Monday, February 28, 2011

Vat iz zees?

Yes!  An actual completed piece of clothing for myself!
This does not happen frequently, indeed, the material and pattern were purchased way over a year ago for last year's Easter!  But then Life Happened and the cut out fabric got pushed to the very bottom of my To Do list. 

Then, lo and behold, I had a sewing break.  In between finishing up two quilts and awaiting lining fabric for a diaper bag, I found myself on 'down time'.  I rechecked my Project Board just to make sure I wasn't forgetting something but there it was: the faded notation 'Easter Dress' on the very bottom of the chalk board. I fished the crumpled pile of knit and pattern tissue out of the stash and made sure it would still fit (winter has played havoc on my walking regimen), switched my needle for a ball point medium for this stretchy jersey knit, filled up my bobbin and set to it. 

Buying clothes at my age, size and attitude is a trying thing.  My wee wittle brain still is thinking thirty something in taste, twenty something in style and nigh on sixty something in reality.  This all makes for a highly complicated fashion decision.  'Older' clothes are never appealing to me. Most things I LOVE are terribly expensive. Younger things look ridiculous and there are things that I will not, not, not wear:  

  • Puffy sleeves
  • Short sleeves
  • Most skirts
  • Too long of tops (5'3" boo)
  • Too short of tops
  • Summer colors (strictly autumnal)
  • Most capris
  • Most Dresses
  • Most solid colored tops
  • Tee shirts with short sleeves
  • Low cut tops
See the problem?  And Hubby wonders why I usually roam around in black pants and tops?  The harbinger of Fashion Woes...
After researching for a L-O-N-G time last year to find a flattering frock for church last Easter, I came up with this nifty little Simplicity pattern with my name written all over it.  Knit; forgiving.  Wrap; hiding things.  Three quarter length sleeve; hides all the unfavorable parts of the arms, leaving my teeny wrists exposed.  Yep.  This was the right one.  Then fabric.  Hubby refused to let me buy black again, but compromised with me when I found this fun, colorful circley design.  Again, the black forgives, the design hides.  Perfect.

Now here it is, a year later, completed Way Early for this year's late Easter date.  For once, I am ahead of my schedule!  And mighty pleased with it I am.  The pattern was a bit cryptic for Simplicity, but then that is why they make seam rippers.

I feel fortunate that I can sew for myself given the stylized predicament that I find myself in, but there again is the time to do it when I'd much rather be making baby things....
So if you see me in my garden wearing my Easter Dress this summer, you shall know that no more free time came to sew more clothes for my poor sad fashion complicated self....

What are your fashion pet peeves?

Friday, February 25, 2011

Butter Suede Booties....

 To balance my time remodeling the basement and redecorating the main floor, I find that a good time in the sewing room consists of preparing for several babies...
 I found out when my daughters had their babies, it really didn't matter what you registered for or what you needed, what people really want to give babies is little tiny clothes, especially girly things, AND footwear!!  As mentioned recently, accessories to the teeny footsies are as much fun to pick out and purchase as they are cute on the baby feets....

 So when Rabbit Rita's daughter came to visit her mama, it only seemed logical, that I get my best grandma bootie making skills in practice to make the most comfy booties ever,  for her first grandchild's sweet little tootsies.
 When Heather Bailey offers free patterns, I take advantage of them and download them tout de  So deliciously simple.  So basic, leaving every opportunity for embellishment and fanciful additions to the most simple of booties.
 Gotta admit, it was pretty hard to stop once the cuteness began.....
 Soft, buttery suede, embroidered edging, cutouts for a lacing, then the finale: soft baby blue flannel lining!
If I could add an orthotic to a nana sized sole, I would venture to make slippers for me out of this material..Very touchable....

Thank you Heather Bailey for the pattern and sharing your idea......

Anymore babies out there needed feet coverings??  I'm on a roll.......!!

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Rescued Keepsakes

 When looking through bins of linens at thrift stores or garage sales, I tend to appoint myself as Savior of the Craft.  My hand usually goes to intricately woven, crocheted, knitted, embroidered things that someone has laboriously toiled over for many hours and is now relegated to a .25 price tag.  More than once, I have gasped aloud when seeing a tiny hand knit sweater or bonnet, carelessly pitched to the bottom of a box.  When I lift it out of it's sad ,discarded position, it almost speaks to me, 'Finally!  Someone who recognizes me for what I am!'

And what is that?
Something that someone, maybe years, decades before, lovingly, intentionally, carefully, labored over for some dear loved one.  Someone took the time to pour over patterns, weigh the pros and cons of the weight and color of yarn, took to their needles and spent sacrificial time, energy and money to create a special handmade sweater for some dear little baby.  As you know from previous meanderings here, I always tend to drift to the back story of each handmade/vintage item that I approach with interest.  Hand crafted things all have stories; that's what makes them so appealing.  It's just odd people like me that actually hear the items plea their history to ensure rescue.

That is how mama's collection came into being.  Years and years of casually drifting into yard sales and thrift shops only to be pulled into 'conversation's with, as dottie angel's[],calls: 'forsaken things', speaking to me in a most specific way: 'Puhlleezeeee! Do not let me sit and waste away on the bottom of this shelf!  Please see me for what I am!  A handmade lovely (or vintage something) that has been carefully designed, made and loved for years and has now been tossed aside by unthinking somebodies!  You know how much work went into me!  You see the detail!  Reach into your pocket, take out that quarter that you have been keeping there for this moment and take me home!  Rescue me!  I will serve you well!!'
 And so it came to be that I understand that it is my lot in life to caretake those things that most find old and discardable.  And glad that I am that it is my lot, for on a dull, gray February day, I had the unmitigated joy to enjoy this most delightful pillowcase as I changed my sheets.  As I reached for the pillow case I had selected from my linen closet (do you know just how many vintage pillow cases I own? Nope, don't even try....:)), my hand brushed over the amazing detail.  I had to sit to take it all in.  Crocheted baskets of flowers, countless stitches counted carefully and executed beautifully.  Rows of crocheted edging, intertwined around pink rick rack, creating the most endearing pillow cover.  Sometimes, I get so overwhelmed by the beauty and detail of the most mundane things like pillow cases, that I reward their beauty by ironing them!  Crisply and starchfully, they look stupendous on a turned down bed, already for a good night sleep. And I always remember to thank the hands that went into creating a spot of pleasure and beauty for me.
 I believe that if we begin to look at things, people, places, more carefully, to see the intricate beauty in each thing/person, we will live differently.  We will value and cherish things/people more.  We will see their purpose in just bringing joy in just being around it/them.
We will live differently.  Guaranteed.
Seek out beauty in the things that are normally overlooked today.....And be blessed...

Friday, February 18, 2011

Famous Liter Bottle Indiananians

Being a believer in all things crafty, imagine my surprise when I arrived the other day for Tutor Duty to see my table in the fourth grade room, being taken over by miniatures of several of Indiana's Most Popular Citizens.  These little models are absolutely delightful in their representation as well as interpretation.  And in this day of economically deprived art opportunities in our schools, it encourages me when teachers see the importance in creativity by incorporating artistic expression in their day to day lessons. Now, let us see which ones you recognize and know:
 Twyla Tharp:  Portland Indiana's most favorite choreographer.  I particularly enjoyed her handcrafted crocheted sweater with her rakish red scarf.  And her cottony puff of a hairstyle.  Love it.
 Orville Redenbacher: Native of Brazil Indiana, this agricultural entrepreneur, created his popcorn hybrids to become a common place snack all over the world.  I think he would be pleased with his pop bottle likeness.
 Red Skelton: Vincennes Indiana, an historical, riverside town, produced one of America's favorite clown/comedians.  Don't you think he would find this rendition hysterical?
And in front of Red?  A very abstract rendition of Kurt Vonnegut, fashioned from....?  Notebook paper!!  Genius!  An what about the chenille headed Larry Bird, from West Baden?? Adorable.

And my favorite:
John Cougar Mellencamp!  Seymour Indiana's own rock musician. 
 Now, I believe that this little fourth grader may have had some help with this little pop bottle image, but I think that a little help can be a fun memory to share with a child.  I still remember making a model of Springfield, Illinois' historic train station with my dad.  I remembering thinking how brilliant he was when he fashioned a coat hanger into a rail.  I remember watching him as he carefully cut the cross track out of teeny pieces of wood.  I made cardboard  luggage carts right next to him by his workbench.  To this day, I see class projects and smile in remembrance of that special time.  Yesterday, as I was admiring the display, one of the students came up beside me and I asked  which of the "bottles" was hers.  She pointed out a very fun looking Red Skelton.  She also pointed out that Red's hair was her own mother's hair!  She said that her mom cut her own hair to complete the project!  The proud little girl also commented that her mom is very funny.  She told me, grinning, 'My mom makes me laugh'....Ah, good mommy...

I hope you have appreciated this little presentation of  some of Indiana's Favorite Sons in a Pop Bottle Interpretation as much as I did.

What kind of project will you make with a child that will be memorable?

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Breakfast of Champions

Let us assume that all the Christmas Cookies are gone.
Let us assume that there is still some Valentine Candy left.
Let us pretend that we have been eating our cholesterol grabbing oatmeal all winter.
And let us rejoice that there is Spring in the air.
So what does this all add up to?

Weight Loss Time, Sistahs!! (and brudders...:D)
Oh yeah.
Judging by the crazy amount of people out tonight on my evening Doggie Walk, I'd say that Cabin Fever has driven the population to break down their previously frozen doors to breathe in the fresher, brighter, lighter air that comes with the southerly winds of Springtime.
And with increased activity, comes the lovely benefit of Weight Loss.
So what better time to stick to your springy guns and start a new breakfast plan?

I am eager to share my simple recipe because it has astounded me by it's simplicity and healthy goodness.  When I can eat something for breakfast and not even think about being hungry to well past lunch time, well, I am sold.  With previous breakfasts, I would get about three hour satisfaction before I was starving and tempted to munch on something till lunch time came.  So dangerous!  But with my new breakfast plan, those empty feelings are gone and a true hunger doesn't break a sweat till an acceptable luncheon time.

The secret of this concoction is: Fiber.
Fiber is filling and helpful to all things digestive.  You know what that means, right?  Sugary things stick and linger and park themselves and all their empty calories.  Mr. Fiber will not tolerate lallygagging around.  If it doesn't stick around it....departs.  Less things hanging around, less weight.  Simple, huh?

Try it!  Breakfast can be boringly predictable, so give this very healthy mixture a chance.....

Deb's Breakfast of Champions:

  •  One box of generic raisin bran (most raisin bran has 4-5 grams of fiber - that's what you're looking for) Cheap is fine and encouraged.
  • Raisins or blueberries, strawberries, bananas, dried cranberries...Some kind of fruit...Use something different every week for a real boredom crusher!  During the summer, you can reach Cereal Nirvana with all the fresh choices!
  • Chopped nuts of any kind, just make sure they're natural and not salted or roasted.  I add pecans, almonds, walnuts...Add this to a Tupperware kind of cereal keeper to the raisin bran.  It's no more costly to have the nuts in pieces or slivered, so go for it! Nuts are high in calories, but good ones.  Vitamin E, omegas and our friend fiber, are worth the extra calories.
  • For each bowl, add 1 tsp flax seed and one tablespoon wheat germ.
  • Use skim, almond or soy milk.  Your preference.  Or try a different one next week!  (See how varied this can get?)
See ya on the outside!!

Three Hours Away


Monday, February 14, 2011

Sweet Feet

 Anyone with the biggest foot aversion, cannot, cannot find Baby Feet problematic.
Just looking at the sweet little untried peds just makes you want to giggle.
 I can look at my Big Grown Up Children's tootsies now, and grin, thinking of the times that I tickled and smooched their little baby feet in utter mama rapture with the freshness and newness of baby hood.  It is no wonder that the most popular baby shower gift is booties, socks and shoes.  We just love to see the normal practical, in a diminutive size.
And of course, with a new set of tootsies in our family, we have managed to inundate this little sweetie with enough Foot Coverings to fill a drawer.  Literally.  She has oxfords, mary janes, chucks, robees, socks of every color and her beloved hand knitted ones from Auntie Elder/Admin.  In addition to new ones, Miss Viv has shared some of her fun ones as well, like the embroidered felt number at the top of this post.  Mimi brought her Anna Maria Horner pattern and fabric booties from her New Beginnings book Handmade Beginnings: 24 Sewing Projects to Welcome Baby, on the latest visit this past weekend.  Baby Girl, known as an accessoryalholic in a previous life, now finds all these teeny size embellishments, terribly fun.  Dressing her Baby Girl is like doll dressing to a very grown up degree.  And I love watching her pick out all the outfits and accessories to don onto this most patient of babies.
But when all is said and done, the most favorite of favorite, is her own sweet little feeties.
Grammy cannot wait to see where there will take her in the years ahead.....


Thursday, February 10, 2011

The Basement Remodel Begins!

 Quite a few years ago, we had a very wet winter here in Southern Indiana....
Rain pelted and saturated the land and the water table around here had just had enough.
Most of us were hard pressed to win the battle against the simple water molecule.
But then there were the others that just seemed to have forgotten to plug in the sump pump after using the outlet.  That shall always be a disputed conversation...


Since that long ago day(night) when dripping wet carpet was hauled outside, damaged boxes of memories were pitched and tossed, Hubby and I have been wondering what to do now with a considerable amount of square footage known as our basement.
 Life has kept us busy enough to not get too quick to fix the problem.  We just warned people, 'DO NOT GO INTO THE BASEMENT!' with a fervant, passioned, commanding voice.  I winced at Baby Girl's wedding when the young man that played accoustic guitar went looking for a private place to tune up and practice.  Sending him into 'the pit' was most uncomfortable for me.  I wanted to explain the previous two years of my life as to why this horribly neglectful homeowner was not more efficient in straightening up the mess that was down there.  I came to my senses by his need to quiet his spirit before performing. Not really needing to hear my story, I left him alone in the quiet of the basement.  That was one thing that it was good for; quiet.  No one wanted to be there unless fetching some useful tool.
 Then, this past Thanksgiving, Eldest Son and Lovely Wife announced their pregnancy.
Quick to respond in practical, hospitable ways, I immediately began to remodel the basement in my mind.
Call it a primitive call to provide shelter for my proliferating progeny, I felt an urgent need o expand our living spaces.  Now.
Lovely Wife's sister became engaged the same weekend as The Wonderful Announcement, and I began to figure on sleeping spaces for our and LW's family's homes at holiday times.  Certainly, a teeny baby can be comfy about anywhere, but this Grammy/Nana/Mimi wanted to get it taken care of spit-spot.
 We have since employed a most amiable young man and his assistant from far away Bloomington [] to take care of this long overdue project.
 He has come up with some exciting, creative applications to our long neglected space.  And we are thrilled.
I'm eager to share the progress with anyone that will listen.  I'm finding it hard to sleep as I plan and plot on the finished product called  A Spot for Company.
You know what that means, right?
It means you need to come and visit when the finale of the Basement Makeover takes place!
And since the upstairs is getting an update that involves lots of white paint, you might want to bring your own paintbrush and work clothes.
Miss Dixie can't be the only helper.
She's done enough already, herding the contractors and annoying them beyond all reason.

So join me here as we get this place in order!

Construction progress...

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Quiet Corners

It's reading time in the Cory Library and my little friend Grant is taking it seriously..
After all, when you're nearly four, there are many books that you have to catch up on!
So after a quiet evening with just the two of us, we ended up, as we often do, reading and discussing books.
Grant's daytime visits can bring about a whirl of activity.
This Nana can sometimes lose several pounds merely in keeping track of his curious interest in everything in Nana's busy home.
But this visit was different.  Perhaps it was the time of day.  Perhaps it was his unusually busy day.  Maybe it was how different Nana's house looked in the evening.  Maybe it was all these things, but our evening was a low key, on-the-cusp-of-four-years -old experience.  While I sewed, he relaxed in the room next, watching Nana's 'vintage' VHS videos that belonged to her children.  And even a real vintage Heckel and Jeckel, the British Crows of long ago.
Having had his time by the tube, we drifted downstairs to the library.
He curled up in the chair and proceeded to read the closest book on the table.  As I witnessed that faraway look on his face, that true book lovers understand, I began to go through the Children Section Shelves on the bookcases.  By the time he finished (yes, reading it, not just looking at pictures), I had laid out an assortment of my favorites, which turned out to be his as well.
As I started 'feeding' him his next selection, he said those magic words; 'I just love your books, Nana'....
Melt, melt, melt.
As he selected books, I would start quoting favorite lines just to see the grin spread from ear to ear, knowing that we share the love of the same part of the book.

 All too soon, mama and daddy had arrived to take him home to his overdue bedtime.

Nana had the unmitigated joy to sit on the floor and go over and over all the lovely children's books that have become well worn throughout the many years of curled up on the couch, cuddle up in bed book time with my own little sweeties, long, long ago.....
I treasure these little glimpses of young mama hood.....

What is your favorite children's book?

Monday, February 7, 2011

Rosemary Apricot Tenderloin - Oh Yeah.

 My husband loves garlic, rosemary AND apricots.

So what are the odds of finding a recipe with all the aforementioned ingredients in one tidy pork loin recipe?
Especially pork loin.  A cut of meat that is frequently on sale and can be butcher cut into several convenient formulations. 

Perfect, right?

I stumbled across this recipe in the little magazine insert that comes in our Monday paper. I've tried several recipes from this little zine, but this one goes right up there with You Must Try.

I wish the photos had  a scratch and sniff.   You would be sold.

Let me just say that while the tenderloin was 'resting' and soaking in it's apricot glaze, I went to the post office to mail a diaper bag to someone that was a little girl around my house for many years and now is a big grown up girl ready to have her first child, and I surmise that my rosemary/apricot/garlicy aroma followed me there.  The lady waiting on me, commenting that she smelled something really good.  I figured that she meant something from the back room or something.  Then the lady next to her stated, 'Yeah, like garlic bread or something.'  It was then that the eight crushed garlic cloves that I thought I left at home, caught up with me.  I sheepishly admitted that the good aroma was me carrying around my dinner in my clothing.  They both agreed that it smelled great and that it made them hungry.  I scuttled out the door, hoping all my garlicky perfume was coming with me.

Hubby and I, on our new shift eating, are thoroughly enjoying our big meal in the afternoon, trying new things and working on the process together.  Great fun and good eats.  And this is one of them.

If you don't believe me, just ask my postal workers.......


Rosemary Apricot Pork Tenderloin:

2 lbs pork tenderloin
3 tbls olive oil
6 tbls finely minced rosemary
6 garlic cloves, minced
Coarsely ground black pepper
1 tsp salt

1 cup apricot preserves
3 tbls fresh lemon juice
2 garlic cloves, pressed

1.  Preheat oven to 400 degrees
2.  Brush pork with 1 tbls oil; sprinkle with rosemary, garlic, salt and pepper.  Heat remaining 2 tbls oil in large oven proof skillet over medium high heat.  Add pork and cook until brown on all sides, turning often, about 5 minutes.
3.  Transfer pan to oven, and roast pork until meat thermometer registers 150F, about 15 minutes.
4.  While pork roasts, combine preserves, lemon juice and garlic.
5.  Remove pan from oven and brush jam mixture over pork. Let rest 8 minutes.  Cut crosswise into 1/4 inch thick slices.  Serve on top of polenta.  Drizzle sauce on top.  Serves 8

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Simple Sewing Saturdays: Volume 14: Altering Sleeves. Eek!

I am known for the statement, frequently made: 'Yes, I sew, but I do not alter.  I would much rather sew a new thing rather than repair.  It is much harder to alter than begin at the start.' 
 For years, this caveat to my sewing skill got me by.  But strangely, in my 'vast' sewing experience, I find the challenge of the repair becoming a bit more palatable.  Perhaps it is the patience thing; aged along with me, that finds me a bit more fearless to dig into some other person's creation to make it more suitable for the wearer.  It is a fearful thing to cut into material not put together by me.  It is scary to risk not being able to make it work, and I suppose why I have avoided it this long.

But then the 2G's papa called me yesterday with an urgent Sewing Need for the Good of the Community.  Being the good citizen I am and being quite attached to the 2G's and their parental units, well, I had to dig deep to agree to take care of his Civil Servants Clothing Need.  Would you want your police officer to show up with too long and too wide sleeves?  Of course you wouldn't.  Perhaps his concern with his sleeve length could distract him from spelling your name right on your ticket?  Maybe he'll miss a detail on the hit and run driver in the parking lot.  Lots of things could go awry if the uniform is just not right.  And besides, the 2G's papa makes the best, most lovely cakes of all time and I might need a birthday favor called in sometime...See, a bit of mercenary in all of us.....

You must forgive my lack of step by step photos on this instruction.  The dark blue/black of the material coupled with the softer light in my studio, kept me from getting the clearest photos of the stitching and cutting involved in the process last night.

One Way to Shorten Sleeves:

1. Pray.  Seriously.  I told you it was scary.

2. Carefully remove the arm hole stitching.

3.  Have precise length measurements from top of the shoulder to the desired length, usually wrist bone.

4. Once the sleeve is removed, measure the desired length beginning from the edge of the cuff to the shoulder.  Add 5/8" for seam allowance.

5.  Mark with chalk at the top of the sleeve (the crease) the desired length.  Go to the middle of the sleeve and mark.  And at the bottom of the sleeve (the seam to the underarm)

6.  Using a ruler, make a line following these three mark.

7.  Remeasure before cutting the needed amount.

8.  Eek.  Cut the amount needed to make the finished length of sleeve.

9.  By the nature of sleeves, the sleeve will become smaller than the armhole (the sleeve tapers slightly to the armhole for bicep size) so you will need to put a bit of a placket in the seam of the sleeve to expand it to fit the armhole.

10.  Open the sleeve's seam about 2 1/2"

11.  Make a 'patch' from the sleeve scraps about 2 1/2" square.  Then make a triangle out of it to make a tapered placket.

12. Take the triangle and set it in the opened seam of the sleeve.

13.  Stitch a 1/8" seam, attaching the triangular shaped piece onto the opened sleeve.  

14.  Turn it to the right side and top stitch the stitching on the triangle, reinforcing at the point of the triangle.

15.  Set in the shortened sleeve, lining up seams, centering the triangle shape placket over the armpit seam on the shirt.

16.  Measure again.

17.  Zig Zag the armhole seam to secure.

18.  Sigh  big.

19.  Celebrate the conquering of a long standing fear.

20.  Thank the Lord for giving you the skills and presence of mind to be able to help out a friend....

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

The Cozy Season

 You know you're a mom when you have an overwhelming desire to make everyone warm.  You know you're an old mom when you see children on the street, that you do not know, in short sleeves and shorts in below freezing weather, and you hear you say, in your best your own mother's voice, 'Aren't you cold!?  Goodness!  Put a coat on!'

So begins the Cozy Season.  Projects for Christmas are completed and baby quilts are bound and delivered and most projects designed to keep others warm, are finished and on the personage for whom they were created.  But for some of us that are not completely sure that the world is quite snugly enough, continue on in the pursuit of Yarn Consumption.

 Last week, I had my little friend, GB, visiting.  In her goal of experiencing all things Nana, she managed to slurp most of her juice box onto her very pretty top.  Knowing full well that Nana would fix it up, off we went to Nana's Grammy closet, the repository for all the Garage Sale Finds for Teeny Bodies resides.  There, we found a brand new pair of jammies all ready to replace her soggy shirt.  However, the jammies were designed for the other sex.  Never no mind to GB.  Not this rugged little girl.  But after arriving in her festive girly shirt, I just could not let her go home, with all her little girliness left in Nana's washer.  We made a visit into Nana's sewing room to find a repository of headbands that seemed to have been distributed to all my Little Ladies this winter.  To make it more special, she picked out her own button; the red and white one that reminds her of the mints that her brother 'borrows' from Nana all the time...  The minute GB saw herself in the mirror, she knew that this feminine stuff was really great.  Her little impish grin spread across her face and she pranced around the house, assured that she looked absolutely stunning. And she is.
The next day, it is reported, the the bright little headband had the privilege of being worn the whole day......

One more set of little ears that I do not have to worry about being cold......

Could I truly becoming the eccentric old lady that is also crocheting for the cold statues that summer on my mantle??

Appears so......

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