Monday, March 29, 2010

Spiral Eye (side threading ) Needles

Well it has been quite a week since I last posted.  I found the "better mousetrap" in sewing needles online and then bought them at the Original Sewing & Quilting Expo last week.  I spent the next few days catching up on all my hand sewing including attaching all the little rings on the back of my never ending list of roman blinds project.  I still have 3 of 7 to go by friday, god give me strength & keep my sanity intact.

About those better needles... I strongly urge you to check out the Spiral Eye side threading needles at  American ingenuity is alive and well and living in a grandmother named Pam Turner, her story is on the site.  The U.S. Patent Office is so impressed with the simplicity and success of the design they did a feature article on her.  As you know (or maybe not?) arthur likes to screw with about every aspect of my life including threading needles.  I do most of my sewing by machine and my Janome has a threading device.  However everything seems to involve some level of hand sewing.  I have a stack of unfinished projects that I attacked eagerly with my new toy and it made all the difference.  You can thread this puppy in near darkness and it doesn't pop out, ever! The most impressive aspect though is the speed with which I can rethread or change colors!  I bought a small pack of the 3 most popular sizes but it does come in embroidery size needles and her next venture is surgical needles.  

If you, your mother, grandmother, beloved aunt, whoever likes to sew or wants to maintain their independence this would make a great gift. Its perfect for low vision issues or those with limited mobility as well.  I'm planning to order a backup set and donate all my old needles to the local homeless shelter. 

I want to personally thank Pam Turner for putting a huge dent in arthur's repertoire of torture.  I need all the help I can get! arthur the level of pain you inflicted last week really raised the devil with my life but I'm back on track and today promises to be a 6 :)

Saturday, March 20, 2010

If you never make mistakes, stop right there and read no further :p

Okiedokie.......................  well I've been feverishly working on the aforementioned blinds for my son's room and bathroom.  I cut the room darkening liner fabric out, measured for the rods, ironed it, stitched it, then realized I cut 3 the same.  I was only supposed to cut 1 that size and the other 2 larger.  Welcome to my world :p  So as I said before, if you never make mistakes please read no further or you may wet your pants laughing. And here's how things went:

Cut the liner for my son's bathroom window the correct dimensions.
Cut the 2 liners too small for son's bedroom blinds (did cut fabric right- phewwww cuz it was from a store closeout)
Cut 1 new and ran out. Cut 2nd replacement liner from stash for my bedroom blinds, thought I had extra.
Wrong!!! Had to go buy new liner for my bedroom. Lost the original design & dimensions so when I refigured, I was now short.
Realized one of the extra goof up liners fits main bathroom window that everyone hates and found clearance fabric for it. Damn another treatment to sew.  
Can't finish son's room until I do mine because mine fell down this morning. Not enough blue tape in Akron to get it to hold temporarily.  I live here all the time and he's not in until Easter.  
Cut my liners then went to measure fabric.  Again with the new dimensions so the silk shantung for my room is now 10" shy of what I need.  Very expensive and I'm bummed.
Went through extensive home dec stash searching for a sub and... nothing :(
No JoAnn's coupons, double damn, full price here I come.
Found perfect silk on uber clearance for $3, yes I didn't mistype that I paid $3/yard!
Went from 3 small blinds to sew before Easter to 7. My dearest hubs reminds me that Easter is in 2 weeks and I'm not that fast. Priceless.

Does anyone else have days like this?  I could film the return of the keystone cops with a wily cast of 1 at this rate! Laughter may be the best medicine but arthur was the only one chuckling.  I will get the last laugh though, BWAH HAHA!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  

the toshibatron, aka the antichrist

I had been trying to figure out where and how I can hawk my daughter's old college Toshiba laptop (aka: the toshibatron or the antichrist).  We got her a Mac when she graduated from college 2.5 years ago and she left the beast here for me to sell.  Well when master cleansing the living room I found it and the same day I found a small blurb in The Week magazine on selling old electronics. The most user friendly, let's face it the only one that would buy a 6 yr. old laptop, was  They are so easy to use and they're paying for the shipping too.  I just printed out the label, packing slip, and I have a receipt for $72 that will drop into paypal in 7 days.  I'm not getting anything special to write this, I'm just relieved to have a way to get rid of it and get her some extra cash.  So for those of you with old junk sitting around... take heart! It seems one chick's junk is another geek's treasure, yay :) 

arthur, I have been too busy trying to prep the house for Easter and the return of the prodigal son with his girlfriend to care what joint you're attacking at the moment.  Blinds to sew, Easter tote bags (adult version of the basket at our house) to make, and a goodie box to ship to LA are all in a week's work for me! you made today a 7, yippee I'll take it!  

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

I'm a Ridiculous Lazy Daisy :)

I have been a ridiculously lazy daisy for a week now. First I used the grey, crummy weather as an excuse, it gives arthur license to abuse me :p  Then the sun finally shone and OF COURSE I used the shining skies as my next excuse.  After months of being cooped up in a cast with winter cabin fever I felt entitled. Oh come on, we've all done it :) By the way- Thanks to The English Muse for Mansfield Park by Jane Austen!!! 

But now, ta da, I've finally gotten back in the swing.  I've been furiously cutting out fabric and liner to make 3 roman shades for my son's bedroom and bathroom windows.  We currently have crumbling 19 year old honeycomb shades that were here when we moved in. We've been here 10.5 years and after dutifully cleaning them regularly they've finally separated and we've given them last rites.  My son was trying to keep them together with blue painters tape the last time he was home for the weekend.  So I'm posting pictures including the tape as well as the new fabric. Trust me as soon as I finish the new ones I'll be putting up photos immediately! They have to be done by Easter and hopefully much much sooner.  

arthur hates it when I start a new project.  He likes it much better when I lay around eating bonbons and watching Pride and Prejudice for the 50th time.  (Love that Mr. Darcy... who doesn't!)  Sorry arthur I've let you have way too much time this last week.  Today is mine and its a 6.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

arthur, you are the monkey on my back today.

I was still looking for inspiration today and dug into my photos for help.  I found these pictures that I took 2 summers ago at the county fair. I can't explain why I love these but I do.  They are childish yet a smidge menacing.  There is just something unexpected about them. I had a great time that day and today I enjoyed filling my idea journal with future projects!  arthur, you are the monkey on my back today.  Shoulders hurting and too sore to sew but I managed a lot of scribbling... Today is a 5 :P 

Great friends are like perennials...

I can't blame arthur for not posting yesterday... it was me, all me, and only me.  So much sunshine after too many grey days made it hard to settle down and do anything worth posting about.  I made it a Girlfriend Day instead!  I called my best friend and we went to dinner and yakked the evening away, it was cathartic and we laughed until we cried. I hope you'll all make time for your girlfriends this week.  Where would we be without them? Great friends are like perennials, they require very little care and you know they'll always bloom for you. This picture was taken right outside my daughter's apartment in LA. arthur loves my friends too so he cut me some slack and yesterday was a 6.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Can recycled tees mean fabulous fashion?

It was truly touch and go today as to whether I would have started, much less finished a product to post about.  arthur and I were engaged in an epic battle of wits, I had lost mine and he was determined to keep them from me. However I did manage to pull it together and this is what I made :)

Can recycled tees mean fabulous fashion? You be the judge. This is the  eternity scarf I salvaged from thrift store t-shirts. I used 5 colors but 1 X-large men's tee would be more than enough with a total cost of about $3 in materials. This was so easy I'm pretty sure I'll be tucking them in the Easter baskets I send to my daughter (she is truly the diggity bomb!) and her roomie in LA. I guess I'll need to go scouting for more spring colored cast-offs! I love thrifting :)  Nice try arthur... you almost got me but today was salvaged into a 7.  

Sunday, March 7, 2010

is she being a snob or am I just creative white trash?

My son (love that boy!!) is home from college for winter break and we decided to go down to the local "you paint it, we'll fire it" pottery place. Now we all have things that we do to blow off creative steam, kind of like writing gibberish to circumvent writer's block. Its a great place to go with someone when you want to catch up, gossip (pleasantly), bitch, or even have a heart to heart.  There's no pressure, your hands are busy, eye contact is not a must, and its not rocket science so if you flub something up its not the end of the world.  Plus our little haven allows us to bring in food (read dessert) and yes... even wine! I've done this with numerous friends & relatives. We've celebrated engagements, cried over a parent's death, and made holiday gifts for loved ones. 

However... I have an acquaintance who is such a purist about art that she feels these little outings are a grievous affront to aesthetics unless somewhere, somehow you've been sanctioned an artiste.  Denouncing these places is to shut down a creative outlet for the every girl. The average person claims the old "can't draw a stick figure" defense, yet give them a heart shaped bowl and some pink speckled glaze and they relax, confidently grab a brush, and swish around until its covered. Then they patiently wait to pick up their gem to fill with m&m's.  No, these efforts are usually not worthy of etsy but nobody's hawking them online either.  I would never be so foolish as to claim that my dabblings qualify as fine art.  I am proud of my efforts and feel that everyone should be.  I have also seen some truly beautiful functional pieces come out of their kilns.  

So, is she being a snob or am I just creative white trash?  The truth is I don't care.  I'm having fun, cutting loose, and making memories with the people I love.  And if we decide that our goodies are worthy of being on display, well then good for us.  I'm just trying to get people to give their creative sensibilities a shout out :)   Maybe being comfortable with our own efforts is that first big step to a new hobby, visiting a local exhibit, and hopefully becoming consumers of original art instead of the mass produced "stuff" we're marketed to death to buy.  Anyways... The pictures above are of my latest effort.  Like it or hate it, I had a blast making it and its a reminder of a day well spent with someone special and that's good enough for me! 

arthur you lost ground again, I'm ending today on an 8. 

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Meet Norman Marcus (Neiman's brobro???) ...

Yesterday I was fiddling with my very tiny stash of recycled t-shirt fabric and realized that its all guy stuff: tan, brown, burgundy, dark green, navy, etc.  Very winter, which can be neutral fabulous but finally the sun is shining and I'm totally feeling spring in my soul.  I jumped in the Prius and took a spin over to our local thrift mecca.  Meet Norman Marcus (Neiman's brobro???), well actually Village Discount, but we like our name better.  It beats the price pants off Good Will and the inventory is mammoth. I found some very cool tees in summer colors, a couple bracelets, an amazing McCoy bowl, and ... a gorgeous Victoria's Secret nightie new with tags (no pics of that baby). Now with no other diversions to be found I need to process the pile, meaning wash everything and cut it up into useable swatches.  Then tomorrow its sew, sew, sew. With any luck I'll have something of value to share.  
By the way, not to leave arthur out, I woke up this morning feeling as though my shoulders had been tied back in bondage all night :P  What a wonder a little Advil can be, that and a dosing of prednisone (yes I'm a cheater) but today went from a 3 to a 6.5.  Oh yeah... breakfast out with my lovely hubby every saturday always gives me something to look forward to!

Friday, March 5, 2010

I never could take the easy store bought way out...

Bring up Valentine's Day parties to most women and you get a litany of stories both good and bad.  My favorite memories include slaving over a shoebox for a week trying to make the coolest most creative container in my class while making my own little hearts with construction paper, doilies, and markers then feverishly taping suckers or tootsie rolls to each one.  I never could take the easy, store bought way out even back then.  My least favorite encounters with this both blessed and cursed holiday involve high school and not getting a flower/candy packet from my raging crush or being turned down flatly and coldly for the Sadie Hawkins dance- picture wounded and awkward at 15

Fast forward 30 odd years and you'll find me at a Girlfriend Valentine's Day Party having the time of my life!  Better and cheaper than therapy is the communing of feminine souls who've been there, done that, and thrived in spite of it. (I'm not downplaying my husband or 2 kids who lovingly remember me with flowers and cards.)  We all scout for deals and steals to pass out as goodies.  I'm still trying to resurrect the Valentine's Box but apparently I'm the only homemade glutton for punishment, we use dollar store gift bags. We share pictures, stories, successes, miserable failures and we all have each others back.  

In the past I've made sets of coffee spoons with 5 different flavorings, little bags with hand printed notes, large lovely candles encased in handmade paper cylinders, and (pictured below) handmade stuffed heart favors with unique embroidery for each.  I have received potted flowers, key rings that make wolf whistles (my personal favorite this year!), and handmade leather bookmarks among dozens of other select and fabulous inexpensive goodies. 
 I wish I could say I started or even hosted this hilarious and not to be missed gala but I don't, I'm just grateful for the invitation.  Do yourself a favor and make this an annual event.  You won't regret it and your girlfriends will love you forever.  Plus think of all the teenage angst you'll finally put to rest :)  Arthur is now the one sucking his thumb in the corner, writing this blog brightens each day and upped me squarely to an 8 today!

the black hole that is our IP address :P

Yesterday was a lost cause. I spent the whole day on the phone waiting for Time Warner to shift me slowly up the tech support ladder. Then they sent out a poor unsuspecting soul to install a new modem in hopes of upping my download speed beyond a glacial pace. When I gave him the history of our account he advised us to move if we want faster service. Otherwise we seem stuck with the black hole that is our IP address :P On the upside we had the first day of sunshine in the last 60, such are the skies of Northeast Ohio.

I had high hopes of making an eternity scarf from recycled t-shirts but all I have to show is the picture above of a stack of cut up pieces. I've made lots of recyclable grocery bags from tees. They're easy to stash, stretchy, strong, & totally washable. I'm planning to have a cool completed project (or 2) to share by monday, so if you're watching don't give up on me now!

A HUGE thank you to and for finding me and taking the time to comment :) Yesterday was a 4 because of arthur and TWC :( but today is a 7 thanks to the inspiration my fellow bloggers provide.

My Owl Barn's Anthropologie Necklace Giveaway!

My Owl Barn's Anthropologie Necklace Giveaway!: My Owl Barn is my new best friend!!! She is the first comment on my site and made my day/week/month and will keep me going for some time. Back to the Giveaway... What a lovely gift. I am new to the blogworld and love all the giveaways but this one is really special and worth checking out her site. Who doesn't need a little wisdom on the shelf, wall, or a chic reminder of all that is innately wise and special about being a woman around your neck. Not only does she blog about owls but also has a site to provide books to children in India so please give her your time! Thanks :)

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

buck up, dig in, and start sorting.

Downsizing and simplifying have become economic chic in the last 2 to 3 years. It seems to be reversing a trend that began in the depression. Boomers are struggling to wade through and sort out not only their own stuff but cleaning out grandma's place too. I've been dragging arthur, kicking and screaming, along with me through this process for the last 2 years.
However in spite of arthur, I found Aunt Mabel again. She is that fabulously crazy great aunt that lived on sequins and champagne and left me an amazing array of rhinestone and beaded jewelry. Pictured above is a brooch she left me, what do you think? I believe "statement" jewelry is back! So buck up, dig in, and start sorting. Your "Aunt Mabel" is waiting to be rediscovered...
Screw you arthur, because of Aunt Mabel today's an 8 :)

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

pretty tickled...

Above is a custom gift bag I made to wrap a book for a much loved and trusted girlfriend as a thank you for all her help and support during my recent surgeries. I'm pretty tickled and have some fabric left so I think I'll whip up 3 or 4 more to put on the "in case" shelf. Does everyone have one of those? If not they should :)
If anyone ever reads this, let me know if you'd like a gift wrapped that way or please, please, please give me some suggestions to make it better. I've got arthur on the ropes right now (bwahaha) just cuz I finished something, today is a 7.5!

Monday, March 1, 2010

the spinning cosmos that is my brain...

I really want to share a couple of my past projects so you'll know I'm not just using this space to whine. The first one is a wedding quilt I made of the couple's first home together in a lovely little lakeside village. The second is actually my first quilt (can't you tell) for a niece's beloved baby girl. Neither quilt came from a published pattern but rather out of the spinning cosmos that is my brain.
The hope is to share the path back to my inner artist. So maybe if you see where I've been you'll want to see where I'm headed :) Feel free to share your kindnesses and criticisms just try not to cut me completely off at the knees please. Still winning and still a 7, thank you prednisone.

Blogging, looking for an audience whether you deserve one or not

This is what happens when you've had surgery and become a virtual shut-in for 3 months in the winter in the midwest. You start to talk... to someone, anyone, looking for ways to stay busy beyond sucking my thumb in front of the tv. Now of course, depending on the surgery there are numerous ways to spend your time, but not for me. I have RA, rhuematoid arthritis. To keep this story short when you have surgery all treatment ceases and you become hostage to the process and the pain pills. All RA treatments require immunosuppresants that inhibit healing. Taking that into consideration I am particularly impacted by stress and weather either of which can force a flare up. Short story shorter, it sucks. I can't sew, knit, draw, or cook and that's on a good day. On a bad day, I can barely brush my own teeth, blah arrrgh, grrrrrr. I am not good at being dependent and decided to see if there's anyone out there with ideas. Even reading wears thin after 13 weeks with my foot propped up and swollen hands and shoulders. I also love photography but the bedroom and family room couch have limited shots. I can muster enough energy and dexterity to do a posting most days. As for arthur, he's been my constant companion for over 21 years. I will let you know each posting whether arthur controls my day (1) or I do (10). Today I'm in charge 7.