Thursday, October 20, 2016

Sew Sad

My sewing machine turned on me this week and used its Jaws of Death to clamp down on a piece I was sewing.  I am inclined to blame the machine (or the fleece fabric I was sewing) but my guy says I am hard on my toys.  Try as I might, I could not get it free, so I took it into the dealer for a free cleaning and release.   To my horror, they said it would be several days before I can have it back.   Good grief, does this mean I will have to actually do one of the thousand household chores to fill the time??!!  Horrors.  But  no, I am more resourceful than that.

Every year I give my Grands an advent calendar at Thanksgiving.   They have had pretty much every one I could find and, although they don't want to give up the tradition, none of them appeal this year to them or to me.   So I decided to make one --
I found these adorable paper maché boxes at Hobby Lobby and decorated the outside of them.   Now I am putting stickers on the insides to show how many days are left.   The plan is to fill each box with some little surprise or treasure.   For sure some of them will contain riddles and jokes, but I still need to find several dozen little treats and treasures, so the search is on!
Before my machine jammed, I was able to finish another little minky-backed throw.   Like the first one, it is not even within spitting range of perfect, but it is a cozy little thing.  

I will be happy to get the machine back, my list of projects is endless -- another minky throw, several charm tote bags, slippers, pillow cases -- all little projects that I can easily get done before the holidays, if I have a machine to work on!    I am even wondering whether I really need to own two of them -- or really three, since there is also one just for me to use at my guy-friend's house -- just for emergencies like this?!   What a change from the last machine I had, where I dreaded even the slightest project.   Maybe good tools, like weather appropriate clothes and a good attitude, really do make all the difference!

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Mid October

October is going by too quickly, although I try to slow it down by being mindful of the beautiful autumn weather and colorful fall leaves.  
It has been glorious here, chilly nights and sunny days, just perfect.   Sock weather, and I am always delighted when it is cool enough to wear some of my happy socks. :) 
My honey is out of town so I am sewing.   I should, by all rights, be cleaning my house which has metamorphosed into a hoarder's dump, but instead I am sewing.

As I am sure I have mentioned before, I am not much of a sewer, but I like the activity, it calms me (until I screw up) and I like making things.   I made a flimsy quilt top from a jelly roll that I didn't much like in the first place and decided to turn it into a throw, figuring that it would give me some practice and that I could donate it somewhere when it didn't turn out.   It started out as one of those marathon jelly quilts and then, when I hated it,  I cut it up into squares and sewed it again.   I finished it yesterday.   I don't know how to quilt, but I made the requisite 'sandwich' with a flannel faux-batting layer in between the top and a minky backing.   Then I sewed, not straight but straight-ish lines, back and forth, until it was pretty much covered.   I machine sewed a binding -- badly -- and I called it done.   It honestly turned out better than I had any reason to expect, although it would not dare to call itself a quilt.   It is a cozy throw, to be used by someone who doesn't know any better.  
I plan to do another throw in the same fashion, again using straight-ish line 'quilting' and a minky back.   And then maybe I will try making an actual quilt top and taking it to a longarm quilter to see what they can make of it.   That seems like cheating to me, but the conventional wisdom is that it's allowed, so I'll give it a try.
I have been busy, and not only with sewing, of course.    Our Search and Rescue group was called out last weekend to help in a search a little north of here.  Although it was not a happy outcome, it feels good to be able to help provide closure for families who are dealing with the terrible unknown.

And I have been cooking this week for my kids, which has also been fun.   When my guy is in town we pretty much get lost in just being together, and I treasure (and miss) that, but I love time with my family, too, and I haven't been doing a lot of cooking for them this year so it was long overdue.  Although I don't cook as often as I should, I do go to the Littles' swim lessons most every week  -- this week my grandson went off the high diving board for the first time, which amazes me, since I have never had the nerve to even jump in off the edge of the pool.   Thank goodness the Littles aren't major sissies like their grandma!
I also bought myself a sweet little gift from my friend Kim's Etsy shop; Kim is currently taking a bloggy break at Snug Harbor Bay, but she has been a bloggy friend for quite some time, and she is still active in her creative work on Etsy.  Kim made me a bracelet with a current favorite phrase of mine, "be the pig;" a reminder to myself to be a giver in my relationships, not the "chicken" in a bacon and egg breakfast who is able to give just a little and walk away.  It makes me laugh, but it is a nice reminder to myself that I need to be aware of my own part in making things work.  Kim makes custom bracelets of all kinds, and I wear my "pig" bracelet, as well as one with my amateur radio call sign, ALL time time!  :)   It's fun to be able to have (and give) something that is both reasonably priced AND truly personal, so I really appreciate that she does custom work!

Lots of Search and Rescue training and service activities coming up this weekend, including the annual Zombie Run -- hopefully I'll get a chance to enjoy the local ghouls while I'm helping out!  Nothing says October like a zombie apocalypse.     Hope you are all having fun!

Getting Crispy

There is a definite chill in the air these days, and night-times are cuddle weather with me allegedly hogging the wool blankets.  September has been busy.   We canned a bizillion jars of tomato juice and diced tomatoes and tomato soup -- over 60 jars at last count.   I used the last few pounds to make fresh tomato sauce for Zoodle lasagna and zoodles with meatballs, both of which were delicious.  We are planning to can applesauce next, although Lord knows whether we will get to it before I bake up stuff with all the apples.   It has been a very good food month, as one would expect for harvest time in the mid-west.   Michigan is said to be second only to California in the scope of our fruits and vegetables, and I am enjoying as many of them as I can while they are fresh and plentiful.
And, to my utter amazement,  I am still sewing!    I finished the table runner that I won from Missouri Quilt, what a fun prize that went together in just a couple of hours -- just about the length of my attention span!   Kits make it SO easy!
I made a few more pillow cases, I think they make sweet little gifts and they are another super quick sew, so I make them whenever I think of it and need something mindless to work on.  So many cute fabrics out there, I pick up a couple of yards whenever I see something that shows a particular interest of some family member, and that makes it fun for me, too.
I am working on place mats, too, another quick and easy scrap buster that, despite its quick and easiness, I haven't gotten done yet -- of course, scrap busting only works as well as my own self discipline, and I am an expert at slacking and a sucker for a fun new fabric so the 'done' pile isn't getting any bigger and the scrap pile isn't getting any smaller.  And this month's purse club is next week, so there will no doubt be more purses coming soon.

On the personal front, I am happy.  My guy and I spend most of our time together, a bonus of being retired, enjoying each others company.  I never imagined life could be so sweet, so late.   And I am fighting the urge to wonder when the other shoe will drop -- happy is a place I haven't visited much,  I hope I get the chance to get used to it.  :)

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Sew Far Sew Good

 We are having the most beautiful late summer here in Mid-Michigan.  Sunny days, blue skies, and nights cool enough for a wool blanket or two.   I love this time of year.   The leaves are just beginning to turn, and the bumble bees and chipmunks are frantically trying to stock up for the winter.  The skinny bunnies are eyeing me hopefully.    Lots of sewing going on here in my world.   The tuffet is finally and truly done, legs and all.    The photo doesn't show size and it looks a little wonky, but it sits sturdily enough and better yet,  it's done and it's cute and it's going to be a gift, with a little accompanying throw, I hope.
I've made a bunch of little purses and I've just gotten a new pattern so I will be making more - hopefully I'll find someone to give them all to!
I pieced a couple of quilt tops, which haven't been photographed yet, and I finished the pillow I made as an engagement gift.
I won (yay!) a table runner kit and made that, and will try to remember to photograph that, too, before I pack it away in the Gift Box.    I know how to sew a little, but I have no practical knowledge of quilting, so I used the pillow and the table runner to practice my stitch-in-the-ditch technique.   A better seamstress (which is to say, almost anyone) would have torn it all out on both and started over, but I did not.  I have adopted Jenny Doan's mantra, "finished is better than perfect," and I don't intend to budge from that.   They are not perfect, but they are finished.

I performed one last wedding for the summer, a lovely couple who had traveled together for the past several years after their relationship first took them through college and graduate school.  They were not at all phased by the fact that their dream outdoor wedding was rained out and had to be held in a small banquet room, both were just thrilled to be taking this step, and I loved that about them.

My friend will be traveling again in the next week or so and I will miss him, so I am taking every advantage of his presence right now.    We have been canning tomatoes together this weekend -- I was gifted with the chance to pick SEVERAL bushels at a friend's house and we have been busy!   He made and canned a veggie soup and is working on a veggie-mix juice right  now with beets and peppers and celery and tomatoes and much much more.   Meanwhile, I have been canning jars and jars and jars of sauce.  Tonight we had zoodles (zucchini noodles) with fresh tomato sauce and local veggies for dinner.     Truly delicious -- I don't know why we don't do the zoodles more often, they are that good!

And the same day as the tomato bonanza  another friend brought me a bunch of eggs from her flock of hens, so there's going to be a lot of baking once the canning is done.  And I am loving it all. 
 Life is good here in the middle of the Mitten.   Perfect weather, loving family, good friends and harvest time, a happy combination.     And how about you?  

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!