Monday, March 2, 2015

We've been Traveling--Wee Trips in the North Country

Amazon Local has been helping us get through this cold snowy winter with some great hotel rates to interesting places.  Our first trip was to Mystic, Connecticut.  It is the quintessential New England coastal town complete with appropriately steepled church.
On the right is Bartleby's Cafe with the best coffee ever served in a homey little cafe setting.  Across the street is the bookstore where I found Cherie Burns' book, The Great Hurricane:  1938.  If you want to really appreciate our modern weather forecasting and communication systems, read about a time before they existed.  Right up the street and before that perfect little church is Mystic Pizza!!! I have wanted to go there since seeing the movie by the same name.  Love the movie and figured it would be worth the trip even if the pizza wasn't that great.  The pizza turned out to be THAT great.

Now we've got quaint seaside town, great coffee shop, bookstore that you don't want to leave, great pizza, and lots of little shops,  but there is more, a whole 'nother district on the other end of town.  The local aquarium, however, was our favorite.  Look who we met there.

This is Juno, one of three beluga whales at the aquarium.  He really does seem to enjoy interacting with people.  You wave and he'll flap his flipper at you.  You nod your head and he'll nod back.  You stop paying attention to him and he will spit over the top of the tank.  We were warned about that last one and it happened! 
OMG!  Is he not adorable pressing his nose into the glass?

Okay, on to Hull, Massachusetts outside Boston.  Tide out--your typical New England beach.
When that tide comes in, it comes in!  Not much space between that concrete wall and the water.
Outside New York City, public transportation sucks in New York State.  Massachusetts, on the other hand, got it right.  We were able to easily get into Boston from Hull to visit the Fine Arts Museum.  "The T" as it is called is leaves you practically at the front door of this magnificent museum.  I wish we had scheduled an extra day to see all the good stuff. 

I know some people don't like museums, but I have to share some shots from one of the classic paintings.  On first glance, it looks a bit typical of the period and genre.  
But look at that baby's face and the hair and that hair line.  Maybe Donald Trump looked like this as a child.
And how about the little angel on the right.  Along with the adult face and hair, he's got those shifty, jealousy-filled eyes. 
I would not want to be leaving this baby alone with him.  There is probably some great symbolism going on here of which I am unaware.  It just made me laugh out loud. (Apologies to the serious art aficionados who were in attendance.) 

Home again to more snow and more below freezing weather.  Spring is just around the corner, though, and a nice cruise to some sunny islands to usher it in!  Yay!!! Can't wait for that trip.

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Art Recycling Part 3 - Happy St. Pat's Day!

Yes, that is my Christmas snowperson turned into a Valentine snowperson, now turned into a St. Pat's Day snowman.  Brian wants to know if I will have a pile of white with a flag sticking out for Independence Day.  Maybe.  At the rate we keep getting snow and temperatures hovering way below freezing every single day, I may still rightfully have the snowperson for that particular day.  It will definitely be there for Easter.  I'm picturing a basket of colorful eggs hanging off that stick arm. 

Wish the Bungee Cords as Handles Had Worked But...

There were some glaring problems.  First, the cords just didn't look right with the fabrics I chose.
The fabric was just too...word to use...elegant, fancy or something like that.  The idea for the bungees came from a book where they used a more industrial kind of fabric.  Adding to the uglies, the silver metal and threads in the bungee fabric cover really clashed with the gold designs on the fabric. What was I thinking! Well, I was just focused on the fact that the black hooks and red in the bungees were perfect.  Yeah, dumb.
Last problem with the bungees--horrific odor!  It was migraine inducing bad odor that would not go away.  I first tried leaving them in a baggie filled with baking soda for days.  I realized a day into that experiment that the smell had permeated the bag and was wafting into the kitchen.  Then I left them outside for several days.  Didn't work.  They smelled just as bad as the day they arrived.  There are some beautiful solid black bungees with gold hooks online that I think might look great, but I fear they may also have the odor problem. 

To save this project, I decided to change to webbing tied through the loops created for the bungee cords.  Worked!
It's nylon webbing that I heat-sealed to prevent fraying. 

 Love the way the inset zipper worked out.  It's nice and snug.

I like it, but I really, really wanted a bungee cord bag.  Anyone know a source for bungees that don't make you gag when held within a few feet of the nose?

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Belt Tips for Home-made Webbing Belts

Look what I found on eBay!  Belt tips to make your home-made belts look just a bit more like store-bought. 
These were quite inexpensive, just a few dollars for a packet of gunmetal black and silver ones, and they were easy to put on.  I'm going to test these out on zipper ends instead of sewing up the little squares of fabric, too.  Shall let you know how that goes.

Ribbon Storage Solution

While some of my ribbons come on nice spools that are easy to store like these,

ribbon bought by the yard just gets folded up and taped.  I've been buying a lot of ribbon by the yard lately (because Sandra of Sandra Sews is a bad influence on me.)

I was hanging the by-the-yard ribbon over regular hangers, but trying to get one out usually resulted a more than a few others cascading to the floor.  Enter these pants hangers with those nice holes on each side for organizing!  By the way, if you need to separate ribbon by food groups--cupcakes, lollipops, mushrooms, orange slices, and ice cream, in addition to dots, stripes, sports, chevrons, animals, baby stuff, flowers, solids, Fleur de lis, and miscellaneous, you might be a hoarder.  Not that I have any PERSONAL experience with that kind of thing.
See those lovely holes--five on each side.
While the sides on these hangers close tight, the center doesn't.  They do close enough to keep the center ribbon from moving about too much, though.   Perfection would be having these holes and whole length of the hanger clamping tight when closed. If you find those hangers, let me know.  

In case you are wondering, yes, I do think I may have gotten a little carried away buying ribbon, but I am USING the ribbon up.   My rubber ducks, on the other hand, now they might be a problem.   

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Wintering in New York

Winter is trying to imprison me.  Can you believe these icicles growing down over my windows?

At least they are attractive bars.  Here's how I'm coping with our snowy, exceptionally cold weather.

I'm rereading an old favorite book in front of the fire
while my candle reminds me of better weather to come.
I have a perfect view of all my bird feeders from the loveseat.  Those big blue vinyl circles on the windows are supposed to keep the birds from banging into the glass by the way.  Do they work?  Well, I guess there are fewer thumps than before putting them up.
Not many here because I scared them off while settling in for a morning read.

These big, bold jays have no trouble squeezing on those tiny perches of the feeders meant for the small birds
while these tiny finches (gold finches in dull winter plumage) all sit civilly on the large perch meant for the big birds.
I never said they were smart.  They fly into windows all the time after all.

This part might be the best, snacking on the muffins I made as a Valentine's Day treat for my stud muffin.
Best muffins ever!  I used the upside down banana bread recipe that has been popping up on Pinterest with a little tweaking for muffins because the bread turned out so well last week.   I may learn to like winter yet.

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Still Making Belts

So the other day I wanted a purple belt to match my shirt, and twenty minutes later I had one.  This newest crafting obsession actually has some worth. The purple one even has a hook to hold my keys or that cute little Chapstick holder that I've been meaning to make for the last two years.
I thought sewing this loop for the swivel hook would be a pain, but it was quite easy.  I sewed the webbing loop with the hook on it and then twisted it around so that the seam would be on the inside.  Next time I shall try it with the matching ribbon on top. 

I'm still experimenting with these belts.  For the one below, I put ribbon on both sides which worked out well. 

In keeping with my new year's resolution to use up the stash, I've also been trying to make do with the hardware I have on hand.  I used up all the one-inch d-rings like the ones on this belt:
and rummaged through the stash to come up with two different pieces I had purchased for bag-making. I think I may like both these even more than the d-rings for the belts.  Never could figure how to use the first ones below for bag handles, but they work really well for a belt.
I sewed the webbing around the two lower loops and use the outer loops for closing the belt.  The second one, below, is the same basic design except that the center piece moves. 
You can loop the belt end to the inside which gives a nice flat, clean look without that belt end waving about. I'm not a big fan of that end piece hanging out.  Depending on the pants you are wearing you might be able to get that end to tuck into a belt loop but sometimes not.   Looping to the inside will always keep the end out of the way. 
Belt looped to the inside--nice look IMHO
I also decided to spruce up the two store-bought cloth belts I had hanging around with some ribbon.
I think Brian is getting a bit fearful that I may start embellishing his belts with polka dots or boats, so I'm moving on to something else tomorrow.  I have a ruler to make circular quilts (Jaybird Quilts maybe?) that's been sitting around for a couple of years.  Time to put it to work!   

  I shall leave you with a few things learned from all this ribbon belt sewing:
  • I  have stopped using any Wonder Under or Steam-a-Seam.  I found it easier to just guide the ribbon as I sew it on.  It is especially easy when the ribbon is the same width as the webbing.  The iron-on stuff also creates small puckers at times.  The puckers aren't significant and don't show when the belt is bent around your waist, but why add to the cost of making these if you can avoid it.
  • While I usually use a long stitch when sewing on ribbons and such, I shorted them up on these to a 2.5 or 3 setting on my Brother machine.  It looks better and seems sturdier to me.