Friday, July 26, 2013

Getting Out of a Patriotic Spot

Fourth of July shirts and I do not get along. I usually do not invest in special shirts for this holiday because they tend to come in four colors: red (I don't wear red), gray (I don't wear gray), navy blue (I rarely wear navy blue) and white. The year I bought a white shirt with a flag design on the front, I didn't make it as far as the bar-be-que before I slopped a massive bar-be-que sauce stain front and center. There was not enough stain remover in the world to completely remove that stain.

This year, the bar-be-que was not at our house. Instead, I attended a flag-raising ceremony followed by a pancake breakfast. I wore my off-white shirt. I thought I was safe because I had most of it covered by an apron. I still managed to get apricot jam on the front of my shirt.

I treated that shirt with stain remover and oxy-clean -- twice -- and still ended up with a massive dark gray stain. In other words, something did not like the lemon juice in the apricot jam. What to do -- toss the shirt or try to salvage it?

I had this quarter yard remnant in my stash and came up with this. Yes, I considered making a bright quilt block, but fell back on my favorite monochromatic color theme.

Oh, and by the way, when using spray fabric glue, spray it on the back of the design to be placed on the main fabric. If you spray the main fabric first, and then place the piece to be appliqued on top, the glue on the shirt sticks to the bottom of the presser feet when you sew around the edge of the design.

I'm teaching the California granddaughters how to make aprons. Since I am using a different pattern than what I have used before, I decided to make one for me first in a PATRIOTIC design. When I wear it next Fourth of July, I plan to cinch it up under my chin like a bib. Also, I am not calling it a Fourth of July apron. If I were to do that, I know I would be asking to end up with another horrible spot in the middle of it -- maybe yellow-green or hot pink! Nope, it is a PATRIOTIC apron that I can also wear for on Flag Day, Memorial Day, Veteran's Day and on any other day of the year.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Strummin' Sons

I made baby blankets for each of my grandchildren. Most (all?) definitely looked like "loving hands at home" to put it nicely. Now that I am learning to quilt, my goal is to make a quilt for each of my adult children and their spouse.
These two quilts are for my two currently unattached sons who enjoy playing the guitar. It took several months of shopping to find all the fabrics with a guitar theme. Unfortunately, the fabrics available to me were not necessarily color-coordinated. So, these quilts are theme-coordinated. If they are hard on the eyes, blink twice and put on your shades to proceed.
 The quilt above I named "Rock Star." The son who received this knows why.
This quilt is named "Gee-tar Man." Unfortunately, I merrily cut out the outside sashing, sewed it on and quilted the thing before I realized I forgot the inside narrow sashing I wanted to use. Oh, well. It's still cute. 

This is the back of "Rock Star." Found lots of this gold and black guitar pattern at K-mart.
This back is for "Gee-tar Man." Since the front got a little short-changed, I made the back a little fancier.

And, since I advised my strummin' sons to store these quilts wrapped in a fabric pillowcase or a sheet rather than in plastic or particle board furniture, I made them each a pillowcase so they have no excuse--not that they would resort to one. However, if they USE the quilts as I intend, then they have a bonus pillowcase they can use on their pillows. (Where is a smiley-face emoton when you want one?)

Monday, March 11, 2013

March Appreciation

The view from my front porch - March 2013
How important it is to not take the beauty around us for granted! This is what I see while standing on my front porch.

In a week or so, the blossoms will be gone and new green leaves will start to sprout. But, for a couple of magical weeks, I get to see this every day. I'm sure the farmers don't think it has rained enough, but the weather has been absolutely beautiful this past month--pretty much like what is pictured above.
Archie in wood chip box
It is still cool enough that a fire in the evenings and mornings feels good. When it rains, all the cats prefer to sleep in the living room near the wood stove.

I planted a few leaf lettuce plants for the first time in these grow boxes. Even with morning temperatures hovering near freezing, they have done okay. Between the lettuce and broccoli plants shown and in the box to the left, I also planted some yellow onion starts (looked for them early enough this year to buy them before all the stores ran out) and some potato eyes. 

The onions in front are from a red onion that came up this winter. I have no idea when I planted that onion start because it has been four years since I last bought them. It had three bulb heads in it, each with roots attached. I threw away the outer layers, washed and cooked up the middle layers, and planted the onion sprouts. So far, so good.

Friday, January 4, 2013

Lipstick on a Pig

I bought two three-quarter sleeve knit shirts, one in green and one in brown, five winters ago when I started losing weight. Two weeks ago, while merrily baking my  Christmas cookies, I managed to drip butter all down the front of my green shirt.

Okay, after five years, I had gotten the use of the shirt and it did have enough spots on it that I could not wear it in public as a "good" shirt. But, it is comfortable, I like it and I was not ready to throw it in the rag pile.

I ran to the laundry room and dribbled a stream of Dawn dishwashing liquid up and down over the butter spots. I needed water to thin the detergent and spread it so I could brush it in to break up the grease. I reached behind me and grabbed my spray bottle of cleaning liquid and gave the vertical stain a couple of shots.

Lo, and behold, I had NOT grabbed the liquid detergent cleaner. It was the spray bottle of diluted bleach that Buck likes to use on the bathroom grout.

I do not always think or react quickly in a crisis, but in the milliseconds that it took for the green to fade to yellow before my eyes, I realized that there was no rinsing the bleach out quickly to return the shirt to its original solid green color. I could toss the shirt, or try to salvage it.

Hey, other people can be artsy and create masterpieces out of trash. Why couldn't I give it a try? I had nothing to lose, did I?

I sprayed more bleach down the center and then two streaks on either side, plus three on back and one down the top of each arm. THEN I rinsed the shirt out and dried it. What I ended up was a bright baby-poop yellow on green kind of tie-dyed look. The chemical composition of the Dawn canceled out the effects of the bleach, so that squiggle in green still remained.

I hated the final result. Ugly, ugly, but maybe I could get away with wearing it in the house?

I pondered--how to get rid of that awful bright yellow. Ahah! I don't drink black tea, but doesn't every self-respecting quilter keep a small supply of tea bags on hand? A nice tea rinse is excellent for giving a too-much-white old-fashioned quilt an antique look. Maybe a tea rinse would help.

I boiled up a bunch of tea in my big pot, removed the bags and let the shirt soak in the hot tea. Once the shirt was rinsed out and dried, I wasn't sure if the tea toned down the yellow all that much, but it did leave faint tan speckles on the shirt. Okay, maybe an improvement. Maybe.

I then thought that I could be ultra-artsy and add some of those iron-on jewels to the neckline. In the end, I decided that would be as beautifying as putting lipstick on a pig.

I may wear the shirt--around the house--but I will never make it in the Artsy Upcycle Hall of Fame.

Saturday, December 29, 2012

My Favorite Christmas Gift

I had a great time with the California children and grandkids this Christmas. We exchanged some neat gifts. I finally got all my Christmas remembrances for friends out yesterday. However, I must admit that my favorite Christmas gift that I received this year came from my visiting teacher, Ruth. It expanded my mind and my spirit instead of my waistline (and hips and....)

Ruth knows I am a history nut. She gave me the book In the Dark Streets Shineth by David McCullough and published by Shadow Mountain. It also has a DVD that came with it taken from the 2009 Tabernacle Choir Christmas program. I haven't watched that yet. I do not need to in order to love the gift because I read the book.

It is the story of when in December of 1941, just weeks after Pear Harbor was bombed and the United States entered World War Two, Winston Churchill made a highly secret voyage across the Atlantic to join President Franklin Delano Roosevelt for the lighting of the National Christmas Tree and to participate in the President's Christmas Eve broadcast to the nation.

The story is inspiring. It also highlights the stark contrast between a 1941 president and his country full of people of faith as compared to our current national leadership that discourages open expressions of faith and will not even refer to the holiday as "Christmas." How far we have fallen.

I would love to quote in full both President Roosevelt's and Prime Minister Churchill's 1941 Christmas Eve addresses to the American people, but will only give a few words from of each. These speeches are probably in the Library of Congress collection, but I will steer clear of any copyright issues at this time. It is well worth it to purchase this beautiful book with its period photographs and the full story in order to read the speeches in their entirety.

President Roosevelt:  "...We are confident in our devotion to country, in our love of freedom, in our inheritance of courage. But our strength, as the strength of all men everywhere, is of greater avail as God upholds us.

"Therefore, hereby appoint the first day of the year 1942 as a day of prayer, of asking for forgiveness for our shortcomings of the past, of consecration to the tasks of the present, and of asking God's help in the days to come."

Winston Churchill:  "I spend this anniversary and festival far from my country, far from my family, yet I cannot truthfully say that I feel far from home....Let the children have their night of fun and laughter....Let us grown-ups share to the full in their unstinted pleasures before we turn again to the stern task and the formidable years that lie before us, resolved that, by our sacrifice and daring, these same children shall not be robbed of their inheritance or denied the right to live in a free and decent world.

"And so, in God's mercy, a happy Christmas to you all."

In the Dark Street Shineth on Shadow Mountain
In the Dark Streets Shineth on Amazon
In the Dark Streets Shineth on Barnes & Noble

Sunday, December 16, 2012

No More Palm Tree

A few years ago, I wouldn't let Buck cut down the little volunteer palm tree that sprung up next to our side porch. I thought it looked terribly cute the way the fronds shaded the porch from the morning sun.

Unfortunately, the thing grew. The leaves waved high above the eaves, it sterilized the ground so nothing but a few scraggly weeds grew and the roots were starting to lift the porch foundation. I told Buck he now had permission to cut down the palm.

The only ones who have had a problem with this were, of course, the cats. They used that palm tree  to climb on the roof. The other day Archie raced across the yard headed for the palm tree. He came to a screeching halt and for the longest time stared at the little stump that remains. (We don't dare pull the root ball out for fear of tearing up the porch.)

What happened to the kittie ladder?

Friday, November 30, 2012

Thanksgiving Burn-out

That oven and range of mine got a real work-out this past Thanksgiving holiday. Wednesday, we had a big turkey dinner here for the missionaries and friends at our house. We started doing this on Wednesdays before Thanksgiving because Buck wants to cook a bird even when we go elsewhere for Thanksgiving day. He gets grumpy when he does not get his turkey for sandwiches. Thursday, we went to dinner at a friend's house with the daughters and California grandchildren on my side. Friday, we had another big Thanksgiving dinner for the family on Buck's side. By Saturday, we were turkeyed out.

My 20+ year old oven was burnt out. My first clue was when I could not get the heat regulated for the quick bread I tried to make Monday. First, the bread was not baking fast enough and was raw inside even though it had been in long enough. I put it back in a little longer and adjusted the temperature. The next thing I knew, everything was burnt black top and bottom. (No pictures--take my word for it.)

Specifically, the temperature knob for the oven fell apart while I was trying to adjust the heat level for the quick bread. I guess those all day pie, turkey and casserole baking sessions on Wednesday and Thursday put it over the edge.

I called all the appliance repair places. They were very kind and did not laugh when I told them I wanted a part for a stove that was on model close-out when we bought it over 20 years ago. A few said they were not able to find anything on the internet. No kidding. Before I called them, I couldn't find anything on the internet, either.

Someone suggested we get a universal knob at a big box store that sells appliances. We did. This knob fits "MOST" stoves. It did not fit ours. It may say it is on "Broil," but, trust me, that is the "off" position--at least as of the time this picture was taken. Yes, I can turn the oven on and off. However, if I twist the knob just so, it slips to a different position for "off." So much for accurate heat regulation.....

Buck tried one last company that assured him they could order in the original factory part for our make and model of stove. I cringed when Buck told me that after tax and shipping, the cost for that little piece of plastic came to over $50. But, with new stoves starting at over $1,000, we both agreed that a new knob at $50 was cheaper than buying a whole new range.
Speaking of searching the internet, our little people kitty Archie decided to hop on the table and keep Buck company while Buck was working on his emails. After walking across the computer, Archie plopped himself down to take a nap. That tail of his is so long and fluffy, it practically covered the entire keyboard.