Tuesday, April 30, 2013

It's Been One of Those Days and a NewFO

Let me backtrack to yesterday. I wrote my blog post and scheduled it to post at 7am because I had a doctor appointment this morning and knew I wouldn't be able to do it before I left. I needed the Geek Squad to look at my computer and see why the security program wouldn't let my printer print and then I was going to come home and update the link to Kate's blog. But it didn't work out that way. The Geek Squad wanted to keep my computer, remove the offending Kaspersky, and clear my computer before loading a new security program. That took 5 hours. Then I had to reload MS Office, reconnect to the internet router, and then load a new security program because they didn't do it after all. Another hour. Then Hubby brought home a new storm door for the back door that keeps leaking when it rains even though we've replaced it and all the weatherstripping twice. It didn't take me very long to do my part helping him with the door; it was cleaning up after burning the chicken I had left on the stove that took a long time. In fact, the house still stinks and I've had all the fans and windows open for three hours.

I've cut out soda, and had cut out sweets starting this week, but this was a night that called for chocolate.

My biggest project for April has been trying to organize my stash.  I'm still working on my sewing room, aka guest room, but having my fabrics scattered throughout the house makes every sewing project so much harder that it is really number one.  While organizing my stash, I found I have too much scrap denim.  So much that the box wouldn't shut.  So last month I made the denim apron, and a few days ago started this quilt project by making the templates and then cut about fifty circles (with regular scissors) until my hand started cramping and my thumb went numb. Oops, I think I need to pace myself. I've still got a lot of jeans to cut but it's a nice, mindless project to do while watching tv. The squares should go quickly; the hardest part will be deciding which fabrics to use.  Right now, it's a UFO, or NewFO as Barbara of Cat Patches calls them. So I'm linking this NewFO to her blog. Maybe that will encourage me to keep going on it.

This is the only project I've started in April, other than the shower curtain, which wasn't much of a project.  I looked back on my April goals, and saw that I had planned to make another apron.  That didn't get done, and I don't think it will get done in May either.  Besides the garden which is breeding weeds like mosquitoes in an old tire, I get to spend some time in St. Louis with my daughter.  I will be sewing curtains for her, so I guess that will be my sewing goal for May.

What projects did you start in April?


15 Minute Challenge, Experimenting with Shower Curtains

For years I've used a clear plastic liner as a shower curtain. Not pretty, but lets in light so we can see to shave. I hate taking a shower in the dark. However, a plastic shower curtain doesn't draw back well and is hard to clean. I put it in the washer and it does fine, but being plastic, it doesn't spin well and doesn't do well in the dryer at all.

I used to have a cloth shower curtain made by a name brand company and I liked it, except it was too short for my current shower. I did like the way it hung and how easy it was to throw into the washer with the sheets every week. But I also wanted to cover the shower rod, and most shower curtains don't do that, so I decided to try making one out of a queen sized sheet. I bought a set with 600 thread count, but it must be a cheapo brand because the hem started fraying after the first wash. They also don't feel like 600 thread count. When I make another, I'll buy some that are better quality, but these were fine for experimenting and now I know what to do next time.

This month, Kate at Life in Pieces has been talking about observation. Last week in particular I wanted to chime in and tell her how observation affects my quilting. Take, for example, my bottle of shampoo. There is a design on it that I just love, kind of a spirograph flower, and I've been contemplating a quilt with that design for several years. Or sometimes I watch shade filtering through a tree, changing the colors of the flowers and grass underneath, and think what a pretty quilt could be made from those colors. Sometimes I see a shape that could become a cartoon character or a cute character for embroidery. Design is all around us; sometimes I just have to take off my glasses to see it.

When I picked up mom's machine from the repair shop, I also shopped for some fabric to make a pinwheel type baby quilt. I ended up with these fabrics (and the quilt pattern is in the book opened beside it).

So, on to the business side of this post, or how I've spent my sewing time. I spent four of the last seven days with needle and thread and the last three days measuring fabric. I'm still trying to get my sewing stuff unpacked and organized, and then I need to find a place for everything in the guest room I'll use as a sewing room.

Next is my stash buster report, which should be named stash collector as I seem to be adding rather than subtracting from it.

One reason I have added when I should be subtracting to the stash is that it is so hard to get to find a fabric in it. My stash is kept in nine plastic boxes under a guest room bed, and four of the boxes are fairly difficult to reach. My stash inventory just lists general colors which doesn't help at all when it comes to finding a fabric for a project. Like the six yards bought for the baby quilt I need to make. I knew I had some fabric in my stash, but I hadn't been able to find it. But I had an aha moment this week and decided to not only measure each piece of fabric in my stash, but to photograph them and put them on a spreadsheet. That way, I can easily look through pictures of my stash, see the amount of fabric for each, and choose a quilt pattern that uses what I have. It looks like this:

I'm joining Kate at Life in Pieces for her 15 Minute Challenge. Pop over there to see how others have met the challenge this week, and don't be shy, join in and show us what you've been working on.

Monday, April 29, 2013

Catching Up, First My Adventure on Antique Alley

The odd thing about blogging, at least for me, is that one skipped day turns into two, and then three, and before I know it, a week has gone by with no posts. I've been thinking of things I want to blog about; I even write them in my mind as I'm tilling the garden, pulling weeds, painting boards, or whatever. But the words never make it to the computer. Sorry about that, and thank you to the folks who have emailed and asked about it.

This was my first trip to Antique Alley. I went with a friend (and fellow blogger) and her sister. It's always interesting to see how something catches the eye of another that I never even noticed. Her sister spotted a mermaid lamp, or a mermaid minus it's lamp parts, and started dickering with the owner. The owner wouldn't go down and the sister walked. As we walked around, she thought about that lamp and asked her sister (my friend) if she would go offer a price halfway between the owner's price and the sister's offer. While she was gone, the sister and I joked that all this interest would probably make the price go up. My friend came back empty handed. The owner wouldn't come down. So we continued to other booths. Just as we were walking back to the car to go to the next stop, the sister said she wanted to make one last offer, so she went back to that booth and we went to the car. She came back with the mermaid and had gotten it for $3 less than the owner's price. lol

Antique Alley is a misnomer. It is not an alley and not just antiques. It is flea market style which means there could be an antique booth next to a booth of new items bought at a wholesale store. Booths are set up along main streets in towns and on various farms along the highways between Cleburne and Grandview, and then from Grandview to Maypearl or Grandview to Itasca. We never made it past Grandview. There were a lot of booths with shabby chic items, and a lot of hand crafted items. There were also lots of booths with stuff you would find at a garage sale. Lots and lots of those. Oh, and food booths. I think food booths always make the most money at these things, at least that's where most of the crowds gather.  On this day, someone could have made a fortune selling ear muffs and gloves.  It was COLD.

My friend and I both brought our SUVs so we could drive one until it was full and then switch to the other. But none of us bought enough to even fill one SUV. I'm sure if we had spent the whole weekend, we could have easily filled both SUVs and then some. There's just too much to see in one day. The next one is in September and I'll be better prepared.

These are my new acquisitions: A set of Corelle dishes to match some I already have, three diet/food books, two Sunbeam mixing bowls, a Tupperware spatula, and three picture frames. I was really looking for a pair of matched lamps to go in the bedroom I am redoing, but I never found the right ones, so I ordered a pair from Target when I got home.  Below are some catch and release items.


Friday, April 19, 2013

Antique Alley, Here I Come

Have you ever bought stuff and had no where to put it, and then had to just leave it in your car? I did.

I scored these five chairs on Craig's List.  They're not exactly what I wanted, but the price was right and after I refinish them, they'll be fine.  The problem is that I didn't want to bring them in the house in this condition, and if I put them in the garage, I couldn't get the car in.  So I just left them in the car for a week. 

But I had to find a place for this stuff because today I'm going to Antique Alley. It starts in Cleburne, Texas and goes through Mansfield and Itasca. Lots of garage sales, antique shops, and flea markets. The weather is going to be mild and I'm going with a good friend so I'll have a good time even if I don't buy anything.


Thursday, April 18, 2013

Another Horrific Tragedy

Last night we were preparing for the storm that was supposed to hit early this morning. The cars were in the garage and I had gone into the kitchen while Hubby was preparing the back door (that still leaks) and anchoring down loose furniture on the deck. I heard a loud rumble and the cabinet doors thumped. I thought the wind caught something and flung it against the house, but when Hubby came in, he said he didn't do it. I guessed it was a thunder even though we barely had clouds overhead, and Hubby guessed it was an earthquake. It wasn't until the 10:00 news that we found out what caused it, a massive explosion in West, Texas, almost sixty miles away.

I'm not going to give you a report on the explosion because it's been all over the news and can be read almost anywhere online. But this tragedy on the heels of the Boston Marathon bombs have left most of this area shaken. And to tell you the truth, this one has affected me more because I have been to West and through West many times. The injuries and loss of lives will are devastating in a town this small. My thoughts and prayers go to the victims of both tragedies, their families, and the many responders who are there to help.


Monday, April 15, 2013

Fast and Fabulous Banana Pudding

I am posting this recipe at the request of my daughter. It is not my own recipe, it came from the label on the Eagle Brand Condensed Milk, although the first time I tasted it, it was made with low fat condensed milk and low fat milk. I don't really see the point in that since it has two cups of heavy whipping cream.

Some people put sour cream in their version rather than the whipping cream, and some people use cool whip because it's easier. This is the version my family prefers.

Banana Pudding

14 oz can condensed milk
1 ½ cup cold milk
3 ½ oz vanilla instant pudding

2 cup heavy whipping cream
3 medium bananas, sliced and dipped in lemon juice (I seldom dip in lemon juice)
36 vanilla wafers

Combine first 3 ingredients in large measuring bowl and refrigerate for 5 minutes. Whip cream in large mixing bowl, then fold in refrigerated pudding mixture.

Layer wafers, bananas, and pudding, ending with layer of wafers.


Thursday, April 11, 2013

Finally! Got Those Hummers!

We've had one hummingbird around here for over a week, and it has recently been joined by another. The first one is very skittish, but our cold snap yesterday must have slowed them down a little and I got a few pictures. Excuse the quality, they were shot through the kitchen window, the bottom part with the screen.

This is the second one, a tiny guy who really has no distinguishing colors. He is so small I wonder if he is young. His feathers were really puffed out as he tried to stay warm, making him look bigger. He stayed on the feeder for several minutes at a time until the other one drove him off.   That black line is a slat from the blinds.  I was afraid if I lifted them, the birds wouldn't come back.

This is the one who came last week, but he is much harder to photograph and he wouldn't stay at the feeder if he saw me at the window. I couldn't reach above the screen and had to peek around the corner of the cabinet to photograph him. Finally, at dusk, he finally stayed long enough for a shot, even though it's almost too dark to see him.  His feathers aren't as fluffed as the smaller hummer.

Today, I tried to take pictures outside, but they wouldn't come near the feeder with me there. So back to the kitchen, and I put a step stool in front of the window so I could take a picture without the screen in the way. Again, the second guy stayed longer and was easier to shoot. See how much thinner he looks today?

The first guy only wanted to feed at the flower on the far side of the feeder. I finally covered it with a piece of cloth so he had to come around to one of the other flowers.

An update.  On a gardenweb forum, someone posted a photo of a hummer similar to the one in my first photo.  Someone said they thought it was a Ruby Throated juvenile.  I've noticed that our little guy has been changing and this is a photo taken today, April 15.  I don't know if the photo shows it, but the green coloring on his back has started coming through.  Still no ruby throat though.  He is also spending less time just sitting at the feeder, and has started looking around more when he is there.  As long as there are just two hummers here, I think I can document the changes in this one, but if more show up, I probably won't be able to tell one from another.

I am linking up with Shay's Favourite Things Friday at Quilting in My Pyjamas even though I posted this a bit early. Photobucket

Monday, April 8, 2013

The Ever Changing Blogland

I can imagine Lou Grant saying, "You know what? You've got change."
And blogland answering, "Well, yes..."
Then Lou's famous answer, "I hate change."

I don't hate all change, just the change in things I really liked, like the way blogland used to be. I've rewritten this post several times, and erased it several times because I don't want it to sound whiny or to point any fingers, but that seems the likely end. Change is inevitable, on the internet as well as everywhere else. Those who resist change get left behind. Just ask MySpace.

Let me stress that I love blogs.  I read them for entertainment, to keep up with friends, and to learn new things.  When I need to know how to do something, I always search blogs first.  I figure someone has already done it and has written a tutorial, and I'd rather find out how to do it from someone who has really done it than from a how to website or manual that only tells how it should be done.  I think that's one reason I'm troubled by the changes I've been seeing lately.

I know that a great majority of bloggers out there blog for the exposure it brings them, and many want to grow their blogs into a business, and that people who just plain ol' blog are fast becoming dinosaurs. I don't really mind being a dinosaur, as long as I'm not standing alone in a tar pit.

What I've been noticing over the last year are a lot more linky parties and promotional posts, so much so that sometimes I have to scroll down several days worth of posts to find an actual blog post. Don't get me wrong, I like linky parties, but not every day and not on every blog. I came across a linky party on a blog today where several of the links went to other linky parties. And on another recent linky party, at least a third of the links were to blog posts on how to promote your blog, and the etiquette of promoting your blog.

I think it's great that people have found a way to make money with their blogs, and I would turn on google adsense also if I could pick the ads, but I'm afraid I would get that one with the creepy, hairy guy and the title "Have you ever been arrested?" *shudder* No thank you. From skimming some of the "how to promote your blog" articles, I understand where the plethora of linky parties come from, but no where do I find how to tell when it's time to stop promoting.
I am editing this post to add part of a conversation I've had through email with Kate.  You know how it is when you reply to a comment via email and they reply back, the conversation continues between the two of you then.
But Kate brought up a point that I hadn't considered.  She said:  "I have seen a few bloggers who have been blogging for years have commented on their blog that they finally reached enough content that they either had to remove older posts or start paying a fee to keep all of their content."
After she said that, I recalled seeing a blog, which is now inactive, whose last post said that she had gotten a notice from blogger saying she had used up her free space and she had to decide whether to pay for space or let it go.  She chose to let it go.  I just looked back at her blog; she started it in 2009 and had 169 posts with about that many photos.
I've been blogging since 2007 and have over 500 posts and well over that many photos.  Yet, if there is a limit, I don't know what it is or if I'm near it.  However, if there is a limit, and I reach it, then I will have to decide what to do.  As a stay-at-home-mom (or whatever I am now that the kids are gone), I don't have the resources to fund an online hobby.  I would have to give it up, or change.  And you know how well I like change.  Food for thought.  Thanks, Kate!
The look of blogs have also evolved over the last year or so. The headings look like scrapbook titles and the content is arranged like newspaper or magazine articles. All in all, very modern and artsy. I intend to make a new header for my blog, and I should probably be spending this time working on that instead of this article.

I happened upon a blog several weeks ago that asked the question, "Do you delete blogs from your blog list if they have been silent very long" and it made me question the blogs I constantly skip over because I can tell by the title that it's a promotion or yet another linky party. Why do I keep them on my blog list? I guess I'm waiting for the increasingly rare real post from them.  I do like the blogs who have a regular blog post along with their linky party or give away.  That works for the people who have come to read a post and those who have come to join a linky party - the best of both worlds.

But that brings me to my main questions and the reason I am really writing this post. What do the rest of you think about blogs where nearly every post is a linky party, a give away, or a promotional post of some kind, especially those blogs that are wildly popular? Do you think this is the future of a new wave of bloggers, or will it be the end of blogging and the start of a new type of format?

Either way, this old dinosaur will keep cranking out family stories, cat stories, updates on our home remodel, and the various projects we create. And when we can no longer keep sight of progress, if blogging even continues, we'll sink into the mire and cease to exist.


Thursday, April 4, 2013

April in The Year of the Finished Project

In March, the only thing I completed was the apron I remade from a denim dress. I hope to do better in April.

My goal for April is to make another apron, make a cloth shower curtain for my master bath, and make curtains for Lil's bedroom. When I go there, I'll leave her my little Janome, that is if mom's Pfaff comes out of the shop sewing well. I did take it in today and the main repairman raved about that Pfaff, so I'm encouraged that it will be a good machine for me. If not, I know I won't have to ask him twice if he wants to buy it. He said he has been searching for two years for that very machine to give his mother.

I'm linking this up to Never Too Hot to Stitch. These are just goals, check back at the end of the month to see if they were accomplished.