Home Happenings

Life seems to be going at such a fast pace. This is the kind of activity that has been consuming me lately. I've been accompanying daily at the local high school. I used to accompany only my daughter's class, but lately have been accompanying as needed with another choir and it has taken a good bit of time.

In other news, my husband was laid off last year in February. In June, took a 6-month contract job located 4 hours from home (coming home on the weekends). A week or so ago, he signed on with this company as a permanent employee. We are very thankful to have permanent job status, but sad in that it means we will have to leave what has home for over ten years with so many friends, family, and memories and move four hours away and start over. This will no doubt be a challenge for us a family, but in Oregon's economy (with more than 10% unemployment and not much hope for improvement in his field), it made sense to take what was available. Four hours is not too far from family.

So now we begin the process of decluttering and preparing our house to put on the market. Life is never dull, is it?

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New Version of Kwik Sew 3740

I snagged a gorgeous sweater knit at JoAnn's (amazing sweater knit from :::gasp:::: JoAnn's ) and decided to try and revise this great top pattern to a dress length as I have also done with another TNT pattern, Kwik Sew 2694.

It's quite easy to add length to make a dress from this pattern. I simply measured how much additional length needed at the bottom of the top and then figured out how width was needed. In this case, I used my previous dress from Kwik Sew 2694 as the guide. I measured 15.5 inches from the fold and then drew a straight line angled down from the bottom of the bodice to my new dress length. Voila!

This took 2 hours from cutting to completion. I will probably make this again in a solid next. If you haven't given this pattern a try, I highly recommend it.


Burp Cloths

I had a baby shower to go to for two lovely mamas from church. I ran across this online tutorial for making burp cloths. I've only used white cloth diapers for burp cloths and after making these, I have to say I almost had an itch to have another baby. They are adorable and so easy to make.

The instructions have you cutting out the fabric and then washing. I think it is better to prewash the fabric first so you don't have to deal with all of the frayed ends on each piece. I was able to easily get 6 burp clothes from 2 one-yard pieces. If using a rotary cutter (by far the easiest way), make the 17-inch cuts going lengthwise (parallel with the selvage edges) and the 11-inch cuts going horizontally from once side of the selvage edge to the other. This will be my new standby for baby shower gifts. It is so simple and practical.


More Kwik Sew 2694

When in a sewing funk, solution = Kwik Sew 2694. This time I lengthened the top to tunic length. It works for me.


At the Pumpkin Patch

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Whidbey Island

It's been a while. We're surviving life with a husband/father who lives 4 hrs away and commutes home on days off. It's been challenging, but at least the bills are being paid.

In the meantime, I took the boys to our yearly family camp on Whidbey Island. It was gorgeous 4 out of the 5.5 days. We didn't complain one bit knowing how past years have been so rainy. We had a great time.

Pearly stayed back home to attend volleyball try-outs. She made varsity - yea! But she was sure missed at camp. High school is the time where teens have to learn to weigh tough decisions and she is no stranger to that anymore.

Here are a few of my favorite pics. It was great that Tall Dude could go this year. He was a big help and was so sweet with his younger siblings. I don't know many 20-yr olds who take the time play with their younger siblings. What wonderful memories for these boys.

Tall Dude and Caboose (4 yrs)

Brown eyes, 12 yrs

Bunny, almost 8

3 youngest boys

Bunny (almost 8) and Tall Dude, 20 yrs.

On the ferry leaving Whidbey Island


Caboose and His Hangy Thingy

Caboose was given a flannel train blanket as an infant by a friend from church. It's just a large flannel blanket with a special train track stitchs around the edge in red thread. This is his beloved blanket. It is very well used, dingy, but you know how kids and blankies go.

Well, it has seen better days. It had many holes in it. It was in such bad shape, I didn't know how to fix it. He had asked me a number of times to fix it, but I hesitated because I didn't know if he would then reject it because it was smaller. His persistence won. It was taken to the sewing table where I figured the best way to "fix" it was to take off a 9-inch strip down one side. There was still a big hole beyond the 9-inch strip, but I figured it could probably be patched up. That's what I did and it worked well. I don't have a train track stitch on my sewing machine, so I used red thread and the closest matching stitch I could find.

So, I brought it upstairs to give to him. He was thrilled to know that it had been fixed. I carefully showed him what I had done. He then took the blanket from me and looked at the corners. Then, with a very worried look on his face, he said, "where's the hangy thingy"? Well, there were "hangy thingies" all over the place because the blanket was in shreds. As he asked the question, his chin started quivering and he was on the verge of crying. I quickly went downstairs and grabbed the 9-inch strip I had cut off earlier and brought it upstairs to show him. I asked him where the "hangy thingy" was. He pointed to the corner where there were 2 little pieces of fabric hanging - we're talking disgustingly, dingy, torn, ratty-looking "hangy thingies". I couldn't bear to see him cry. He wanted them sewn back on his blanket.

So, I cut the 2 "hangy thingies" off the strip and somehow figured out a way to attach them to the corner of the blanket. Go ahead, click on the picture. It's not pretty.

But it works. This is what he does with his "hangy thingy".

He wraps it around his finger and then he lifts it up by his face, and his nose, and plays with it, rubs his upper lip and his nose. His blanket smells like him. I love the smell of it - it's the smell of my son.

That, my friends, is the look of contentment (I know it's hard to tell behind the stoic facade, but Mama knows.) Caboose is happy. Mama is happy. I wish all of life's problems could be solved with hangy-thingies!


Mother's Day 2010

Mother's Day started like this: Orange Boy (12 yrs old) made homemade cinnamon rolls. This is the 2nd time he's made them. He put them together last night and put them in the fridge overnight. In the morning, he put them in the oven on very low to rise and then baked them. This kid is amazing. He was craving cinnamon rolls about a month ago and decided to find a recipe and go for it. Some young lady is going to be very blessed to have him as a husband some day!

Can you say YUM?!!!

After church, we had a picnic lunch at a state park and went for a walk in the woods - right in the middle of Portland. Can you believe all of this in the middle of Portland? I love Oregon!!!

My two oldest sons!

Found a snake along the path.

Oldest three kids

The whole family - yea! We should have taken a family shot BEFORE the hike. Oh well. I love it anyway! What a great Mother's Day. I am so blessed.


Kwik Sew 2694 Again, but Modified to Dress

Pattern modifications: I had already added quite a few inches to the length of the top when I originally sewed it (pattern runs quite short), but I added an additional 19 inches to the bottom of the top pattern (keep in mind I'm over 6 feet tall) to make it into a dress. Because this was to be a dress, I didn't want it to be quite as fitted around the hips, so I widened the pattern of the bodice about 1/2 inch on both sides around the hips. I then drew a line at a very slight angle from the hips down. I didn't want the skirt part of the dress to be straight up and down, but also didn't want the look of a full A-Line. I made sure the angle was the same on the front and back pieces and then sewed the dress using the same directions as the top.

Before I continue - the necklace in the picture was on loan to me by my 15-yr old daughter Pearly. Unfortunately, when I checked my jewelry box this morning for a necklace to wear, I discovered THREE of my necklaces had been broken. It seems my 4-yr old Caboose has been lasso-ing things using my necklaces. I bribed my daughter by telling her I'd publicly give her credit for the use of her necklace and she obliged.

My additions to the pattern include using Fusible Tape (SewkeysE brand Extremely Fine knit stay tape) around anything that needed to be hemmed and also the neckline. I use this method in all of my knit tops because I find that my coverstitch machine is temperamental and skips stitches. If I apply the fusible tape, I do not have that problem. 3/8-in. clear elastic was used to stabilize the shoulder seam. I use this in all knit shoulder seams. It really works great.

My easy way of applying elastic to shoulder seams: put the end of elastic under the presser foot and start sewing until the elastic is sewn maybe 1/4-in. This helps to secure it. I then put the front/back shoulder underneath the presser foot while holding the elastic on top of the fabric and stitch across the shoulder seam. The elastic is already "anchored" with stitches, so it is fairly easy to guide the elastic as the shoulder seam is sewn. You may have a little slot on your presser foot for applying ribbons/elastic, etc, and if you do, that is easier than my method.

Oh - one more difference with this dress - I made it a sleeveless dress by applying the fusible tape, turning over about 3/8 inch and then using the coverstitch to hem. This dress was so easy to make. The hardest part was ironing the fusible tape to the bottom hemline because I find ITY a challenge to work with - it rolls! You will definitely see more variations of this pattern to come. It will pay for itself in no time by making simple revisions. I was very slow on the bandwagon, but plan on making up for lost time.


Kwik Sew 2694

This top is so great. I used an interlock knit from JoAnn's. I am normally not impressed with their selection, but when I saw this, I snagged it. I have other plans for this top pattern - maybe a tunic with leggings for summer? Maybe I'm too old at 45 for that look. What do you think?

Here are the fine details: Pay attention to the length on this top - this is an older pattern that was drafted when shorter tops were in style. Also, the sleeve seems to be tighter than most patterns.

Great pattern instructions.

Pattern modifications: added 1 inch to waist, FIVE inches to bottom of bodice tapering out to a large at the hips. Widened sleeves. Took a tuck form the front neckline = SBA.

Ironed fusible webbing around neckline and for all hems. Coverstitched around neckline and hems.

Very easy pattern pattern. I will definitely make it again.

The new online sewing forum is growing - over 1,000 members now: Check it out: mysewingcircle.com


New Sewing Website

I've been a member of ravelry.com for knitters for quite a while and love the clean look and simple interface of the site and wondered why there was nothing of that quality for sewists. It looks like there is: mysewingcircle.com

Right now it is in the baby stages, but so far there are over 800 members. The owners are really paying attention to the members and implementing their suggestions. This may be the site I've been dreaming of.

Go take a look: mysewingcircle.com


Kwik Sew 3740

This is a great pattern. I LOVE it. It is nearly instant gratification.

Click to enlarge


The Proven Tomato Cage for Tall Tomato Plants

I was just reading Pioneer Woman's blog and she posted about her favorite tomato cages. I took a look at those tomato cages and knew that they wouldn't work for those of us blessed with huge tomato plants.

By far, the post that gets the most search hits on my blog is this post on homemade tomato cages. I want to post an update on the new method we tried last year as I believe it far surpasses anything we have ever tried in our 17 yrs of gardening. In Oregon, the tomato plants grow quite large and most tomato cages will only support half the plant, if that. This new method we discovered is fantastic. It is sturdy, holds the whole plant very nicely without damaging limbs, and allows easy access to the tomatoes. This was the first year all of our tomato plants stayed upright and no limbs collapsed from the weight of tomatoes. (think $$ savings!!!) I took pictures from different angles so hopefully this will be clear to understand. Click on pictures if you'd like to see a closeup.

You can see 3 rows of metal fencing posts - they are around 6 feet tall (before hammering in the ground) my husband in the picture is 6'5". The first row of fencing was for our green beans (bottom of the pictiure), so look at the other 2 rows above.


Plant a row of young tomato plants. Hammer metal fence posts in a row on both sides of the tomato plants - about 4 feet apart between posts and 4 feet between each row. Roll out concrete reinforcing wire and attach to the fence posts using zip ties. As the tomato plants mature and needs support, use narrow sticks (approx 5 feet long) by pushing the stick through one side of the concrete reinforcing wire and all the way through the other side of the concrete reinforcing wire. Weekly, check the tomato plant and see if more limbs need support. This picture is showing how we inserted the wooden sticks through the reinforcing wire. When the tomatoes are ripe, simply reach through the reinforcing wire.

Wooden sticks through the reinforcing wire

Side view showing 2 rows of fence posts zip tied with concrete reinforcing web with tomato plants growing down the row and a runaway squash summer squash plant trying to get in on the action.

Unfortunately, I neglected to take pictures when the big tomatoes were huge. These pictures were taken when the cherry tomatoes were just starting to ripen, so the plants weren't even full height.

This method is a great one in that everything can be reused each year. I found the fence posts on Craigslist very inexpensively.

If you use this method, please let me know how it works for you.

Happy gardening!!!


Family Day at Seaside, Oregon

Click to enlarge picture

We spent a wonderful day at the Oregon coast yesterday. Tall Dude didn't have school or work, so we made a family day of it and it was so beautiful. On the way there, it was really rainy until we made it over the mountain pass and then it was beautiful sunshine. The hike was great, but a bit muddy. We then went to the beach and the kids played in the waves with their bare feet, flew a kite. We ended the day with a bonfire and roasted marshmallows. Such a sweet family day!


Pearly and VBall

Pearly completed her 2nd and final season of volleyball this year. Her Mustangs team was undefeated and league champions. Proud Mama is hugging the 1st team All Star - woohoo!!!

Here are the 2 coaches who have made her what she is today. This was at the banquet and awards ceremony. You couldn't ask for better coaching.

Pearly's nickname: The Wall - because she's a middle blocker and it's a little challenge to spike a ball with a 6 ft 2-3/4-in. blocker standing in front of you! I love her nickname!

Although I will actually miss the crazy business, I look forward to slowing down and more crafting/sewing!


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