Wednesday, April 29, 2009

New Lining

I made a fleece jacket some time ago using a Vogue pattern. I decided it really needed a lining and thought I could just follow the top stitching to machine sew it in. Well, that didn't work out. The lining would slip ever so slightly and I got some wonky lines so out came the seam ripper. I noticed Mike shaking his head and I said, "As you sew, so shall you rip." I believe that is from the Bible.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Garden Wars

We have the raised vegetable garden laid out and now await finding someone who can deliver a truckload of garden soil. I was going to just cover the grass with newspaper and have the soil dumped on top of that--something I read about somewhere--but I ended up digging out all the sod and combing through for rogue roots. I just don't trust that the grass wouldn't burgeon it way through several layers of newspaper or even toxic waste formulated into thick plastic mulch. I've been battling weeds far too long to trust in that.
It does seem that the Japanese beetle battle has swung in my favor since I spayed on the nematodes and milky spore. Last summer there were a few about, but I could keep up with flicking them into a jar and entire areas of the flower beds were NOT denuded. Even the moles, which mike was near the point of attacking with a machine gun, seem to poke around a bit and then move on.
The balance swings back and forth, but the war is never really over. Today when I went out in the morning to finish my sod digging task, I noticed a fresh dig in front of the shed--a woodchuck moving in. I stomped around on the shed floor and banged the shovels but I didn't notice any woodchuck getting the hint and making a hasty exit. He was undoubtedly watching the garden prep from the field out back.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Taking Inventory

I spent some time today cutting out a few sewing projects--new lining for a jacket, a dress for my grand daughter, a silk blouse for her American Girl doll. I noticed that I am developing a stash of scraps that I'll have to deal with, but I also have some significant yardage of material I can use to make an outfit or two for myself. That got me wondering what I should make and that, in turn got me to wondering what I actually might need. So I stacked up the cut-outs for another day and started on an inventory of my wardrobe.
I consider myself to be a non-horder. I did a humungus purge after I retired--got rid of bags of shoes, dresses and jumpers and skirts and shirts--"teacher" clothes. Then I did another purge after I did a color and body styling workshop--all (well, some) of the things that are not flattering to my body type or coloring. Interestingly enough those were nearly new condition things because I really did not feel comfortable in them and rarely wore them. That really made me realize that I have wasted time and money on clothes and I want to do better.
I also consider myself to be relatively neat and organized. My closets and drawers are arranged by dress/casual/hack-around and then sorted by color. I think that holds was easy to make an inventory. I did discover that I may have to adjust my "non-horder" self image, however. I now have five skirts and twenty pairs of trousers/slacks/jeans--not bad, really, considering the span of the seasons. I have thirty (THIRTY!) sweaters. Why? I had hot flashes for over ten years and close to never put a sweater on my body for more than two minutes. I head south in the winter. Why do I need, let alone have, thirty sweaters? There's a trip to Goodwill coming on.
So my plan now is to type up the inventory and carry it with me along with my color swatches when I go shopping. I'm thinking this will help keep me focused on what I have and, therfore don't need--yes, khaki shorts may be on sale, but I see I already have 7 pairs so pass them by.
Whether I buy or I sew, it's the "one in, one out" rule for me.

Friday, April 24, 2009


Between working in the yard/garden and doing some spring cleaning jobs inside, my hands have taken a wicked beating. Time for a manicure. I have to do my own manicures. When I was working and had more discretionary money, I would gladly pay for the indulgence of a pedicure, but even then I did my own manicure. Let's face it, the average manicurist takes one look at my nails and thinks, "Why bother?" In truth, lots of people who seem to care about nails much more than I give me confused, dismayed, slightly dyspepsic looks upon noticing my nails.

My nails are short, okay? To me a good manicure is scrubbed clean nails, pushed back cuticles, clipped back, filed smooth nails that do not ever extend past the finger tips, and a good slather of rich hand cream. For special occasions, maybe a good buffing. Polish, French manicures, air brushing--not for me.

Several years age, Mike and I went on a raft trip in the Grand Canyon. This involved six days of rafting down the Colorado River, often through several freezing-cold rapids a day, and camping out under the stars for five nights. There was both physical challenge and the need for packing light. I clipped my nails especially short and never even thought about packing any kind of manicure supplies. This meant I was pretty well cut out of the circle of the rest of the women on the trip who had prepared by getting full on salon manis and spent the first half hour or so of every night's encampment repairing chipped polish and ragged nails. Real bathing and shampooing were out for the duration, but some people worried about perfect nails. I still don't get it.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Doll Clothes

When my grand daughter visits she often wants to make doll clothes for her American Girl doll. At times, we've had quite the production line going. It was rainy today and Mike has gone to an antique motorcycle meet in Pennsylvania so, having the day entirely to myself, I got into some sewing--completed 2 pair of denim jeans and a denim jumper for the AG. I ordered some more patterns--gonna try some fancier duds.

The picture is my own doll. I've had her since I was seven. I knit the hat, sweater, and booties and sewed up the pants last fall. The silouette is another minor area of collecting.

You know, I read other people's blogs and I really start to feel like I don't have much focus, or at least I don't have one strong singular passion. Dabbler, I'm definitely a dabbler.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Growing Your Own Food

Let me just say, in regard to Barbara Kingsolver's Animal, Vegetable, Miracles--should I ever, ever be in vircumstances where I have to depend on eating only the food I am able to grow myself, I am SO moving to California's western valley section.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Garden Plans

Our back yard is completely sunny. The economy is bad and "green' is all the rage. I'm taking the huge timbers out from around the flower garden in front of the house. This all meaning--place to have a vegetable garden, reason to have a vegetable garden, and materials available to assemble a raised bed vegetable garden. So why not? It's always easy to get excited about a garden at this time of year. Everything in the catalogs looks fantastic. The ground is swelling up and things are starting to grow. You just naturally get in the mood. I do remember having vegetable gardens before though. They always started out with an excess of enthusiasm that waned considerably as the weeds started bolting in the hottest part of summer and then died completely at harvest/canning/freezing time just at the same time as returning to school after the summer break. I finally just started buying vegetables at the farmers' markets.
But now I've read Barbara Kingsolver's book, Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life and Eric Slosser's Fast Food Nation. Of course, there's Martha Stewart setting an example, not to mention Michele Obama digging up the lawn at the White House. There you have it. Growing some of our own food seems like a good thing to do.
Mike has been helpful with the digging up of massive wood beams around my flower garden although I sense he thinks the idea of more garden patches at all, but especially for the purpose of growing (ick) vegetables, is just plain daft. He likes his large, flat, rectangular, plain old lawn just the way it is. (Have I mentioned we have a mixed marriage in so many ways?)
So I'm taking a piece of garden by the shed and expanding it a bit to accommodate a small veggetable patch surrounded by some annuals--planted in straight lines somehow. Tomatoes, lettuce, some green beans, and some herbs. Here's to fresh air, exercise, and fresh salad for lunch!

Friday, April 17, 2009

The Kids Visit

My seven-year-old grand daughter and two-year-old grand son were her for three nights. We picked them up in Springfield, VT on the way home from Easter dinner in Connecticut. We watched Alvin and the Chipmunks, Elmo's World, and some TV show about a family of wizards that I've forgotten the name of. We read some stories and drew lots of pictures. We spent a great deal of time at the playground and went to visit the horses up the road. More time spent running around outside than watching TV--a successful visit. The added bonus--no trips to McDonald's. Kristen was disappointed that Tuesday's night supper was chicken since she was "in the mood for seafood." I asked if by "seafood" she meant fish sticks, but no--lobster or shrimp.

Friday, April 10, 2009

In Stiches

I missed having my sewing machine while in Florida. I've been working on a dress using an "easy" Vogue pattern--no chance that it will be completed by Easter dinner. I really should take a fitting class as I'm doing all this work and all the time thinking, "Is this going to be the right size for me?" I have a definite tendency to take on too-complicated projects--a lined dress when I should maybe be practicing on a simple skirt first.

I am loving my "new" sewing machine, though. It's a Singer Stylist of 1968 vintage that Mike found on the side of the road with a "free" sign attached last fall. It needed a bit of work--a good cleaning and timing--but it works great.

I have to say sewing hurts a lot less than knitting--at least for the time being. Who knows when the dreaded arthritis will might migrate to my toes and I won't be able to press the foot pedal. I'm still working (slowly, slowly) on a wash cloth and hand towel from the leftover yarn from the cotton vest I finished last month. And then I have all the shells I collected begging for some kind of craft project. I may end up working the holiday craft fair circuit at the senior centers.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009


I have noticed a couple of spots along the roads around the house that have a pattern of accumulated litter. Specifically, there are two different spots where a serious number of coffee cups cover the ground for a twenty foot stretch or so. Both happen to be within just about the driving distance it would take to drink a cup of coffee purchased at nearby convenience store. My assumption is that a regular traveller stops at the convenience store, purchases his or her morning cuppa, drinks it on the way to work each morning, and tosses the empty cup out the window in or near the same spot each day. Has to be some one very neat, obviously, because who wants garbage piling up in the car. Or, more likely, some one who is very RUDE.

Really, I am a knee-jerk liberal by nature, but I do contemplate setting aside my otherwise firm opposition to the death penalty when it comes to dealing with litterers. Okay, extreme perhaps, but how about a tax on food purchased at fast food and convenience places--a hefty tax like they put on cigarettes and liqueur. Generate some money for highway cleanup or to add to public health funds.

Or how about a little bag to hold junk until it can be disposed of properly? How about a re-useable coffee mug??

Monday, April 6, 2009

Home Again

It is hard to comprehend that just one week ago we were walking on Caspersen Beach in bright sunshine. Since then we have packed and loaded up the car, driven 15,080 miles, unloaded and unpacked, and pretty much returned to Vermont life style. My tan is fading and my sand-sloughed feet are already a thing of the past. It's raining a cold rain--snow yesterday, but it didn't last. There's a crack in the driveway and a chip in the paint on the garage door--minor stuff considering what we've faced in previous returns.

Actually we were happy to see the lawn was not completely destroyed. The road gravel is manageable and the moles are not in evidence. Last year the yard was SO depressing when we got home in April I just wanted to draw the curtains and sit in the dark. Moles had burrowed every where. And then there was the bomb damage from Mike trying to destroy the moles--not true, of course. However, for such an animal lover otherwise, he certainly does have a "Kill the Wabbit, kill the wabbit..." perspective on moles.

The crocus (croci?) are up and the daffodils and jonquils are poking through. There are even some day lily shoots up near the back deck. Still, looks like it will be a while before I can get out and start working in the garden.

We'll have to start restocking the kitchen and catching up on the HBO series and movies we've missed. I'm in the process of setting up a sewing space for myself. It's good to be home.