Friday, March 30, 2007

This is so Cool!

The gals over at 5 Minutes for Mom are sponsoring a contest! The prize is a Dyson Slim Vacuum--super cool. Go Here to find the details. Be sure and enter soon--and you don't have to have a blog to enter, so tell your friends!

While you're at it, go visit Dyson to learn more about the vacuum that everybody is talking about!


Oh. My. Goodness! Look what was delivered to me yesterday morning:
These gorgeous things arrived with a card reading "to the greatest Mom a son could have." They are from my darling son-in-love Rocky Balboa. I knew he had great taste (he chose my daughter, after all) but the guy is a Total Package of Taste. Thanks to him so, so much!

I finally made a summer purse for myself out of a cute vintage-sewing-themed print I purchased last year (or the year before...):
I made some pockets, but forgot and put them all the way to the bottom of the bag, so there is not really a "floor" to the purse. I usually just make this homemade pattern as a tote, with maybe the key/cellphone pocket, but no others. I feel kinda dumb, but, oh, well:
This was actually the second laying-around project I finished this week. I had some cutie-cute froggy fabric to make Violet some drink coasters for her office desk. (she is rector of a women's dorm). I put them in a little basket with a tag: How long must I kiss frogs before I meet The Prince? She loved them, but took them away before I got a photo.
So it has been a week of clearing out old projects. Not that this actually makes even a dent in the mountain pile...
The very next thing I need to do is to clean the refrigerator. It is "calling my name nose, so to speak...
What is on your plate this weekend?

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Fab Finds Thrifting

I went thrifting a few days ago, and found these fabulous pink Etienne Aigner shoes:
They have Kitten Heels. They will fit Blackeyed Susan (as seen here) or she may have to fight Violet for them.
I also found three 100% wool blazers for $2.12 apiece: (sorry for the dark photo)
After a nice hot water bath and drying cycle, I cut them up to reveal a big pile of felted wool:
This will come in handy for future projects. I will be keeping my eyes open for different colors of wool blazers. One of our stores is 50% off clothing on Thursdays--I need to put that on my calendar!

Don Quixote's birthday

Yesterday was Don Quixote's birthday. He turned 30. That's THIRTY, people. Well, Mommy, who was twenty-one years old thirty years ago, won't dwell on that fact anymore.

Don requested red velvet cake. Now, I made this from scratch once, and it required an entire bottle of red food coloring. (this is why I only made it once--I had children) Yesterday, Alvin Fernald made a mix cake. He guarded the beaters with his hand to prevent splatter, and this is what happened:
That is the color of the batter. It stained a lot of things before I got it all cleaned up. So I told DonQuixote that this was a one-time deal. (I also made a regular cake for the children and those of us who were just tired of cleaning up red-batter mess...)

Forget-me-not brought Blueberry over to enjoy the grass as it is really greening up. Love his curls:
At dinner, he enjoyed the hamburger and greeny-beany bites, but Forget-me-not let him have a bun that was not chopped up. Now, that is living high:
Here is my darling Don Quixote, with Junior Asparagus and Laura Carrot:
Did I tell you he was my smallest baby, at 6 lbs. 3 oz. and 18 1/2 inches tall? My father calls him my "scrawniest" baby. My other claim to fame is the fact that I walked to the hospital to have him. We lived two blocks away, and thought it would make a good story for the grandkids. When we got to the intersection across from the hospital, I got a contraction and asked Charming to wait to cross. (it was a four-lane main street) As my contraction passed, the light turned red. When it turned green again, another contraction was beginning, so again we waited. We finally figured out that my contractions were two minutes apart, which was the same amount of time it took the light to change. Charming literally dragged me across the street, and Don was born 30 minutes later.
Yep. The story gets better as time goes on.
Happy birthday, baby one!

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Lipstick Stains

I finished another quilt top! This makes four since Christmas--and four of five tops for a special two-year project. This one is mostly black-and-white fabrics. I wanted to put in just a "dash" of color. I decided on hot pink, and there are only eight pieces in the entire quilt.
This close-up looks like a black-and-white photo with the color photo-shopped in:
Daughter Violet came up with the perfect name: Film Noir with Lipstick Stains.
It is already a hit! Joe Hardy said it is his favorite of all the quilts I have ever made. Alvin Fernald proclaimed it "ultra-cool": he liked the way the circles are "off-center." Charming said it was definitely "artsy."
But I definitely have some clean-up to do! You have never seen so many ravelings! (now there's a word my mother used that I seldom do, anymore. I usually just say "lint" or "threads.") I think I'll start a campaign to bring back "ravelings" because it is such a descriptive word. What do you think?

Friday, March 23, 2007

Breakfast at the Cracker Barrel

My Daddy's nursing home had a "field trip" to the Cracker Barrel this week, so Charming and I, Alvin and Susan, and Lily and children met him there. He was *so* looking forward to this: he wanted fried eggs, (the home only serves scrambled made with EggBeaters [not real eggs, according to Dad], and occasionally a boiled egg) sausage, biscuits'n'gravy, and grits. He was not disappointed. Here he is with Alvin Fernald:
The highlight of his day, Four Generations at one table, including:
himself, daughter Barbie, grandson Alvin, great-granddaughter Sweet Pea.
Of course, when you go to Cracker Barrel, it is important to improve your skills in the peg game. Laura Carrot was pretty upset for awhile that there was a blank hole, and couldn't understand its purpose. So she took them all out and lined them up by color:
Junior Asparagus, satisfied after a scrambly egg meal, and bits of cheesy hashbrowns and pancakes from other plates:
Blackeyed Susan and Laura, sportin' 'tudes:
Anything the girls can do, Alvin and Junior try to do better:
All in all, a very precious time. There will not be very many more "four-generation" moments in my family, I'm sure. This was a treasure.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Easy Sausage Soup

This reminds me of the sausage soup at Olive Garden:

1 lb. italian sausage, browned in the soup pan
*about 4* potatoes, diced, boiled and drained
2 cans mushroom soup, plus two cans water
1 can corn plus its liquid

Brown the sausage. Add potatoes, mushroom soup (plus water) and the can of corn. Add liquid if desired. Heat and serve. Serves--6? (I think)

This is so great because it is not labor-intensive. If you start the potatoes before you brown the sausage, it saves even more time. I also find that it doesn't need seasoning, because of the sausage.

We will have this for lunch, and have enough for the next day!

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Car Love

We bought a new car yesterday! Here are a couple of stats:

Old Car: full-sized van, mpg 11 city, 15 highway
Price to fill tank last week: $75.00

New Car: Dodge Grand Caravan, 2007 lease turn-in (so no depreciation woes) with Stow-n-Go
seats (you may drool now)
mpg unknown at this time (first tank of gas)
Price to fill tank this morning: $41.00

This is going to be fun!

Friday, March 09, 2007

Pink Satin Shoes

Every girl needs a pair of these...

Fitting Pointe Shoes

This was a really neat experience for Blackeyed Susan and her mama (me!) Getting just the right size for a girl whose two feet are not exactly the same size was interesting. I sewed ribbons and elastics this afternoon for class this evening.
Susan has waited a long time for this event--congratulations to her!

Wonder-Lily finishes her project

Lily finished her GiNormous project last night:
Look at all these pockets, some of them elasticized:
I tell you, that girl is stubborn a wonder, tackling such a big project the very first time using a pattern.

Well, after getting so all-fired excited yesterday about the new way to make fabric circles using aluminum foil, I tried it last evening and it was a miserable failure. I think maybe you need "heavy duty" foil, and I only had the cheap stuff. The foil ripped and shredded, and was of no use to help form the circles.
I went back to another method I had read about. Here is how that works: you cut a circle of the same size out of muslin or light interfacing. Putting right sides together, sew a 1/8 inch seam all around. Make a slit in the muslin or interfacing and turn right side out. Press, and your circle is ready to applique. I was able to do six or eight circles last night, so my black/white project is On Its Way.
Later this morning I am taking Blackeyed Susan to the dance store to be fitted for her first pair of pointe shoes! (think $$$$ here) Her teacher is meeting us there, too. I will try to remember my camera--this is a milestone event for which Susan has waited a long time.
Well, I'm off to check math tests for Susan and Alvin Fernald....

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Biting off more than Lily can chew...

Lily, whose experience on the sewing machine heretofore has only been straight seams on flannel receiving blankets, decided to make a diaper bag for her friend. Not having ever used a pattern before, we spent a couple of nights learning about gathering, topstitching, making a casing for elastic, and cutting it out.

This morning she came over to get my guidance as to how to put it together. Here she is at the machine threaded with brown:
We had two machines set up. You will of course not notice piles of schoolthings and unpressed fabric:
Now she is at the "pink thread" machine. What you can't see is me, (at the "brown" machine)sewing and ripping out, sewing and ripping out (SIX times in all!!) a Stupid. Outside. Pocket. with darts and two layers and fleece and velcro and a flap. Someone needed to tell this girl that you don't pick the Super Advanced Couturier Complicated Pattern for your first try:
I must be a good teacher. She did this little bag last night at home, and just needed a zipper tutorial to finish it. She does need to learn to use a thimble. I heard a lot of *ouches* while she was slipstitching the lining in:

On my own home front, I have a new project in the works here, in black-and-white:
I was struggling with doing needle-turn applique on these gigantic (well, to me, anyway) circles, when "just in time" I find this tutorial over at Anna Maria Horner's place! (she gives credit to Kath at Material Obsession) I am now so, so excited to do sixty of these squares. I will then cut them in fourths and scramble them up--it will be a little eye-popping, but I grew up in the 60's when "op-art" was the new and cool thing.
Lily will come over tonight to finish any little bits of the diaper bag that she can't do this afternoon. It *will* be a fabulous gift for the expectant Mommy at her shower tomorrow night. And I needn't tell you how proud of my little Lily this mom-in-love is!

Monday, March 05, 2007

Weekend at Camp Friedenswald (the "Friendly Woods")

We went to Michigan this weekend for our annual gathering of folk music, food, and fun. This group has been gathering for over thirty years. It is composed of folkies who used to play at a coffeehouse at Western Michigan University, and the people who used to come listen to them. Charming's father and his wife are two of the original members. We have been attending for the last eight years.

The music is phenomenal; the food runs just a close second, and the friendships are supreme. Most of the people have differing religious and political views than I, but the music, parenthood, and grandparenthood are in common.

About a third of the people who come eat only natural foods/vegetarian, or some combo of the two. My intestinal system gets a good workout with all of the grains I try!

The music. Ah, the music. So many instruments! This time they had a Ukulele Fest--someone handed Charming a baritone uke (the size of a 3/4 guitar), and someone else had a banjo-uke. There were eight or so others. There is something about ukuleles that makes everyone want to gather and sing-along--think Bicycle Built for Two, The Sidewalks of New York, etc. It was a fun way to begin.

Later, the fiddles, upright bass, banjos, harmonicas, mandolins, and guitars came out. Luscious!

My problem (as always) is that those darned musicians can't start their evening before 10 pm, when I am fading into the dust. Friday night I went to bed at 3 am, Saturday night at 2 am. This morning I'm doing that looking-for-the-Mack-truck-that-ran-me-over thing.

Blackeyed Susan and Alvin Fernald went with the group that went to the Tubing Hill. (if you don't know) Tubing is sledding on large inner-tubes. After trying many tricks, the group found the posted Rules (the sign was drifted with snow), and discovered they had broken almost every rule, except Only Use the Camp's Inner Tubes. They had Made a Train, Gone Down the Hill Without a Tube, etc. There was one other rule to break: Only One Person on a Tube. Grandma Lynn (my father-in-love's wife) grabbed Alvin and said, "might as well make a clean sweep of things," and took off down the hill, double-style. Alvin had the record for the Longest Run of the day. A Good Time was had by all!

There is always a new craft to try, but I usually miss it by taking a nap. This time, I took my nap earlier, and was able to try cold-water felting. Here are the flowers that Blackeyed Susan and I made:
Mine is on the left. I later tried some needle-felting in the center, with blue and white wools. I don't like the results, so I will pull those off, and leave the center yellow.

The other thing I did was felted beads:
The toothpicks hold the holes open until I string them. How funky-cool are those?
My oldest daughter Violet met us there, and we had two fabulous two-hour gabfests, catching up on all the things we forget to say on the phone, or don't have time for when she comes home and is bombarded by four nieces and nephews, and seven siblings. Good, good stuff. The kind of conversations you can't have without unstructured TIME.
Sunday morning we packed up, cleaned up, and came home. Charming and I took a nice long nap, then went over to Johnny Tremain's and Lily's home for cake and ice cream. It was Junior Asparagus's fourth birthday. He can already read, so Lily requested books as gifts. We brought Green Eggs and Ham. (from my "gift stash"--I'm embarrassed to say that I forgot to shop for Junior before we left! I'll get him a couple more this week...) After catching up with their family (they had been gone all week before we left, to a family funeral in Illinois), we came home and crashed for a little tv, then BED.
This morning will be Home Ec before schoolwork! I'll feel better when the laundry is sorted, and the rest of the foodstuffs I brought are put away. But this annual weekend is precious to us, and also precious because we share it with Susan and Alvin. You may know that we had six children in eight years, then had two more ten and eleven years later. I love having things that just Charming and our youngest two do together. It makes some memories for the future that are "just theirs."
Now, off to the Housework!!