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.



Why I Need Fabric

Can you believe January is almost over? Time is moving so fast.

This morning while Jasper was having his online math tutoring session, I drove up to Hobby Lobby. I needed one more lobster clasp to finish my Christmas bead garland re-stringing project. (It has now been finished at last.) I also needed some stiffener and fabric to make a bag.

In less than two weeks, I will be heading to a writers’ conference in Dallas.  In preparation, I took on a ridiculous project. I painted two 12×6 inch pieces of one-eighth-inch plywood. I made many, many mistakes. I learned some things I didn’t know about glow-in-the-dark paint and permanent markers. Here are the two least embarrassing sides of the four I painted:

1-30-18 two boards

What on earth are they for? Well . . . . Back in October, at Writers in the Field, I tried out a new note-taking format, which was a little square sketchbook. I loved it. I could get by with a smaller and lighter bag than if I had to haul around a full-sized clipboard, let alone a laptop or even an AlphaSmart. My only complaint was that I didn’t have a firm surface to put my open sketchbook on while I was taking notes. (My lap, for the record, is not firm.)

So I got this idea of having a little piece of wood that I could rest on my lap, but that would still be compact. I went to the hobby store and found a 12-inch square piece of plywood, and had my husband cut it in half. But of course I couldn’t be happy with a plain piece of wood. So I bought paint and some stencils and now with the conference looming I finally got around to painting. One of the things I love about medieval times is how they put so much effort into making everyday objects beautiful, and I love the idea of doing that even if I don’t have the skill!

Now I have not one but two little boards to rest my sketchbook on, but that means I need a bag that will accommodate a 6×12 inch piece of wood, along with my sketchbook, writing implements, water bottle, etc. The bag I hoped would work is a little too narrow. Bags that are wide enough are too deep. I don’t want to have to carry a massive tote bag. I bought a bag at Walmart that I thought would work, but it’s about half an inch two narrow so I will return it.

Which brings us back to why I bought fabric this morning. I plan to design and make a custom bag for carrying around at conferences where I will be taking notes. I don’t think I’ll get it done in time for this conference, alas, but now I have the materials. Having spent an inordinate amount of time on this nonessential accessory, maybe I should put some effort into getting my book ready to pitch, right?

The Donut Debtor

Ever since the donut shop opened within easy walking distance of our house, Jasper has made a habit of walking over there to buy donuts for his breakfast every Wednesday morning. When an adult sibling is visiting, they are expected to get up early and go with him for a sibling bonding experience.

This morning, Flynn had offered to go with Jasper and buy enough donuts for all the donut-eating members of the family (everyone except Mary and me). They ran into a problem, however. The shop’s card-reading machine was not working and thus they could not accept Flynn’s credit card for payment. He did not have enough cash.

The owner was not concerned. Since Jasper is such a loyal customer, he said to go ahead and take the donuts and Jasper could just owe him $7 and bring it the next time he came in. How often does that happen these days? Credit from a donut shop?

Of course, I made sure to get Jasper over there with the $7 later this morning. I wanted the shop owner to know his trust had not been misplaced.

Mary was gone all morning visiting with a friend, and Spencer was at work, so it was a slow morning. We had planned to go to that new coffee shop/bookstore this afternoon, but when I looked it up I saw that it is closed until after New Year’s, so instead we stayed in and Flynn got the other kids playing a game he had brought. They had a good time.

I took Lucy out to buy a dress because she is going to a wedding on Saturday and she needs something to wear. She found something she can be happy with.

Later, I had to make an emergency yarn run. Yesterday Jasper had been outside having an airsoft battle with his neighborhood buddies, and when he came back in I saw that he was wearing my scarf. Now I have scarves that I wouldn’t mind him wearing, but this particular scarf is precious to me because it was given to me by my best friend when I was fifteen. It is the only thing I have from her, and I didn’t really want it to be worn by my teenage son.

He complained that he was forced to wear my scarf because he doesn’t have one of his own. I’m not sure how that happened. All my other kids were subjected to hand-knitted scarves from me quite early in life. Clearly, I could not let this injustice continue. So I hightailed it to the craft store and bought some yarn. He wanted “camo” yarn so I got the closest I could. It is now seven inches long.


The Mystery of the Missing Gift & Guilt Gifting

I hope your Christmas was as enjoyable as ours. I was up early working on our big Christmas brunch. I haven’t figured out a way to sleep in on Christmas Day yet.

Eventually everyone got up and we had our brunch before opening gifts. I think everyone received at least one gift they really liked. But when the gifts had all been opened, I was puzzled. Jasper hadn’t opened one of his gifts from us, and it was nowhere to be found. I remembered wrapping it, but we couldn’t find it. We looked and looked and looked. Nothing.

It wasn’t until evening that I thought to look in my sewing room, where I had originally stashed some gifts. That’s when I realized how dishonest my memory can be. I had NOT wrapped Jasper’s gift. It was still there, in the bag from the store!

I was just so relieved I could finally give it to him . . .

This afternoon we were able to have a video call with Mercy and Daniel, and watch them open the gifts we had sent them. It was good to see her looking so happy!

There were some gifts I gave this year that were motivated by guilt. Like the hammock straps I gave Spencer, because I had given him a hammock for his birthday, but it didn’t come with any straps that would enable him to use it!

And maybe you remember that last week I was frantically working on a project that had to be done by Wednesday afternoon. That project was making a Japanese kimono for Mercy—something I had promised her for Christmas six years ago.

In my defense, there were several road blocks. I bought the silk for the kimono and had it on hand six years ago, but when I went to cut it out, I discovered that it needed lining. There was no option for making it unlined. So I had to wait until I could save up for more silk for the lining. (If you’re going to go to all that trouble, you might as well use the right fabric.)

At some point I did cut the thing out, but when I started reading the instructions I found them virtually impenetrable. I took the first tentative steps, but then gave up in frustration. I didn’t want to mess up with all that expensive silk.

So I’ve had this kimono hanging over my head for six years. I really wanted to finally make it for Mercy, so this time I did some research and found out that lots of people found the pattern very difficult to follow. I found a YouTube tutorial on how to do the sleeves, which had stumped me before.

I spent three days working on this project and in the end I succeeded. Today I got to watch her open it and see the expression on her face when she realized what it was! She had to wait a long time for that gift!

Mercy's Kimono

The guilt gifting prize, though, belongs to a gift I gave Mary. When Mary was eight years old, we were deep into our Little House on the Prairie days, and Mary wanted a “little house” type dress. I bought some pretty blue and white fabric and prewashed it . . . and never got around to making the dress.

By the time the guilt started getting to me, she was long past the age when she had any interest at all in a dress of that type. So, four or five years ago I had the bright idea of using some of the fabric to make a fleece-lined throw. I bought fleece in a coordinating color . . . and then I did nothing. Until Saturday, that is. I laid out those fabrics and made a blanket from them and then tied the two layers together with yarn.

I blush to disclose the fact that Mary is currently 26 years old. She had to wait 18 years for me to make her something from that fabric. We’re calling it the guilt blanket now.

We finished off the day with the traditional turkey dinner, a Christmas movie, and dessert. Lina made a pecan pie and Mary made a fabulous raspberry trifle. My daughters are great cooks!

Sewing, Writing, and Roasting

I’m pretty happy with today. I finished a sewing project which was my big goal of the day, and got some writing and music stuff done. (Hit my word count goal.) I finished a knitting project too.

I also broke in a new appliance. I got one of those round glass convection ovens because it was dirt cheap and I’ve heard other people rave about them. I used it to roast a chicken, which is supposedly something it excels at.

It did do a good job of roasting the chicken, but it took much longer than expected. One of the selling points of these ovens is that they are so much faster than regular ovens. My chicken took an hour and a quarter to be fully cooked, instead of the promised half an hour, and at a temperature of 480°! That is not much faster than a conventional oven, and I think it heated my kitchen up even more. So at this point, I am kind of skeptical. It might be a nice “extra” to have when cooking holiday dinners. And I suppose if I wanted to make a fancy dinner in a hotel room, I could . . .

School & Sewing

Can you believe it’s the end of August already? This has been a weird month for us since it has been unseasonably cool and wet. August is normally my least favorite month of the year, but this year it hasn’t been too bad.

Today was all about getting ready for and teaching my first class of the school year. I have ten students this year—my biggest class ever. Unfortunately, two of them were unable to come today. I think we got off to a pretty good start. We covered a lot of ground.

After class was over, I had to do a job I truly loathe. I had to re-hem something I had already hemmed. It was my own fault, which made it even less enjoyable!

Let me explain. When you’re tall, you learn to accept certain realities.  A garment that is described as “long-sleeved” will never be more than three-quarter-length sleeved for you. A “mini-dress” will be a tunic, and not even a very long one. And a “maxi” dress will in fact be a “midi” if you’re lucky.

Two years ago I ordered a dress that was billed as an “extra-long” maxi. I knew better than to think it would be long enough for me, so I also ordered some matching fabric. I wanted to wear the dress to the costume banquet at Realm Makers. So I dyed it a color that I preferred to the only color it came in, and I added a fabric border. (Which always looks lame because the dress wasn’t designed to have a border.) Apparently, I did not have a daughter around to help me get the length right, for when I put the dress on after adding the border, it was too long. Really, really too long.

However, I was out of time. I didn’t think it would be that big a deal. In the spare moments I had before the banquet, I sewed some beads onto the dress and hoped for the best. I had one of the most annoying nights of my life—holding up the dress, tripping on the dress, kicking the dress out of my way. By the end of the evening I was ready to rip the thing up—but I didn’t.

I have not worn it since, because I knew I was going to have to re-hem it and I knew I wouldn’t enjoy it. But this weekend I am going to a Renaissance faire, and I really want to wear that dress. I have been sewing more and more beads on it this week, knowing that my efforts would be pointless if I didn’t also tackle the hem.

So today I tackled it. I had to cut 5 inches of fabric off the bottom of the dress, and then the hem itself raised it by another inch and a half. So it is now almost 7 inches shorter than it was, but it is still plenty long. I got a tiny taste of what it’s like to be petite and have to hem stuff up all the time. I still think it beats being tall, because no matter what you do you can’t magically lengthen something and have it look the way it was intended to look.


False Alarm

After all the fear and anticipation, it looks like the hurricane will not be coming our way after all. This is good for us, but I almost wish it would head this way and give those near Houston a break. When I went to Walmart this evening, I saw a couple of guys with a pickup truck pulling a boat. They were filling both the boat and the pickup bed with emergency supplies to take south.

Today was a fairly normal school day. Little by little, we are adding to our schedule until we are fully up to speed.

This afternoon I watched a movie with Lina and got a lot of beads sewn onto a dress I hope to wear this weekend. I have time to do that now because I finished the knitting project I had been working on for the last few weeks. Now I have to think about what my next “big” knitting project will be. Last year I made hats for so many people. Maybe I should finally make a hat for myself!

A Helping Hand

Today was Friday, which meant grocery shopping at Aldi. As always, it was an interesting people-watching experience.

I got a little farther on my sewing and spent quite a bit of time revising a story that has been languishing for some time.

After lunch I received a surprise phone call from the son of my friend Robin. I don’t think I had seen him since his wedding a year and a half ago. His wife was working on a crochet project and she had run into a snag. He wondered if I might be able to help. I was willing to try, but I always worry that others think I am better at crafting than I actually am!

So they came over here and I looked at the pattern and after looking to see if there were any pattern corrections online, I realized the pattern had an error in it. This happens more often than you might think. Once we identified and corrected the error, she was good to go. She should easily finish her project before her deadline.

After that it was more sewing and revising, and going to the store to pick up a few things for an upcoming class. The store I went to was Michael’s. I was not prepared for the fact that it is mum season again. There was a whole aisle stuffed full of mummery.  Not to mention all the Halloween displays. *sigh*

I made pizza for Walter and Jasper, since Spencer is in Dallas for the day (and night) and Lucy is working. I rarely feel tempted by pizza anymore because it really does make me ill.  I do miss it though . . .

Something Practical, Something Pretty

I’m trying to take advantage of my crafting momentum and get as much stuff made as possible before the school year starts, because once I get busy with school, I know that there won’t be much time for sewing or knitting.

Today I cut out the straps and pockets for the aprons, and got the straps all sewn. I also did a bunch of revising, some other paperwork, and made some really good stir-fry for supper. At least I heard it was good.

So the aprons are going to be cool and all, but also very practical. Today I took a break from sewing to make something that was more on the “ornamental” side of things. I dug out a very small portion of my bead stash and made a “necklace” to hold an I.D. holder which I bought and modified:

7-27-17 ID necklace

I hate those stick-on name badges because my hair always gets stuck in them. And a chain won’t work because of my metal sensitivity. So I wanted to have a generic I.D. holder that I could use whenever I go to meetings where they want me to wear a name badge. Now I have something that doubles as a piece of jewelry. And, because I had some glow-in-the-dark beads left over, it glows in the dark too. Well, it’s really more of a glimmer, but still pretty cool.

I also worked on chording a new hymn. It is the favorite hymn of a friend of mine, but it is not included in the hymnbook we use at church, so I had to find it in another hymnbook and get the chords all figured out. Now I can’t stop humming it!

I’m trying so hard not to feel sorry for myself but I can’t say I succeed a hundred percent of the time. I really wish I was in Reno at the Realm Makers conference right now.