30 November, 2011

November Hummingbird

As long as I keep the food coming. . .

Hummingbird food recipe:
4 parts Water (1 cup Water)
1 part Sugar   (1/4 cup Sugar)

Boil this together in small saucepan. Let cool.

If you have a husband like mine, it helps to add one drop of red food coloring. It's not necessary for the birds (and possibly harmful - red dye). My husband just sees water in the pan and helpfully tosses it out AND puts the pan in the dishwasher.

But that's another post: If the pan just had water in it - WHY does it need to go through the dishwasher?
(answers are just not suitable for public audiences.)

29 November, 2011

Thanksgiving Flowers

I was going to add these photos to my post from yesterday but it was getting a tad long. That's my problem - when I got something to say - I tend to keep writing and not editing.  These are some flowers I found blooming perkily when I took the compost out yesterday.

Bachelor Button

Hardy Fuchsia

Brown-eyed Susan
These are the really good orange Chuck-it Balls that Rusty 'borrows' from the neighbor's giant poodle, Faux Pas. Faux Pas likes to fetch also but tends to drop his balls when he sees something more interesting. Rusty discovered these balls go a long way and hold up to repeated fetching.
Rusty, like most Labs, has a keen sense of smell and hearing. He can fetch these in the dark.
 I came out to the garage to take a photo of the gunny sacks of nuts and Rusty gave me the look.

One more picture of the pumpkin seeds my sister roasted and flavored for me. She used olive oil instead of vegetable oil (soy).
She made plain Salted, Cinnamon and Cayenne.

28 November, 2011

Hazelnuts Out My Ears

I was trying to sew yesterday. However my engineering was a tad off and I got smart and put my sewing away until the mojo returns.
I have 65# of cracked hazelnuts to pick the shells off.  I bought them Saturday from Melcher Farms near St. Paul. I've bought from them before and they have a consistent quality dried nut. They have hazelnut recipes on their web site.
We use them in baking and eating raw. The best way is to roast them in the oven and then rub the skins off.

I watched a Hallmark movie - can't remember the name - and separated nearly 20 #'s.
If you want to roast your own nuts, it's pretty simple and imparts a better nut intensity.

Place a single layer of nuts on a cookie sheet and place in a 300' oven for 20 - 30 minutes. For hazelnuts, you will see the skins start to crack. Take an old dishcloth and rub at the nuts. This will take off most of the skins.

I think this year it might have pencilled out to buy already shelled nuts as the shells account for at least 60% of the weight. 2/3 off the nuts will go to my sis in Minnesota.
My dream would be to find someone in Texas who has paper shell pecans who will trade for hazelnuts.

Pecans might be my favorite nut. They are very soft - softer than walnuts.
I used to bake quite a bit until I discovered all of my food allergies. Plus, my kids left home and my son tells me his girlfriend is baking him cookies now (boohoo).
I prefer pecans in carrot cake but I will use whatever nut I have in the house.
I also like to use them when I make cheese balls. They go inside the cream cheese mixture and I roll the balls in a chopped pecan and parsley mixture. Cheese balls still get made for the neighbors for Christmas.

Almonds have shown up on one of my food allergy panels so in order to try and stop a reaction to all nuts, I eat them sparingly. Currently, I make a gorp- aka trail mix of craisins, nuts, dark choc. chips, pumpkin seeds and sunflower seeds. This is a good take-along lunch for me if I have to work long hours.

So what was I sewing? Microwave Potato Bags. These make great Christmas gifts as well as stocking the bazaar I am  participating in this weekend.

This is a great fabric I picked up at Boersma's in McMinnville this summer. It has various flour mills' labels - one from Portland, Oregon. My little side research did not pull up a Forest Flour Mill in Oregon so maybe this is just a designer's dream.
All I sewed wrong was the envelope flap. Below - you can see it is going to turn up to be on the inside of bag instead of on the outside when I turn it.
The real problem was I did it both times. No learning curve here.

It's an easy fix. Slice through the serger stitches with my seam ripper and line up flap in the correct position and re-serge.  But since I did it twice, I figured I needed to go do something a bit more simple - like sorting nuts instead.

20 November, 2011

Forever Young by Puritan

On the way to  meet with Becky Ross of Project Runway (season 9) fame, I picked up a dress from my daughter. I came armed with a measuring tape and pins because she had called and wanted me to alter the dress for her. It turned out be a different type of altering.
She had bought this vintage dress at a thrift store. The dress itself is sheer with a navy blue background and one inch white polka  dots all over. She wears it with a tank top and tights. She wore it all summer. 

But the old sheer material was fraying all over the place. At least two extensive repairs had been made to contain the fraying seams.
I was taken with the sewn details. The collar starts at the back and drapes over to the front. So there is this interesting lapped detail at the back neck.
Back Collar neck detail (not ironed yet)

Two darts (one added as an alteration) at the front sleeve area helped shape the bust area.
The front skirt is flat at the front but has four pleats towards the side seam. The back skirt has four gores. The fit is flat at the waist and with the gores (backside) and the pleats (front side) - it brings together a nice full 50's skirt which falls just below the knee.
Front pleats

There is also back neck darts as well as back waist darts to keep the shape close to the body.
I could tell it was older because of the label and the seaming but looking it up on the internet gave some more details.

It was made for the Forever Young line probably back in the 50's. There is an interesting article about the fashion line over at the Vintage Fashion Guild. Apparently the dresses sold were licensed copies of European designers.

 My altering was basically to stablize the seams. My serger was threaded with black and I had recently finished working with my scarf which was also sheer and prone to fraying. I did a spot check on tension and settings and found them to be set just right for this material. One of the previous alterations had been done with white thread (on a dark blue fabric! -even if the dots are white - hhmmph!) and another was done with navy blue thread on one side and a light blue in the bobbin.  I decided I didn't want to unpick if I didn't have to and my black thread should be invisible next to those colors.
Serging. You can see the serged, stablized seam at upper left.
The serger cuts off the excess seam -mostly threads here- as it secures the seam.
The white thread is from a previous stablization attempt.
I started my serge at the hem and came up to the waist, tapering off before I reached the waist tape. I serged all four gores, then started on the top of the dress. The side seams, even the darts were really fraying so I hit them with the serger too. I did all the seams that were fraying and then used almost half a bottle of fraycheck to help with the seam stablization.
The skirt seams and the top seams all led to the waist seam - I finished serging here.
I re-hemmed the hem that was loose and I ironed a bit and it looked like a different dress inside.

***I don't have enough light in the house to take a full-on dress photo but you would not be able to see or appreciate the sheerness nor the design of this navy-blue dress with white polka dots.
Front button placket - where the collar-roll starts
I love my serger - it took less than an hour to do all the stablizing which consisted mainly of serging the seams and applying fraycheck.
The last two buttons (past knee) were re-sewn on wrong -gathering the material- but I elected not to fix those as doing so would create more holes that would fray. I didn't think it was that noticeable.
It's a stunning dress that would be interesting as a pattern because of all the details.
My daughter wants to wear this dress again and since it had been fixed before, I made the decision to use the serger to fix it this time.

All of the seams looked like this before I cleaned it up.

A further article about the House of Mod contained this interesting look-back at women's wear in 1965:
"In 1965, women could not wear trousers to dine at La Côte Basque—or to work in most offices. “You have to realize how square everything was,” says Schumacher. “When we opened, women were still wearing hats and gloves. There was even a union rule that no dress could be shipped unless it was a certain length.”"

19 November, 2011

Saturday Afternoon

These are super quick to make. Reading the SMS blog before work this morning led to making these this afternoon.
Very fast to make and the directions are spot on.

These small zippered pouches are to store your ear buds. The key ring can attach to my daughter's book bag. Instead of stuffing her ear buds into her pocket- she can have a dedicated storage spot.
I made two.

The first one used the black checked fabric with the red plaid - but when it was done - it was not my daughter at all. Then I pulled out the orange polka dot fabric and then the blue (turtle) batik and this one is more her style.

My local Thriftway had the Turkeys on sale. I think they had the best deal too. Spend $100 and you get the turkey for FREE.  Spending $100 wasn't hard (when the kids were home) - you can see that Eggnog for the boy there. He's old enough now to spice up that eggnog.

My Thriftway has really embraced organic/local/gluten-free/allergy-free foods including
the turkey on the right.
I don't tend to react to the turkey. It's more the stuff they inject them with. Probably some soy-based liquid.  The Norbest turkey is for the (polite) family event on Thursday where they will devour the carcass. The Mary's turkey on the right is for my husband and I later.

Instead of a dessert for my gluten-free offering, I am making my Butternut Squash soup recipe for a first course. I can always make Rice Krispy Treats with chocolate on top for an easy dessert that I can handle in small bits and everyone else loves.

18 November, 2011

Very Random Thoughts

In some particular order:

1.  Aahhck! Where did Feliz Navidad come from on my wake-up alarm?
2.  Why are two (2!) radio stations in Portland, Oregon playing non-stop Christmas music at the beginning of November?
3.  Note-to-self: Take photo for blog of where we get our Christmas tree. $2/foot
4.  Nothing to listen to on the radio driving to work.
5.  Should I make candy airplanes or chocolate heart pops for the bazaar.?
6.  Make only one (candy item).
7.  Repeat: small table: Decide which one to make!
8.  Too tired to sew some more of these little purses.
9.   I can sew this weekend.
10. Do I call, e-mail or text Thanksgiving invites to the family.
11.  Phone battery died. Thank God!
12.  Remember to charge phone.
13.  Thank God I learned how to send multiple texts a few months ago on my phone.
14.  Can I get one of those natural turkeys? Remember to stop back in at Thriftway to see if they got any in stock.
15. Make a list of what we need for groceries.
16. How can I get my Mom over to the library to see if they can get my mom comfortable using an e-reader?
17. I wish I knew my work schedule.
18. I wonder if the library is open Friday after Thanksgiving?
19. My mom, if someone could get her comfortable using an e-reader would really love a Kindle Fire.
20. No way! to my sister's request that I take my mom to JcPenney's Bra-fitting sale event. TMI.
21. I would buy my mom a Kindle Fire for Christmas.
22. Library is offering free noon-time e-reader 'get-aquainted' classes through November and December.
23. I wish I knew my work schedule.
24. I wish January would hurry up so I would know my work situation.
25. I have loved not working 6 days a week.
26. My etsy shop, Bonanza shop and ebay have all done pretty good for me these last few months.
27. I am grateful for this opportunity to grow my home business.
28. Daughter is NOT COMING for Thanksgiving!??!
29. She's probably the smart one here. She's gonna be a guest at her friend's dinner which generally means that family will set aside their petty dramas and BE POLITE.
30. Who can I invite for Thanksgiving so I get a polite table???
31. Husband's sister is thinking about it. Whew.
32. Remember to stop by TW and see if they have all the turkeys in yet.
33. Meet friend for coffee tomorrow at Biscuits after I get done with work.
34. Lots of work stuff to discuss.
35. Start picturing how to arrange table at bazaar. Daughter is setting up and manning it while I finish up work.
36. Why is a PO bazaar on a Saturday, anyway?
37. Right -- more  people to come in and buy.
38. This version of Carol of the Bells - I am liking.

39. What can I make for dessert that is gluten-free?
40. Ask Suzi if she has an easier recipe than this one.
41. What kind of activity can we do at Thanksgiving?
42. To keep family drama down to a minimum.
43. I am going to get that door fixed today!
44. It keeps slamming shut.
45. Dog is a whiner.
46. ahh, second cup of coffee.
47. I really hate drinking my vegetables (juicing).
48. But I like how it makes me feel.
49. Need to go make breakfast now.
50. Pear, apple, celery, zucchini, broccoli.

Serious random brain activity today.

Leaving you with Andy Williams, The Most Wonderful Time of the Year.

SewMamaSew test link.

13 November, 2011


It was a dark and dreary night day.

All of my photos had to be taken under the
Ott light.
I finished these hot pads for the bazaar (and etsy).

 I hope you can see some of the luminosity of the paint. I picked up the dragonfly stencil here and the paint here. This fabric is a tad rough so the paint wanted to catch on the surface. When I have stenciled on a smoother fabric the blue-green variations are more pronounced. You have to plan ahead as the paint needs to dry 24 hours before you heat set it with the iron.

Of course that means I have some spare stenciled dragonflies that will show up in other projects.

Our mailboxes are at the end of our private road about a half-mile away. This automatically enters you into the miler's club if you complete one circuit. I usually walk at least two in the early morning but as it was raining and blowing yesterday I copped out. I did not want to go to work start my day with rain-frizzed hair. Instead I walked down to get the mail in the rain and blustery wind later on in the afternoon. Which worked out because one of my neighbors was outside in her garage  painting pvc pipe to create a cold frame for one of her garden beds. A glass of wine later, we drove her car to my house and conducted a bamboo raid on my nearby neighbor's house which recently sold. She had a clumping variety of bamboo in her front side bed which was being overgrown by lanky rhododendrons. I say, "had", because now most of it is in my yard and that of the drinking wine neighbor's yard.

Arriving home, feeling tired (wine?), I caught up on some blog reading. I follow SewMamaSew this time of year because they put together an enticing list of very distracting handmade projects.
As usual, Kathy got immediately distracted with these.

Rather addicting, you are basically 'knitting' on your fingers. These are the two-fingered bracelets. The four-fingers created a huge mess coming out behind my fingers. I don't think I was managing to get it tight enough. V and Co. has a charming video so you, too, can cut into your knit stash and make cute bracelets.
You can also cut the 1" strips from old t-shirts, there-by bringing your latent re-purposing talents to all the people on your gift list.

11 November, 2011

Bazaar Busy

I get in my sewing room(s) and cannot focus on one job. I want to make it all - at the same moment - on the same cutting table. I pull out fabrics for the next project before I am done with the first.  I end up having to have a severe talk with myself and I end up having to leave the room for a while (time-out) so I can get back to the ONE job at hand.
Which was to finish this respectable pile of hot pads.

Which was difficult because I am a self-imposed "gotta make it better" sewer. That last word could be the sewer but we'll try to keep it a sew-er. Just make the stinkin' simple hotpad. No way, Jose. I have to hand-draw a figure from the fabric - dragonflies - and quilt around that to make MY hotpads unique. That's me, I confess, very unique.
And troublesome.

You gotta admit - it turned out cuter.

I still have four insul-bright squares cut-out and I don't even wanna tell you where my busy brain went with these. I'll give you a hint: it involves a spin on dragonflies.

But, these are DONE.

Can you spot the OSU and U of O hotpads?

Portland PO Holiday Bazaar is Saturday, December 3, 2011 at
721 NW 9th Ave. Portland, Oregon 97209
Eco-Trust Building
Hours: 9am - 4pm

Come see what my undisciplined brain sews up.

09 November, 2011

Brunch with Becky Ross

My friend, Pencil Girl and I met with Becky Ross last Sunday. Becky was candid about what went on behind the scenes during production of season 9 of Project Runway.

Becky lives and works here in Portland, Oregon and she was a total delight to meet.

Six weeks of taping this summer to create season 9 involved a huge amount of sitting and standing around. Contestants stand at attention on the runway awaiting scathing comments from judges; Michael Kors, Nina Garcia and Heidi Klum. The judging which takes a few edited minutes on your home screen takes 5 - 6 hours on the set. Judges confer with the guest judge; all is conferred with the producers who have their own agenda and finally, contestants who have been sitting in the lounge area - waiting- are called back out to hear the final verdict.

Even if you get voted off, you must stay until the end. While the others are battling it out in the workroom, the voted off people hang out in the break room or lounge. It all leads to serious boredom. Becky finally had enough of reading and crossword puzzles and asked for a barbie doll which she proceeded to make outfits for. She dressed them up as contestants, Bryce Black,  production assistants (PA's) or whoever asked for one that looked just like them. This led to a rumor that Becky was making voodoo dolls of cast members.

When contestants arrive in New York, their personal belongings are given a thorough search for contraband. Their wallets are secured and contestants are without phones, internet, e-mail, credit cards or even cash for the entire six weeks. If you needed a candy bar at midnight, you had to phone a PA to get one for you. Becky confessed to a new love of Red Bull drinks and other caffeinated/taurinated drinks in order to withstand the grueling pace.

Contestants had to buy new supplies for every challenge. They could keep tools - like rulers and scissors but not supplies (pins, needles, interfacings) - in an attempt to level the playing field. At Mood they had the allotted time to find fabrics, notions(supplies) and once time was called had to get in line to pay. Hopefully, back in the workroom, found you with the kind of supplies to execute something to put on the runway. You could have any amount of fabrics cut but could only take with you up to the allotted $$ amount.

Challenges were taped back to back. Literally --4 to 6 hours of sleep each night. They struggled until midnight and then came back early the next morning to finish for the runway show. Finishing one challenge, they were greeted with another the next morning. Non-stop. Weekly shows were taped two or three to a week. She said it was a relief in some ways to get voted off because she slept for two days straight.

This is a reality show so any drama induced by the contestants gets a bit of film time. The episode when Josh goes ballistic over Becky's role in the group challenge painted Josh as manipulative and antagonistic. Becky thought he was plain mean. That day started with Becky waking up sick and wanting to throw up. When Becky was well enough to leave the bathroom, Heidi announced the athletic wear challenge. --Where they had to run a lap around the track. --Where Becky got paired up with Josh and Laura and they basically told Becky to just sew. She wasn't there to add design input.

In a cosmic trade-off, contestants were not paid for their time, nor were their mortgages/leases paid while they were gone. The trade-off was the possibility of jump-starting your career and riding the five minutes of fame exposure. Even though Becky got voted off , she now has at least 43 possible career moves.

Becky wants to design for the average woman who is 5'4 and wears a 14-16 size. She wants to be an image consultant because she believes every woman can and should look their best.

She is an excellent seamstress who has really good design ideas for the Pacific Northwest woman.
She is every bit as forthright as she appeared on the show. She tells it how it is. She received quite a bit of air time because of that forthrightness and is reaping the benefit of that now with potential contracts. People really liked what she had to say.

Becky came across as thoughtful about her recent tv experience and where it would lead her. She has an innate sense of humor to be able to look back on events and find the positive aspects and how the experience will help her in the future.

 The brunch was held at Portland Sewing in Portland.