Friday, October 13, 2017

Plain Office Curtains

My husband asked for plain curtains for his narrow little office where one wall is a door and a window.  He wanted privacy and climate control and nothing fussy (read: black rectangles). 

I picked up a bundle of fabric at the creative reuse store for a couple bucks, only to discover it was knit fabric when I got it home to wash. I have had mixed success sewing knits so that the seams do not bubble.  I have tried the faux serger stitches on my machine on various projects. I think the deciding factor is how the knit itself behaves with sewing, which I don't know how to predict. This black knit turned out fine.  I used a small zig-zag stitch and pressed the hems firmly when I was done.

I clipped the rectangles to the wire and clips my husband got at Ikea.  He is pleased, and I am pleased to have a curtain success!

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Phoebe at the Cabin

After I was sick for a week, we went to the cabin with family.  I also picked up a new freelance editing job.  And Phoebe, although she looks cherubic here, is demanding her independence with destructive results as only a 2-year-old can. Oh, that girl.  So all of these explain my blogging break, but I'm back.

Friday, September 29, 2017

Genevieve Wears the 1980s Wrap Skirt

True wrap skirts are fantastic for the growing girl.  She can adjust it to whatever size her slim waist has going on as she grows. This skirt was, frankly, getting too skimpy on my middle-aged spread. 

This skirt has a special history.  My aunt married a South African and lived there for years in the 80s.  She would bring her sisters gifts when she and my uncle came back to the States to visit, and one year, it was this wrap skirt for my mother.  I remember my mom wearing it with a peach oxford short-sleeved shirt.  No one else in our tight little Mennonite world was wearing South African wrap skirts in peachy tones.  

My mom gave it to me when I was in college.  I shortened it a bit, and used those scraps in various projects over the years (I'm sure there's photographic evidence on my blog somewhere, but my quick search didn't find it).  

Now the skirt is on my oldest daughter - let's hope it doesn't fall apart before it gets to the little daughter!

Monday, September 25, 2017

The Gas Company Shuts Me Down

I had to get my half-bushel of grapes because the farmer told me the rain was making them split.  It was the same day our boiler installation was beginning, but I didn't see a conflict.  I hauled the toddler out to my mom.  I set up the juicer, the canner, and the food mill, and got down into the deep purple morass.

And then my water went to a drip, to nothing.  I went down to the basement, and the guys were apologetic, and yes, my gas was turned off, too.  "But I'm canning!"  I said blankly.  They had forgotten to mention that the gas and water needed to be shut off for the installation.  They bustled around and set up some valves, but still, it was more than 2 hours until I got my utilities back and could resume where I left off.

Thank goodness the terrible purple spill down my creamy-white cabinets happened when I still had water earlier that morning! I mixed up a concoction of 1 cup ammonia, 1 gallon hot water, 1/2 cup white vinegar, and 1/4 cup baking soda (the recipe comes right off the ammonia jug) and was able to get the purple stains off my cabinets and wood floor.  This is a wonderful cleaner for painted walls and woodwork.  Once a year or so, I go around and wash the gray and grimy evidence of kids off the walls as best as I can; it's so much easier and cheaper than repainting, at this stage!

As for the grape canning, I got 8 quarts of thick, rich juice with the leavings going into spiced grape butter; I also made 2 quarts of pie filling for the freezer.  Furthermore, we went out for dinner that night (with coupons!) because my kitchen game had been totally thrown off by the disappearance of gas and water.

The next day, I shared a glass of grape juice with the gas company's supervisor - he was always interested in my kitchen projects and was suitably impressed with my grape juice.  He suggested I make grappa with the skins left from the juice making.  Now our boiler is installed, and the grapes are done.

Sunday, September 24, 2017

A Summer Work Dress

This is a comfortable, breezy dress for summer work, and I mostly like how it looks.  I do really love the perky red flowers on the deep turquoise.

The bias tape binding the neckline and armholes gives it the look of a housedress, which I'm not fond of.  And despite measuring myself and the pattern pieces, I think I should have gone down a size which would have taken care of the weird floppy fabric at the top of the placket. I also added some back shoulder darts to help the fit. 
Photos by Genevieve!

 But the dress came together quickly and is a cinch to throw on and tear into the work.  Lots of preserving work this time of year.

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

My National Online Thrift Store

The plastic silverware holder that came with my dish drainer was too flimsy for our loads of dishes.  I was eyeing a stainless steel one on eBay but was hesitating because the seller used a stock photo and wasn't answering my query if he himself had the basket and was going to personally ship it.  

I had gotten burned by eBay sellers using Amazon fulfillment services, and I avoid supporting Amazon if I can help it.  I don't trust big corporations and their love of big profits and lack of engagement with the communities that host their big box stores and warehouses.  I prefer to support individual sellers and locally-owned stores.  Big corporations are also automating as many jobs as possible in the name of profit, which is costing people jobs.  I know it's a complicated issue because our economy is not sustainable as it is, but I also believe that people want meaningful work for fair pay.  So I try to avoid the big corporations and look for the small-time sellers on eBay (my national online thrift store!) or little companies with online stores. 

As I considered how badly I wanted the stainless steel silverware basket, I came across a red metal one in my favorite thrift store.  For $2, it was by far the cheapest option, and I was also supporting a local store that gives its profits to MCC.  I was very pleased.

I'd welcome your thoughts on Amazon, eBay, and online shopping in general. 

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Exit Ketchup

I had to drop some canning projects this year and ketchup was one of them (also peaches).  We're going to have grocery-store ketchup this year. 

 But we will still have a thick, rich tomato something to use on egg sandwiches:  tomato jam and smoked tomato chutney (but I used a generous teaspoon of smoked paprika).  I love them both so much and they make small batches, so I made both. Tomatoes were meant for jam, I think.  They cook down into such rich, meaty sweetness and partner so well with various flavor families.  

I have two more tomato projects and applesauce, and then I'm done.


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