Monday, October 27, 2014

Not getting much sewing done, but we've been moseying along here!

This is the sole extent of my creative endeavors lately.  Still don't regret covering the door to the basement with chalkboard paint. When I have a need to play with artsy stuff, the door gets a workout.  What better to play with than chalk--it's so forgiving and temporary.  I may not be artistically talented, but I don't let that stop me.

I've been doing too much pinning, not enough sewing, lots of hiking and biking on the Zim Smith Trail--
where you can find a ton of rocks for cairn building, and biking at the Saratoga Battlefield where you can often see deer like this little beast.
 We also FINALLY, almost a year later, went up north to my parents' hometown, Long Lake, New York to scatter my  mother's ashes.  Some were scattered into the lake near the town center.  Ama always did like to know what was going on in town.
Some were scattered at Buttermilk Falls just up the road.  It flows into Long Lake and was a favorite place of my mother's.
If you are near Long Lake you really should go to the falls.  This next photo doesn't do the buttery yellow and white water justice, but it's close enough.
It was raining and cold which would have please my highly superstitious mother who said that it was good luck to be buried in the rain and married in sunshine. I have no idea how good luck applies to the dead, and I'm sure those of us shivering in the rain were not feeling lucky.  Then again, we did have a great lunch at the Adirondack Hotel across from the town beach.  Finding any restaurant is a challenge up north.  I guess finding a good one was where our luck came into play.

My daughter Keegan, sister Robin, husband Brian, and me.  It was in the 60s the day before in Clifton Park.  I knew enough to dress for the north country's version of fall, about 30 degrees colder than our area, unlike some other people whose names I will not mention.
Must include a photo with Robin's husband Jim who also came along for the adventure.
That would be the guy taking videos with his phone.  Do you have any idea how hard it is to get a picture of someone who is not taking a picture nowadays?  Almost every photo I have is of someone taking a picture-sometimes taking a photo of me taking a photo of them!  Never really noticed how much this happens until this trip.
 Rest in peace, Ama. 
Anne Cecilia LeBlanc Young Bressette 1963!

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Is it possible to keep a sewing room neat?

I mean when you actually USE it?  Here is my room in August.
I could even keep the door open without worrying that someone would see it!

So neat!
A place for everything and everything in its place.
 I swore it would stay this way.  Photo from this lovely October morning:
I really wanted to make this photo as small as possible, but I'm hoping that publicly shaming myself will encourage me to get it cleaned up.
I only made a few baby things!  In the process, I had to tear through every piece of fabric I owned to decide which ones to use.  Then I discovered a ton of fabric that had snuck into the stash without being washed.  I long ago promised myself that I would wash all fabric as it came into the house so that it would be ready when I needed it.  I have no idea how all that unwashed fabric got on my shelves.  I'm blaming Brian.  The mess I will have to take responsibility for mess.
Hints on keep sewing rooms neat would be appreciated.  Maybe I can get Pam of Threading My Way to set up a Link Party for this!  If you have not visited Pam's site--that would just be crazy cuz if you sew you HAVE to have found her site, but if not check it out.  Never-ending link parties in all kinds of sewing categories that I often turn to for inspiration.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Tried the Ultimate Baby Bib Pattern (It's a Free Download!)

I think I've downloaded every free bib out there by now.  This one creates a pocket for catching crumbs that unsnaps for emptying and washing.
The bottom gets turned up, folded to the back, and snapped.
It's an easy pattern.  I think the hardest part was thinking through the snap part to be sure I was putting them on right.  My resident dragon agreed to serve as model here. 
The pocket has the advantage of popping open a bit to really catch all those little crumbs which is more obvious in the photo below.
I'd love to tell you where the embroidery design came from, but my sieve-like memory fails me here. Just Google it! Since I did not pay for the pattern, I went searching for that link which is right here.  I sooooo appreciate it when people share their patterns.  That link takes you to the maker's tutorial which includes a link to get the free pattern on Craftsy.
The maker used laminated fabrics which is a great idea.  For my first try, though, I went with cotton and flannel.   Laminated fabrics are freakin' expensive, and I am not experimenting on my tiny, costly stash of them.  Next time, though, I'll try the laminates....maybe.  I have a really hard to actually cutting into pricey fabrics. 

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Summer Vacation #3 - The Dry Riverbed

My neighbor had some drainage issues that were resolved by digging a trench and filling it with stones.  To me it was a thing a beauty and a solution to my problem of dirty basement windows on the side of the house where nothing will grow.  Well moss grows there, some weeds, the occasional piece of grass, and mud.  Mud does well there.  It then splashes up on the basement windows.  This is not a pretty sight when sitting in the man cave downstairs. 
Soooo, the landscape company truck arrived yet again and the wheelbarrow got dragged out again. It's supposed to look like a dry river bed.  What do you think?
Okay, try to picture it without the green hose and the downspout.  Like this?
Don't let that green color fool you.  It's mostly moss.
Now does it look like a dry river bed?  Am I the only one who sees it?

Lessons learned:
  • Don't tell the driver to dump the load in the middle of the driveway blocking the garage doors.
  • Don't overfill the wheelbarrow.
  • Don't get annoyed with the neighbors when they start saying things like, "What are you trying to do, kill yourself?" or "Let me give you the name of my landscaper."
  • Do be prepared to back up your claim that it looks like a dry riverbed, preferably with photos of actual riverbeds.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Summer Vacation # 2 - The Great Tree Removal Part

The trees were one of the reasons I wanted this house.  Fall leaf removal at our last house was unending.  Pine trees seemed like a much better idea.  Pine trees were less work in the fall than deciduous trees, but they have their own issues such as pine needles that carpet the lawn and driveway in a thick golden layer in the fall, pinecones that seem as plentiful as the needles some years, and pine pollen in the spring that easily comes through the window screens coating everything inside and out in a thick, thick yellow dust.  Then there are the falling branches. 
See all those broken branches?  Each one can be as big as a small tree when it falls.  Any good wind or snowstorm meant we would be cutting up and taking a truckload or two to the landfill.  Sometimes the branches just get stuck up there.  I'd be mowing and worrying that it might fall on me.
 Multiply this by the five trees which might look spindly in the top photo but were all a couple of feet in diameter.
So the fire truck came.  Yeah, that says fire truck.  This company took recycling to a whole new level--old fire truck reenvisioned for tree removal.
Silly me, I thought that the trees would come out and I'd through some dirt down and reseed five spots.  In reality, as each of those big chunks fall, the grass gets torn up.  I should have realized this since it happened every time one of the limbs fell from storms. 
After vacuuming the lawn, (Yes, I did vacuum the lawn much to the amusement of the neighbors with a shop vac because there was no way the lawn was going to grow under all the wood chips.)  moving a truckload of topsoil with a wheelbarrow, raking in grass seed, I had this:

That's Brian trying to lift some heavy bags of wood chips into the truck.

After almost two months of watering because Mother Nature decided it as time for a drought just when I needed some rain:


Notice that it rained in both these photos.   No rain but a near useless sprinkle or two while I needed to water the lawn. Mother Nature can be a nasty wench.  Fingers are crossed in the hopes that the grass will all come back in the spring.

How I Spent My Summer Vacation #1 - The Losing Weight Part

I did it and then some!  After losing about sixty pounds ten or so years ago, I got stuck at the "last 10 pounds" part.  Then it very slowly starting creeping up.  When the summer clothes gave me a muffin top this year, it was the final straw.  I was NOT going there again.  The goal was to take off twenty pounds, but I moved it up six more pounds after reaching the twenty pounds.  I am four ounces--yes, ounces-- from the new goal of 118.  I'll let you do the math for the original number. 
How?  Mostly Nutrisystem along with the My Fitness Pal app, and the Map My Run app.  I just could not get there on my own this time.  No, I'm not making any money for promoting Nutrisystem, nor will I gain by getting someone else to join.  This is my month to transition to doing my own food shopping, and I'm done.   Several things made this work for me:
  •  I could just follow the simple plan and eat the designated meals not worrying about portions, cooking, and nutrition. It gave me a nice quick and successful start.
  • While I was losing the weight, I had access to all kinds of information about healthy eating and cooking from Nutrisystem.  There are links to articles on what to eat, why it's good for you, why other things are not a good idea.  I got to practice this stuff cuz I was still cooking for Brian.  (Added bonus:  Brian got all sorts of interested and is now watching his eating and losing some weight, too.)
  • I liked the Nutrisystem food.   I really did.  If you are a gourmet cook or have a particularly sensitive palate, it might not be the one for you.  I was kind of surprised at first that the food included some things that seemed a lot like sweets and the number of meals with pasta or bread.  Then I realized that nothing ends an attempt to lose weight faster than sticking to a Spartan menu or ultra healthy food.  The actual weight loss is the important thing at this point, and Nutrisystem foods are made to be low glycemic and high in the good stuff  in a healthy portion size.  Truth is that we are going to be eating some sweets, and it's good to learn to do it in a reasonable manner.  Sometimes the thought that I could have that chocolately bar for lunch or the dessert after dinner was the thing that got me through.  I have no complaints.  You also get to customize your order, so if there are some things that you don't like, you can choose not order those items. 
  • I use the My Fitness Pal app for recording food and exercise because I found it easier and more convenient than the Nutrisystem one.  Map My Run keeps track of walking and bicycling, etc. in addition to running and syncs with My Fitness Pal automatically making that stuff really easy.
  • I also had access to forums and blogs where people share their experiences--what worked for them, what they do during the difficult times, and, probably most importantly, why they failed in other attempts.
  • The forums and blogs gave me lots of ideas for exercise and encouragement to push to new heights in this area.  I started jogging in my fifties.  First around the block which totally wiped me out.  After a number of starts and stops, I worked my way up to 2 1/2 miles at the most which I thought was the most I would ever do.  Then I found people on the Nutrisystem forums that were a whole lot heavier than me who were running in 5k races all the time.   With this encouragement and the Map My Run app I upped my running and bicycling. 
    From my first official 5k
    From my most recent 5k for the Molly Wilmot Radiation and Oncology
    Center running in honor of Brian's mom, Carol, who died of ovarian
    cancer a few years ago.
    I've been alternating between running and bicycling for exercise everyday.  I'm not up to Brian's level in bicycling (he does 50 mile rides on an easy day), but I'm way better than I was.  Next on my agenda:  Biking to Lake George and back.  Last time I did that I was 19, and I'm sure I can do it now in half the time I did then.  Never thought I'd be in better shape in my sixties than my twenties:-O

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

I have a blog?

Holy crap!  I almost forgot about the blog.  Nah, not really.  I've just moved the blog down on the to-do list because it was sucking up too much time.  BUT I got some sewing finished that I want to share cuz it's so freakin' cute.  As it turns out, the way to get me into the sewing room is to tell me the recipient's mom is three centimeters dilated.   
 Taggy blanket, pacifier holder, burp cloths, and bib finally finished! 
Got that fairy centered nicely on the bib!
Something tells me IdaMae Catherine (named for a great grandma or something
 like that) will NOT be finding her name on any personalized
merchandise; so I've embroidered it on a few pieces.
I used some of the fairy fabric for the back of the
burp cloths.
Brian says he doubts the parents will recognize this quote from The Hobbit.
Who on earth hasn't read the book or seen the movie??? In any case, I think
the quote is more than appropriate for always-hungry new babies.
Blanket is about 35 inches square with a soft flannel lining,
And the newby's name embroidered on a corner.
My first pacifier holder was quick and easy with the snap
setter and some little clips I got online.
An update for those who sew:  Sometimes we forget or maybe never realize how much our work is worth.  In the spirit of helping sewers appreciate the value of their work, I looked on Etsy to see how much items using similar quality fabrics and embellishment would cost. 34" square embroidered taggy blanket: around $45, pacifier holder: $5, 2 terry backed embroidered burp clothes:  $24, bib: $11.  That about $85! 
Have to share a photo of our neighborhood's summer guest siting on our fence post.   
He was the talk of the town stalking bird feeders (not for seed either), resting on mailboxes, decks, and lawns, using low lying tree limbs as a dining table for his squirrel and chipmunk feasts.  His habit of eating just outside the second floor windows led me to think he preferred company when dining.  He has apparently moved on as juvenile hawks usually do.  We are all sad and miss him--especially Brian who has noted an increase in the number of squirrels that tend to file their teeth on our siding.