Wednesday, December 31, 2014

The Princess Pillow Quilt Event

Are you familiar with quillows or pillow quilts?

It's basically a quilt that folds up just perfectly into a built-in pillow.  We had them in the 80s/90s and they've been in and out of style.

Since my niece doesn't care about what's in style, and she is madly in love with the Disney princesses, AND she lives far enough away that a trip here is an all day drive, I thought I'd make her a quillow for the car.  With princesses.

I had a very specific idea of what I wanted when I started this project, but as always when I have a specific idea, the fabric I wanted didn't exist to my specifications.

So, I found this.

I knew right away, this would be a nightmare because the fabric is some sort of chenille.  Which means it's very slippery and fairly thick and would probably be less than fun to work with.

But, it was so soft, it screamed car ride blanket.

And it's pink.

And has princesses.  The princesses could talk me through any hazards, right?

I am not really  fan of princesses but I figured I could handle these bitches.  I'd just cut their heads off if they gave me any lip.

For the other side and for the outside of the pillow, I envisioned pinwheels.

This one that I made for k-ster's niece turned out just the way I wanted it, so I thought maybe I'd give it another whirl.   Ha ha, I'm so funny- pinwheels, whirl.  I crack me up.

What I didn't realize is that with pinwheels, they work best when the fabric remains the same throughout the pattern.

So, while the pinwheels came together magically for me and inspired me to make more pinwheel quilts, the random colors and patterns don't please the eye.  It's pretty and fun, but it's like pinwheels on steroids instead of calm and steady pinwheels.

Sew and learn.

So, the quilt top is pinwheels and the backing is the princesses.  I figure it will last a while and when she's done with princesses, she can just keep the pinwheels side up.

The top came together nicely and then it was time to figure out how I'd put it together.  I had a variety off scenarios going on in my head.

I wanted to quilt it but then I realized that would be nearly impossible with the pillow part.  In hindsight, not quilting it was the best decision I could possibly have made.  I'd be locked in the psych ward if I had tried to quilt that fabric.

I wanted to use a binding, but again, the pillow portion of it was going to really put a damper on that.

And I knew if I didn't use something to hold it together, the batting would separate and disintegrate immediately.

I also debated no batting since I know the princess fabric will be plenty warm, but I didn't like the feel of the seams from the top through the backing.

So, I decided I'd tie it.

In my family, tying a quilt means going to my parents' basement with tables that make it easier to tie because they have thin enough tops that we can use big binder clips to get a good grip on the quilt.  My table won't work that way.

But, I wanted to get it done and didn't want to go through the effort, so I broke a cardinal rule.

I sewed it all together on the edges and then tied it.  In my lap.  I can hear my mother gasping right now.

And because I was sloppy in my sewing it together, one side has a little extra bump of princess fabric that only someone who makes quilts would notice.  At that point, I really didn't care.

The princesses were not talking nicely to me as I hit those hazards.  They were being really bitchy and saying mean things.  And making that fabric slip and slide.

And sewing on the pillow part was almost impossible because it was all so thick at that point.

But, it made a little someone pretty happy, so it was worth it.

So, folded into the pillow, the back has princess fabric and the top has pinwheels.  Normal pinwheels that are behaving nicely.

Flipped so you can see both sides of the quilt at once.

My sister a-ster always thought you were supposed to put your feet in the pillow part when it's open, like in this picture.

Now, as for the Disney princesses.  It's really like 3 princesses.  I don't know where the rest of them are.  No fabric was available that had Jasmine, her all time favorite.  But now that I've met the whole princess crew, thanks to the Magiclips Dolls, I have no idea why only these 3 made the fabric list because there's a whole slew that didn't make the cut.

They were probably smoking in the boys' room while these three suckups were getting their photos taken.

Linking here: 

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Top 10 Posts of All Time- Part 10

It's the end of another year and I'd like to share my top 10 posts of all time.  According to the number of views.  According to blogger's calculations, anyway.  Some of these are not what I would have chosen, but they must have caught the eye of someone who needed to know more!


How To Grow Your Own Clothesline

After building the greenhouse and tearing down the clothesline, I've been "making do" and putting up ropes all over the place to dry my clothes.  K-ster said he'd make me new posts, because he hates walking through my clothing traps that I put out, and I finally planted them today.  Here's a step by step manual for growing your very own clothesline.

You have to figure out what you want to use for posts and then either convince someone to make them for you, or buy them pre made.  The already made kind cost a fortune, so if you're willing to trade your kid for posts, go right ahead.  Otherwise, I recommend the build your own variety.

And I probably don't have to say that if you are going to use pressure treated posts, you better high tail it out of here right now.  Those are the devil's very own words and I will not use pressure treated wood under any circumstances.  I will rebuild the damned thing myself when it rots, rather than use pressure treated and grow a third arm before I'm 40.

I chose cedar posts because they are supposed to be fairly bug resistant, by nature.  I do suspect that even cedar is treated with something, but everyone swears it is not.  I'd like to suggest these people lick them right in front of me to prove a point, but I do have some manners.

Then you have to choose your location.  I'd always had my clothesline here, but the greenhouse necessitated the removal of it.  Ultimate sun exposure is imperative.  There is also a need for a good breeze.  I always had both, no matter the season, so I really wanted to put it back where it was.   I think just behind the greenhouse, before you get to garden #2 might be a good spot.  It might interfere this winter with the sun getting into the greenhouse, but who am I kidding?  There is plenty of sun to get into that greenhouse!  And it's our very own windtunnel right there, so I am sure this will all work very well.  And the residual heat coming back from the greenhouse toward the clothes might be a big bonus in the winter.

All of this does require that you get very hot, sweaty- to the point of soaking your own shirt- and dirty.  You also have to be prepared to almost dangle over a hole that is more than half of your own height, if you're under 6 feet tall.

If you are afraid of any of those words, then you should just stop reading my blog all together because many of my posts either mention most of those words or will induce your ownself to experience any combination of them.

Step 1:  Always choose a significantly hot day when embarking on the planting of a clothesline.  Too hot and it would be just foolhardy.  Too cool and you'd have nothing to complain about.  90 degrees seems just right.  And the humidity should be pretty outrageous too.

Step 2:  Choose a very large hat such as the model here.  This takes care of several things.  First,  and most important, it keeps the sun off your face and neck and maybe your shoulders.  Second, if anyone were to want to tell you how to do your job, one look at this hat and they would know they are dealing with a complete lunatic and should stay very far away.  Then you can work in peace and no one will bother you.
Step 3:  Assemble the proper tools.  A tape measure, a level, a sledgehammer (or tamper if you have one), a shovel and some kind of rake, unless you put the dirt on a tarp.
Step 4:  Start digging.  It may look like I am standing in the hole, but I am actually kneeling on the ground.  You must dig a VERY deep hole.  I had 10 foot posts, so I should have dug holes that were 4 feet deep so these suckers will never move.  I am 5'2".  Digging a 4 foot hole is a feat that I really can't even capture in pictures.  Kneeling while digging is absurd.  I may look like I'm having fun but I was pretty sure I was going to end up IN the hole.  I dug the second one wider thinking it might be a little easier but it really wasn't.  4 feet is a very long way.

Step 5:  Stick your shovel down there often to see just how much further you have to dig.  It's important to check it after like every 5 shovel fulls in case you're there already.
Step 6:  When you really think you might be there, get out the tape measure.  Yeah, so it's not quite 48 inches, it'll do.  Especially since I had hit rocks at that point that were going NOWHERE.
Step 7:  Once you put the post in, you have to do a lot of juggling between shoveling dirt back and and trying to keep it upright.  You want to get it pretty level from the outset so you don't have to keep tinkering with it.  If you have an extra person nearby, you really should ask them to come hold it for you, or better yet, shovel for you, so you can hold it super straight.  Then you have to tamp it repeatedly.  Once it's deep enough that you don't kill yourself stepping down into it, you can use your foot to squish it down.

Step 8:  Check it with a real level many times.  You want the bubble in the center of the black lines.  Not too shabby since I did it alone.  If you're anal like me, check it 50 million times and wonder if it's still straight later that day.  Put the level away when you're done so you aren't tempted to keep going back and checking your work.

Step 9:  Use the sledgehammer as a tamper when it's high enough that you can reach it comfortably. 

Step 10:  This step is the hardest one for me to accept.  When you're about halfway filled, you have to water it.  This will help everything to settle down and compact itself.  I think it really just makes the wood already begin to rot.  It makes no sense to me.  And if you know anything about mud, it's pretty slippery, so how this helps compact it, I just don't know.  But my resident post digger swears this is the proper way to do things.  I did not do this as I put in the fence for garden #2 and you might be able to tell.  Or not.  I guess it would depend on whether you've made a living putting in fenceposts.
Step 11:  Finish filling it in and tamping it a million times and checking the level a million more, and then go do the same thing with post #2.  When you're done, water them both sufficiently and tamp them one more time.  Then get some rope and figure out how you want that to work.  K-ster and I have very different ideas about how these ropes will hang.  He thinks I am a giant and can reach up to the 6 foot level they are standing at.  I think the posts are pretty far apart and I might rue the day I put them in, so time will tell.  And I will only have myself to blame.

Step 12:  This should have been step #1.  It is most important to have a supervisor on the job.  Be sure to get one that will snooze on the job.

Finish it all off with a nice thunderstorm that brings the temperature down 15 degrees AFTER you are finished.

Once you're done, take a nice cool shower and then sit and admire your hard work.  Admire the fact that you did it yourself, with only one consultation about the use of the level.  And that it didn't take all that long to do.

And know that if push comes to shove, you maybe could do manual labor for a living.

And then laugh because two fence posts does not equal a day of manual labor!

Monday, December 29, 2014

Top 10 Posts of All Time- Part 9

It's the end of another year and I'd like to share my top 10 posts of all time.  According to the number of views.  According to blogger's calculations, anyway.  Some of these are not what I would have chosen, but they must have caught the eye of someone who needed to know more!

Continuing with: #2

This is the one I am least proud of.  It was way back when I started blogging and I had no idea what I was doing.  It's really awful.

It's 4 sentences.

Jello Pudding Pops

Jello Pudding pops need to come back. They were supposedly frozen pudding on a stick and came in a couple of flavors. I LOVED those things. Where did they go?

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Top 10 Posts of All Time- Part 8

It's the end of another year and I'd like to share my top 10 posts of all time.  According to the number of views.  According to blogger's calculations, anyway.  Some of these are not what I would have chosen, but they must have caught the eye of someone who needed to know more!

Continuing with: #3 

Unhidden Vacuums

When we were little, we had a babysitter named c-ster who would watch us if my parents went away for a few hours or a few days.  She let us watch the movie Airplane once and that was all it took for a million little silly jokes to become the norm.  She was always acting out parts of the movie, or referring to them, and we'd crack up.

Then we watched the horrible sequel, Airplane 2 and it just sucked.  It wasn't nearly as funny and went too far with its ridiculousness.  However, there was one scene with a vacuum cleaner that just made c-ster wet her pants laughing and the vacuum became the new joke.  My parents had a central vacuum and whenever c-ster would go to use it, she'd pretend the vacuum was overtaking her.  Not really funny, but a lasting memory.

This must be why I can't stop taking pictures of vacuums in weird places.  First it was this one, which is definitely my favorite.

And then I saw this one in the hotel in Paris and I had to take it.  There's something about a long vacuum hose, located somewhere that it shouldn't be, and I just can't stop laughing.  This is a live one, I guess, because it took the toilet paper hostage!

I know, I know, something is wrong with my mental state.

Saturday, December 27, 2014

Top 10 Posts of All Time- Part 7

It's the end of another year and I'd like to share my top 10 posts of all time.  According to the number of views.  According to blogger's calculations, anyway.  Some of these are not what I would have chosen, but they must have caught the eye of someone who needed to know more!

Continuing with: #4

The Dirty Bulge

It's no secret that keeping a Spanish teacher in my building in the 17 years I worked there was more difficult than, well, I can't think of a good analogy but really, really difficult.

With teachers who are not effective in the classroom, come students who misbehave.

And who touch things.

Things they should not be touching.

Like this unfortunate matador.

Well, not this one exactly.  We had a very special matador who had a purple costume.

And his own bull at his feet.

And a bulge right there----

Many, many times, that bullfighter had to be hidden or even removed from the room so certain kids would just leave that thing alone.

And over time, do you know what happened?

His purple matador pants became very dirty right over his bulge.

He was a very sad, sad matador.

And he has since disappeared.  Which is a good thing.  Because when you used to walk into the Spanish room and see a matador barbie doll posed....

Well, it was just something that you shouldn't have to see.  Whether you were 12 or 60, it was just an appalling sight.

Now, if that matador had happened to look like this...

Well, then he could have carried any color cape he wanted and no one would have bothered him.

Friday, December 26, 2014

Top 10 Posts of All Time- Part 6

It's the end of another year and I'd like to share my top 10 posts of all time.  According to the number of views.  According to blogger's calculations, anyway.  Some of these are not what I would have chosen, but they must have caught the eye of someone who needed to know more!

Continuing with: #5

I Had A Christmas Craftastrophe

If you've spent any time on my blog, you know that I make things and they usually turn out pretty well.  Most recently, I've made these and these and even this and I'm pretty sure they all came out nicely.  As expected, even.

So, when I saw this post about the cutest bath fizzies and how easy they are to make, I was sure that I would make them and they would be the best thing since peppermint bark.  I was going to make a million of them and give them as last minute gifts to everyone I knew:  the mailman, the bank tellers, the newspaper boy, random strangers passing by, the dog walkers, kids waiting for the bus.

So, I assembled the ingredients: 

cornstarch- in my cabinet
baking soda- in my cabinet
epsom salts- in my bathroom thanks to this
essential lavender oil- in my shower
food coloring- got it
water- no problem
citric acid- I'll just run out and get some

When I got to 'citric acid' I should have hung it up right there.  I forgot that when I first started canning applesauce, I had tried to find citric acid because I thought it was a vital component and would keep things from spoiling.  Turns out, it just keeps the apples from turning brown.  Who cares if your applesauce is light brown or dark brown?  So, I gave up and forgot about it.

I heard rumors that Whole Foods has citric acid but nowhere else really does.  We don't have Whole Foods around here, so I figured good old Stop and Shop would have it.

I might have been asking for plutonium, they were such imbeciles.

I had to take matters into my own hands and went to Shaws.  I finally found citric acid in the canning aisle, produced by Ball, the company that makes all things canning.  It had citric acid, dextrose and silicone dioxide.  What harm can those other things do, right?  It has citric acid and it's what I need.

Well, in what can only be pure irony, my cute little green Christmas trees turned BROWN.  Remember how citric acid is used to keep apples from turning brown?  Well, my bath fizzies which were white and dyed green, nary a brown spec in sight, turned brown.

And they were a friggin mess and full of holes.

They are supposed to be moist enough to pack into the little molds, but not soupy.  Well, the trees were a little soupy because I was in a hurry and added too much water.  Just as practically functional had done with her first attempt, I added too much water and had a growing mass of sludge.  Hers dried out eventually, so not to be deterred, I put mine on our radiators and let them dry.  And they still looked like that after 4 days. 

And the worst part?  They wouldn't fizz.  They just sank in the water and broke apart.

So, I tried it again.  I was going to make these cute little gingerbread men.  I was going to make a million, give them to everyone I did and didn't know.

It was going to be legendary.

So, I started again and took much more time.  I sprayed on the water, just like she said.  Over and over I sprayed.  I had what was a slightly packable consistency.  I packed it into the mold.  And I had some left over, so I made little balls.

This was going much better.  No rising bread dough-like behavior.  Very little expansion.

And then the holes started. 

And after several days of drying, I ended up with another batch of unfizzable crap that looked like this.

So, into the trash everything went.  I'm done with the fizzies.  It's back to peppermint bark for me this year. 

I had such high hopes.

I'm pretty sure the silicon dioxide and dextrose in the citric acid blend was the problem.  I'm sure someone can chime in and tell us the scientific reason this didn't work.

We are getting a Whole Foods here this summer, so maybe I'll give it another whirl for next Christmas, when I can just buy citric acid without all of the extras.

And my favorite part?  When k-ster kept asking "wait, are these food?" and I'd say they are bath fizzies and because he didn't know what a bath fizzy is, he ignored me and asked later on "are these food?"   

Linking here:

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Top 10 Posts of All Time- Part 5

It's the end of another year and I'd like to share my top 10 posts of all time.  According to the number of views.  According to blogger's calculations, anyway.  Some of these are not what I would have chosen, but they must have caught the eye of someone who needed to know more!

Continuing with:  #6

This one happens to be my personal favorite.

Just A Regular Coffee, Please

Alas, the ipad is back in my mother's hands and out of mine and I am not too sad.  My father is a little surprised that I don't love the ipad because he loves all that is Apple.

Ahhh, spacing.  See that?  There's a space between the last little paragraph and this one.  On the ipad, I can't make spaces appear in blogger, so it really puts a cramp in my blogging style.  And, don't tell k-ster, but since 99.5% of my time spent at a computer is related to blogging, I don't need any more cramps in my style than I already have.

Ahh, space again.

Anyspace, back to my post.

I spent the first 4 days of my school vacation at my sister a-ster's house.  It's nice to go there and not really have plans.  L-ster is almost a year old and is very busy standing and crawling.   She's still taking 2 naps a day, so we didn't make too many plans to do stuff.  And I was fine with that.  Plus it was 85 degrees one day and that was way too hot too soon for me, so I was fine to just loll about on the blanket in the back yard while supervising l-ster in a heat induced coma.

The last day I was there, we went to the zoo.  I get a kick out of the zoo, especially because it's free, so there's no pressure to be there for any length of time.  We were there for a couple of hours and then on the way out, we thought it would be nice to get a coffee from Starbucks.

When I'm on vacation, summer vacation or one during the year, I tend to drink iced coffee in the afternoon.  Around here, my choices are limited, so it's either my house special thanks to the Keurig, or Dunkin Donuts.

I am not familiar with the workings of Starbucks.  In fact, the only Starbucks I have been in was in Paris in February and it was incident free, as I expected this would be.

A-ster sat outside with l-ster and I went in to get her a soy latte and a drink for myself.  I intended to get an iced coffee, but when I walked in the door, I remembered that I once had a Starbucks Frappucino in a bottle (from the grocery store, those nasty things you can buy) that later was possibly the cause of the only food poisoning I've ever experienced.  I have a thing about food that might have been involved in making me sick, so I immediately was not interested in a cold coffee beverage from Starbucks.

I should have left at that point.

Instead, I thought I'd have a hot coffee.  With cream and sugar.  While I make my coffee at home black for the most part, I do like actual cream and sugar in mine when I'm buying it.

So, I walked up to the counter and ordered a tall soy latte with no incident.  I thought that would be the tricky order.  And then I tried to order myself some coffee.

If they just had normal sizes (small, medium, large, this would be a lot easier).

Me:  And a regular tall latte for me, you know, with cream and sugar.

Barista:  Umm, you mean you want syrup?

Me:  Syrup?  No, I want cream and sugar.

Barista:  Do you mean like packets of sugar?

Me:  Oh, do I do it?  Do I have to put the sugar in myself?  Is that what you mean?  (I swear, I was not shrieking this, or trying to look distressed but I wonder if she thought I was going to freak out)

Barista:  Um, well, um, like packets?  Do you want packets of sugar?  Or syrup?

Again, I should have taken the soy latte and left at that point.  I briefly scanned the room to see if I was missing the little station where maybe I do my own cream and sugar, but I was blinded by the "packets or syrup" thing, so I didn't see anything.

Me:  Ok, I don't want any of your stinkin' syrups, no flavors, just cream and sugar.  Now, do I have to do it or do you?

Barista:  (very patiently explaining) We have syrups, is that what you mean?  Like our classic syrup?  That doesn't have any flavoring.

Me:  Classic?  What is it?

Barista:  It's like liquid sugar.

Me:  Ok, fine.  Liquid sugar and cream.  In my latte.

So, she writes something on a cup for me, writes the S for soy latte on a cup and then puts the cups to the side.  For the imaginary person next to her to deal with them I guess, because she turned and helped the next customer while I stood there like a fool.

The next customer just got an unsweetened iced coffee and left in like 2 seconds.  Like I should have.

Then it was just me again.  With my outrageous order of cream and sugar.  That the Barista should get for me.

Since the imaginary coffee pourer/latte  maker didn't appear, now the girl had to deal with me.  So she made the soy latte, no problem.

Then it was time for mine.  My "cream and sugar" with the liquid sugar syrup.  And the cream that was going into a latte?  I was only thinking that it should not take like 20 minutes when I am only one of 2 customers in the store.  And that I really should have ordered a cold coffee because this hot one will take forever to cool.

So, she starts pumping the liquid sugar and I hear it sputtering like it's the end of the bottle, so now she has to get another one.  Now the imaginary person DOES appear and she says something about "this lady wants classic syrup" and then I didn't hear the rest but I am sure it involved a good chuckle in the back.

Classic syrup appeared but the bottle was too full, so she had to pour some down the drain.  WHAT????  She manages to reassemble the pump and squirts in some more and then the fun begins.  Now she has to add cream to my latte.  I guess.  Because I heard her frothing something.  And then she was kind of bumping around looking for a spoon to hold back the froth and then she did some more finagling back there.

Finally, she handed me the soy latte and then stumbled over what she was going to call mine.  And she added that she didn't know if it was sweet enough, but if I needed more liquid sugar, to let her know.  I heard like 5 pumps go into that cup, so I was sure it would be sweet enough.  Especially since it's liquid sugar and it's likely hundreds of times sweeter than any packet could ever be.

What a great disappointment it turned out to be!  Mostly milk!  In a latte.  Go figure~!

As I was explaining my annoyance at all that went on and how it took so loong, a-ster was rolling on the floor that I asked the girl to do cream and sugar for me.

That's not how it's done at Starbucks and she should know, because she lived on the west coast for a decade.  She played out for me what the conversation was probably like between the Baristas when I left--- remember the one who made me put cream and sugar in it for her????  What a princess!

And it was only then, as I said the word latte out loud that I realized I should not have asked for cream in my latte.

In my confusion, in the world where tall is small and vente doesn't mean #20, I was thinking latte just meant coffee.  I forgot about the milk part of the latte.  I was so confused by all of the lingo.

And I'm usually so good with languages.

I should have ordered a drip coffee, a-ster now tells me.

And I should have just gone to Dunkin Donuts.

And just so we're clear that I am not alone in my Starbucks nightmare, look at what I found on another site!!

Linking here:

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Top 10 Posts of All Time- Part 4

It's the end of another year and I'd like to share my top 10 posts of all time.  According to the number of views.  According to blogger's calculations, anyway.  Some of these are not what I would have chosen, but they must have caught the eye of someone who needed to know more!

Continuing with: #7

Keep The Tortilla, Mary Prendergast

We've all had them:  anonymous comments on our blogs that we know no one in their right mind, no matter how bad their English may be, would ever actually compose.

This week has been particularly busy and they usually like to tell me things like I have a wonderful blog that is very informative and I should keep at it.

Recently, I received this one:

Unquestionably believe that which you said. Your favourite reason seemed to be at the net the easiest factor to be mindful of.
I say to you, I definitely get annoyed while other people
consider worries that they plainly do not realize about.
You controlled to hit the nail upon the highest and outlined out the whole thing with no need side effect , other people can take a signal. Will probably be back to get more.
Thank you

I appreciate that no side effects are needed.

Sometimes, I am lucky enough to be offered a website that I can go visit to be just as informed as they are.   Occasionally, the grammar is fine and they try to trick me into replying by telling me they have some questions about my very excellent blog.  But then their email address is more than a little suspicious.

Today, I received this one and I believe the best part is that which I have highlighted because when the tortilla's ketones are off, I think we all know the dire consequences that follow.

Αpples - Τhesе are populаr. Insulіn-deprivаtion
spеeds up your mеtabolism rate.
A low calorie diet, which meаns you shοuld
tо extensivе and also get a move in аpрointing Mary Pendergast as Regulatοry
and Strategic Matters Advisor; Penԁergast wаs a senior citizen.
The truth is that sustaіnablе raѕpberrу ketonеs іs a Great Waу Tο Losе WeightAre you
rеady? Κeep the tοrtilla on a rаspberry ketone
supplemеnts in nz shops, stores, and completely dependent
on your health and fitness of the seniors.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Top 10 Posts of All Time- Part 3

It's the end of another year and I'd like to share my top 10 posts of all time.  According to the number of views.  According to blogger's calculations, anyway.  Some of these are not what I would have chosen, but they must have caught the eye of someone who needed to know more!

Continuing with, #8

Why You Need To Follow A Pattern.

Sometimes, I  make very pretty things.

This is not one of those times.  In fact, it gets wildly out of control  by the end.

K-ster's pajama pants have been through the mill and back and it's time for some new ones.  Nothing I have found is quite as stretchy or comfortable as this old pair he has.  Oh and did I mention the price?

These pants were like $15 back when Bradlees was still around.  Bradlees was a cheaper version of Target and was the epitome of "uncool" clothes when we were in school.  But, things like pajama pant were fine to buy there.  The price was good and they lasted well over a decade.

I really miss Bradlees, actually.  It was higher quality than Kmart and some of the t-shirts and basics like that still exist in my closet and I wear them today.  I think I've seen some Prides Landing (their brand) t-shirts in his drawer recently.

Let's pause while we remember Bradlees.


I've had it in my head that I need to learn how to sew stretch fabric, so I bought a multipack of sewing machine needles that included a stretch needle.

There was a great sale for teachers at Joann fabrics over the long weekend, so I got some material and saved crazy  money and thought this was the way to go.  The fabric was super stretchy.

I figured I could use the old pants as a rough guide and if I cut slightly larger, it would surely give me room to play. And when it was a major hit, I'd make a bunch and get rid of the tattered remnants of pajama pants he has now.

My first victory was that I sewed the pants correctly.  Pajama pants have very few seams, but when I made some for myself a long time ago, I did it wrong every single time.  I would sew the crotch wrong and have two long columns for legs instead of real pants, connected at the waist.

This time, I did it totally right on the first shot.

I didn't hem them or put in the elastic because I wanted k-ster to try them first.

I realized very quickly that I had the stretch going the wrong way.  Instead of the side to side stretch that would make sense for elastic waist pants, I had it going up and down.

I guess I envisioned him doing lots of high climbing or low squatting while wearing them.

And the leaves got me all confused.  If I had cut them the other way, the leaves and trees wouldn't have gone in the right direction.

This wrong way stretch might pose a problem at the waist, I realized.

So, k-ster gave them a try and just above his knees, they were no longer fun pajama pants.  They quickly became spandex.

I thought about it for a while.  I knew I didn't have enough material to start over with the stretch going the right way.

But I thought I could improvise.  I'd add a panel on each leg and that would give him plenty of room in the thighs and then the elastic at the waist would suck it all in.

But I might have gone a bit too far.  What do you think?  The elastic waist will take care of that, right?

I might have made my first big mistake when I added panels on each leg that were the width of the toaster. 

I don't usually use my toaster as the measuring device.  That would be silly.  It just happened that when I was taking pictures, I noticed that the width was the same.

Don't worry, I tapered them.

But, see, there was the problem that the panels weren't as long as the legs to begin with.  But I figured I could just take them in at the bottom.  I'd just have to taper them more.

Or make capris.  Or culottes.

They're pajama pants, never to be worn out of the house.  Who would care?

So, again without elastic or hems, k-ster tried them on.  He was very insulted that the waist was that big.
I put the picture in again so you wouldn't forget.

I explained that I was going to put in elastic at the waist and all that material would give him so much room and comfort.  The elastic was going to suck it all in and work just beautifully.

And then I discovered my biggest mistake of all.  The crotch is too short.  Even if I didn't roll down the waist for a covered elastic, it would be too short.

It's a tragedy, really.

I hate the material so I can't even make them for myself.  It acts like microfiber and just catches on my skin.  Plus, I don't like camo.

If I had bought a pattern, this never would have happened, right?

Linking here:

Monday, December 22, 2014

Top 10 Posts of All Time- Part 2

It's the end of another year and I'd like to share my top 10 posts of all time.  According to the number of views.  According to blogger's calculations, anyway.  Some of these are not what I would have chosen, but they must have caught the eye of someone who needed to know more!

  Continuing with:  #9

I Knew That Master's Degree Would Come in Handy

I just didn't know it would be for something so simple.

You know I'm a lia sophia jewelry advisor, and have been for 5 years.  I really like selling the jewelry and it's a fun thing to do on the side.  I would never make a career of it because then I would have to hound people to have shows and I don't want to do that.  Ever.  It should be fun, not something you do because you feel guilty.  Or scared that I will bite you.

A friend of mine is a Pampered Chef consultant and has tried for a while to get me on board.  No way Jose, I have told her time and time again.  Her name is not Jose, but let's protect the sly devil  that she is innocent.

We did a couple of shows together which proved to be very bad for both of us.  It sounds like a great deal:  invite your friends over just once and have all of those consultants over at once so they stop bugging you.  However, people can't deal.  They dont' know which company to buy from.  They come with one mind set and then feel overwhelmed.  They don't know what to do.

So they buy nothing and leave.

Not a smart thing for either of us.

So, we decided after the last fiasco, NO MORE OF THAT.  It did, however, let us chat at length about the two companies.  There are big pros and cons to being a consultant with both.  Nope, I'm not sharing a single pro or con for either.

Let's just say that I we made a deal with the devil and I "somehow" became a Pampered Chef consultant over the weekend.  I am such a great friend.  Let me stop and pat myself on the back.   Numerous times.    It's all in the  name of helping her promote to manager.  Yeah for Jose.

Anyway, so here I am.  Jewelry and cooking supplies.  Teachers have the summer "off" right?  I should have plenty of time to book all kinds of shows and be rolling in dough (ha ha ha literally) all summer right?  RIIIIIIIGHT.

So, here's how the Master's degree comes in to play.  I know, you're like "whoa- you got a Master's in being a jewelry or Pampered Chef advisor??  COOL!!"  Of course not.  I wasn't even a business major.  I can barely do math

Today, I entered my first Pampered Chef  show and there was a guest who was entitled to this month's hostess bonus because she had a show last month.    And the hostess wanted to take her own special deal too.

So, I got into my site, got down to business and started entering the show.  I've done this 4,000 times with lia sophia so you would think it would be easy.  And it basically was.

Until I tried to get the hostess special for the hostess and the guest.  I could not for the life of me, make it work.  And I tried really hard.  So, I called Jose and she told me to do everything I had already done and it still didn't work, so she said she'd call the Big Guns and get an answer.  We stumped the Big Guns too.

So, I sucked it up and called tech support.  And I started with "I'm a new consultant and I've managed to stump two managers..."  She laughed and said she is fearless.  And then she told me to do what I already had done.   And it still didn't work.

So she passed me along.

I sat and waited and listened to muzak.  And what did my highly trained, Master's degree holding eyeballs discover?

That's right, the wonderful little icon on the right that said "click here to add hostess special" and the other icon on the right that said "click here to add guest special for previous hostess".  Yes, those very 2 icons.  That 4 sets of eyeballs couldn't find.

Until the beautiful muzak drove me to find something to get me out of that hell before I died.

I didn't expect to pay off my education in cookware, but whatever works! Linking up with Finding the Funny. Go there, there's a giveaway today!

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Top 10 Posts of All Time Part 1

It's the end of another year and I'd like to share my top 10 posts of all time.  According to the number of views.  According to blogger's calculations, anyway.  Some of these are not what I would have chosen, but they must have caught the eye of someone who needed to know more!

Starting off, #10

Why You Should Hire Me as An Interpreter

I've been a French teacher for over a decade and in order to become one, I had to pass a test that said I could speak French adequately and therefore probably could teach it. At least at the lower level.

I've enjoyed the French language since I first heard it when I was 6 and had it once a week at school. After high school, I had no plans to continue speaking French, but we know how things never go the way they are planned. So, here I am, teaching others how to speak French, hoping someone catches the bug like I did.  At least one person has as one of my former students got married in France to a real, live French man last year.  Phew, my job is done.

I don't usually fancy myself as bilingual and I am sure that anyone who is French and speaks with me at length would attest to that. But, I can certainly make myself understood and manage quite well when I am in a French speaking country. I have never been in an emergency and had to speak French, but I am pretty certain that I could at least communicate my needs and get the help I needed. And understand what they were going to do to help me.  I like to hope so, anyway.

In the summer, we have a great influx of Canadians around the first week of August, and I always get excited when they are from Quebec and I might be able to speak French to them. Last week, we had more Quebecois in the park than Americans!  People form Quebec are called Quebecois in French.  We don't really have a good English word, so when they talk about themselves in English, they call themselves "quebekkers" and are totally fine with that.

We Americans are always fascinated by the tiny little trailers and vans that Quebekkers come in for camping and this group of 3 did not disappoint.  Two little Westphalia vans and the tiniest, ancient trailer.  For 6 adults and 5 kids.  We can't have tents, so I can't even imagine how 11 bodies fit in this situation.

But, I got to speak French to them.  And that has to be worth the price of admission.

There was also another Westphalia with a couple who stayed for almost 2 weeks and I was able to talk to them just about every day, sometimes for a long time.  They even came to my monthly Table Francaise group and shared a pot luck with us and were amazed that we crazy Americans really speak French to each other when we get together once a month.

As I was talking to this couple, I found myself saying some things that really blew my mind.  Some phrases fell out of my mouth that I didn't even know I had mastered.  It's always the tricky phrases that separate the truly bilingual from the fakers.  Like the phrase "it's not worth it" is like the most difficult thing for me to master, but I think I might have.  Another one is "I realized"  I think if a person can say that properly, no other test should need to be administered because that is one stinker of a phrase.

We had quite lengthy discussions about our jobs.  Mine is pretty simple to explain, but hers is something along the lines of a registrar for GED or technical type education and it took a while to understand.  We discussed the recession.  We discussed some animals that are endangered around here.  We talked at length about where to ride their bikes.  We talked about our favorite activities.  We talked about how disappointed they were with Nantucket.

And all the while, I was really pleased that I could uphold a pretty rapid conversation and not sound like a dolt.  Most of the time.  I have to credit these monthly Table Francaise meetings with some of it.  Speaking real French, beyond French 1, with adults once a month does keep me on my toes.

But, with all of my self praise that you just read about, you really should hire me as an interpreter because I would provide you endless entertainment.  Even in English, my brain goes far faster than my mouth, so I can never keep up and I can't ever find the words I want on the spot.  I'm always great for thinking of comebacks like 5 minutes after the fact.

Imagine that in another language.  I can go on and on about very intricate topics and then say something very brilliant like "his/her mother was/is going to the store" which is like basic French.  And I realize I'm doing it, but I can't stop myself.  Or correct myself.  A wall just goes up and that's when I start gesturing. 

Or someone can say the most common thing, like "did you get up early this morning" and my brain just stops and can't decipher any of it.   I start to panic with an internal dialog going "that's French, right?  I know that's French right?  What does it mean???  Wait does this mean I can't really speak French????"

I can only imagine that if I were an interpreter for say, the government, and could pass all of the tests, and manage to tell someone how to disarm a nuclear weapon, it would be in the moment when I need to tell the disarmer what to do with that crucial last wire, and my brain would take a break. 

And I'd toss in the odd English word, typically that word is "you know", like that will help anything.

And then my undiagnosed ADD would kick in and I'd be off in never never land thinking about bread.  Or something.

And have you ever realized that  interpreters are literally speaking while the person is speaking?  That's the part that fascinates me the most.  I know that I can talk while someone is talking and I will still get the gist of what they are saying, but there is no way I could do it verbatim.  And ongoing.  And sometimes, these interpreters are in horribly loud places with bombs going off and they manage to stay focused.

I'd be too busy thinking about what great fodder the situation would be for my blog and I'd forget all about what I was doing.


Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Pssst....I'm Giving Something Away!

So, I've teamed up with SewMamaSew to give away one of my ponyhats on instagram!  This ponyhat is grey and navy striped with a stretchy hole at the top that lets your ponytail swing out loud!

The only way to enter is to go to instagram and find me.  I'm @frenchymms .  You need to comment or like the post where I explain my giveaway, before 11:59pm Friday. 

One lucky winner will be sporting this all winter long!

If you want your very own ponyhat, I have a few for sale in my etsy and I can do colors of your choice too. 

Stop looking like a boy when you wear a hat- set your ponytail FREE!

My sister is also giving away a neat treat on her instagram so go like hers too!  She's @callajaire 

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Mrs. Claus Enters The Modern Age

Way before I knew what a mashup was, I made this Mrs. Claus outfit for an organization that I volunteer with every December.   Click on the link to find out where I got my inspiration for the dress.

I'll tell you at the bottom of this post why I dress like this, but I'm so excited that my revision of this mashup worked, I have to tell you that first.

When I made this costume the first time, I took the pattern for a top of some random dress that I had and added a circular skirt to the bottom.  I literally took the fabric and laid it out flat and cut a large circle with a circle in the center that I thought might fit my waist/hip area.  No seams, just one big circle.

I had no idea what I was doing or if it would even work, but it seemed to come together the way I wanted, so I finished it and added the white trim.

In those days, I never altered patterns to really fit my small upper body, so the shoulders drooped way down and it was a pretty square shape.  But, the skirt is so much fun, it forgave the ill fitting look of the top.

Every year, I pull out the dress and every year, I think something must be done.  I've tried adding the white belt and not adding it.  One year, I finally sewed it on.

But I never liked the way it looked.

Also, the neck has always been too close.  I've thought I should maybe cut the neckline down, but I always imagined that I'd create some sort of avalanche effect where it would just keep getting wider and wider at the top and be totally ruined.

But, 2014 has  been the year of the Lady Skater, thanks to Amanda over at kitschycoo.  You can see 3 versions here and there are a few others from August if you go searching on my blog.

Someone on instagram made a Lady Skater Mrs. Claus dress and it all came together in my head.  I was pretty sure my current dress was big enough that I could take it apart and use the Lady Skater pattern for the top and make a dress that fits me more like it should.

I wanted to keep the big circle for the skirt, so I figured I could just add it to the revised top.  I really like the fullness of a circle skirt!

So, here is the original.

Too long in the waist, the sleeves are a little too long and the shoulder seams come down about 4 inches down my arm.

And I don't like that white belt at the waist.

Or the skinny neck.

It wasn't hard to pull it apart, though I had sewn on that white trim like I might be some sort of scuffle that might result in ripping off the fur.  That was the hardest part to deal with!

This was the top once I took everything off.  Plain Jane, very home made looking.

 Here is the front once I cut it up Lady Skater style.  I don't know why there appears to be a perfect V at the bottom of the neckline because that isn't supposed to be there.  Must be an optical illusion...

I still had some of the original fabric (from 8 years ago!!) but because I paid no attention to grain lines or the stretch of the fabric, I didn't have any that I could use for the edge of the neckline.

Never fear.  Since I knew I would put fur on the neckline, I decided to use some red knit fabric from my red shirt that I made this summer.

To my eyes, it's SO OBVIOUS that the neck edge is a different fabric but no one will ever see that so it doesn't matter.  Just like it doesn't matter that the entire dress was sewn with pink thread because that's what was in my serger and I was way too lazy to rethread it with red!

The sleeves were cut down nicely, but because I didn't pay attention to the layout of the original, they don't have a lot of give because they stretch the wrong way.  They are fine, but not perfection.

Luckily, the bodice was cut out on the correct lines, so it came together as it should have.

The skirt is a tad shorter than I would like because the waist is so short.  But, the whole thing fits much better, in my mind.

Sadly, there was no photographer available to take a picture of me in the dress when I wanted to write this post, so you can't see the marvelous changes.

I'd still like a big, black belt like Santa Clause himself because I feel like it's a little bare in the middle.  But it's much better without the white belt, don't you think?

I also really like the slightly larger and lower neckline.  It's not a huge difference but it's enough that it makes me happy.

So, why on earth do I need this dress that I have now sewn twice??

For a really neat event called The Spectacle of Trees.  Click here to find out the fine details.   In short, there are 16 trees that have been decorated and filled with presents by different non-profits.  People come and buy tickets for $10 and then drop them  into the box for the tree or trees they hope to win.  The last night of the event, one name is drawn from each box and the winner gets the tree and every, single thing that was on, under or around the tree.

It has gone from a few gifts under each tree 8 years ago to trees that are now valued at over $10,000.  I'm not kidding.

And you guessed it, I am the lucky person who draws the winning names.  The guy in charge liked the Bass Ale costume I wore the first year, which was the inspiration for the dress (did you click on that first link way at the top?  It explained the origin of the dress.)  and he has me wear it each year to pull the names.

One might think that once you own a Mrs. Claus outfit you  might be called upon to wear it on more than one occasion each year.  Sadly, these class haven't come in, so I just bring it out each year for about 30 minutes.

If I knew I'd do this gig for the next decade, I might completely start over with this pattern but cut the skirt shorter.

There wouldn't be a waist seam at all and I'd still have a fairly full skirt.

But that would mean buying more fabric and putting more work into something that I probably won't wear too many more times.  So I won't do it this year.

But I'll think about it a lot and probably do it next year!

Linking here: 

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Lady Skater 3 Part Series- The Best Part

This week, I've shown you my wild side in a 3 quarter length shirt and my softer side in a full length shirt.

Today, I'm showing you my new favorite modification.

I love the Lady Skater dress and have made a couple.

Then I merged  kitchsycoo 's Lady Skater top with the Comino Cap and created a t-shirt that I love.

Since that was so easy, I thought my  next task would be a breeze.  I wanted to make a dress along the lines of the dress my sister (callajaire) made for beanster that you can see in her post here.  I love the way that dress flows and doesn't have a sew waist.

She drafts and redesigns patterns all the time, so she said I could probably just take the Lady Skater and put the skirt and top together and lengthen it as far as I want it to go.  Just follow the lines, she said.

It made so much sense.  I knew exactly what I was going to do.  And I was tickled that I had some heavy duty wrapping paper that was on a roll and would be perfect to get one, long front and back pattern.  Then I'd just use the regular sleeve and neckline pieces from the Lady Skater.

So, off I went to get my fabric and came home to "draft" my new pattern.  I had been thinking about it for days.

And this is what happened.  I put the top and bottom together and then lengthened them to the length I thought I wanted.  48 inches from the shoulder to the bottom of the skirt which would let me have a 2 inch hem.

And then I got to looking at it and thought "there is no way I am that skinny right before the top of my hips. Olive Oyle, I am not.  But I went along with it anyway and cut out my fabric and sewed it all up.

And tried it on and trust me, there was no need for a picture.  It was awful.  So snug in the hips and the flare of the skirt started way down at the bottom of my knee.  Not what I had in my at all.  I really am NOT that skinny at the top of my hips!  This drafting this is for the birds.

But, instead of throwing it out, I finished the sleeves and then left it for the night and planned to hem it in the morning and give it away.

I know someone who is very skinny and straight through the hips and she's short so the length would work.  But how could I tell her I'd made it and would like to give it to her without making her think I'm stalking her and secretly making her clothes.  Creepy.

And then it hit me.  I knew EXACTLY what I had done wrong and EXACTLY how to fix it!

Phew, no need to freak out a coworker with my "I made a dress that's too small for me but would be perfect for you" plan.

So what went wrong, you ask?

Well, instead of doing this:
 And then following the skirt line all the way to where I wanted it to stop, like this:

I broke the top and bottom apart and put all of the length in the middle.   I measured out 48 inches on the table and put the top at the top and the bottom of the skirt at 48 inches and then filled in the paper in between.  I honestly don't know what I was thinking. 

This is where I demonstrate why I am not an engineer.  Can you imagine?

I spent so much time this summer perfecting the length of the torso of the Lady Skater and then completely undid that when I lengthened the mid section like that.

But, it made for a very simple fix.  I simple lined up the top and bottom pieces on the dress and cut the middle piece out.  Then I sewed them together as the pattern requires anyway.

And I have a very fine Lady Skater with the knee length skirt.

But, I still didn't have my magical dress like the one I intentionally planned to make. So, off to the fabric store I went on Black Friday evening.  There was no one there and it didn't appear to have been ransacked during the day, so it was a pleasant trip.  I found an even better knit and it was 60% off, so I was tickled.

I came home and correctly drafted my pattern, the way I originally intended, with the lengthening happening at the bottom, not the middle.  This picture shows the wrapping paper curling up.  It wasn't an asymmetrical pattern!

If you know anything about patterns, I am sure you see the grave error I made on the left side of the pattern.  When I lined up the top and bottom, I didn't line up the edges of the fold lines, so I did this wrong.  I had to take it apart and line them up and finagle the outer edge to suit my fancy.

And suit it did!

It has the lines I was looking for.  And the length is just what I wanted.  The skirt is super full which adds a weight that I like, but it ate up a lot of fabric!

Maybe if I had a little Captain in my, this would have gone smoother!

I do not love the back as much as I want to, but I think it's because I was standing funny.  I hope that's why.
It was loose but hugging in weird places and makes me think it's the swayback that kitschycoo mentions about the Lady Skater.  I'm sure adding length and weight has done something to the lines of the original.

So it's another grey, but darker and with some silvery thread in it.  I'm not sure what I will do with the other grey one.  Anyone want to buy it?  It will fit someone about 5'2"!

I've seen a lot of Lady Skaters on Instagram dressed up with scarves, so I think I will do that with this.

After all my fantasizing about this dress, I look at it now and think I should be floating out on the moors in Scotland a la Wuthering Heights.  Or walking through town in my low heeled boots a la Louisa May Alcott.  A lot of hullabaloo for what?

I used a total of 3 yards, almost to the inch to make this, so unless the fabric is 60% off again, I don't know if I'd make another.  This turned out to be really cheap, but because that skirt takes up so much material, I think it will be a while before I do it again.

Linking here: