Tools and ‘quipment

I am so lucky that I have a husband who understands the need for the proper tools for the job, and not just in home repair and construction, but in any kind of production. If I say I need it, he says, “get it.” However, in this case I said, “You can make this, can’t you?” and he said, “Yes!”

This is a reversible ironing board used for sewing doll clothes. I saw one for sale online and thought that the price was reasonable, but why buy it when he can make it with scrap wood and I can certainly sew the covers myself. So here is what we made:

Doll clothes ironing board

This is going to make pressing in those small spaces so much easier and I won’t have to keep the larger ironing board set up during the construction.

If anyone wants to buy one of these, I can’t help you because the Etsy seller who originally had them, no longer has any up for sale. So glad I could at least still find the picture in her gallery so we could model ours the same. If I had it to do over again, I’d make it shorter….less space between the boards…but it’s still fine. I’d say the larger board is about 15″ long and the smaller one about 12″ Both boards are covered in several thin layers of cotton batting (like you would use for quilting) and then a double layer of muslin with a drawstring to hold it on tightly.

We are going to the camper on Thursday (yay!) and after we return on June 2, I can get started on making some American Girl doll clothes for my craft business. I. Can’t. Wait. For both things–the camping vacation AND the doll clothes making.

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One thing and another, and maybe one more.

I have still not finished the reorganization of my sewing space, but progress has been made. I do have both of my large cabinets in place and I’m still loading them up and adjusting things on shelves. The rest of the room is gradually getting better. I didn’t get the second cabinet painted, but I needed it desperately and decided to decoupage it later. I can do that while it’s loaded and in place and not have to move it.

I did make a new tablecloth for my dining room, using some fabric that my son gave me that goes perfectly.
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And then…and THEN (she says with emphasis)…I finally began some crafting for next year’s shows. I have painted many, many little teensy faces on wooden beads, which is the beginning of some Wee Folk of Felt. I am loaded up with pipe cleaners, faux flower petals and good quality wool felt and embroidery floss to make the wee people and fairies. I found I’m not so excellent at painting the beads that are smaller than one inch, and most especially, the ones that are one half inch. I think the one-inch ones turned out well, though, so unless I get a lot better at the smallest ones, I’ll stick to the larger people and fairies in the future.

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I do think these look better in person than they appear in these photos….maybe it’s my camera? Or the photographer who knows nothing about photography??

I will soon be painting some clothespins in preparation for clothespin dolls. I want to have the painting on these things mostly done before my first camper trip of the season, so I won’t have to be painting while I’m there. I’d rather just have faces done and get to work on clothing and hair, and in the case of the Wee Folk, embroidery floss wrapping.

I tried my hand at polymer clay, making some simple buttons. My inexpensive thrift store toaster oven scorched them, despite my best efforts at controlling the temp and even using an oven thermometer. I also decided that, without purchasing a $70 pasta roller, this type of clay work is too hard on my arthritic hands. The purchase of said roller would be a risky one when I don’t know if these things would sell or if I can even get the temp control problem fixed, so I decided to let that particular craft idea go. I hadn’t spent a lot of money on it up to this point, so I don’t feel too badly about cutting my losses now. Live and learn….if you don’t try, how will you know if you can do something?

Just tonight I have been working on woodburning some bamboo kitchen spoons for gifts. This. Is. Fun. Simple, rustic, free-form, design-as-I-go. Can’t say who these will be for, but I think they will be well received. I think I’ll buy another woodburning tip or two, so I can add some more designs. It’s one of those times when less is NOT more, MORE is more! If I wanted less, I’d just leave them plain in the first place 🙂

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These are not finished; I do plan to add more designs to them, but it gives an idea of what I’m talking about.

Oh! And my birthday present this year is an American Girl doll, Marie Grace. She’s of the historical time period of New Orleans 1863 and comes in the appropriate clothing and shoes. I’ve always wanted an A.G. doll for my collection, but never wanted to spend the $100+ for one. However, since I plan to make and sell A.G. clothing, then not only do I NEED at least one doll for fitting purposes, but the cost will be deductible when it’s time to pay taxes on my earnings. Win-win, right?

Getting to the point of counting down the weeks till my retirement….at this time a little over 38 weeks. It’s kind of surreal and reminds me of my senior year of high school. I’ll be happy to be putting 8-5 days behind me and dealing with the public in the way that I currently do, but jumping off into the future and leaving behind all that’s familiar does cause some anxiety, too. So, I’m excited (a lot!) and apprehensive (a little.) Doing my best to be prepared financially and not have any unpleasant and expensive surprises, of course.

New Cookbook Review

The Homemade Pantry – 101 Foods You Can Stop Buying and Start Making is a book I wish I had written and really wish I’d had back in the 70’s and 80’s when I was a stay-at-home mom. I did a lot of home cooking in those days, making my own bread, cereals, muffins, biscuits and all sorts of other things.

The writer, Alana Chernila, writes the recipes in a conversational tone and each chapter is begun with an anecdote from her own life experiences, as a child, a young woman, a wife, a mother, a sister, a friend, and when you put it all together you have quite a life story all mixed in beautifully with the recipes. I loved her honesty in discussing her family life. She is not a supermom with perfect children who eat every exotic and/or healthy thing she places in front of them. She deals with real life, real time constraints and very real (normal) strong-willed children. I felt like she could have been my friend and I’d have been happy to commiserate with her over child raising and cooking, while we grabbed a few minutes to have a cup of tea in a lovely cup.

The recipes…I have not tried a single one yet, but they all look fantastic and doable. “Pop Tarts” are the first on my list to try, and graham crackers, both chosen for the simple reason that I’ve never made either of them. I’ve made a number of her other items over the years – homemade bread, butter, granola, jam…..I’m not new to this party, but I’m eager to try her versions. If you ARE new to home cooking and baking, try a simple one and see how good it feels to cook something where you know all the ingredients that are in it because you put them there yourself!

Alana is also honest in recognizing that some of these things are NOT cheaper to make yourself, nor are they quick, but that the rewards are great. Each of us has to decide, on any given day, what is worth our time and the extra effort it takes to measure, pour, chop, slice, stir, whisk, mix, whip, fold, saute, roast and bake. Some days we can get ahead and make good things that will help get us through the days when we can’t keep our heads above water. We all have those.

This book was an enjoyable read for me and I read it straight through like a novel, instead of skipping all around looking for my favorites as I normally do with a cookbook. I am really looking forward to trying some of the recipes SOON.

I’m also enjoying Alana’s blog, “Eating From the Ground Up.” You will find the link on my Blogroll on the right side bar. Please go check out her entries about food and life. Enjoy!

Addendum: I got a chance to try Alana’s graham crackers and they were a success! The only thing I need to do is practice more even rolling and then get a fix on how long to cook for that thickness. I like them to be crunchy and some of mine weren’t because they were thicker. I also don’t care for having to measure them for cutting, which you need to do for consistency of cooking, as well as fitting together for peanut butter sandwich-ing purposes. 🙂 I might just cut them with round cookie cutters in the future to help with that. I definitely think they need the cinnamon sugar for the extra sweetness. But yes, they taste like the store-bought kind and even have the same texture. Bingo!

Thrifted treasure

Sometimes thrifting adventures come up empty, but on my last trip to the camper I found a few great things.  I found a full-sized tablecloth that matches some yard sale napkins I bought a year ago.  It is all pastel squares with a raised twill plaid stripe running across it in about 2 inch squares.  I won’t likely use this for a tablecloth because the colors just don’t suit me. (It is just too feminine for most of the family dinners I host) but it will make great fabric for future projects.  I’m thinking purses, tote bags, clutches, etc., or maybe the lining of something.  It’s quite sturdy.  And only cost me $2.00!

I found a lightweight cotton dress for a couple of dollars that has lots of fabric for doll sewing or charitable baby sewing.  It’s a pale yellow with tiny white flowers.  $2.

The big treasure, though, was this cotton velveteen Old Navy jacket for $4.00.

The shape is pure ME….too bad it is not my size….and look at the sleeve detail!…..

and the rhinestone buttons!  The buttons alone would be worth at least $10 purchased new.  Look at the lovely welted pocket.

I even liked the classy, silky lining, even though it is a synthetic fabric.

I bought this blazer for the velveteen fabric and the buttons.  I once made a suit with the exact same fabric for the collar and button flaps.  But I am faced with a dilemna: I am having trouble cutting it up.  I know, I know, I said I bought it for the fabric.  But it’s a gorgeous jacket, made to be worn by someone who will love it as much as I do.  My daughter might fit it, but it is not her style.  I think I know someone who will fit the size and style perfectly, so I’m going to check that out before I take scissors or seam ripper to it.

The person I have in mind probably doesn’t care for the rhinestone buttons and would want to replace them with more natural materials, maybe even wooden ones, but that’s fine, too, ’cause it means I can keep my buttons 🙂

This little blazer is making me very happy.  Right now, I’m just looking at it, but when I get the chance to check out the situation, it might make someone else happy, as well.  And that’s pretty good for $4.00.

ADDENDUM:  My pretty blazer found a home today, which made me happy all over again 🙂  11/24/2012

Collecting for far-off projects.

I am collecting acorn caps for a future project because, well, this IS the time to find them in abundance and vast variety. I’m going to eventually be making some little people using the caps for caps, of course, and also using felt, pipe cleaners, beads,wool roving for hair, perhaps some synthetic flowers for faerie skirts and some embroidery floss. Salley Mavor wrote a wonderful book about this that you can read about at:

http://www.amazon.com/Felt-Wee-Folk-Enchanting-Projects/dp/1571201939

Sally wrote this so that you can make these for your own children or relatives, but I may jump off into some original designs and make them for craft sales when I retire. I am going to do some experimenting with designs, so it’s probably going to have to wait for retirement, as I just can’t give it the time it requires at the moment. But I’m gonna be ready! Various acorn caps can be found online and probably at some local craft shop or other, but there is some enjoyment in the gathering process and some satisfaction in using what is right here underfoot.

Here is a sampling of what I’ve gathered so far, ranging in size from less than 1/2″ to just under 1″ and in different depths and shapes:

This is going to be a fun project when I get time for it.  Retirement is coming in 14 mos. and 2 weeks, but who’s counting, right?

Almost three months!

I can’t believe I haven’t posted on here since July 4th!  My sewing room organization came to a standstill due to health issues and then vacations.  Two of them (the vacations, that is.)  We were away for 11 days in August and we have just returned from 9 days away again.  We do love our time at the camper but we are home now till next May. 

I have not been totally without projects, though.  I did finish my curtains for the camper, finally!  I forgot to take photos of them while there, so that will have to wait till next spring.  I also felt the need to make simple, square coasters while there, too.  I got tired of my wood/cork ones sticking to the bottom of the glass and then letting all the water fall on the table, anyway, getting our playing cards, papers, etc., wet.  Not helpful.  Anyhow, I bought some lovely flannel (1/4 yard made 8 coasters!) and I left 4 of them at the camper, bringing the other 4 home. 

These are actually a MUCH darker blue, but it doesn’t matter.  They are functional and washable.  They don’t clink, clunk, stick to my glass or drip water everywhere.  And they were fun and EASY.

After laundry, shopping and a doctor’s appointment Monday, then it was back to my job for the rest of the week.  I actually have two more Md. appointments this week and then next week I begin one month of jury duty.  Not excited about that, but the government doesn’t care.  So how come it’s my second time (last one being over 25 years ago) and my husband, who is nearly 70, has never been called??? Hmmmmm????  How does that happen?

Maybe this weekend I can work some more on the sewing room.  I need to pull nearly everything out and then figure out where to put the two (I hope I can use both) cabinets.  Then put stuff back in the best order I can arrange.  I think some things are going to be edited and some are going back in the “other sewing room.” (don’t ask 😉

I will come back with updates on all of that. 

I did manage to score some lovely things at the Goodwill in Wytheville, though, and will have some photos of that, too.   Coming soon…!

Thanksgiving recap

We had a lovely time with family on the big day.  Just six of us, but that was fine, and we had tons of wonderful food.

The table looked like this before food and people:

I got a little bit more “Martha” than usual, just doing some simple things.  The centerpiece was not original; I’m pretty sure I saw that somewhere on Pinterest.  It’s just corn, dried kidney beans and lentils poured in around a candle I already owned.  Cheap and natural for some fall color.

The place cards are something I’ve never done before, and the download was free on Martha Stewart’s site.  I had the wonderful cardstock paper already, so this was totally free for me, except for a few minutes of time on the download and printing, and I got youngest daughter to cut them out for me and write names.  Just a fun little touch that I’d never have bothered with back in the days when I frequently had 14 or more for holiday dinners.

The food went like this:

The traditional, of course–turkey, gravy, stuffing, cranberry sauce (homemade by Linda), mashed white potatoes (Linda again), sweet potatoes with apples, nuts and marshmallows (no picture, due to slightly burnt m’mallows), three vegetable casserole with cheese sauce, rolls (from Texas Roadhouse), apple crumb and pumpkin pies eaten with the homemade caramel sauce and whipped cream.  We were stuffed, to put it bluntly, but happy.

A couple of these dishes are family favorites here.  The yam dish not pictured is one I’ve been making for many years and is simply canned yams layered with apples, and a mixture of pecans, brown sugar and cinnamon, dotted with butter and when finished baking (covered), topped with mini marshmallows and broiled for a couple of minutes.  The name of this dish is “Apple Mallow Yam Yum” and it is quite fitting.  Brother Dave doesn’t care for sweet potatoes, so we get to indulge in mashed whites, also, and who doesn’t love that?

The other one that is a Sawyer family fave is the Three Vegetable Casserole.  Been making this for over 30 years and even people who don’t usually care for one or more of these veggies loves it.  Frozen broccoli florets, cauliflower and brussels sprouts, topped with a mixture of condensed soup (we like cream of mushroom, cr. of chicken, or cr. of celery) and Cheese Whiz ((I know, but it’s the only time we eat this particular junky food), melted together.  You bake at fairly high temp for 30 minutes with foil or a lid over top and then uncover and top with bread crumbs and bake another 30 minutes.  Even when my kids were little, they loved it.

The food was great, but the company was even better.  We enjoyed having brother, Dave, his wife, Linda, my oldest and youngest children here.  We played Scrabble in teams, and even though David and Scott’s team won (not surprising), the scores were not that far apart.  We must have had well-matched teams.  It was great fun and followed by the pies.  By nine o’clock, I was ready for sleeping, but forced myself to stay up later so I could visit with my daughter, whose company I thoroughly enjoyed.

Friday, Julee and I got to spend the afternoon making cookies.  Our family’s favorite is Chocolate Bits and we made a batch of Chocolate Chip, too. Husband thoroughly enjoyed this, even though he was in another room.  Guess why.  Maybe it’s because, by the time we actually finished the baking, Julee and I had only tried one each of each cookie type, while Jim had sampled several…of each.

We each wound up with a large canister of cookies and kept a dozen aside for my son.  Wasn’t that nice of us?  🙂 Actually, if he found out we made dozens of his favorite cookie and didn’t save him any, there might be repercussions 🙂

Tonight is leftover night for Jim and me.  Such a chore, but has to be done 😉 Hope everyone’s family time was as good as ours.

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