.   Some of them work, some not so much.  I like the bright quilt top I made from the Kaffe Collective Cool 2016 layer cake that was one of the Daily Deals at Missouri Quilt.   
I am not so crazy about the quickie jelly roll quilt, also a Daily Deal from long ago so I don't remember what it was called, and plan to cut that one up into squares and try again.    

I am working on a duffle bag from other Kaffe Cool 2016 prints, working my way through my gaudy phase.

I struggled so much about which sewing machine to buy and ended up with a much less expensive model than I had planned and I don't regret it.  I can see now that the best way to figure out what I need in a machine is to have one that I can actually use, and I am using this one a lot and making mental notes about what I do and do not like about it.

My mail carrier has been busy bringing me packages of fabric, trim, hardware and -- most exciting of all! -- the most beautiful sari skirts.   I am not sure I will ever wear them; I don't like drawing attention to myself and I feel old and dumpy.   Even so, they are the most beautiful fabric I have ever owned and I love them.   I've already bought some for my DIL who will be beautiful in them,  but even if I never wear them out of the house I do not regret buying some for myself.   The photo, a selfie of the skirt over my nightie, doesn't do justice to how pretty the silk is.   I am tempted to throw the skirts over a curtain rod and display them that way.   I'll try to get a sunny photo the next time I think of it.   I got them from Darn Good Yarn and no kidding they are worth every penny!  Besides that, they eliminate wasting the fabric and create jobs for women who would otherwise suffer from poverty.  
Less is going on in the kitchen than in the sewing room these days, which is rare for me, but I did make a fantastic lasagna using thin cuts of farmers' market zucchini instead of pasta.   We didn't miss the noodles at all, to my surprise.   All the taste and texture was still there.    What an easy way to eat low-carb without feeling deprived!   Yum.
I hope you are all having a wonderful summer, too.   Be happy. :)

Sunday, May 29, 2016

A Beautiful Life

So many things going on in my life, it's enough to make my head spin, and yet so little to report.  The weather has been beautiful here in Mid-Michigan the past couple of weeks, although it is a bit too steamy for my personal preference today.   The nights until now have been fairly cool, my ideal weather -- sunny and warm enough for shorts and tees in the daylight and cool enough for good sleeping weather at night.

I have been sewing again, a little.   I've made a couple of nighties that I love, using the Love Notions downloadable "Laundry Day Tee" pattern -- a pattern that rightly claims that you can make the top faster than you can do the laundry.  On top of that, the pattern was free, just for joining their Facebook group, and I do love me some free.   I am not that good a seamstress and my machine is not a consistent or reliable tool, so I have not trusted my creations as something I can wear in public, but I love making them a little longer and wearing them as nighties!
 I've made several pair of fleece socks, too, just for fun and as a scrap buster.  A simple project, I will teach my nearly-ten-year-old granddaughter how to sew these when we have a little spare time -- which is to say, after she is out of school for the summer!  She loves the idea of being able to create homemade gifts for her family this Christmas, and I love that idea, too!  I'm going to teach her how to use the burrito method to make pillow cases, too, as another fun gift she will be able to do more or less on her own.
Along those same lines, since I have been enjoying sewing, I have started to seriously look at the idea of buying a new sewing machine -- my fantasy in the beginning was to find something that I could grow and grow and grow into, with quilting and embroidery capabilities.  Now I am reconsidering and wondering whether a less ambitious machine would do me just as well.   As a result, I'm looking at machines ranging from a couple of hundred to a few thousand dollars.  I have looked so far at Janome, Husqvarna Viking, Brother and Bernina, and the Bernina and Brother models have been the ones most tugging at my greedy little fingers so far.  I know there is no one right answer, but I am hoping that some clear guidelines will start to reveal themselves because it has been confusing so far! I'm still collecting data, so I welcome any ideas or advice you might have!  :)

My personal life has changed, too, even more than my sewing.    Let's just say it is suddenly good.  Really, surprisingly, miraculously good.   I am happy in ways I  can't remember ever being happy before.   The kind of happy that makes me a little afraid to breathe, for fear it will all evaporate, since this isn't exactly my first rodeo.   But for sure, happy enough that I decided to think of some kind of gift to give the person who introduced me to the source of this recent happiness.  She likes to set people up by introducing them, and always teased that she would expect a gift basket if any of her 'matches' worked out.  I found a bracelet with a charm that says "unexpected miracles," and I'm thinking that's the perfect little thank you to send her way soon.    Because for sure, life is full of unexpected miracles, and it is nice for all of us if we can help them along from time to time.   I hope you are experiencing many unexpected miracles and joys of your own.  :)

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Sunny Days

I've been unable to post or check much of anything for the past week or so because my laptop had to go in for major surgery.   Being without it was real suffering, I tell you!   It is amazing (and a little scary) how much I depend on on-line endeavors during the course of my day.   I missed it a lot.

I have it back now, with a new logic board, and I hope it will work better now.   The laptop is nearly 3 years old and almost out of its extended warranty and it hasn't been right from the beginning.   It would be nice to have the kinks out before the warranty ends, but I suppose the odds of that are slimmer than I'd like.

Well, Kim, you are for sure my lucky 'winner,' not a huge surprise there!   I would have sent a little something to Laurie, too, but s/he was a no-reply blogger.    I'll gather up the package and get it in the mail sometime in the next week or so.   It makes perfect sense to me, you have been a most constant friend and bloggy companion for years of this journey, and I hope we be continue to be blogland friends for years to come.  :)

It is finally, finally Spring here, or so we hope.   The weather this weekend, after a week of snow and freezing temperatures, is mild and the sun is shining.   It is simply glorious.   Although it has been mostly in the 60's, we had one day in the 80's, almost warm enough for me to complain about the heat for a change!  My granddaughter and I noticed that the cardinals have never seemed quite so red, as if they, too, are going all out as we celebrate this marvelous weather.    My outdoor list of projects is already growing -- too bad I still haven't finished the list of indoor projects that were supposed to be done over the winter!   Instead of working on chore last weekend, the Littles and I played four-square and I took a couple of long walks --- and I don't have even a glimmer of regret.  :)

A friend and I have been eating at a vegetarian Indian "street food" restaurant this week -- the most delicious food, even though I had no idea what I was eating!   I stopped at an Indian grocer, too, and we've been snacking on a variety of spicy-salty chickpea treats.  I got some spices, too, and will experiment with a few simple dishes.  First up was okra stuffed with spices, which was absolutely delicious and not even a bit slimy like okra often is.   We loved it!   Next attempt will be a simple dal (lentil) dish.   I love trying to cook new foods, I don't do it as much as I used to, but the Littles are starting to be more adventurous so I can usually find someone to share my results.

I hope it is sunny in your world!