Posts filed under ‘Miscellaneous Musings’
Our daughter Jennie and her husband Craig are expecting their first child in October. That would be our first grandchild. Just call me Grandma.
Let me first say that Babies R Us has seriously missed the boat with their lack of gender-unknown clothing selections. Within hours of receiving the news (that of which I could not speak until today) I drove right over to Babies R Us. Time to change the store’s name to Frustrated B Me. There were racks and racks of “girl baby” clothes and racks and racks of “boy baby” clothes, but there wasn’t even a section for “we won’t know until it’s born” clothes. I literally bought everything there was in the whole store for “either or” gender, size 3 months and under and I carried it out in one bag. Apparently ducks are big if you’re waiting to be surprised.
Baby’s ultrasound was the first photographs of my grandchild. (Excuse me, of Jennie and Craig’s baby.) I was as mystified by the ultrasound as I was by Babies R Us. I pretended to see the little head, and the little limbs. It wasn’t until Jennie told me where to zoom in (3 weeks later) that I could actually see these things.
I am following along on my What To Expect iPhone app and we are now in Week 12, Day 6. Never having been pregnant, I find this all totally amazing. The baby has grown from poppy seed to blueberry, to raspberry, to green olive, to prune, to large plum, and now to peach! I’m guessing that grapefruit it next.
After the disappointing visit to Babies R Us, I hit JoAnn’s to check out the patterns. Not a single long sleeved, footed sleeper with the zipper that runs from neck to crotch and then down one leg. I checked all the pattern books. I’m just going to have to reverse engineer one! I did meet a woman at the airport who showed me how to knit baby hats on a loom. I think I’ve made 27 so far. Poor little kid has nothing to wear but hats!
I think I’m OK in the quilt department, but I’m going to need your help with other things I can sew, along with your coolest ideas for baby shower stuff. I probably won’t have a chance to moderate/read your comments until Wednesday, but please share all your good baby advice where it says COMMENT.
1. Flashing Light
You probably know how to assign ringtones and get your phone to vibrate, but did you know you can make it flash a bright light with every incoming call too? Go to Settings –> General –> Accessibility, and then scroll down to HEARING. Turn on LED Flash for Alerts.
In the video below you’ll hear my phone barking (that’s my “normal” ringtone) and you’ll see it flashing too. Fun, huh?
As far as I can tell it only flashes for incoming calls and alarms I set through the Clock feature. (That flash is pretty bright in a dark room. That’ll get you up in the morning!)
2. Silence Telemarketers
Yes, by all means call the “Do Not Call Registry” from your cell phone (888-382-1222). For those calls that get through, however, I created a contact called Dirty Filthy Telemarketers. Next, I created a SILENT ringtone using and a Ringtone Recorder. I put the volume all the way down and let it record NOTHING for 30 seconds. Then, following the prompts from the app, I downloaded the ringtone and emailed it to myself. On my desktop computer I opened the email and downloaded the attachment. To apply the ringtone I had to drag it into iTunes (I’d rather rip a 3 foot seam), click the Ringtones Tab, select “Sync ringtones,” and then click “Synch/Apply.”
Then, all I had to do was edit the Dirty Filthy Telemarketer contact on my iPhone and select my silent ringer under Ringtone. Whenever a telemarketer gets through, I add their phone number to the Dirty Filthy Telemarketer contact. When they call again (and they will) I hear total silence. My light might go off, and my phone might vibrate, but I know a silent ringer and the words Dirty Filthy Telemarketer on my welcome screen means it’s someone I don’t want to talk to. At last count I have 60 numbers under that contact.
3. Auto-text (Keyboard Shortcuts)
At any one time there can be four volunteers working on the AAQI website. Before anyone publishes the site we have to ask everyone else if it’s OK to publish. It’s no fun getting dumped off the page (and losing your work) during a page publish. So we text. It gets pretty annoying to type, “OK to publish now?” to three people several times a day. I did discover Group Texting. (Start with New Message and hit the + sign for all the people you want to receive the text.) “Auto-text” is even more fun! Yup, you can set up keyboard shortcuts. Now when I type PTP, my iPhone offers, “OK to publish now?” If I want to indeed type that, I hit the space bar and there it is. Poof! Send. Done.
To set up all your favorite phrases like “Are you bringing home dinner tonight?” go to Settings –> Keyboard and click Shortcuts. Then click the + sign in the upper right corner and type in the phrase you want a shortcut for. Hint: You should pick a Shortcut (a name for the phrase). It’s marked as optional. Pick a sequence of letters you don’t ordinarily type, otherwise you’ll get that particular phrase a bit more often than you might want.
Try this: Set up a few auto-text phrases on someone else’s phone. Every time Steve types “Ami,” the phone completes the phrase with “the woman I love and adore.” I wonder how that happened…
4. Take Charge of UFO’s
There’s an app for that! Seriously, you can spin the wheel to decide which UFO (Un-Finished Object) you should sew. The app is called Decide Now! and the paid version lets you input the names of all your unfinished quilts. Or a good number of them at least. I didn’t put in too many for fear of overloading my iPhone’s memory.
5. Other Uses for Earbuds
Ever want to take a picture of your hand doing something? It’s pretty hard. Sure you can hold the iPhone and press the up or down volume button to take the picture with your left thumb, but here’s another way.
Plug in your earbuds and hold the volume up/down bar between your lips. When you’re ready to snap the shutter press either end with your lips. Click! (Try not to drool.)
If all your pictures are blurry because tapping the screen to take the picture makes it move, you could also just use your free hand to push the volume up/down on the earbuds. It also works to turn video on and off.
6. Screen Shots
Wonder how I took the pictures in tip #2, #3, and #4? The pictures show exactly what was on my iPhone screen. Simple. I took a screen shot by holding down the Home Button at the bottom of the phone and clicking the on/off button on top of the phone. Click! What you see is what you get.
7. Decorate Your iPhone
My iPhone is wearing a “skin.” It’s a plastic stick-on image I created by uploading one of my pictures. There are also stock photos available, but wouldn’t your phone, tablet, laptop look terrific wearing a quilt? Check out Skinit.com or Schtickers.com for all sorts of fun.
Aren’t These Cute?!
Keep Your Cords Sew Organized! You can buy them online.
First I discovered my new favorite chocolate. It was part of a goodie bag prepared for me by the Program Chair at the East Cobb Quilting Guild in Marietta, GA two weeks ago. Hotel Snackage. It was so delicious I took a picture of the wrapper, the chocolate having been most enthusiastically consumed earlier. Rapidly consumed. All in one sitting.
I love dark chocolate. Ghirardelli Intense Dark (Twilight Delight) is delicious. That dark chocolate might even be good for me is an added bonus. It’s loaded with antioxidants, improves blood flow, is high in vitamins and minerals, and might even harden my tooth enamel! That’s pretty wonderful, isn’t it? I feel healthier and so much less guilty already.
Happy Day! I found the very same chocolate at my grocery store when I got back home. I wolfed down another whole bar in one sitting. I can feel my tooth enamel getting as hard as concrete. I think my quarter inch seams are looking straighter too…
But wait. I just got back from Rite-Aid. I was shopping for knee-high’s and little bottles of hair spray for my upcoming trip to visit with the Cabin Fever Quilters’ Guild in Fairbanks (still a few spaces in the workshops). Rite Aid moved the little bottles of overpriced travel cosmetics again and as I wandered around looking for them (their plan all along) I bumped into the Ghirardelli chocolate section!
They had bars and individually wrapped squares of my Twilight Delight right there on the shelf! And the individually wrapped squares were ON SALE! I snagged two bags for $6.00 (the sign told me to) which was actually less per ounce than the big bar! (I did the math.) My thought here was that if I got the individually wrapped squares not only would it be less expensive, but it might slow down my rate of chocolate consumption. I would be spending several extra seconds opening up the little wrappers. (That was before I thought of opening them up with my applique scissors.)
Hang on. It gets even better. When I paid I used my Wellness Card (Rite-Aid’s loyalty program) and I got $2 for buying the knee-high’s (no idea why) and another $2 for the buying the chocolate (no idea why). So, what does this mean? The chocolate will still be on sale until the end of the month and I’ve got $4 in free money. I can get two more bags of Twilight Delight tomorrow for only $2. At that price I might even be willing so share. Would anyone like some knee-high’s? Hair spray?
Chocolate? What chocolate? I don’t see any chocolate.
Steve and I took a vacation last Saturday. We hopped in the car and visited four countries in less than five hours. Supersonic transport? Nope. We just headed to the Detroit area, to visit some great ethnic restaurants and markets.
First stop was Bi Bim Bop for lunch. Bi Bim Bop is both the name of the restaurant and the name of a traditional Korean dish. Traditionally Served in a hot stone bowl, it’s mostly rice with seasoned ground beef (or chicken, or tofu) and five or six veggies (mushrooms, spinach, squash, beans sprouts, and carrot slivers) on top circling a fried egg. The egg is sprinkled with a few sesame seeds and something that look like hair from a bad wig. No idea what is it is. It’s all delicious. Bi Bim Bop is seasoned to taste with a red, hot sauce. It’s pretty bland without it. If I put on too much my eyes start to water.
Stirring is very important, so that all the toppings are mixed in with the hot sauce as the rice sizzling against the oven-hot stone bowl. No matter how long it takes me to eat it (and I am a very slow eater, especially with chop sticks) the food never cools down.
Five or six condiments are served with the Bi Bom Bop. Brocoli spears in a peanut sauce, bean sprouts, and kimchi are standard. Then there’s mayonnaise based potato salad (who would have imagined?) or potato wedges in a sweet sauce, pickled stringy stuff, and some type of seaweed. I forgot to photograph those, and by the end of the meal there was nothing left anyway.
Next stop was Contoro’s Italian Market. I wish my camera took smells too! Delicious! This is not a large place. I think they have a dozen parking spaces and on a Saturday you sometimes have to wait to park. Inside it’s elbow to elbow with not much room at all for the teeny tiny shopping carts.
They have home-made pasta (tortelini and ravioli too), plus seasonal goodies like panetone (soft fruit cake, that’s more like bread inside than cake). They bake their own bread and import meats, olives, and cheese from Italy. Vino, too!
Next stop. I’m repeating my self to get the spacing better.
Next stop was Mexican town in Detroit. The community got the short end of the stick when they ran the new freeway right through the middle of it, but in spite of that, they seem to be flourishing.
We stopped at the Honey Bee Market and were greeted by an enormous display of chips and guacamole, with free samples! They had more avocados that I think I’ve seen in my whole life, cactus (I need to try that some day), all sorts of spices, and Inca Cola for Steve’s classroom.
And if somebody who works with WordPress could tell me how in the world to make a hard line break, I would be eternally grateful.
Our final stop was at the Dearborn Market across the parking lot from the Arab American Museum. There were bins of exotic spices, more cucumbers and pickles than you could shake a stick at, and rice! Woah! Lot’s of rice! I’ve never seen rice in 25 pound bags before! There was lots of tea and sweets and ready-to eat food too.
In case you were wondering, I sampled something from every stop and snacked all the way home. It was fun to get away for the day and I can’t wait to do it again!
In case you were wondering, I sampled something from every stop and snacked all the way home. It was fun to get away for the day and I can’t wait to do it again!
I started looking for my Mother-0f-the-Bride dress in February and on the first day (after about a dozen stores) I found it. The price tag was $650. I tried it on anyway, loved it, and heard my mouth explain to my friend Susan that “I could make this.” Susan and I have been friends since grade school. We played with Troll dolls. I sewed outfits for the cat. How hard could replicating a designer gown be?
It was actually two dresses, one over the other. I figured the “under-dress” didn’t much matter because it would be covered by the kaftan that went over it. I could screw it up pretty good before anyone would notice. The kaftan was just a wad of fabric with a head hole and seams up the side. Piece of cake. I would use some of the silk my mother bought years ago, so the fabric would be from my mom and “free.” I was all goosebumply; it was meant to be. And I learned from the cat that if you moved really fast, it was the overall impression that mattered, not the details.
The first thing I had to learn about was silk. I’m all cotton all the time. There are more different kinds of silks than you can shake a stick at. I had no idea. Thick thin, nubby smooth, slick, rough. I decided the kaftan silk felt like chiffon. My mother had a whole bolt of it! Yipee! I was all set. Then I measured. It had to go from my toes, over my head and back down to my heels, and when I stuck my arms out, it had to hit me just above my wrists. Mom had the yardage, but not the width. Hello, Dharma Trading.
By now I’m several months into the project, without having actually done anything. I’m percolating. Thinking. I had the fabric (ordered generously, twice, in case I messed up), and I had the dye (also double what I thought I needed). I just couldn’t figure out how to dye it. What I do is technically “dye painting,” and the full piece of silk (all 6 yards of it, that’s 18 feet for you English majors) has to rest on a single, flat surface (no cracks, lumps, or bumps) or it has to be suspended. Who has a table that big?!
I wound up sewing the silk to old pole skrunchies from one of my booths at Quilt Market. I threaded them on to two sets of extra long (king size) sticks from my hand quilting frame. I duct-taped the short ends together creating an 18-foot x 54″ dying frame (trampoline) in the backyard with about 17 C-clamps, two saw horses, and several quilt frame legs. It fell over several times before I got the supports in just the right place.
(Note: squirt the hose at something else first so that all the little particles of crud that accumulated after a winter hanging in the garage go someplace other than on the silk.)
I loaded five different colors into spray bottles and hit the silk one at a time. Debbie, my fearless assistant, followed me around squirting water on the color blobs. Then I swooshed and mooshed the blobs with my gloved hands until they dried, picking off stray bugs, grass particles, and debris from the wind, which, if not removed, make spots on the silk. Of course the gloves leaked.
The next day I dyed the second chunk of silk and the silk for the under-dress, a small purse, and a pair of underpants.
I used a commercial pattern for the under-dress. Just my silhouette would show as the sheer chiffon swished around me. I made two “muslins” to test the pattern. Making them out of less expensive muslin saved my silk, especially since the sizing on the pattern was way off. Off-the-rack and tissue paper patterns apparently are not in synch. Plus, it’s hard sewing 6/8″ seam allowances when you’re used to a scant quarter-inch. Also note: if you’re going to replace your 35-year-old strapless bra, the one you wore on your own wedding day, do so before you make the muslin. Ten minutes before we walked down the aisle, Jennie had to safety-pin the back of my under-dress to keep the fabric under my arms from flapping.
I machine-washed the silk after I dyed it, and then I made the mistake of ironing it. Chiffon is a loose weave (which is why it is sheer). Washing the silk shrank it. (I was told as much as 15%.) Ironing it (so I could cut it) made it grow! Thankfully I did a test on a 45″ square and notice the difference when I ironed it and then squirted it with water to relax it. The silk sample moved so much I thought it was alive!
So, after I ironed the dyed yardage to get the wrinkles out I hung it and spritzed it, to relax it.
It took almost a week to work up the nerve to cut into the dyed chiffon, and to pick which chunk to cut. (Remember, I had two!) I used part of one piece to practice on the head hole. No pattern; I was flying without a net. Just finding the center (length and width) was a huge pain. Silk moves. You lay it down and it shifts and drifts. It refuses to line up against any line. I hung it over a quilt display rack, brought the selvages together, and the torn edges, and thread basted a center width and length!
Kaftans are odd. All they have is a head hole, side seams, and a hem. I didn’t want it riding back (and choking me) so I cut the head hole more to the front than to the back.
Ever a quilter, I stitched an applied binding to the neck instead of just making a hem. I sewed part of a cheapo necklace (that just happened to be metal and heavy and painted teal so that it matched really well) inside the binding around the head hole. Stuffing it with the necklace chain weighted it forward. I used the rest of the chain in the French side seams to weight the sleeves, and in the hem at the front.
The side seams tapered in, from 54″ at my wingspan to about 35″ at my ankles, if you measured it flat. The hem, because of the width of my body inside the kaftan, turned out to be curved which made marking the hem especially challenging. Thank you Mary, Ruth, and Anne for your help and advice.
The under-dress only came to just above my knees, something I thought might look really dumb with a long gown, but it was hardly noticeable. It sure was cooler and more comfortable. You can see knees through the dress in the picture of Steve and me.
All in all, it was a very comfortable garment to wear. When I got tired of tripping over the hem I just hiked it up. It was also easy to get the dress to the wedding. I just rolled the kaftan around a PVC pipe covered with an old cotton blanket. No ironing required.
I mentioned on FaceBook after I finished the dress that I had six yards of the chiffon left over. Inquiring if anyone wanted to have a scarf made out of the leftovers, I got a very positive response.
Trying to please as many people as possible, I cut up the silk into different size scarves. Click here to purchase. (http://www.amisimms.com/silk.html) You get to hem the scarves yourself and save lots of money. Learn how in the tutorial below. Enjoy!
PS: Because so many of you asked, yes, I did have a shoe issue. While packing the car the night before the wedding, I could only find ONE shoe. This was my “backup” pair, the toe-pinchers I’ve had since 2005 (very low mileage) that might give my feet some relief from the new 3″ heels. I finally found the missing shoe in Scooter‘s kennel. He’s only stolen one other thing in the year we’ve had him: a bag of chocolates which he didn’t eat; he just wanted them close. My left shoe didn’t fare as well.
I mended the hole with some stiff black felt, a hot glue gun, and a black marker.
All better. Just don’t look closely.Turns out I didn’t even need to wear them. Once my feet went numb there was no point. (It’s hard being a woman.)
Jennie and Craig were married yesterday afternoon in a beautiful outdoor ceremony surrounded by their immediate families at a bed & breakfast in South Haven, Michigan. They planned every detail and it was beyond perfect. Even the weather cooperated with sunshine and temperatures in the mid-70’s with a soft breeze.
I hung on to Jen’s elbow for dear life, balancing on those 3-inch heels. The gravel driveway slowed us right down to the slow pace required for such an important entrance. Once we got to the lawn it was much easier to walk, but the grass posed its own problems. Frequently, and yet unpredictably, my stilettos poked through the sod and I momentarily sank at a backwards angle into the soft dirt below. Jennie had her eyes on her beloved. I watched my feet trying not to catch my shoes in my hem and looking for “soft spots” as I aerated the soil.
I thought the tears would be over by time we handed her off to Craig. Up until that point I’d gone through half a box of tissue as we got ready and had some major waterworks before we rounded the corner and stepped onto the grass.
Jen became engaged with my mothers engagement ring and she would be married with my mother’s wedding band. She wore two strings of pearls, one belonging to my mother and one to my grandmother, for whom she was named. My eyes teared up every time I thought of how pleased my mother would have been to know that. And then if I let my mind linger there a nanosecond longer the tears totally leaked out of my eyes.
The ceremony was beautiful. I held her bouquet on my lap, my leaky eyes riveted to the drama of the moment. I watched in awe at the young woman we raised. Wasn’t it just yesterday I held her in my arms for the first time? She looked more beautiful than I have ever seen her. She radiated poise and confidence. The two of them looked so right together. Watching the emotion in their eyes, the tear rolling down her cheek, well, I lost it again. And so did everybody else!
After the ceremony was over we posed for photographs. With a professional photographer and the 9 adults clicking away with five cameras and seven smart phones, I think we pretty much covered every angle!
Hands down it was the best wedding ever! We could savor every moment, we had time to visit, get to know each others family, and celebrate without stress. Stay tuned for a future blog about the reception in 6 weeks. Meanwhile here are some pictures to watch.
Jennie’s bridal shower was too much fun. It was exciting to plan, wonderful to be with family and friends, and even enjoyable to clean up. (Don’t miss the video at the end!)
I had the shower here at the house in my mother’s old “apartment” when she lived with us. The room is now known as my @Home Classroom. I apologize for the very blurry “After” picture. It’s the only one I have. It’s not even taken from the same spot as the “Before.” But did you notice the seven hand-dyed tablecloths, each a different color? Just proves that 120″-wide muslin quilt backing can be used for other things. And the matching napkins? I ran out of fabric for the napkins so some are smaller than others. I randomly placed them on the tables. That took about 35 minutes. I don’t do random all that well. (It’s safe to click all the rest of the pictures to see nice, large, crisp photos without getting sick to your stomach.)
Our Jennie was named after her maternal great-grandmother, Jennie Gottesman. The “original” Jennie’s dishes, stemware, and silver were passed down to my mother and then to “our” Jennie. They’ve been stored in our basement for years so it was only fitting that they were used for Jen’s shower. In between polishing the silver and cleaning up the upstairs, I found an old photo album. Inside was a very old photograph showing a holiday dinner served on the very same dishes. Here’s another “Before & After.”
In addition to the photo album I found a guest book signed by all the attendees of my mother’s bridal shower in 1945. I wish she was still here to remind me who wrote all the heartfelt messages wishing her a happy life with my father.
As I flipped through the pages out fell the card my “Grandma Jennie” gave to my mother with her shower gift.
(I never really knew my grandmother. Shortly after I was born she had a series of severe strokes. She was bedridden the whole time I knew her. I never heard her speak.) I had no idea she was so creative! Nor can I imagine never having “found” that card before now!
When guests arrived on Saturday we asked them to take an envelope and address it to themselves, using pens stuffed with fabric. (Actually the fabric is wrapped around the “ink thingy.”)
Jennie drew from the self-addressed envelopes to award the flower centerpieces throughout the day, AND won’t have to address thank-you envelopes!
Years ago, after my parents were first married, my mother had a big dinner party and asked everyone to to sign a butcher’s apron. She later embroidered their signatures, drawings, and messages. I stitched that original apron into the back of the quilt I made for her 70th birthday. You might remember seeing the front of the quilt on the cover of Creating Scrapbook Quilts.
Shower games included “Who Knows Jennie The Best” and a take off on the old chestnut where items are placed on a tray, passed around, and then shower guests have to try to write down as many items as possible from memory.
Jennie’s great Aunt Elaine and Uncle Bud live in Florida, but we wanted to include them as much as possible in the festivities so we “Face-Timed” during the shower games and when Jennie opened the presents so they could be a part of it too.
You’ll notice a giant poster of Craig and Jennie on the wall framed with fabric scraps from the tablecloths. I made the poster online at www.blockposters.com. You upload a photo and it creates a PDF based on the size of the image and the number of pages you want to tape together. Just ignore the images of a crazed-looking guy with the hatchet on the website. I had the pages printed on a color printer at Office Max.
As Jennie opened each gift, Craig’s nieces delivered a rose bud to the person who gave the gift. The bud was made by wrapping two Hershey’s Kisses in red cellophane (flat bottom to flat bottom) and then wrapping the “bud” on the rose stem with floral tape.
Silk roses were 60% off at JoAnn Fabrics. It still probably would have been cheaper to buy real roses and just eat those, but math skills escape me when I shop. If anybody has any great ideas for the blossoms I yanked off to make the chocolate buds, you can have them!
Even cleaning up was fun because Jennie stayed and we washed everything up and put it all away together. Scooter provided the entertainment.
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