Friday, July 30, 2010

I'm Not Sure I'm Ready

Lately I've been thinking that if I were a Bible publisher, I think I'd put the words "DON'T PANIC" in large, friendly letters on the cover. (1) Submitting to the will of God looks nothing at all like human nature. And sometimes it makes me feel like panicking. Take, for example, the impending departure of my daughter for the other side of the country. I know, I'll probably not get any sympathy from many, like my sister, whose own daughter has lived in India for years. But this will rock my little world. It's always been me and Steph. At least, it seems to me like always. When she was little, I had the overwhelming responsibility of being a single parent. That creates some strong bonding. And then as she grew up, we became fast friends. More bonding. Until now the farthest apart we've ever lived has been 45 minutes. That is soon to become 4.5 hours by plane or 22 hours by car. Gulp!

So, yeah, I feel a bit like panicking. But then I remember that Stephanie has spent a lot of time praying about this. Seeking God's direction. Listening for God's voice. God is in control.

Still, I have moments when I feel like panicking. I want to hold my daughter close, not let her go. But what challenges, growth and riches of experience that God has in store for her would I be robbing her of? What challenges, growth and experiences that God has in store for me would I be cheating myself of? I don't know. And knowing that I don't know excites me to want to be brave, selfless and submitted to God's will rather than my own.

I am thinking on three truths that Derek Prince encourages us to keep in mind when renouncing our own will and embracing the will of God:

First of all, God loves you more than you love yourself.

Second, God understands you better than you understand yourself.

And third, God wants only the best for you.

When you truly yield to God's will, you will discover that it is what the Bible says it is: "good and acceptable and perfect" (Romans 12:2) (2)


[Credits: (1) The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy, Douglas Adams; (2) Secrets of a Prayer Warrior, Derek Prince]

Monday, July 26, 2010

99% Inspiration

What motivates your creativity? I would say that I have a variety of motivators and they vary in their motivational intensity. For example, the colors, texture and (dare I add) even scents of supplies can inspire me. Something as simple as a glance at my threads can make me want to create. Touching a pile from my fabric stash. Flipping through patterns.

Yesterday I was filled with the longing to create. But it wasn't so much the materials as the company. Friends can inspire and motivate me much more so than my craft and sewing supplies. Whether its the ideas and feedback I get, like from my friend, Rae, or the promise of spending time working together on a project, like with Stephanie.

Kent had to work third shift this weekend due to a big project at work. Turns out I just can't seem to end my day when he's not around. So here's what I was creating at 1:00 am. They are a prototype of a project I thought I might find I enjoy making for craft sales and such.

Can you say "Aaahh"? I think baby shoes are just the cutest things. I already have changes to make to my design but the first run was very promising.

And while Rae and Stephanie and I were out for a luncheon and visit to the knitting store, I found a knitting project to fill that need for a portable creative activity. I love the colors of the yarn, it has a nice feel and was only $6.50 for the skein, which will make the hat from the free pattern I got for purchasing the skein. Yay!

It makes me think of trees and rivers and night skies...

And last evening Stephanie and I tried our hand at matching "hobo bags". We had fun working together and it's not an unattractive design. I just don't know if I'm the type of girl to carry such an open purse. I'm thinking it might work really well to hold that new knitting project.

And uber inspirational is the conversation I had yesterday with some friends after church. I'd taken along the shoes to get some feedback and turns out there are several of us who would like to figure out how we can turn our creative urges into a little pin money. We are going to get together soon to throw all our ideas into a pot and motivate and inspire one another. Yup, I'd have to say that friends are 99% of my inspiration.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

We're in a Pickle

-ing state of mind around here. Oh, did you think I meant something else? While we've made the decision to cut back on canning this year in the event that we end up moving sooner than later, there are a few "staples" we don't want to be without this winter. One of those is kosher-style dill pickles. This year, we added a little extra garlic, extra peppers and lots of fun. Kent helped me with the canning. We stopped by Heinies Market on Wednesday and they had beautiful pickling cucumbers. So we bought two 20# boxes along with a couple bundles of fresh dill. The car smelled heavenly on the way home. Especially when you throw a bag of ripe plums in the mix.

If you live in the Denver vicinity, I can't say enough about Heinies cucumbers. Forty pounds of cukes and not a bad one in the bunch. Not even a bad spot. I was impressed again this year. Here I am at the sink trimming and cutting cucumbers into spears. Here's a tip, make sure you cut off the blossom end of the cucumber as not doing so can make them turn out soft. And if you know the science behind this, I'd love to know.

We cut them into spears for the kosher dills. I'm opposed to pickling whole cucumbers only because you do not get as much cucumber in each jar.

And another trick is to use more firepower when working with large canning pots. Here we have set the gas stove we bought for power outage emergencies on the marble topped baking table. We opened all the windows for ventilation and this made the difference between water boiling in 10 minutes or 50 minutes. Plus, two super-sized pots fit on it at once. This also let us reserve the stove burners for the lids and bands and the pickling liquid.

We used the cold pack method, using hot jars, room temperature veggies and then a hot water bath. Every single jar sealed and the next six weeks will seem like a long wait to taste this years batch. Aren't they pretty!?

We used 29 of the 40 pounds and the yield was 27 quarts and 1 pint. At that point we had used all of the fresh dill. It worked out great.

But what of the 11 remaining pounds? We thought we should try some spicy sweet pickles. This was a new one for us. We'd had some store-bought we liked called Famous Daves. We found a recipe for sweet pickles and then added dried hot peppers, one to each pint. It's an experiment. And just to be different, we cut these into slices.

Kent manned the liquid portion of the packing. He did such a great job with filling to the proper level, wiping rims clean and tightening just right that every single jar sealed up beautifully.

We got 17 pints out of the remaining 11 pounds of cucumber. We had exactly enough slices to fill 17 pints and that was also exactly how many pints would fit into our two canners at one time. I love it when a plan comes together. (Has anyone seen the A-Team movie, BTW?)


Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Sew What?

As I unpacked all my sewing equipment that I'd taken to Kathy's, I realized how much my sewing room has changed in the last 10 months. For one, it's become more crowded. Two more machines in cabinets will do that. But it has also taken on the air of a well-loved and much-used room. Here it was in September, freshly painted and floored - I'd just moved in and I'd also just left my job. This is my sewing machine table today. My idea and inspiration boards have become quite cluttered. (And I recently cleaned them up) My pinning, cutting, small pressing job table has become a fixture I don't know how I ever sewed without. And while the window provides wonderful natural light - the mountain view isn't bad either. My serging station sits atop my antique Singer 301A that I was delighted to discover works like a champ with a little cleaning and oiling. Not pictured is also my ironing board at a 90 degree angle to it's original location. And doesn't the new/old treadle machine look lovely in front of the lace curtains?! Now, lest I give the impression that my sewing room is spacious with all these "stations", here's a little video tour, if you are interested. You'll see how efficiently I have fit all this in one small space.

Sunday in the Kitchen

Sadly, Friday night and Saturday wore me plum out. I didn't set an alarm and overslept on Sunday morning making it impossible to get to church. My whole morning was slow. I couldn't believe how tired I was. But in the afternoon I got inspired to head to the kitchen. I had a good bit of cream in the fridge that I'd skimmed from my raw milk for the past couple weeks. I turned that into butter. And I had some cherries and of course, as a by-product of butter making, I had buttermilk. If these ingredients aren't enough to get a cook excited, I don't know what would do it. Here is the butter, ready to be slapped silly to get the remainder of the buttermilk out. I ended up with over a pound of delicious, sweet, creamy butter.

I also whipped up a favorite meatloaf recipe and some broccoli salad for Kent's dinner. And while I was making bread, I decided to try turning some of that dough into sandwich rolls. They turned out great if I do say so myself.

The Buzz on Our Bee

Our Saturday sewing bee went really well. I'm so glad Kathy was willing to host us as her space was a great setup for the job. Here you can see our machines around her kitchen table and the huge island we used for cutting out. Just off the kitchen is her sunporch and since the day was unusually warm, we set the ironing board up out there with all the windows open for a breeze.

I was awake at 6:OO am and since the sunporch was such a lovely spot at that time of day, I set to work out there on another table cutting out the necessary tissue pieces and pressing them for use. Kathy was up not too long after that and fixed me some coffee. Yeah! Then Steph joined us and we set to work. I cut out all but the blue skirt, which Steph cut out and made completely on her own. She looks like a pro here...

And here is her finished project. She was the first one to complete anything that day. She looks pretty proud of herself.

I worked on the tunic. The fabric was a pale green linen that worked up really nicely.

Stephanie had selected a pretty trim in matching pale green. It's a satiny braid with a velvet ribbon running through it. We added it to the neckline and then she had the idea to add a swirl to each shoulder, as well.

Kathy worked on a skirt that was seven curved flounces done in a batik. It turned out really well. Here's is Stephanie in her completed outfit.

We had a great time working together and enjoying one another's company. The consensus was that it was much more fun to sew together than alone.

Friday, July 16, 2010

We're On the Eve of Construction

I want to start this post with a picture from a night or two ago... the sun was shining brightly from the west as a strong storm moved in with dark clouds from the East. It made for quite the contrast of light and dark.

So in preparation for the Sewing Bee tomorrow, I finished my scissors case so that I could safely transport these important tools. Valerie helped me with the design when she was here last December.

She also taught me the foundation piecing that makes for the colorful outside of the case.

So tomorrow Kathy, Stephanie and I are going to have an all day sew-a-thon in the the hopes of completing three skirts and two tops for Stephanie to add to her wardrobe before she moves in two and a half weeks. Last night Stephanie and I went shopping for fabric, today I washed and dried it all but I put off ironing until this evening after the sun went down. It was sizzling hot here, 90's in Evergreen - nearly unheard of - so what better arrangment for ironing than on the deck after dusk? You can see the moon right above the iron...

I do believe the tomato plants are approving of this rich coral colored linen.

And just what will be sewing up tomorrow?

Stephanie has selected the top with plain sleeves from pattern 4149, to be made out of pale green and coral linens.

Skirt A from pattern 2416 in the brown batik and another in view B from the pink and pale green batiks.

And finally, the skirt from 4149 in the lightweight cotton that looks like denim.

Looks like I'd better wrap up this post and get ready for all that construction!

Monday, July 12, 2010

I love you, too, Valerie!

I was doing some cleaning and sorting today and I came across a note from my niece, Valerie. She's all grown up now and you can read about her adventures here. But back in 1984, when she was seven years old, she gave me this very sweet note...

"You make my heart break into a 1,000 sweet hearts"

And I also found this journal entry, from my journal, in 1985 about my then 9 year old niece:

May 6, 1985 - This morning I have something to look forward to - I am taking Val fishing. I treasure the time I get to spend with her. She is so special. She has this understanding, a sense of reality, that I find such good company. Some of it is probably just youthful innocence but it is also her. I really don't think it is merely a phase she will grow out of. I trust that we will always be good friends.

A New Weapon

In the fight against stains and dingyness. I ordered Soilove, finally, after reading and hearing so much about how wonderful it is. I put it in a load of wash, I applied it directionly to stains, I soaked some items in a bucket of diluted Soilove. Let me tell you that it is Soilovely.

I combined it with some good old fashioned elbow grease, Fels Naptha and a washboard for the most stubborn items and my wash came out brighter than it has in ages. I'm really happy about that since the smallest size available was a gallon jug.

And then I had a nice stiff breeze to dry all that improved brightness.

Don't Treadle on Me!

Actually, DO treadle on me!! What an interesting afternoon I had yesterday. My sister sent me a link to a Craiglist posting for a treadle sewing machine. When I asked her if she was showing it to me because she was pursuing it or because she knew I would like to, she told me an interesting story of her own. Just that morning, she had received a call from a friend who remembered her commenting several years ago about wanting a treadle machine. A friend of this friend had one for sale right there in her town. She went and bought it. Then, thinking she should compare pricing on machines, she looked at Craigslist and spotted another one. That listing was for a machine that was not listed necessarily as working, had no attachments, and needed a part. But that turned me on to another ad for a WORKING machine, with a box of attachments and a manual. I called and spoke to the nice people who were selling it and arranged to drive the nearly hour and a half one way to buy it. Steph was visiting and so she road along and since Kathy had started me on this quest, I invited her to ride with us. So we had a fun time visiting and drinking wonderful frozen coffees that we got at a Starbucks drive-thru using gift cards that Kathy and Steph had in their purses. Here's my new ~100 year old Standard Rotary treadle sewing machine with it's great protective covering cabinet:

And here is it's pretty little self unveiled. It sews true and even with great tension. It will take me a little practice to get the feel for it and I'll need to master new techniques, like seam tacking because it doesn't backstitch. Turns out there's a friendly and helpful selection of folks online who are happy to share their knowledge and encourage other treadlers.

One of the interesting features of the cabinet is this swing out bobbin compartment. And I was having trouble opening the drawers until I discovered that the hardware has a spring mechanism that keeps them from pulling open until you twist the handle in a clockwise motion. Then they slide quite freely.

The box of attachments was a bit of a mystery. I guessed correctly at one and was able to identify the others through some online pictures. There are hemmers in a number of widths, a tucker and a gatherer. And a couple more I'm still not sure about.

And I found the belt quite interesting. I've never been around a working treadle machine. I've seen the heads by themselves and, sadly, many cabinets turned into tables, minus the head or belt. Imagine my surprise to find the belt to be a leather cord secured with a staple. When the leather becomes stretched, open the staple, snip off a bit of leather, poke a new hole, and put the staple back in place. Quite simple, really. If you click on the photo and look to the left of the little gold heart I used as a marker, you can see the staple connection.

And it turns out that Valerie can get us parts quite readily in India and bring them with us when they move soon. I'm going to be requesting two drive belts and some bobbins. Otherwise, with a little practice, it looks like I'm good to go.

Daybook Entry

Outside my window… sunshine and dancing aspen leaves

I am thinking… about the many tasks I have the privilege of tackling today

I am thankful for… my husband

From the kitchen… homemade bread, pasta salad and crispy coated chicken

I am wearing… workclothes – tiered demin skirt, smock top, sneakers

I am creating... a blog entry

I am going... to make it quick and get back to work

I am reading… Secrets of a Prayer Warrior by Derek Prince

I am hoping… Kent will be pleased and surprised by all I accomplish today

I am hearing… the wind gusting mightily

Around the house… sorting items to take when we move, sewing up fake wasp nests, washing and hanging laundry, making room in the sewing room for my new treadle sewing machine

One of my favorite things (today) is… seeing my nine year old cat tearing around after imaginary somethings like a kitten

Scripture thought for the day… Praise the LORD. Blessed is the man who fears the LORD, who finds great delight in his commands. — Psalm 112:1

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Socks Smith, Blogging Assistant

Here at Patenting My Re-Invention, we take blogging seriously. My assistant consults with me on almost all entries.

Although, when it comes to the actual writing and proofing, he frequently falls asleep on the job. I guess that's why he's the assistant and not the blogger.

If someday you see me and I'm walking around all stooped over, you'll know that I spent a little too much time with a cat neck warmer. From the moment I sit down he begins bugging me to let him get up here. I can't tell you how many hours he's spent sleeping across my shoulders while I knit, stitch and get my computer time in. He's so spoiled.

In support of a fellow blogging, head covering, stay-at-homemaker

I wanted to direct your attention to the Grand Opening giveaway for Lovely Coverings which will open on July 12th. This week she is taking entries by way of comments for a complete wardrobe of headcoverings to be awarded to one lucky winner on opening day. Visit her blog at Tomato Soup Cake to enter for your chance to win. And then make your way over to Lovely Coverings on Monday for the grand opening.

Here's a sneak peek at a couple of the offerings in the givewaway...