Saturday, July 19, 2008

20 Years Ago Today

Twenty years ago today my passion for stitching, gymnastics and cats was matched by my passion for this beloved Joe. Yes, this is the wedding picture. A quickie ceremony at the Justice of the Peace before his military duties called him away again. So much has happened since that whirlwind of a day. Not all good I might add. But it is often the difficult and sad times that have made us appreciate what we have in each other.

A lovely birthday gift arrived from Edgar yesterday. Aren't these just amazing looking chocolates. They taste twice as good as they look! Luckily I snapped this photo immediately after I opened the box because several of these beauties are long gone by now. Thanks Edgar for a wonderful surprise.

Pet snap today is of Alix "helping" us with the vinyl siding for the house. She loves to be up on anything. She seemed to have a rough start to the day yesterday. I think a lot of it has to do with the excessive heat and humidity we've had this week. She's doing better today, eating more and jumping around in her usual way. One day at a time, I suppose.

Couldn't have asked for a better birthday. A nice chat on the phone with my mom and dad. A chat the previous day with my friend Jean in NC. I am thinking of you my dear friend. I know you're having some hard times lately and this is not the public forum to discuss them. I just want you to know that I pray that things get better for you very soon. Many, many lovely cards, letters and e-mails from friends around the world.
Overall, being surrounded by the people and animals I love in the comfort and security of my own home was much better then any shopping spree.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Me Day...Well, Not Quite

Here's the Birthday Diva in 1966. I really was quite the little diva, up until about age 8. For some reason I became rather shy and withdrawn at that age. Been that way ever since.

My "Me Day" complete with all the far-away travels and overindulgent shopping has been rethought. Now it will be an at-home day, which is fine with me. I had been having terrible financial anxiety attacks over driving all over the place and spending money I don't have on things I don't need. Afterall, I had done sort of a Mini-Me-Day ( is that too Dr. Evil of me?) last Saturday. I bought the knit fabrics for the new tops I am going to sew (that one completed in the previous post) . I also stopped at the very large plant nursery and bought 7 perennials on sale to fill in some blank spots in the flower beds. Then I stopped at the local Goodwill shop to find some bargains. Unfortunately, yes unfortunately, everything was an additional 50% off. The place was a zoo. I lasted there about 8 minutes and didn't get a darn thing.

Alix doesn't seem to be doing too well today. Nothing dramatic, just looking a bit weak and tired and refusing most of the food I offer her. I started her last week on "Epakitin" a medicine for older cats who have trouble processing phosphates in their food due to kidney trouble. Harmien recommended it, as her 20+ year old cat Gabber has been using it for a while with good results. I don't know if I was hoping for some miracle cure, but I really haven't noticed any change in Alix. Infact, she seems to be declining a bit. Of course there is no miracle cure for old age and I am blessed to have her with me this long. So the Birthday Journey, is now a stay-at-home day with my beloved animals and my nearly as beloved sewing machine.

Speaking of Harmien, look at this amazing gift she sent me. Her needlework is always more like artwork. The stitches are so fine and even. She has posted the details of this beautiful draw-string bag on her blog.

A good, if some what hot, day at the gym yesterday. One of the girls in my junior group, Callie, was approved to move up to my Level 4 Team group. I am so proud! It has been several years since I had 'my own' gymnast move to Team. It makes a world of difference in coaching when I can work with a child from the age of 4 and then see them move up to the Competition Team level. The little girl to her right, Sydney, will be moving up next week after the Head Coach evaluates her skills.

On the cross-stitch front, my success at the gym has translated into a renewed interest in my own gymnast designs. Here is Alina Kozich of Ukraine nearly complete. Tons of frogging to correct her skinny neck problem, due to my miscounting. I just have to readjust the placement of her right hand to make it complete. I have several new gymnast designs in the planning stages. As the Olympics get closer I become more and more the excited 12 year old who had that first glimpse of Nadia Comaneci on this day 32 years ago! The rest, as they say, is history...........

Sunday, July 13, 2008

A Little Something To Wear......

Inspired by Isabelle, I made this new little top. Vogue pattern #2980. It looks so much better on Isabelle who is blessed with a lovely figure. It took me all afternoon of sewing, ripping out, re-sewing, to get it right, since I haven't made a human-size garment in years! Speaking of size, I am not too sure this fits me properly. I am not used to wearing form-fitting stuff. I was smart enough to use the size 16 version of the pattern, although it absolutely made me wretch to do so. OK, I need to get over the fact that I never was and NEVER WILL BE the size and shape of a super-model. I am a 10 or 12 in clothing (you know how it is...10 on the top, 12 on the bottom.) so a 16 was a real jump for me. Luckily I made that ego-busting choice because the fit is exact, to say the least. I certainly won't be running around playing volleyball in this top, but with some minor adjustments it fits pretty well. I chose the least expensive piece of fabric of the three I bought yesterday. The other two will be the long-sleeve version of this top.
The other project of the day, which accounts for the rather frazzled look to my hair, is this.......
The "recycled" vinyl siding is complete on the large side of the house. The beautiful, "gently used" siding came off a neighbors house when they got new siding. The neighbor hired Joe to remove the old siding and instead of cash Joe asked if we could keep the old stuff. The front is going to be done next weekend. You can see from this view that the upper back section near our bedroom window is not done. That will have to wait for a new roof first, since we can not do the siding first without new roof flashing. When a huge stack of money falls from the sky then we will get a new roof and the remaining siding will go up also. The single story side (our kitchen, bathroom and utility room area) was already done on one side. Hard to explain why just that one side was done, but it was like that when we moved in in 1991. There are a lot of odd things about this house. I am assuming that side was chosen first because all of the major storms approach from the West side. Joe sided the back lower section two years ago, so it is the front and the East facing lower section that need to be done. Maybe by the end of the Summer...if our free supplies hold will be completed. I am interested to see if this makes any improvement in heat retention in the Winter.

It was supposed to rain today, but it ended up being gorgeous. Warm, but with low humidity and a nice breeze all day. I still have about 2 hours of "outside time" to work on cross-stitch. I've frogged my way through the mistakes on the gymnasts cross-stitch, Alina Kozich of Ukraine. It's still a bit of a mess, so no photo yet.

Yesterday was my brother Jeff's Birthday.

Here we are last Summer at my mom and dad's house

We both love our Summer birthday. As kids it was such a joy to have a birthday so evenly spaced from Christmas. Our cousin Barbara's birthday is December 27th and we always felt bad for her because certain relatives gave her the Birthday/Christmas combination gift. What a rip off for a kid. There were only two bad points about a Summer birthday. #1 No party in your classroom at school and #2 When we were young we always had to have a "shared party" since our birthdays were less then a week apart. He had to tolerate a bunch of shrieking little girls and I had to put up with a pile of messy, sloppy little boys. Luckily for my mother these parties were usually outside on the picnic table in the backyard.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Blatant Self-Promotion

Yes, I have gotten to that point...........8 days until my Birthday. It's not a big milestone birthday like Sweet 16, or the Big 4-0, it's just awful old 44. It lands on a Friday which makes it gym time that day. I am planning a "Me Day" of shopping at all the far away shops filled with the goodies I like so much. Beads, fabrics, threads, patterns, books, dolls, etc. Of course this is all just in the planning stage as I am overwhelmed with anxiety every time I think about going out. Not so much an emotional fear, but more of "financial anxiety". Do I really need to be wasting expensive gas driving around and then spending more money on myself for things I really don't need anyway? I should save the money and gas for the more important day; the following day 19 July. This is our 20th Wedding Anniversary. Yes, Joe planned this out perfectly to be a "one gift/one card" sort of occasion to cover both birthday and anniversary. Actually we have given up on the card and gift exchanging over the years. We usually save up for something nice for the house and buy it during the year, rather then wait for a certain day. I am a big gift/card giver, but this method takes the pressure off of Joe who is not either one! This year we are thinking of investing in a new mattress. I think 20 years is about the lifespan of the average mattress, don't you?

On the sewing front I am still working on some 1912/1913 doll clothes. The pattern drafting is a bit of a pain and I seem to waste more fabrics in valiant attempts rather then actual finished outfits. Luckily the amounts of fabric are very small. Here is a 1912 daydress. It is a shiny peachy-pink with gold diamonds on top and the matching peachy-gold skirt. The fitting is not as exact as I want it to be. It seems the patterns I bought from eBay, though I love them and they are worth the money, need to be re-sized. They are advertised to fit this Alex/Tyler brand of doll, but the tops are always too small, the sleeves too long and the skirts too short. A bit of fiddling around and I can usually get it right. I end up using the purchased patterns as my base to work from and then draw all new pieces and throw out the originals. A waste of money perhaps, but I don't think I could have come up with the designs from scratch. Right now there is a little grey light-weight wool suit waiting to be finished. I am on jacket version #2 with just barely enough of the remnant wool to finish. Hopefully there will be a photo of that outfit tomorrow.

Here is Quaker Cow in all her glory. OK, no pun intended as the thread is Carrie's Creations "Glory"! My first exchange arrived to my partner, Irene, so I guess I can show it now. I was so glad she liked it. It is stitched on 16 count hand dyed Aida in a lovely shade of mauve and cream done by Barbara Ana in Spain. He is stitched with Weeks Dye Works "Mulberry and finished as an oval box. The fabric covering the box is actually the same fabric used to cover the cushions on my rocking chair! It ended up being a perfect match to the Mulberry thread so there was very little shopping involved in this exchange. I must thank the wonderful Edgar for helping me out with the patterns and relieving some of my "financial anxiety" on this project.

A day full of blessing yesterday. Our older black cat Sammy has FIV which is the feline equivalent of AIDS. Much like human AIDS the FIV virus can stay dormant for many years(or entirely) without any outward symptoms or illness. Sammy, for the most part, is 100% healthy. On a few occasions he has had "episodes" where he becomes very weak and just sleeps for two or three days. he also has trouble breathing and refuses to eat for this period of time. The worst episode was in 2001 when he vanished for 18 days! We assume he spent this time hiding in the upper floor of our barn simply "sleeping out" the illness until he felt better. Well, yesterday he came inside at about 5am and went to nap on the little doormat between this computer room and the living room. His nap turned into one of those episodes. It is hard to explain but I can tell the difference between a napping cat and one who is totally exhausted and just laying there in a rather odd, uncomfortable position for many hours. Luckily Joe was home yesterday and stayed with Sammy. He actually got him up and made him play a bit and for some reason this worked! Thanks to Joe and God's watchful eye on the whole situation, our Sammy is back to normal. I know this disease will always be with him, but he seems to know his limits and when to rest.

I was also blessed yesterday with a doctors appointment. One of the "women's variety". Not mush of a blessing you may think, but without health insurance it is next to impossible to get my former doctor to see me. Infact, he no longer does and has left me to the care of a nurse practitioner. She is a wonderful lady but the fees charged by the medical group are outrageous. They ran a bunch of test during last year's check-up that I had not requested and I'm still paying for them. I finally got an appointment with the county women's health center and it was FREE! Aparently I am now poor enough to qualify. I feel a bit guilty though as I do have a job and so does Joe and I know there are people out there who do not have jobs. The very nice people at the Health Department checked all our records and said yes, we do qualify. Anyway, I am set for another year and even got my sugar and iron levels checked which is something I never had done before. I am loaded down with pamphlets on dental care and other health services that are available to us. After years and years of being bled dry financially by the private doctor I am finally able to use the services that are available...and they are only right across the street from the gym! I am considering looking into someone who can treat my back and shoulder pain, but that is still in the thinking stage right now.

I am also blessed with a telephone again. Not telephone service; that has been fine and the Internet has not been interrupted. It seems the hand-set of our phone/answering machine has been dead for about 4 or 5 days and we didn't even realize it. I swear this house is the Bermuda Triangle of phones. We have never had one that works properly or lasts more then a few months. so last night we went to Wal-Mart and got a phone for $5.97 and it works fine. So all you telemarketers out there, we're back in business so you can start hounding us again.
I close with the view from my patio chair. This is what I see when I sit and stitch outside.

STOP STOP WAIT WAIT.................The mail has just arrived!
Not only did the doll pattern from Etsy arrive, I also got a letter from my Cousin Denis in Ireland, my favorite gymnastics magazine, and Quaker Animal Exchange. I almost cried when I opened it. My first exchange and my stitcher was none other then Veronica, the leader of the Quaker Inspired blog. I am so honored!! Isn't he lovely? It was so hard to part with my sheep and now I have one of my own. The finishing is superb. The border fabric is soft, like a sheep and inside.......oh, I can hardly contain myself. Lovely wooden rings for my floss(Veronica included these lovely linen flosses) and pockets for scissors, needles etc. The isdie fabric has has little sheep on it. Veronica, it is so beautful. Thank you so much for making my first exchange such a delight!

Friday, July 4, 2008

What The 4th Of July Means To Me

Over a century ago my great-grandparents came to this country. My maternal great-grandmother would meet her husband here. My paternal great-grandparents brought their family with them. Here they are in 1914. My grandmother, Elena is the teenage girl second from the left.

Sixteen years ago today I went to an antique fair with my neighbor. When I returned home someone had dropped off on our porch a little brown striped kitten with white feet. Alix has been with us ever since. Here she is on her first day 4 July 1992, being greeted by Blackie and Speedy. Those two beloveds are gone now, but Alix still blesses me everyday with her unconditional love.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Comments On Comments

I guess this could be called "Counter-Comments". Since I don't know how to answer back to the comments posted I will do so here. I have seen other bloggers use that feature, but the technical expertise to do such a thing escapes me.

To Michele: Here is the WIP Quaker Cow. I hope to finish him tomorrow ( how appropriate on July 4th!) and take a better photo.

To Nicole: The Madame Alexander 'Articulated Alex' doll is 16 inches tall...sort of like an over-sized Barbie doll.
Mocha the cat would be known as "Tortoise Shell" here, but I like the Belgian name better!
Here's my Junior Group with the patriotic cupcakes I made early today. You know I went to three stores in search of the little paper American flags on the toothpicks and there were none to be found. I see them by the hundreds all year long and the day that I want to buy some there aren't any around. I guess that's what happens when you wait until July 3rd! I ended up making my own "flags" out of toothpicks and some ribbon from my stash. There are usually 8 little girls in the group but half were away for the holiday weekend already.

The Art Of Being Creative

Last Saturday my friend Sharee and I went to the Warren County Arts Festival. Although we battled the thunderstorms all day, we did get a good two hours in of strolling the streets of historic Lebanon Ohio and viewing all the wonderfully creative items for sale. Most of the booths were jewelry, paintings and photographs. Though these were quite lovely there were two booths that immediately caught my attention. The first was Koko's Kreepies. Koko and her partner are local artists who make dolls and soft sculpture with well... a rather creepy theme. They are just wonderful. My neighbor bought "Tiffani" a doll dressed in her Prom finery who was stood up by her date and subsequently threw herself in the lake....hence her rather moldy green appearance. Koko gives a personality and biography for each of her doll. You can see Tiffani here in a photo from Koko's website taken at the Art Festival. She is to the right of the large sign with the reddish yarn hair. Another favorite was "Chef Jeff". Dressed in all the regulation chef attire, Jeff is splattered with blood and food stains and looks like he had a pretty rough day in the kitchen. His bio states that he has made several attempts at opening his own restaurant but has always been shut down by the Board of Health! Unfortunately Jeff was already sold so I went home and tried to make my own interpretation of him. This is "Uncle Ben Gone Bad". Those of you familiar with the famous American brand of rice will know Uncle Ben is the fictional character on the company logo. My Uncle Ben seems to have gotten a bit to close to the cooking flame. I am going to tea-dye his clothing and add a few burn holes and food splatter to complete him.
The second booth is where my friend and I also made a purchase. The gentleman running the booth made all sorts of lawn/garden sculptures of various sizes from recycled tools, nails, garden implements etc., and welded them into whimsical animal figures. Here is the grasshopper I purchased. You can see his head is a large adjustable wrench! Joe thinks he looks more like a mosquito. These cement-casted mushrooms are the work of my friend Sharee. She makes tons of these and decorates them with various marbles, polished rocks and pieces of colored glass. Aren't' they wonderful!?

My own bit of "creativity" today includes making some patriotic cupcakes for my junior gymnastics group. Better get to work..................

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Dolly Gets A New Dress

Here's my project of the day. I've been looking at this 1912 yellow and black dress for years in my fashion history book, and I have only just today tackled it. It is worn by another one of my Articulated Alix dolls by Madame Alexander. This one will be called Lady Marjorie for the moment, as she is modeled after a character in one of my all-time favorite TV shows, the BBC series "Upstairs~Downstairs". The series is set in Edwardian London and covers the period from about 1903 until 1930. Dare I show the original fashion plate that inspired this dress?

I am not too pleased with how this dressed turned out so I may use the old "prototype" excuse again. The trim at the base is set a bit too low and the over skirt is too short and "poofy". It is so difficult to get things to drape correctly on such a small body. The angles and ornaments of this time period are also very hard to draft into a pattern. A little daytime suit is next on the agenda. Maybe I will have more luck with a casual outfit.
A pet snap of someone we don't see very often. This is Mocha. She lives in our barn, but I hope someday she will become a housepet. She is extremely shy and only comes out in the evening when she knows I have put Elliot and Coal in for the night. She absolutely adores Sammy and he usually spends the night outside with her.