Crafty

My life is not slowing down. As I told my friend Darlene, I feel like I am being forced into a high-energy life when I am not at all a high-energy person!

My main task today was to get as far as possible with my editing job before meeting with the client again. It is tedious, slow work, because he is very exacting about what he wants the citations to look like and what information he wants them to contain. I’ve just about made up my mind to edit only fiction from now on . . .

But anyway, today’s meeting was shorter and quite positive, and I have hopes that I can finish the job sometime this weekend.

Then I had to put gas in the car and go up to Hobby Lobby to stock up on sale yarn. My charity crafting group was meeting tonight and I wanted to have a new project to start. I picked out some lovely yarn to make a prayer shawl for a friend who is walking through some very deep valleys right now.

I left Lina in charge of supper and drove to my craft group. There were only three of us tonight. I cast on my prayer shawl, and the other two worked on turning plastic shopping bags into “plarn” to be used in making sleeping mats for the homeless. I got a good start on my shawl.

Now all I have to do is finish making my grocery list and do a little more reading for my class. Tomorrow’s going to be busy too.

Done!

FINALLY I have been able to move my sewing machine out of the dining room. The blanket is done! I did a lot of work on it today, and the binding didn’t meet my standards, but hey—sewing binding on something very large and heavy is quite a challenge and I figure it won’t affect the performance of the blanket, right?

This morning I anxiously called the yarn store and this time I received an answer. Turns out the reason it was closed last week was that both of the sweet sisters were in the hospital! The older one is still in rehab after a nasty fall, but Lina and I hightailed it up there to commiserate with the younger sister and check out the sale. Neither one of us left empty handed.

I want to share some brilliant technology with you. If you sew, you’re going to love it. For the last couple of years, I have had difficulties threading the needle of my sewing machine due to my “mature” eyesight. It is hard for me to even see the eye of the needle.

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When I started working on this big project, during which I’d have to thread my machine multiple times, I was desperate to find something that would make the job easier. My machine actually has a needle-threading doohickey, but using it requires having three hands, and I only have two, so I virtually never bother with it. However, I hit on a solution which works very well with the number of hands I already have. It’s a little piece of white paper that I cut from a 3×5 card. I hold it behind the needle thusly:

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See how much easier it is to see the eye? I haven’t had any problem threading that needle since I started using this marvelous invention!

The blanket was so difficult to handle because of its weight, that when it was finished I couldn’t resist weighing it. Since it is too large to just put on the scale by itself, I weighed myself first (no longer a scary ordeal) and then had my husband drape the blanket over my shoulders so I could weigh myself again. I staggered into the bathroom and stepped on the scale, made a note of the number, and staggered back out to the dining room to get that heavy burden off me.

I sat down to do the math and discovered that the blanket weighs 36 pounds. It felt like a hundred! (Most weighted blankets are not that heavy. If Lucy was a foot shorter, as many women are, this blanket would be much too heavy.) But here’s my point. As I dragged myself to and from the scale with that heavy blanket on me, I struggled to walk. Yet two years ago, I carried around more than three times that much weight on my body all the time. No wonder I feel so much better now. It was a sobering moment. It helped me to realize how far I’ve come—and why I never want to go back.

In other news, my family undecorated and took down the Christmas tree while I finished up my sewing project. Now my chair is back in the corner where it belongs! Maybe tomorrow I can tackle my teacup tree . . .

Parting Shot:

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The finished (and very heavy) blanket.

Sew & Sew

Today I knew I really had to make some headway on Lucy’s weighted blanket. It is not a project I enjoy, because it is so bulky and heavy. I have to take over our huge dining room table and set up my sewing machine there, because I don’t have room to work on that size project in my sewing room.

Today, though, I was mostly marking. First I had to mark all the vertical channels and then pin and sew each one. It doesn’t sound time consuming but it is! I did take some breaks and do some knitting too. And before lunch I was busy helping Jasper to make a spiced chai pound cake to take and share with his gaming group. The pound cake is a recipe I developed a few years ago for Jasper to enter in the harvest festival. The cake was a hit!

This evening I got the horizontal lines drawn on the blanket and one row of squares filled and sewn. Still LOTS of work to do but at least the marking is done!

Since we had to eat in the living room today anyway, we watched some enjoyable nature documentaries. We finished up a series on Africa and started one on Alaska. It’s nice to have something to watch while knitting.

Crafting and a Disappointment

Today got off to a rather slow start because I am still really fighting a cold, but I did get up and get to work on my craft project, plus some paperwork also. I had to run an errand to get something so I could then go to the post office and mail some things that I hope will make it to their destinations in time for Christmas.

This afternoon I did more crafting. Poor Lucy seems to have caught a stomach bug and has been miserable the last two days. Her hopes of making money at her library job have not materialized as she’s been so sick for well over a week now.

I went to more effort than usual on supper tonight, making swiss-cheese-and-ham sourdough crepes for the family. Then I escaped temptation by going to the gym to walk!

Jasper had a youth group Christmas party tonight, which he’d really been looking forward to. He took our small cast iron grill so they could have a fire (which they requested), and supplies to heat water and make chai and hot chocolate. He was looking forward to the nerf gun fight and the gift exchange and the food.

However, the wood they had for him to use for the fire was sopping wet. He and a couple of other guys spent the entire time trying to get the fire going. They missed out on the nerf battle and the gift exchange and no one even brought them food! I know teenagers are thoughtless, but I wish an adult had thought of sending some food out to them. And then when my very smoky son finally came home and was ravenous, I had to tell him that I had given his supper to Spencer, because I was so sure he would be eating at the party! Fortunately there was some leftover pizza in the fridge . . .

So, I think maybe Jasper is going to have to throw a party for his neighborhood friends. It won’t be fancy but I’m sure we can do something.

A Cleaning Dilemma

One of the challenges I had with Flynn and Tiffany’s wedding cake was finding a suitable platter to put it on. I eventually found the perfect large white round platter, and was able to get it on sale. My idea was that after the wedding, I would give the platter to Flynn and Tiffany so they would have it as a memento.

However, when we got the platter back to the purple house and washed it, we had an unwelcome surprise. You might remember that the bottom tier of the cake was covered with red rosettes. Well, that red food coloring is apparently mighty powerful stuff. There were several bright pink stains on the platter.

So, we brought the platter back with us to Texas and yesterday I went to work on getting the stains off. Scrubbing with dish soap did nothing, so I filled the sink with piping hot water, added plenty of soap and a liberal helping of bleach, and left it to soak. Since it was too big to be fully submerged, I rotated it every so often. Not that it helped. After hours in the bleach solution, there were still several pink stains on the plate.

That left only the “nuclear” option. I set the platter on the counter, covered it in paper towels, and poured undiluted bleach onto it. The stains were gone in a few minutes. So when we give the plate to Flynn and Tiffany, it will come with a warning about the dangers of using bright red food coloring in anything destined to repose on that platter!

This morning I spent some time visiting with a friend who is in town for a few days. She is going through a very difficult time and I just wish there was something I could do to fix it—but there isn’t. Now that I know more of what is going on, I can certainly pray for her more intelligently, though.

This afternoon Lina and I went to Tyler to visit the trifecta of temptations: Jo-Ann’s, Half-Price Books, and World Market. I got most of what I needed and in fact I think I may be done with my Christmas shopping.

This evening we went to Books-a-Million, Michael’s, and Hobby Lobby. I really hope I don’t have to go out and buy any more stuff except food! Meanwhile, I have some heavy-duty crafting to do if I am to finish certain things before Christmas. I got at least a start on it tonight.

My Genius Idea

So, as I mentioned, I am very busy this week getting ready for Writers in the Field plus a ton of other stuff, and I had what I thought was a brilliant idea for my breakfast on Saturday. I wanted to do a trial run first, though, to make sure it would work, so I elected Jasper to be my guinea pig, since I don’t actually get any breakfast until Saturday!

This morning as my husband was leaving for work, I put on a kettle of water and got out my newly-acquired wide-mouth vintage Stanley thermos. Ziplock omelets are a favorite around here, and I had a feeling I could make one in a thermos. If you’re not familiar with ziplock omelets, here’s the normal way to make them:

  • Fill a large stockpot about ⅔ full of water, cover and bring to a boil while you prepare the fillings.
  • Put out a variety of ingredients such as: cheeses, ham, onion, green pepper, tomato, mushrooms, hash browns, salsa, chives, broccoli, avocado, etc.
  • Have guests write their name on a pint-size Ziploc freezer bag with permanent marker.
  • Crack 2 eggs (large or extra-large) into the bag (not more than 2) shake to combine them.
  • Each guest adds prepared ingredients of choice to their bag and shake and squeeze to mix it all up. Make sure to get the air out of the bag and zip it up.
  • Place the bags into rolling, boiling water for exactly 13 minutes. You can usually cook 6-8 omelets in a large pot. For more, make another pot of boiling water. It works best to have the lid on the pot while the omelets are boiling.
  • Open the bags and the omelet will roll out easily. Be prepared for everyone to be amazed.

So anyway, I mixed up the eggs and filling in a zip-lock bag, squeezed out all the air, sealed it, and put it down inside my thermos (I had to fold the bag in half but it fit easily). Then I poured boiling water in to fill the thermos, and screwed the lid on. When Jasper was ready for breakfast an hour and a half later, the omelet was perfectly done and piping hot.

Saturday morning I will be leaving the house early to drive to Dallas. I do not eat breakfast that early, but I like the idea of having a nice hot breakfast before a long day outdoors. I will make my ziplock omelet and take the thermos with me, and I can eat my breakfast once I get there. I am very proud of myself for thinking of this.

It was a pretty normal school day and I also ran some errands. I did quite a bit of painting. This is just me being obsessive. I had bought a cheap wooden box and a couple of trays to store things in for the class I’m teaching this weekend, and for some reason I felt compelled to paint them. Which means I for sure won’t have the time to make the bag I’ve been wanting to make for the last year! Lucy thinks I don’t need any more bags, but she is wrong. I need a very specific bag for writer events where I need to have a water bottle, my sketchbook for notes, and the lap board for supporting the sketch book(plus multiple writing implements, etc.). I have some awesome fabric too—just not a lot of time!

Jasper went to Mercy and Daniel’s for math tutoring, supper, and being talked into helping with the public library’s Halloween event. I’m sure he’ll have a great time scaring people.

This evening I also finished composing a document I’ve been working on for a couple of weeks now. This is a handout for my class this weekend, because clearly I am incapable of teaching anything without creating a handout to go with it. This one required a great deal of research and I am glad I finished it and was able to print it.

A Very Small Group

This morning was cool and drizzly, so Jasper and I gave up on our plan to do school at the lake. I actually wore a sweater when I went to Walmart to pick up a few things. Not a very warm sweater, but still! I even turned on the heater in the car too. It was 64 degrees! In past years I would not have found this temperature chilly at all, but now I am more sensitive to cold.

I spent part of the morning processing sand. I had put out a plea for sand on Facebook and a friend dropped some by the house the other day. I only need about a cup. So I washed it under running water until the water ran clear, then I baked it in the oven until it was dry, and then I sifted it to get out all the little pebbles. What was left fit perfectly into the container I had bought for it.

I know you’re dying to know what I need a cup of sand for. I am getting ready to teach a class on historical writing implements at Writers in the Field next month. Part of the class will be a demonstration of how to turn a goose feather into a quill pen. And part of that process is heating the quill in some hot sand for a few minutes. I found a perfect tiny copper pot to heat the sand in at an antique store last week. I can heat it over one of my many tea warmers. And now I have the sand. I’ll do a trial run soon to make sure I know what I’m doing.

The reason I started a new knitting project yesterday was because I had signed up for a second small group at church—this one focused on crafting for charity. I thought I’d get going on something so I’d already have a project started when I went to the meeting tonight. I am knitting a scarf for The Red Scarf Project, which is something I’ve wanted to do for years (look it up, if you’re not familiar with it).

So anyway, I took my scarf and drove to the home where the meeting was to be held. The hostess was a woman I’d never met. I was the first person to arrive. After several minutes had passed, it became clear that I was the only person to arrive. Six ladies had signed up, but I was the only one to show up. So it was just me and my hostess. I like to think we both made a new friend tonight. She liked my red scarf idea and plans to make one herself. Meanwhile, we sat and chatted while I got several rows knitted on my scarf. I am knitting it as a tube so it will be double thickness. I want it to be very warm for whoever gets it.

 

Alterations

Almost a year ago, after I had lost fifty pounds, I celebrated by ordering a dress on sale that I thought I would like. It was a very loose “hippie” style and I was delighted to be able to order a smaller size than the one I had been wearing.

Then things went wrong. First, I was charged a massive “overseas transaction” fee, more than canceling out the money I saved on the dress. When it arrived, it was not the deep rich purple that had been depicted on the website. It was a very reddish purple—more of a magenta. I have nothing against magenta, but I had envisioned myself wearing actual purple. And finally, the sleeves were proportioned for someone several sizes smaller than the rest of the dress. The dress itself fit well enough, but that wasn’t much consolation when I couldn’t squeeze my arms into the long narrow sleeves.

I complained to the company, and they were very apologetic, but they never followed through on refunding my money. I planned to donate the dress to a thrift store, but never got around to it. So today I saw the dress still hanging in my closet, and I decided to see what I could do to make it workable for me.

Having lost another fifty pounds, I found I could get the dress on with ease. However, the sleeves were still on the snug side and not long enough to be real “long” sleeves (because I have ape arms—not the company’s fault). And who wants long sleeves in Texas anyway? I’m not a fan of close-fitting clothes in any season, but especially not summer. So the obvious solution was to cut the sleeves short. Having done that, I looked at the cut-off sleeve fabric and thought surely there was something I could do with it. After cutting off the seams, I used my rotary cutter to cut the fabric into strips which I turned into flounces to sew onto my newly-short sleeves.

In a couple of hours, I went from having a dress I’d never wear to having a dress I really like. Not bad for a Saturday in which I got a lot of other stuff done too!

I cooked two big pots of chicken and got it all chopped up and put away for a future meal. I drove up to Hobby Lobby and Michael’s and got more wedding stuff on sale. I did some housework and cleaning and sorting and found a tote bag that’s been missing for quite a while!

Meanwhile, poor Walter and Jasper had to do their yard jobs in the searing heat. The heat index was 108º this afternoon! It got so hot so fast this year, and we are dying for rain. I have to water my garden every single day if I want anything to survive.

My own brush with the heat came after supper when I ventured out for my evening walk. I have to walk outdoors on Saturday because the gym is closed. I must admit, I prefer the air conditioning!

Waiting for News

STILL no word on Lucy’s CAT scan. I hate the uncertainty!

Mary had planned to leave today, but then decided to extend her stay until tomorrow. No one complained! After she came back from Mercy’s and went on her morning run, I took her to my favorite bookstore/coffee shop to look around and have some coffee. I was also able to show her the standing desk there that I envy every time I go!

We made it back in time for lunch and I took a nap because I didn’t have to sew. It is such a relief to have the sewing project done.

Oh, did you want to see it? Well, here it is:

5-9-18 Mary's weighted blanket

The 25-pound blanket. Now Jasper and Lucy want them too. If I make any more though, they won’t be pieced!

I did some reading this afternoon, and Mary took some photos for me, and I made brownies, but mostly I just goofed off and enjoyed not having to sew. I LOVE sewing—don’t get me wrong—but this project was very difficult to do because of the weight and size, and I am glad to have finished it.

This evening Jasper went to youth group. Lucy went out with Bri, and my husband spent hours showing Mary his Russia photos.

 

Also Comes in Handy as a Weapon

This morning Mary and I went with Lucy to get her scan. She had to drink a large quantity of a barium “milkshake” and then wait for 45 minutes. I didn’t envy her. I had to do that once and once was enough!

The scan itself was very quick. We have no idea when we might hear the results. When we left the imaging center, I took the girls to their favorite coffee shop to get coffee by way of celebration that the scan was over. The place was so full there was nowhere to sit so I waited for them in the car. It’s not like I was going to get a five-dollar drink anyway!

By the time we returned home, it was almost lunchtime and the whole morning was gone, which meant I had not had a chance to work on Mary’s blanket. I rested while everyone else ate lunch and then went back to work, after putting supper on to cook. I found I could get three rows of squares filled and stitched before needing a break to rest my shoulder. Four days of hunching over a sewing machine has been very hard on my “bad” shoulder.

I had hoped to finish the blanket before supper, so we could finally use the table again, but I didn’t quite make it. Spencer came over for supper and everyone ate in the living room while I kept sewing.

I finally finished the binding at 9:10 this evening, and let me tell you—that blanket is HEAVY. It contains 21 pounds of weighted beads. With the weight of the fabric added, I’m sure it’s in the neighborhood of 25 pounds. My arm and shoulder muscles are sore from manhandling all that weight for the last two days. This blanket can double as a workout aid—or a weapon. Can’t you just see it? “One step closer and I’ll whack you with my blanket!”

Mary is spending the night with Mercy tonight, but she’ll be back in the morning. Hopefully we can get some photos of the blanket tomorrow also. I like to think it is pretty in addition to being functional.