Monday, August 31, 2009

From Sock to Glasses' Case

I'm going to England in two weeks, and need to pack light. My sunglasses are the kind that fit over my regular glasses, and the case that came with them is ridiculously bulky. I've been wondering about something to protect them from scratching that won't add bulk or weight. Quilted case? No -- still too bulky. Then I remembered my Miss Matched Socks -- the kind where you get three in a pair and each one is different. I have some that are black with big polka dots, wide black and white stripes, and narrow ones. Here are the narrow ones with the glasses:

Do they fit? Yup.
How long does the case need to be?
Serge or cut and sew:
Yaayy! Very thin and lightweight. And kind of cute.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Not Too Exciting

How's that for an eye-catching title for a blog entry? Can't be helped -- that's life a lot of the time. Much of this week has been spent coping with a bumper crop of broccoli, carrots, green beans, tomatoes and eggplant. I froze the tomatoes, that's a no-brainer. Read up in The Victory Garden about freezing the other veggies. Green beans and broccoli have to be blanched, then chilled, before packaging. Here's some broccoli in the ice water bath:
But when I strained it again, it was so wet I thought "This will end up chunks of ice." So I spread each batch out on a cooling rack to dry off for an hour:
It was much drier. So we'll see how that worked the first time I cook it. Then what to do with carrots? Victory Garden says they don't freeze well unless pureed, which I assume means cooking them first, but I wouldn't know what to do with ten pounds of pureed carrots. So I shredded them and froze them -- maybe they'll be ok to use in carrot cake, carrot tea bread, etc. We'll be getting plenty more to eat fresh, so if these don't turn out, at least I tried.

Finally the last and arguably most important step:
Ever since seeing a video of the Texas-size island of plastic bags floating off the west coast of the U.S. I've felt compelled to re-use the plastic bags I already have until they're unusable, and to find as many substitutes as possible going into the future. I wish I could ask my grandmother what she used before plastic bags existed.

Then the eggplants. We celebrated DGS's twelfth birthday last night (even though he was born just yesterday!), and I offered to bring salad and veggies. I scooped the eggplant out of its shell and cubed it, chopped up some tomatoes and onions and garlic. Sauteed the onions and garlic, added the tomatoes and simmered until the juice was reduced, added the eggplant and cooked until soft. Then I piled that back up in the shells and sprinkled with shredded Parmesan cheese, baked 20 minutes.
Very tasty! For a salad I sliced leeks and poured boiling water over them for one minute, then drained. Then I added thinly sliced cucumbers to the leeks. The dressing, one my grandmother used to make, is sweet cream, cider vinegar, salt and pepper, a little sugar. You kind of have to taste this as you go -- I like a lot of vinegar and not too much sugar. My younger son ate three helpings of this!

So we're eating well, the freezer is filling up for winter, and the kitchen is cleaned up. I haven't gotten back to the rest of the house, though.

Tomorrow the grandkids start school, and are dismissed at noon all week, so Grandpa and I will be picking them up and feeding them lunch. Monday, Wednesday and Friday I'll also be coaching each of them for an hour on their music lessons. They have wonderful teachers, but in 30-45 minutes a week, they're very limited in what they can do. I'm well-qualified to be their music theory teacher and practice coach, and we enjoy the time together.

Have a great week!

fall is in the air
plenty to eat

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Nice Save

Yesterday I grafted the shoulders of the baby sweater and knit on the neckband , then discovered that one front was a good inch longer than the other front and the back, just the width of the ribbing. I considered the options and didn't like either of them. Option 1: Ravel the neckband, un-graft the offending front and ravel it down an inch, re-graft and re-knit the neckband. Problem is, the stripe pattern would no longer match across the center opening. Option 2: Cut off the ribbing, pick up the live stitches and knit back down to the bottom. The stripes would then match across the center front. Problem is, I've never done that before. Gulp. But that would definitely look better in the end, assuming I could pull it off without the whole thing coming undone.

So I put a lifeline in the middle of the brown stripe, where the ribbing started. I was too chicken to cut in the row of stitches right below the lifeline, and thought maybe if I raveled from the bottom, I could just use that yarn to knit back down. But as I pulled the ever-longer end of yarn through stitch after stitch, the twist of the yarn got more and more untwisted and worn-looking. So finally I bit the bullet and cut -- though in two steps, coward that I am. The original ribbing piece first, which the cat ran off with, and then the second piece, here:

Then I ran a small circular needle through the stitches with the lifeline, and pulled it out. I had been very careful to put the lifeline through, so that was far easier than I had anticipated. Then I began to knit in the other direction, down. The switch is in the middle of this brown stripe; can you see it?

I can't! Hurrah! And I've learned something new, always a good thing.

Here's my assistant, Glenna:

I learned to knit in Brownies at age six. We made potholders for our mothers. I've been knitting ever since, though I'm no expert. I love to knit socks -- most of the time you can just go round and round and don't have to think.

Looks like the kind of day I like: sunny, not too warm, not humid. Yaaay!

learned something new
fresh slicing tomatoes ready to eat
smell of bread baking

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Fiber "Arts"

Today DD-i-L and I took a class in fabric postcards and ATCs. This class was her birthday present last month, so she had to wait a bit to actually get it. It was very selfish on my part -- I haven't had a chance to get away and sew with her since last Thanksgiving weekend.

It was fun, like going to kindergarten and getting gold stars no matter what we did. I made this postcard using for background some trimmings from a quilt made years ago.

This ATC has a little pocket at the bottom -- the flowers were cut from a greeting card. I tried the hot-fix crystals on it, and liked the result, but somewhere between there and home one of the crystals fell off. So do I shell out about $40 for the heating tool and a tiny bag of crystals to replace the missing one? I think not . . . I'll take off the other two and sew beads in their place.
The idea is that these little projects don't take much time, unlike a big quilt. However I can see that the amount of "stuff" one can recycle into these projects would take over all the just-reclaimed closet space in my sewing room!

DGD played her trio beautifully
a perfect summer day

Friday, August 21, 2009

Busy, Busy

I've been neglecting this blog, but not exactly sitting around eating bonbons and reading trashy novels. We've lived in this house fifteen years, and it's time to do some major sorting and getting rid of my done-with books and no-longer-wanted fabric. I said to DH, "When I try to decide where to start, I get totally overwhelmed." He, in his wisdom, said,"Start in the middle." On the one hand, good advice. On the other hand, it means everything's a mess at once.

First, books. I have a small poster that says:
"The buying of more books than one can read is nothing less than the soul reaching toward infinity, and this passion is the only thing that raises us above the beasts that perish."
That's my story and I'm sticking to it. However, one eventually has to get rid of some of the books on the shelves, to make room for more, if nothing else. So I've been sorting out which ones to donate and which ones to keep, and cataloguing the keepers online on Library Thing: Great program.

Then there'll be shelf room for some of the perpetual piles; I can't wait until I've freed up some space for these:

(Note the cans and jars -- these are the 'weights' I use to do my physical therapy.)

(Also note bags of yarn and knitting, quilt needing a label . . . stuff that doesn't have a home of its own. See sewing room clean-up, below.)

And the desk -- I haven't seen the top of it for a loooong time. It's a wonder I never lose my chequebook in that mess.

Then there's the sewing room, such a disaster I can't bring myself to take any pictures of it. Today I packed up three large boxes of dress-making fabrics and two smaller boxes of sewing patterns to ship to: in South Dakota.

Here's what Chris from Friends of Pine Ridge Reservation replied when I inquired whether they still needed fabric:
"Oh gosh Susan, the fabric will NOT go to waste with the ladies at the Kateri Circle sewing group! They have such limited access to fabric and notions in terms of both funds and physical distance to a store where they can purchase fabric and they are really grateful for any donations. Thanks so much, it makes such a huge difference to the women and their families!"
This is a happy ending to my futile attempts to make clothes that fit. Every time I'd get a sloper perfected, five pounds would shift somewhere else, usually lower. Or appear from nowhere. You know how that is.

And then there's the physical therapy every day -- the routine keeps getting longer (and harder). But I am making progress.

(Here's some of the physical therapy equipment -- for the lying-down exercises. High-tech stuff.)

Add to this meetings at church, processing all the fresh veggies from our CSA share, helping the grandkids practice their instruments, visiting friends in rehab with hip, knee, valve and disc replacements and on and on . . . I'm very lucky to be the visitor instead of the visitee, so I'm not complaining. But I wouldn't mind a little goofing-off time. My summer vacation was spent in a drug-induced stupor after the shoulder surgery!

I do get in a little needlework here and there -- this is the right front of the baby sweater, nearly long enough. The back and the left front are done. This baby is growing faster than I can knit, though -- at five months he weighs 20 pounds! Good thing I started this as a size one.

getting a handle on my house
lots of books here I haven't read yet
patient DH

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

All hail our librarians!

Last night I finished reading this book:

It's listed as Young Adult, but there is a lot for an old adult to think about in it. I gave it to my almost-twelve-year-old grandson today because these are things I want him to think about too. Such things as:

Do the things I've always been taught to believe make sense now?
Is it dangerous to question the things I've always been taught to believe?
If I have guns and I put a flag on your island, does that make it mine?
Are people who don't look like me really any different from me?
What is better to have, power or knowledge?
Is there more to being a man than merely being an adult male?

I had to return some books to the library this morning, and suddenly felt compelled to tell the woman at the desk how lucky I feel to be able to use our South Central Library System. She was surprised and said thanks and pointed out her boss, who was coming over. So I told the boss the same thing, and that the staff is wonderful, the service is excellent and keeps getting better, the reference librarians are amazing, and the acquisitions people are so good I can get books that probably only 10,000 people in the whole world would want to read. She also was surprised and said I'd made everyone's day. On the way out, I turned around and said, "Librarians are my heroes; when no one else had the courage, they defended our civil liberties." She smiled and said, "Knowledge is free."

I've been smiling all day. It's so easy to criticize, but it's equally easy to thank. And I made a whole bunch of people's day!

Sunday, August 9, 2009

The name I couldn't remember is Laura Wasilowski, a doyenne of the Chicago School of Fusing. Here's what I learned to do at the class yesterday, taught by one of her proteges:

I want to add a couple of spiky purple flowers yet, and I'm not happy with the center of the one-of-a-kind pink flower so will probably change it. I don't know where this three-dimensional technique will come in handy, but I'm glad to add it to my repertoire. It has possibilities for a fun project for my granddaughter to do.

I have been thinking about things I would like to see happen, and have begun a list. (This is a work in progress.)

Cross-country trucks off the roads and onto the rails.
Convenient passenger rail service between cities of 100,000 or more.
Cell phone service providers share their towers with each other.
Mosquitoes become extinct.
Policy decisions based on facts and reason, not mob threats and rumors.

I am healing ahead of schedule, even if it feels glacially slow.
I tried something new and different for supper and DH liked it.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

These two photos from last spring, views from my sewing room window, are for Karen at; she is posting photos of readers' home views. There is undoubtedly a better way of getting these to Karen, but e-mail isn't working, and my iMac photo program doesn't (apparently) allow me to send them as an attachment.

I haven't been slacking -- now that I can get more or less back to life as usual, the things that have piled up are mountain high and ocean deep. I did take a class today to learn the techniques of Laura W______ski (sorry!), to add to my toolbag. I planned to take a picture tonight to post, but my camera battery was dead. Sigh. Tomorrow, I promise.