19 October 2012

Stew weather

Rather whine and cry about our second major cold front ... here's a pic of our stove this evening!  Beef stew with the last of the pole beans and the surviving turnips, with some store-bought veggies for good measure, and on the back burner is hubby's big pot of chili with beans.
Stew and chili on the stove
Of course, the dog is filing more paperwork with Amnesty International about further violations of the Geneva Convention (which prohibits torture).

30 August 2012

More soap bags

Just a quick-pic update as I struggle to pry my eyes open with a third mug of coffee.  I usually stop after the second mug, but it just ain't having the usual motivating effect this time.

I've been playing with the crochet thread a lot lately, and the focus has been soap bags.  I had to adapt the pattern I used before to accommodate the local soapmakers' larger sized bars, but I think I'll keep this pattern to myself for a while as they have expressed an interest in selling my soapbags.

First, the original soapbag next to my first adaptation:
size-adapted on left, original on right
Now, for a style variation for my solid colored threads, this one is for my son:
Soapbag in UK blue with the beer soap
I included the soap label, because some folks have expressed doubt about whether I was serious when I said I bought hubby some beer soap.  Yes, it really does smell like beer (hubby kept the first bar next to his chair for a week just so he could smell it).  I know the soap lady has a page on FaceBook, but I don't see an independent website listed on her business card.

So now I need to get the soap in the "right" color soap bag to son, who is having a great time as a college freshman 200 miles away from home.  I'm starting to miss him, although I am glad he sounds so positive and excited about this new phase in his life.

16 August 2012

The first step

The first step in hand sewing of any kind ...
Threading a needle!
Hubby found this one last evening, and when I finally got done laughing I begged him to send it to me.

While I'm at it, here's the official opinion of two of my three furry purr-monsters:
cat humor
Just substitute the big fat fluffy or the neurotic cuddle-kitty for the tuxedo cat in the pic, and this could be my house.  Although I have no idea where the cat fur is hiding in the pic!

14 August 2012


I've been grumpy lately ... so has hubby.  We don't quite like a lot of the changes that have been happening.  This morning as I started my first mug of coffee, I heard the familiar and distinct sound of a building being torn down and dropped into an empty dump truck.  It's familiar because the local college tore down every house across the street from me.  Instead of the college tearing another house down, this time it's the city, tearing down the pool house in the public park next door:
Backhoe and bulldozer at the pool house
They stopped opening the pool about three years ago, probably due to the economy ... but last time I peeked into the pool earlier this year I saw a small sapling growing in a crack in the concrete.  Pools take money to maintain (which is why I don't want one) so it's cheaper to tear it down, tear it up, then fill it in than to maintain it or even keep people out to avoid liability shtuff.

The backhoe and 'dozers will be busy again, probably within the week as my last neighbor on this end of the street sold to the college and moved out this past weekend.  We are now the last family on this side of the S-curve.  I doubt the college will wait long at all to knock the two houses down, at which point it will be visually obvious we are the last house standing.

We have already purchased our next house, and as soon as hubby gets out of the army we'll be gone as well.  It could be about six months - or it could be less or even more.  We're just waiting on the paperwork.

Son is off to college, doing a two-week "jump start" program for incoming freshmen.  According to his voicemail, they are keeping him too busy to get homesick or to even call at a decent time in the evening.  I do hope he's studying his books in addition to his classmates.  When I tried to call him, he said he was *at*dinner* ... with heavy emphasis on the "at dinner" part (and female voices in the background).

About the only thing I've been working on lately is my crochet, as that's about all I can do comfortably due to my back acting up with storm systems, yard clean-up, and keeping up on the housework.  Hubby's unit is currently obsessed with working late (actually, sitting around waiting for information on what needs to be done, which seems to always be handed out ten minutes after the deadline) so it's pretty much just me taking care of everything now that son is away at college.

Y'all have been waiting about two weeks for a post, and I put up a rant ... but I really don't like a lot of these changes going on right now.

27 July 2012

Crochet baby blankie for new nephew

OK, another storm and another power outage last night ... which jogged my memory about posting the baby blankie for our almost-4-month-old nephew.
Baby blankie in cotton yarn

mostly square, about 4 foot each side
It isn't soft - I used the same cotton yarn I make washcloths and bags out of - but it is sturdy and textured and will be perfect to set down on the floor or ground and give the little guy something to scoot around on as he learns how to propel himself.

For those who would like to hook one up, the pattern is here.

22 July 2012

Crochet sweater vest started

I finished up the baby blankie I've been working on since late March (I thought I posted it ...?  I must have been interrupted) after the first power outages in the storms a little over a week ago or so ... we got rain!  We sure needed it, since even the dandelions and quackgrass in the yard were giving up the ghost.  Not all of the garden survived (the sunflowers were knocked down by storms and didn't recover) but the squash is finally producing fruit, the 'maters survived both storms and hornworm, and the green beans are slowly coming off strike.

Now that the baby blankie is finally off the hook, I've been spending down time between yardwork trying to figure what to make next.  Yesterday's trip to Hobby Lobby yielded a project as 6 skeins of bamboo-wool yarn jumped off the clearance table and into my cart (of course, it cried, "Take me home!").  A thrift store book score from last month yielded the pattern: an 80s-style sweater vest.
Sleeveless shell top - aka 80s sweater vest
As you can see, I got started on it already this morning (after doing up a test square last night in some of my variegated cotton worsted, which will probably end up as a cute little bag).  I only have one skein of the blue, and want to stretch it out, with two of the "grape" purple and three of the red ... so it's seems obvious to me the shell part on the body should be red.

A quick pic of the book, for those whose tastes match mine who may wish to hunt this one up:
Granny Crochet Favorites - Leinhauser & Weiss, c 1989
It has a lot more than just afghans ... along with a dog blanket, bags, placemats, and whatnot there is also a nice pullover long-sleeved sweater pattern in it I plan to try once I get enough yarn all in the same fiber and weight.

Note to self: post the baby blankie pics soon.

02 July 2012

Garden flowers and crazy cat

Just a little pic update - more garden flowers, and the crazy cuddle-kitty who provided quite the chuckle this morning (and held still long enough for a pic!)
Double sunflower bloom

Cuddle-kitty, guarding the dog's bone

27 June 2012

Purchased Victorian underbust corset

Before poor Maggie explodes from curiosity and impatience, I'll let the cat out of the bag: I bought a corset at Renn Faire this year.  This morning hubby had a couple minutes to snap some quick pictures, so I can finally post up about it.

I went with an underbust corset to avoid fitting issues, and bought from a vendor who's been at the Faire for the past four years, so I am familiar with her sewing skills (she's had a lot more practice than I have!) and admire her construction techniques.  Unfortunately, she doesn't seem to have a website, but those on the renn faire circuit in this general region can look for Fiona's Fineries.  Pic time:
Front of underbust corset

back of underbust corset
Brief stats: it has a 5-prong steel split busk in front (so it goes below the waistband of my jeans another couple inches), spiral steel bones, a silk outer shell, and a black cotton coutil inner/core with a satin ribbon waist tape.  It's been quite educational to examine and wear ... especially the steel split busk.  While a busk is many times more sturdy than a metal zipper, I am also still having my issues with getting it fastened.  It's rather fidgety, and one of my main frustrations will be getting four prongs fastened, then when I go to get the last one looped one of the others will pop off.  The other fidgety part is keeping the modesty panel straight.

Even more educational for me was the sizing.  She measured my waist and pulled out a 32" one (wow I really HAVE lost size since last year she was having me try on the 36" stuff!).  Once we got that on and tightened ... I had next to no lacing gap, so we tried a 30" one.  I still didn't have enough of a lacing gap!  Remember how squishy I was with the denim one?  This silk corset is a 28" waist-size (I don't have it tightened all the way this morning).  Surprise!  That's two sizes below what the tape measure said for my waist, and a big part of my problem with fitting myself (this is not including the hips and bust, though ... the hips do NOT squish on me).

I forgot to ask at Ren Faire which pattern she uses for the underbust ... the lines make me suspect the Laughing Moon underbust one (which I still intend to buy).  Does anyone have it to confirm that?

Since I have had it for over five weeks now, I have a couple more observations.  Spiral steel boning with a steel busk is definitely harder to move in than a metal zipper and plastic cable tie boning, so this really isn't a good one for yard work (never mind that I don't want to mess up the silk outer shell), so I still have to make myself a denim or linen corset as a more functional back brace.  I've already mentioned how fiddly fastening a busk is for me, so the functional back brace model will have a metal zipper along with the main boning being cable ties.  The steel hardware is still on my to-buy list for a more formal and fancy corset, though!

Oh, there is a good reason Victorian-era women had such perfectly-straight posture ... there is no slouching in this!

18 June 2012

How does your garden grow?

The old nursery rhyme comes to mind:
Mary, Mary - quite contrary - How does your garden grow?
While I am not a Mary, the rest of it fits.  My mom mentioned my lack of posting when she was down here a couple weeks ago for my son's graduation (along with picking and eating my first cherry tomato off the clearance cart "mystery variety" tomato plant!).  I've also noticed a few nudges from the old chat regs in comments and emails. So after some fighting with the digicam and Gimp, here's a little update:
Acorn squash blossoms

first sunflower blooming

Sweet mint!  And it's still alive!
The two (?) acorn squash plants in the garden box are freakishly huge, and look like some artist's rendition of the dinosaur-era flora ... they've done a LOT of blossoms but I have only one little squash forming.  When I did a google image search I noticed one pic where someone had a Q-tip fussing with the blossoms, so I may need to help them pollinate (?).  The ones I didn't succeed in giving away will get planted on the compost pile, I think.

My sunflower plants are only about waist-high, with the first flower being about the size of my open hand.  Small, but pretty.  My other sunflower plant will have two blooms ... the result of the top of the plant getting eaten and dividing into two tops.

Finally, it appears the Mint Curse has been broken!  This is my third attempt to keep mint alive, as my neighbor brought me this planter and stand (he made the stand at work from scrap metal) with a native mint of unspecific variety in it, which promptly died even though I followed his instructions.  On a whim, I bought one peat-pot of sweet mint at the garden department last month just for Ss & Gs.  It's now over double the size and still bushing out.

No pics of what's already been eaten: the first three ripe cherry tomatoes (Mom only got one), the sweet peas (an early variety that withered and died with the first week of over-90F weather at the end of May), the green onions I planted from the bottoms of what I bought at the grocery (knocked down by a thunderstorm last week), and the green beans (one round of bush-Blue Lake, and the first round of the pole-Kentucky Wonders).  Those are the successes.

On the not-success front ... I now have a good idea of what the word "bolting" means in the gardening sense, as my spinach and lettuce are determined to flower without getting big enough to snip enough leaves off them.  Most of my potato plants are gone as well ... in the first garden box they got eaten up, and in the front box they turned yellow and died without a single hole in a single leaf.  My basil has stalled at an inch-and-half tall, neither dying nor growing more.  Surprisingly, the cilantro (coriander) was eaten down to the ground, with the prime suspect being some stray cats.

More later ... I guess I really do have a lot of catching up to do.

14 April 2012

First blossoms!

Lookie Ma!!!!  I got BLOSSOMS!  Now, none are mint (LOL) but this is even more exciting (I just found them maybe half an hour ago).  All three are the plants I bought at Lowe's as my "cheaters" but they survived the hard frost two nights ago and more than two weeks in my possession, so I am chalking this up in the WIN column, especially given previous history.
Roma sauce tomato blossoms

Big Bonnie (TM?) slicing tomato blossom

Ozark Beauty (everbearing?) STRAWBERRY blossom!!
Now I have a real plant to match my little cross-stitch strawberry-and-blossom motif I did over the winter!  I use the pic of the motif on a couple of sites as my avatar because I love strawberries and think the pic and motif both turned out so pretty.  Even better - I think a couple of the stems-with-roots strawberries are showing some life from the ten-pack I got from Tractor Supply.

06 April 2012

Canned spiced apple rings

I was both brave and feeling pretty good today, so I took the plunge to try out my new waterbath canner, transforming a little under 3 pounds of Jonathan apples into spiced apple rings ... well, they were supposed to stay as rings.  I guess they were a smidge too ripe since the rings broke during cooking.  Technically, I have canned spiced apple ring bits.  LOL
canned spiced apple rings
I left out the red food coloring for them, as I just don't see the point.  I licked my finger after filling the half-pints, so it will definitely taste good.  All seven half-pints "popped" within half an hour of pulling them out, so I did it right!

02 April 2012

Goodbye Green Blankie

It's finally dead, Mom ... that green blankie Katie gave me when I was four or five.  It had gotten so thin I only used it during the summer, and this time it did not survive a winter of feline attention.  Thirty-four or thirty-five years of love in fiber form - I think you tried to retire it back when I was a teenager.  I even smuggled it to a field problem or two, and it may have hitchhiked to Kuwait and Iraq hidden in my issued gortex sleep system.

I suppose one of my very last pieces of fiber from childhood will die next ... the Linus pillowcase from Mom.  I wonder if my brother still has his.  I used it to make my oversized pillowcases last year, but the fabric is getting very thin also.  Interestingly, hubby says he had that exact one as a kid as well.

I feel a little like Linus right now ... I just threw away an old blanket I've been carrying around from state to state for over thirty years.

20 March 2012

Starting seeds

So, I have decided to try my black thumb at the garden box idea.  I figured with our wacky weather again this year, perhaps I should start my seeds indoors, and the tray with seeds was set up Wednesday (14 Mar 2012).  I snapped a pic on Saturday of the little seedlings peeking out:
seedling tray, 17 Mar
I've been faithfully following the instructions about indirect sunlight, leaving the shades down in the east-facing window until right before lunchtime, and turning the tray a quarter-turn when I remember so they don't grow sideways.  Yesterday afternoon, after hubby remarked about how well they had grown just while he was at work during the day, I joked that in a day or two we'd wake up to find the beans had lifted the lid and were clamoring, "Feed me, Seymour!"

Note to the beans: that was a JOKE!!!  It was not an assignment, nor a goal!  Holy ****!  This morning, the lid was indeed lifted, as the beans doubled in height overnight.
bean sprouts doubled overnight
seedling tray, 20 Mar
So now I need to go Googling to find out how to transplant the beans this soon, since I can already see the roots wrapping around the cell in one of the four.

Meanwhile, outside ... neither the thornless blackberry bush nor the ten strawberry starts have taken off.  The supposed-to-be-compost potatoes are sprouting again with the warm fronts.  For some real fun, the "bad" potatoes are all over the bottom of the garden box.  If all else fails, we'll have potatoes and green beans ... if I add bacon to the mix that makes "Mulligan's stew" which Dad always made the first evening of camping.

19 March 2012

B4419 in progress

I had shown y'all the black wool shell for Butterick 4419 hooded cape, and did sew up the linen/cotton lining ... then a funny thing happened when I pinned the two layers together.  While they matched up in front, the back lining was hanging more than an inch lower in back.  I didn't snap a pic, but I did leave the two pinned layers hanging on Matilda while trying to work out how I would solve this.

It appears gravity has done a decent portion of the work on this fix.  Most of the hemline is now matching up a good week-and-half later.  A few pics this morning:
B4419 hooded cape front
B4419 hooded cape back
The only place the hem still isn't hanging evenly is between the side seams and the center back seam, and I am wondering if I pin each side and let it hang for another week if it won't "fix itself" like it did in the middle of the back.
hems still uneven on the back curve
I figure it's worth a try ... the weather decided to get with the calendar and we've had beautiful sunny days in the 70s and 80s, with no real cold fronts behind the storms recently.  We could still get a freak frost between now and May - it's happened before - but it's a lot less likely I'll get a chance to wear this before fall.  That should give me plenty of time to hand-embroider it.

So I'll check the hems again next week.  I've already decided I will hem the layers separately then hand-stitch them together after I attach the layers, so if gravity doesn't do the whole job for me I can still adjust it that way.

16 March 2012

Massive cook-fest in progress

I've had some good days over the weekend, which involved planting, yard work, building a second garden box ... and a whole heapin' mess o' cooking.  So much cooking that hubby was the one who suggested I get pics!  Hubby has been a happy man with a full belly ...

Saturday's quiche for brunchfast (credit to hubby for coining "brunchfast").  This was my first try at making a quiche, and I kinda-sorta followed a recipe from (of all things!) a Wal-Mart holiday sales flyer.  Seriously ...!  I say kinda-sorta because I didn't buy what they were trying to promote: ready-made pie crust and brand-name sausage, and for some reason they were only putting sausage in it.  I grabbed up my reprint of the 1896 Fanny Farmer Cookbook and made my own crust while hubby cut up fresh spinach and mushrooms to toss in with the browning sausage, then I sprinkled shredded sharp cheddar over the top right before putting it into the oven.  Here is the result (the one that kicked off hubby's "Do you want to get a picture of it before we devour it?")
My first homemade quiche
When son got home from Lexington, he lamented that we didn't save him any, and I learned that the kiddo loves quiche.  Hubby reassured him there WILL be more, with a look my way .... he claims he wants one each weekend now.

Another recipe from the same WM flyer: stuffed mushrooms which went beautifully with a nice thick-cut ribeye that was in the serious markdown case.  The entire dinner:
ribeye steak dinner
And a close-up of the stuffed mushrooms (which really ROCK fresh out of the oven!)
Stuffed mushrooms
Cream cheese, sharp cheddar, bacon, the diced-up stems, fresh spinach, a clove of fresh garlic, and a piece of dried-out cornbread crumbled up ...measurements?  Errr ... oh yeah!  I used 4 oz of cream cheese and 4 pieces of bacon ... the rest I just tossed in what looked like enough.  The recipe left out the stems, the spinach, and the cornbread, if I recall correctly.

Now for the sole survivor from the chicken pot pie the night before last:
Homemade chicken pot pie
It looks so lonely ... that is the butter-crust!  I finally got one half-way photogenic!  The guys pretty much raced each other to the stove for seconds, while I waited out the feeding-frenzy wondering if I had room for a second piece.  (I didn't.)  When they got done with seconds, they commiserated about leaving one survivor.

Hubby has offered to buy me a second glass pie pan, not only so I can make two quiches at once, but so we don't have to hurry to wash the one up.  He'll pretty much buy me any cooking implement I want, as long as I keep cooking good food.

07 March 2012

Butterick 4419 hooded cape in black wool

I hinted at this, then used it as the "background" for Mom's doily ... and now here is the wool hooded cape shell on Matilda!
B4419 cape shell in black wool
The pattern itself calls for a lining, and using this cute piece of black with white dotted FM Shetland wool that was on sale a couple months ago just makes a lining necessary.  I actually cut and sewed the wool shell a few cold fronts ago, but didn't want to jinx myself on the lining by blogging it.  Since it's a cape - no fitting issues to worry about, so the continued weight loss is not a problem!  I now have the lining cut and on the new (to me) sewing cabinet to be sewn.

I intended to sew the lining (a 50/50 cotton/linen blend in fuchsia) yesterday but realized I needed to get a very old project out of the way: the Pembleton wool blazer UFO that Mom gave me back in June.  Yes, Mom ... I finally finished this unclaimed UFO that has been sitting on Matilda since I got back in June (and before that in your houses since the mid-1980s!).  When I test-drove Camster I sewed the underarm seams back, and yesterday I grabbed my hand-needle and black thread to reattach the lining around the bottom hem.  Why black thread instead of matching the grey?  My handsewing does not look as pretty, so I figure I'll want to pull it out in about a year and redo it.

This morning hubby mentioned he really likes the wool Matilda is wearing now.  It sounds like I may need to break the news to him that there is only a little bit of scraps left of it, as I had only ordered 2 yards instead of my usual four ... he loves the wool blanket I made him the other month, even though it has doubled in thickness due to the cat fur.

05 March 2012

Final pics of Mom's monster pineapple doily

I got moving early this morning, with morning sunlight streaming in to light my pics.  The air was dry enough for Mom's big pineapple doily to be finished drying and I couldn't wait to unpin it and see how it looks in the middle of my table.  Since the wooden table top is light-colored, I ended up setting the doily on today's sewing project: the black Shetland wool cape shell I cut and sewed a couple cold fronts ago.  It shows off the off-white thread quite nicely:
Mom's big pineapple doily in off-white cotton thread
I won't be starching it since that tends to make it difficult to fold up (and it will hold creases as well) for mailing, but hubby agrees that our coffee table would look quite nice with one of these on it.  I think I will use the next size up hook to see just how big this can get.  As for how it looks on our table:
Mom's doily on our table
It doesn't photograph as nicely as it will on dark-stained wood ... or black wool.  Tangential note: the sewn coasters on the right were a gift from Mom a few years ago.

One more doily pic before I break out the fuchsia linen/cotton lining to sew together for the wool cape ... this one doesn't have a "home" yet but it was fun to do and it holds its shape quite well.  It's half the size of Mom's doily.
Smaller pineapple doily
I'll post more on the sewing project after I get rolling on it ... I really don't want to jinx myself!  As cold as it is, playing with wool coating does have appeal this morning.

04 March 2012

Monster pineapple doily for Mom

I finished Mom's requested off-white pineapple doily ... and it hooked up huge!  The booklet said it should be 20 inches across, but when I measured it says 21 inches ... although pinning it out I could have sworn it was over 24!
pineapple doily for mom
The reason I did this pattern is because I have wanted to make it since I bought the little book.  It was the reason I bought the book.  It will really stand out on Mom's antique dark-stained dining table, too.  Of course, my mind is already supplying the image-overlay of a large holiday ham on a pretty blue-trimmed serving platter sitting atop this doily.

I meant to snap a "before blocking" pic ... but once I got the ends woven in I didn't remember until I had it wetted down.

Oh, I also cut some fabric today.  More abut that tomorrow, I think ... I am feeling quite pleased with this latest doily.

03 March 2012

Thrift store score sewing cabinet

I went thrifting yesterday, and bought myself a new sewing machine cabinet!  This is certainly a much nicer cabinet than the one Camster came in, so I am quite happy ...
My new sewing cabinet (thrift store find)
For those of y'all squinting at the pic and wondering ... yes, that is a foot pedal and power cord hooked up to a machine inside the cabinet!  This is what was tucked inside:
A Singer 620 Golden Touch & Sew
One Google search confirmed my suspicions ... this is one of the infamous Singer "Cuss & Throw" machines that a few people love and so many more hate.  I had to clip loose a decently-tangled thread nest to get the needle unstuck out of its throat plate.  I have no idea how the bobbin comes out of it, and the manual for it is missing.  However, the reason I fussed yesterday about taping the drawers shut at the store while the rain turned to hail is here:
Three boxes of accessories for the Singer 620 Golden
It has cams, a buttonholer, cleaning stuff ... also inside the drawers are old spools of thread (30 cents each!), safety pins, seam rippers, tracing wheels, a couple pin cushions, a sewing basket ... even a piece of blue poly-feeling fabric.

I'll probably put the machine and its attachments up for sale or trade.  I have no desire to rassle with a manual-less machine with such a reputation.  I am certain somewhere there is a Singer fan who wants it (or maybe needs parts?) but that sure isn't me.  Note: If you are interested in this Singer plus the three accessory boxes of stuff, leave me a comment or hit me up at Pattern Review.  I have every intention of putting my most-used computerized Brother up on the cabinet, because that is what I figure I bought.

I will say that clearing a space for the cabinet then getting home and in the house have wiped me out.  I even vacuumed the carpet this morning in anticipation of my new cabinet.  It looks nice and holds up the "leaning tower of bookcase" better than the box of cast iron.

More crocheting and doilies

So I found my digicam ... finally.  I had set it down near hubby's hobby corner after showing him this little snapshot of our dog's dedication to duty:
Pre-Rinse is more than a nickname - it's a calling!
The dog has very few chores, but this one is definitely his favorite: pre-rinsing dishes for us.  That's the rice steamer bowl, and I still haven't quite figured out how to keep the rice from sticking to the very bottom.  He was chasing it around the kitchen in his determination and zeal to get every last grain of rice off the bowl before he figured out to pin the bowl against the wall to make it hold still.

So my digicam sat in hubby's area, mainly because he has almost the same model of camera too and I was thinking mine was his.  I finally remembered where I left it and liberated more doily crochet pics.  Here is what I've packaged up to send to my sister for her holiday gifts ... and I beat my self-imposed deadline of April Fools' Day!  (Sis asked, "Why April Fools'?"  My reply: "It isn't as soon as Valentine's Day!")
Doily and 4 coasters for my sister
I figure the colors are appropriate, given the NFL (American football) team choices under that roof ... if I could have found the colors for the local minor-league hockey team up there I probably could have made both happy.  Oh, it's the exact same doily pattern as the variegated holiday pineapple doily but done in solid colors.

Mom, I am almost done with your requested off-white doily ... but I used a different pineapple pattern for it.  I just started the last round, but it's a bunch of little stitches so it won't go out until probably next weekend because I'll at least block and pin it out for you.  Val asked for an in-progress pic of it which I haven't snapped yet.  I'll probably take a "before blocking" pic since my before-and-after-blocking coaster pics didn't turn out like I wanted.  I saw someone post that crochet people make blocking sound "mysterious and magical" ... it's not mysterious at all (hot water plus pinning out), but it sure does feel like magic as I am pinning out a doily and the pattern stretches out in all its glory!

There was more I was going to post, but just can't recall ...

18 February 2012

Gift exchange mailed! Now for Thank You cards

I finally did it!  I got to the post office yesterday morning to mail off my contribution for the PR chatroom gift exchange.  I had intended to do it Tuesday afternoon ... but Tuesday and Wednesday were complete wash-outs when life threw us a curve ball.  We'll finish up the fixes after the weekend ... but things have settled down enough to enjoy our crafting again.  Hug your loved ones if they are within reach, or call and say you love them if not - that is what is truly important.

Now that I've mailed off the gift I made, it is time to turn to tank-you notes for gifts already received.  Last weekend I scored blank cards on Hobby Lobby's clearance shelf, with corresponding envelopes to boot ... complete set of 100 (50 larger, 50 "thank you" sized) all for just $6.  This morning I decided to start using them. Here is my prototype:
Calligraphy thank you card
This took me about two hours this morning.  I've been reading the calligraphy book reclaimed from son's room, and had forgotten that calligraphy is more than just pretty letters.  Just on this little card. there's been the layout, selecting alphabets (there's two used), sizing, and flourishing.I used three sheets of printer paper and two blank 4x6" index cards to get it looking like the idea I had in my mind.  Once I am certain the ink is dry I will erase the penciled guidelines (and hope the pigment doesn't come off the card!).  Then I'll have seven more to do ... so far.

Chatters, do NOT tell Val.  She claims she likes surprises, and of course I will send her one for the BDU bag she made me for the gift exchange.  This will be our secret.  Also, Mom - don't tell my sister either.  And Mom, I'll probably get the thank you card done for that buckram before I get your requested off-white doily crocheted up.

Now ... I think I need more ink to finish up the rest of the cards, so time to browse Hobby Lobby ... as if I really "need" an excuse to go do that!  Maybe I'll find more blank cards on the clearance shelf ....!

13 February 2012

Calligraphy gift cards

OK, so I have been so far observing the secrecy rule on the chatroom gift exchange ... but I just can't help but post this pic.  First up, I have not purchased a card from a store in years, and have no intention of starting that nonsense up again.  I tried to find my old calligraphy pens, but after a week or so of checking places I think I would have put them, I broke down at Hobby Lobby and bought a new one (the sale helped this - ebil enablers that they are!  LOL).  So here is the card I made for the gift exchange:
Happy Holidays calligraphy gift exchange card
I had to practice for almost two hours to get it to look that good ... I am truly rusty at my calligraphy!  Use it or lose it, so the saying goes ...

My son pointed out that the letters get a bit bigger, which is overcompensation for my usual problem of getting smaller ... *sigh*.  Of course, my dear offsprung (since it happened over 18 years ago) also insists that the big calligraphy book in the house was purchased by me as a gift for him.  I seem to recall buying it, but for both of us.  I'll have to see if he tries to take it up to his room again ...
Calligraphy book and card sample
As for the calligraphy pen that followed me home a little over a week ago, this time I bought a dippable one instead of the cartridge style or "disposable" felt-tip ones.  I was actually quite annoyed that none of the sets with the nice cases had the dippable style ... they are all the cartridge style.  I am hoping hubby will make me a nice little box for this set, so I don't have to keep it all in a zippy bag.

I did make other gift cards, but those all have names on them.

03 February 2012

Ransom negotiations, pineapple doily style

So, I posted up my first pineapple doily - first full-sized doily, period - the other day, with a ransom note to Mom.  I called her for her birthday, and she says while it looks quite nice, she likes solid colored doilies better ... preferably in off-white.  Hmmm ... I have white-white thread, but surprisingly no off-white crochet thread in my (still small) lace stash.  I guess this counts as a good excuse to buy some.

Here is the variegated holiday doily, unpinned and starched.
holiday variegated pineapple doily
This one will still go out in the mail within the next week (provided I actually get to the post office).  It just won't be headed to Mom's house now ... Nope, not saying where it's going.  It will be a surprise.

31 January 2012

Sampler WIP: Band 10 Grapes

I've been in a cross-stitching mood this past week, and tore through band 10 on my ongoing sampler-in-progress.  Son says he really likes this one, and hubby concurs.
Grapes and leaves cross stitch band/border
It looks busy but stitches up rather quickly.  The colors are a smidge off in the pic as I had to play with the levels to get it to show up properly.  It is also the first band past the halfway fold on the cloth!  Here's all ten bands.
Sampler bands 1-10
I've picked out a floral band for #11, in (of course) shades of pink.

26 January 2012

First pineapple doily crocheted and blocked

I'm pretty excited - this past weekend when my sinuses went haywire, I sat on the couch and crocheted up my first pineapple doily!  Actually, it's my first full-sized doily I've completed after pulling out the first two attempts midway.  I've heard that with pineapple doilies, it's either love or hate ... so tally me in the "love" category.  This was so cool to hook up, and here it is blocked and pinned out:
First pineapple doily blocked and pinned
The book says it's supposed to be 15 inches across, but mine only comes out to 13 inches.  I guess it's official: I crochet "tightly".

MOM, this one will be yours ... as soon as you mail me that hat buckram you bought me after I posted about not finding any locally (that post is dated August 28th!).  I need it now, Mom.  The pretty linen sun hat did not weather the rainstorms we hit on our way down to Florida.  Getting a coat and a pair of leather gloves tossed on it after the rains didn't help, either.  Zip down to the post office, Mom, because you know you want to hold this - my first full sized pineapple doily - in your hands to see for yourself how my crochet is coming along decades after you gave me a blue plastic hook.  Do it soon - before I put it "someplace safe" because I do indeed take after you in that.

While waiting, there is another pineapple doily pattern in that book, and I scored another book of just pineapple doily patterns in the clearance aisle at Hobby Lobby, so there will be one for this house at some point.

25 January 2012

It LOOKS like pot pie this time

I've been perusing my reprint of the 1896 Fanny Farmer Cookbook in an effort to do more cooking from scratch (due to dissatisfaction with the quality of stuff in the grocery store recently) and tonight I got brave enough to try a pot pie again.  That, and the leftover ham soup wasn't going to eat itself, and my son in particular prefers a pot pie over a soup.

I tried my rolling pin out at a pot pie a few weeks ago with a beef pot roast that didn't cook up tender enough, and the crust ... well ... there's a learning curve.  It tasted great, but it looked ... not pie-ish.  I had skipped the washing-the-butter step, thinking maybe it didn't apply to modern-made butter.  Once I finally scraped the dough off the rolling pin, pastry mat, and most of my hands, it just didn't look like a pie crust should.  Hubby said he wanted another one anyway, because the more I practice the more he has the opportunity to eat.

The Fanny Farmer cookbook has three different pie crust recipes (called "paste" and in the pastry chapter) so I tried the one without butter tonight, and this time it looks like a pot pie!
Ham pot pie
There was no holding hubby back when it came out of the oven, so this is what's left.  It turned out a bit dry, as I had enough pie dough to put a layer on the bottom which soaked up a good portion of the broth, but it does indeed taste like a pie crust.  Next time, more gravy/broth when using a bottom crust ... but it still has a LOT more flavor than the stuff in the freezer aisle at the grocery (that includes all the brand names - we love pot pies here).

This kind of cooking is the only change I've made to my diet since June ... oh, and in addition to using real butter instead of margarine I have even bought real lard to make my pie crusts.  And yes, I am still losing weight, although not as quickly as I did over the summer.