Tuesday, October 30, 2012

All Clear

Super storm Sandy cleared out after about 2am. I could hear a change in the intensity of the screaming of the wind. It was SO LOUD! The rain was pounding sideways against the windows. It would have made an excellent horror movie sound track.. My co-workers in New York are still without power; some are away from home waiting to go back. The subways are flooded and the trains are stopped until the teams can inspect the tracks, tunnels and stations. My sister is here working because we have power here and she doesn't . Thousands are without power in Virginia and Maryland. Ours went out, but thankfully came back on.

I can't tell you how impressed I was with the NY nurses and firemen. They carried the sick people out of the hospital down flights of stairs in the dark during the storm when the power went out and the back up generator failed. It was a clear demonstration of our valuable our first responders are. Kudos also go to the NOAA and National Weather Service teams who worked tirelessly over the weekend and all night Sunday and Monday, constantly updating the storm path information .What an invaluable service they provide. The next person who says something snarky in my presence about government workers will get hit with my Jaguar-topped cane.
(Did you know that those agencies that  just saved millions of lives are part of the Department of Commerce? Just sayin')
Photo above courtesy NOAA.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Hunkered Down

Image of Sandy courtesy NOAA/National Weather Service
(A government agency that saves thousand of lives daily - just sayin')

It's pouring rain and windy; it's only a matter of time until the power goes out, probably sometime tonight. The utilities say that due to safety issues that they will not be able to even start getting it back on until Wednesday. If we're lucky.

I have my embroidery and needle felting supplies at hand to work on. We have food, water, batteries and cat food. Plenty of books and flashlights.
Batten down the hatches, we're in for a rough night, say the eerily cheerful weather TV people.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Frankenstorm Prep

Photo of Sandy, aka "Frankenstorm", aka "Snor'Eastertcane" courtesy NOAA

Mr. Hunting Creek is hard at work clearing the gutters, removing dead branches and putting the outside furniture and umbrella away. We have already bought bottled water, batteries and all sorts of food, including what looks like a month's supply of cat food. "How long do you think we  would be trapped in our neighborhood?" I asked Mr. Hunting Creek. We have just the two cats. We have 15 cans of food.. He said, "It's best to be sure." There's a man who takes care of the pets first!
Last year at this time it was snowing, now we're getting a monster storm, the likes of which have never been seen before. Global Climate change is real and it's happening now. We had the Derecho this summer and it was bad enough..
In honor of the approaching storm, I have made some preparations of my own. I made my weekly batch of granola, and to use up three ripe bananas, a batch of Melissa Clark's Olive Oil Chocolate Chip Banana Bread. It's a storm emergency. Plus we can eat banana bread with no cooking required, if the power goes out.
I stopped by the Variety Store to get some materials for ornament making that I can do by hand if we are without power. I think we're ready. Stay safe and dry, my Mid-Atlantic friends.

Monday, October 22, 2012

UFO Control

Velvet Tree Skirt

October may be a little early to complete a Christmas Tree Skirt, but I cut this out last December and then got too busy doing other tins and it kept getting put off until it was too late to sew it. And who wants to work on a tree skirt in January through September?
It's made out of star-embossed velvet that I found on the sale table at Hancock's Fabrics. .Some sewists like to cut out many things while they are cutting; they like a stack of projects waiting for them and go merrily from one to the next. I have discovered that this approach makes me feel oppressed, feeling like I have left things undone. Then I get off on a tangent and things get put aside, and then a year goes by and I feel guilty. No more. I vowed last January that I was converting to a one project at a time person. I have a basket of incomplete things that have been weighing on me, so yesterday I cleared the worktable and looked at what I had waiting. The tree skirt looked like an instant gratification project. The words Velvet and instant gratification are not combined in sewing literature for good reasons. Velvet is a tricky, slippery customer. Velvet made out of unknown , possibly man made materials, slippery-er still. It didn't want to feed evenly, even with my Pfaff even feeding foot turned on. Pinning only helped a little. I ended up basting the whole thing - which is like basting a very large circle skirt. Not quick. Not difficult, but certainly not instant. I could understand why I had set it aside when I got busy last December - velvet tree skirts should only be attempted in leisure hours in October. I was determined to finish yesterday and there it is draped over a chair; Christmas Trees being  somewhat scarce this time of year.
Next up, from the UFO pile: a Forest Green Stretch Velvet top. Because I love green and velvet and  I'm a glutton for punishment. I cut this out last December too, but was too busy to finish it so now is the time.(Quick and easy, right? This is Vogue 7264 view A. My notes remind me that this is a stretch velvet from Gorgeous Fabrics. It's soft and such a pretty green. The pattern is OOP, and the fabric is sold out. But she has other pretty things :)
Are you a one project at a time sewist, or a multiple choice sewist? I am a recovering Multiple Choicer.
This is not to imply that I have no more UFOs lurking about; I do. Now with every two completed ones I get to start a new thing. Baby steps.

Friday, October 19, 2012

His and Hers, Or, Matching, A Cautionary Tale

It must not have worked out with Cecil, because this pattern is folded, uncut. (We could have told her!)
There should be a warning label on patterns that show Happy Couples wearing matching outfits, saying "Proceed With Caution", or as Mr. Hunting Creek quipped, "Abandon Hope All Ye Who Enter Here."
For a sewing person, it is an early temptation. (Older and wiser sewists nod sadly). She/he likes to sew.. She/he wants to make a nice something for the Special Someone. This route is Fraught With Peril. Many a magazine has advised upon the dangers of "over-gifting.". You know: When you give him a hand knit fisherman's sweater made of hand-spun wool from your own antique heirloom sheep breed, and he gives YOU a Cross Pen Set for your desk.(Mr. Hunting Creek interjects here, "You aren't going to bring up that bicycle pump again?" Why yes. Yes I am. The Bicycle pump gift will never be forgotten in the annals of cross-gender gift giving.) How many sad tales of hand sewn gifts have we heard from our fellow sewists?
Handmade silk ties for him, he gives you a Magic Bullet. Hand made silk pajamas? A Cat Calendar in return.
But Love is deaf to warnings as well as blind, so our  fellow sewist purchased this fine pattern back in 1976, determined to make a trendy top for their beloved. To make this top most authentically, the use of ethnically inspired fabrics is strongly encouraged. Ikat, batik, Guatemalan hand-woven, African Wax prints  all good. Bonus points if you went to Africa/Guatemala/Peru YOURSELF to acquire this fabric  This will give the wearer the feeling of being a World Citizen, which was quite the thing among certain college students of my acquaintance back in 1976. (I myself had a dashiki shirt that I wore often with jeans to my classes, where one of my TA's announced blithely, "You don't have to be a Socialist in this class to get an A, but it will help.".This caused quite a sensation back at UC Irvine, heart of then staunchly Republican Orange County. I think my shirt may have shown how non-Orange County I was. I did get an A. I was not then nor have I ever been a Socialist, but I think the shirt helped.)
Make the shirt and iron it well. If you make a matching shirt for yourself, be aware that most men do not like to wear matching items of clothing. Mr. Hunting Creek, for example, would prefer to have hot sticks of flaming bamboo stuck under his fingernails than wear even so much as the same color shirt as his spouse to an outing. If he sees that I am wearing a dark blue sweater, and he has on a dark blue sweater that is close in color, he will demand that I change my top. Since like most women, I spent some mental energy selecting an outfit, so I refuse. He grumbles and changes.
Don't wrap the gift too nicely - just do it nice enough. Most men do not understand the niceties of excellent gift wrapping and your efforts (like the effort expended in making this shirt, most likely) will be wasted.
I have a spotty track record in the Gift Shirt, so I speak from experience here. I have made lovely, professional quality shirts for three boyfriends, two of whom broke up with me and one of whom married me. I admit, the sample size is small. But I have extensive anecdotal evidence that sewing a shirt for your boyfriend is like entering the Food Chain. Proceed with caution!

Monday, October 15, 2012

Hand Made Olive Oil Granola

Every week I make a giant batch of olive oil granola and all of it gets eaten. It's easy to tailor the recipe to your own preferences..
Here is my basic formula:

Olive Oil Granola
 4 cups old fashioned oats (I use the gluten-free organic oats from trader Joe's, but you can use any kind of course)
1 cup sliced almonds
1 cup chopped walnuts
\1 cup unsalted sunflower seeds
1 cup pumpkin seeds (unsalted, hulled)
1/4 cup toasted flax seeds
1/4 cup ground flax seeds (these add omega 3)
1 teaspoon cinnamon (sometimes I use pumpkin pie spice)
1 teaspoon kosher salt (if you use regular salt, only use 1/2 teaspoon)
1/2 cup olive oil
1/3 cup maple syrup
1/3 cup honey

Mix ll of the dry ingredients together, then pour in the olive oil, honey and maple syrup. Mix well, Pour into a greased large baking pan or two greased cookie sheets. Bake at 325 F  for 45 minutes - BUT - you need to set the timer for 15 minute and stir every 15 minutes.I like it toasty - if you like it less toasted, then bake 30 minutes and stir every ten minutes.
Let cool, break up with a wooden spoon and store in a sealed container. This only lasts a week in my house.
If you don't like nuts, leave them out. You can use any kind of nuts - pistachios, hazelnuts, macadamia nuts...your choice. I add flax seeds, but you could leave them out. You could use canola oil instead of olive oil. You could use coconut oil - I have - it's delicious. Instead of honey you could use all maple syrup, or agave syrup, or all honey  If you like it sweeter you could add a quarter cup of brown sugar, more cinnamon, ...you get the idea. If you would like to add dried fruit wait until after it is toasted. Dried cranberries are nice. So are freeze-dried blueberries.

What do I do with all of this granola? I'm glad you asked.
I sprinkle it on top of mt Greek Yogurt and fruit

I add it to my cooked oatmeal, for crunch.
It makes an excellent topping for baked apples.
Last summer I ground it up and used it for a cheesecake crust. This gave Mr. Hunting Creek ideas - he ground some up with melted butter and more cinnamon, and spread it on some pizza dough that was in the fridge and made cinnamon rolls.
I add it to cookie dough.I add it to pumpkin and banana bread.
You could always make a half batch, but it makes a great gift.
I like to give some to neighbors for Christmas, in a pretty container, tied with a bow.
pretty soon they'll be back with the empty container, asking for more.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Needle Felted Christmas Stockings

Sometimes when I get an idea, I have to stop everything and try it out. I made these Needle Felted Christmas stockings this week, even though I was working on a fall top. But when inspiration strikes, I've learned that I need to take advantage of the ideas when they are fresh.
The body of the stocking and the cuff are loosely based on McCall's 2991, but the design is all mine.
Here is the red side:

These are constructed of wool blend felt , which is very easy to work with and a dream to needle felt applique.
I cut the poinsettias freehand and laid the petals on until I had a pleasing design:

Then I needle felted them down with my machine, the way I did the polka dot stocking:

Then I sewed the stockings together normally. Felt does not fray, so it is a very quick process. Don't they look beautiful?
If you'd like to work with wool blend felt, I have two sets of felt sheets in assorted colors available on my website here.

I took my pictures and put away my supplies. When I came back to cut out my next stocking, the cutting board had been taken over by Rebel Forces:

They are so much help!

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Caught in the Act

Heard mysterious thumping from the Sewing Room. Upon investigation, found this perp in the uppermost cubby, kicking fabric out of the cubby for his own nefarious purposes.

Oops,  guess I knocked some down. Now I can sleep on it.

 I don't know anything about that fabric on the ironing board and the floor.

That was a lot of work. I think I'll take a well-deserved nap.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

A Visitor in the Garden

Look carefully and you'll see that we had a very large visitor in the garden yesterday morning. I snapped a quick picture with my iPhone. He stood so still for a long time, blending in quite well with the woods. If you didn't know he was there, you wouldn't see him. After a while he walked slowly into the woods next door, going to eat their hostas.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Do Not Throw Rocks Into The Water

The National Park Service doesn't even say please do not throw rocks into the water. Just Don’t. OK?

Taking that tone makes me want to throw rocks, although normally I’m not a rock-throwing kind of person. This is why certain groups get upset over what they perceive as excessive Government regulations , I think. In a lot of ways, they don’t like that Hermione tone of voice.

We took my new wheelchair out for a spin at Jones Point Park, under the Wilson Bridge. It’s been landscaped and fixed up and is a beautiful place to view the boats on the Potomac, or launch your small boat or canoe, or have a picnic by the water. Just don’t throw rocks.

We walked all the way north from the Wilson Bridge into Old Town. Well, Mr. Hunting Creek walked, I rode like Cleopatra in my new wheelchair. It was cool, but not too cold. We saw dogs playing in the dog park, (Alexandria is a dog-loving city), kids playing in the kid-park (likewise for children) and looked at all of the pretty doorways and river views.

The view is different from a wheelchair. I blessed the Americans with Disabilities Act at every curb and street crossing. The Park and the City of Alexandria are both remarkably disability -friendly. When I wasn't disabled I appreciated the ramps on the sidewalks for stroller pushing purposes, now that I am disabled, I find that it makes walking with a cane or riding in a wheelchair just that much easier.

Now that I am disabled, I have no patience with people who complain about handicapped parking spaces. My kids don’t either,now. They make those whiners cringe like bad dogs with a chilly, “My Mother is disabled,” It’s amazing how thoughtless some people are.
I was on a call,  and before the call started a friend asked how I was doing, and I mentioned my new medication treatments. A third person asked what the therapy was for and when I said MS, she stated, “Oh My God, if that were me I’d kill myself!” I had the presence of mind to gently say, “perhaps it is fortunate that it is me instead.”
People! M.S. is not a death sentence! Therefore, do not say stupid stuff like that. When you notice that I use a cane and a wheelchair, don’t blurt out what a shame it is that I am a burden to my husband, and ask how he is “taking it.” He is taking things just fine and enjoys driving the wheelchair. I think he enjoys having complete power over what I get to see and where I get to go. And it’s a man’s dream come true for shopping purposes - I can only go where he pushes, (he is a good sport about going on thread, yarn and pattern runs).

When we came back home from our walk,  I found a late Clematis blooming in the front garden. Don’t we all appreciate late bloomers even more than the early blossoms?  Something to think about.

Friday, October 5, 2012

For the Discriminating Dog

Dog Wedding Costumes and Pajamas...these fall into the "Now I've seen everything" category.
I showed these to Mr. Hunting Creek, He said, "Dogs are getting married now?"
Obviously, YES. And they need cute clothes.
(Cats continue to live in sin.)