The Blog Has Moved

I figure after all these years that it is time to get out of that hot-flashed funk and on to the next stage of life.  That’s why the “funk” is over and the blog has moved.  You can find me now at The Purling Pundit but it’s still a crazy mix of posts talking about life with rambunctious grandchildren, my aging mum, countless knitting projects,  too many tries at dieting, and my quest to own every e-reader and gadget known to woman.  Grab a cup of coffee and come join me at the new blog.

To Pull or Not to Pull

Filling the air with the sounds of Spring

It’s a gorgeous day out today.  I have all the windows open to take advantage of the warm temperatures and to celebrate the fact that it is also the first day of Spring.  I can hear the birds singing and, believe it or not, some overachiever in the neighborhood actually has his lawnmower up and running.  Unfortunately, because I’ve been fighting a nasty cold, I haven’t been able to get out and enjoy this stretch of good weather but I think I’m finally turning the corner and on the road to recovery.

At any rate, as I snuck outside today to grab the newspaper off the driveway, I noticed that the weeds in our front flowerbed have survived the winter (drat) and decided to come up hale and hearty.  I glanced over at the butterfly bushes along the side of the house and noticed that they really need to be trimmed back sooner rather than later.  Thank goodness that I had trimmed the lilac bush last fall because that is already starting to bud.  So much to do now that Winter has fled the scene.

Pondering Spring Clean-up

Herein lies my dilemma.  I SHOULD be getting together the gardening gear and preparing to go out and assault those weeds as soon as I feel well enough to do so.  This is particularly wise considering the fact that the Commander’s idea of weeding is to grab a hoe and start hacking away at anything green in his path.  I tend to lose a lot of my flowers and plants when the Commander weeds my flower beds.  He has all the gardening finesse of a Sherman tank.   But do you remember what happened to me the last time I got “down and dirty” in my flower beds?

Bad memories of past weeding efforts

In just a few days I had one arm swollen to twice its size, covered in oozing poison ivy or oak blisters and a similar rash under my armpits and on my legs.  I don’t EVER want to go through that again.  In fact, my doctor told me that I should steer clear of yard work forever more, since I was obviously now sensitized to whatever ornery stuff lurks in our yard.  But short of hiring a gardener (yeah, right), I just don’t think it’s going to get done if I leave it up to the Commander.

So I’m back to the question of….”should I pull weeds or not?”  If I decide to get out there and do some work, I can guarantee you that I shall no longer pull weeds with my bare hands.  No sir!  From now on, I’ll be wearing a long-sleeved shirt and gloves to do yard work and when I’m done, I’m going straight into the shower and those clothes are going right into the washing machine.  We’ll see how it works.

Sneezing My Way to Friday

It’s Friday and this week has been one “Mell of a Hess” as my mom used to say.  It started out when I woke up with a sore throat on Monday.  Now this was after a weekend when my stomach just hadn’t felt quite “right.”  “Oh, man….what now?” I wondered.    I didn’t have to wait long to find out.  The nasal floodgates soon opened and, as Capt. Ahab would say, “Thar she blows!”

Since it is Friday and time for the Fave Five, I thought I’d list five things I learned as I researched ways to shorten colds.

1.  Chicken soup, also known as “Jewish Penicillin” actually contains ingredients which can shorten your cold. Unfortunately, I didn’t have the ingredients on hand to make any chicken soup so I improvised.  I made some spicy lentil soup and threw in some turkey kielbasa for good measure.  I told my sister-in-law that, in the spirit of diversity, I was promoting a Moroccan/Polish healing collaboration.  I don’t know that it worked, but the heat did make my throat feel better.

2.  An early doctor in the 1920’s promoted the theory that most cold and flu viruses enter our body through our ears. Certain natural healing sites today promote putting hydrogen peroxide drops in your ears to kill the cold viruses.  I decided not to try this.  I just couldn’t get past the part in the instructions where it says “wait until the bubbling and stinging has subsided…..”

3.  Feed a fever, starve a cold. I didn’t try this either.  Frankly, there wasn’t much food that sounded all that great to me this past week anyway.  So I decided that I needed some comfort food.  I happened to have a brownie mix handy and I do remember reading somewhere that dark chocolate is now considered to be a health food so I figured that I’d make up a batch of “healthy eating” for myself.  I’m still enjoying the fruits of my labor.

4.  Put yourself into a calm state and visualize an army of dust-busting maids swabbing down your insides with disinfectant. OK, I tried to visualize this but somehow, the thought of a green team of energetic dustbusters tickling my insides with feather dusters did nothing but make me sneeze.  And speaking of sneezes, did you know that…..

5.  The reason we say “God Bless You” or “Gesundheit”or just “Bless You” when folks sneeze dates way back to the Dark Ages when a sneeze could indicate that you might be coming down with the Plague? If you really want to make yourself paranoid, visit this site to find out what hearing sneezes different times of the day can mean according to superstitions in Thailand.     Did you know that if you sneeze at a meal, it means you are going to meet a new friend?  Let’s hope so, because I can almost guarantee you that you will be cleaning food particles off of that “new friend.”  And it is believed that a fool can’t sneeze.  Well, hallelujah!  I must be a genius.

I hope your week has been healthier than mine.  To read about what others are posting for their Friday’s Fave Five, visit Susanne’s site at Living to Tell the Story.  Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go wash my hands and open another box of tissues.


Waiting for a New Granddog

My son-in-law has wanted a dog for some time now.   I knew that he had grown up with Pekingese dogs and when he first joined our family, I think that this was the breed that he was leaning towards.

Photo courtesy of Photos8.com

Now when I think of Pekingese dogs, I think of little bug-eyed dogs with pushed in snouts.  Sorry, but that’s the image I have in my mind.    You see, I just never grew up with dogs that didn’t have nicely formed snouts and the prick ears.  It formed my idea of what “normal” looks like.

This is the type of dog I grew up with…..Fresca, the Wonder Dog….an American Eskimo.  Prior to her, I had Shetland Sheepdogs.  They all had similar looks…the pointed muzzles and the prick ears.  There wasn’t a mushed-in face in the group.  Of course, they were all neurotic, but that’s another story.  But I digress.

Well, my daughter emailed me the other day to say that her Jason was now on a “bulldog” kick.  He had decided that he wanted a bulldog instead of a Pekingese.

Photo courtesy of Photos8.com

My first thought was of this breed….the Dogue de Bordeaux immortalized in the movie “Turner and Hooch.”  Visions of slobber being flung all around the house filled my head.  I recalled the scene in the movie where the character leaves the dog in his car for a few minutes and returns to find the entire car interior ripped to shreds.  Ugh!

Photo courtesy of Photos8.com

I did a little research on the bulldog.  Jeepers!  I guess beauty is in the eye of the beholder but to me, this breed was ugly as sin.  I called my daughter up.

“You don’t want a bulldog.  They’re too big and besides, I checked out their intelligence.  Do you realize that on a chart that ranks 79 dog breeds in order of their intelligence, they rank 77th?”, I asked her.

Calendar available from Amazon.com

The latest email arrived a few days ago.  It said, “Jason no longer wants a bulldog.  We are thinking about getting a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel now.”  Hmm, this sounded more promising.  I went online and did some more research.  They at least looked cute.  Their temperament sounded sweet and they appeared to be quite intelligent.   I breathed a sigh of relief.  As of today, Laura and Jason are on a waiting list with a reputable breeder for a puppy from a litter due around Easter.

I mentioned to our vet last week that I might be “Grandmother” to a new dog soon.

“My daughter is probably going to get a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel,” I told him.

“Oh, they’re nice little dogs,” he replied.  “We almost got one but we  got a bulldog instead.”

I started to laugh.  “Did you know that they rank 77th out of 79 on the intelligence chart for dog breeds?”, I asked.  “I told my daughter that a bulldog would be too dumb for her.”

“Well, he fits our lifestyle,” he answered….”big, laid-back, and chilled out.”

I looked at him and then looked over at Fresca the Wonder Dog, who was perched on the examining table and looking around the room with that look that said, “Where can I jump to next and what mischief can I get into?”

“Do you honestly think a bulldog would stand a chance with keeping up with ‘Wild Thing’?” I asked him.

“Probably not,” he laughed.  “A King Charles Spaniel is probably a better choice, although I suspect Fresca would STILL be able to think circles around it.”

I’ll let you know what they end up with.

Making a Spinning Wheel Accessory Bag Pt. 2

In my March 11th post, I outlined the process I was using to design a small bag to hold my spinning wheel accessories, such as my oiling pen, a spare bobbin, and my threading hook.  I left you at the point where I was appliqueing the sheep to the front of the front bag panel.  Today we’ll continue on and show you how to finish your little bag.

1.  First measure one of your bag pieces.  You’ll need this measurement for step #2.  Once you have your design of choice appliqued to the front and/or back of your bag panels, you will need to sew your bag together.  I placed the right sides together and sewed a 1/4″ seam around three sides of my bag, leaving the top open.  Turn right side out.

2.  The next thing you will need to do is decide if you want to line your bag.  If you do, choose the fabric you wish to use and cut out two pieces the same dimensions as the measurements you took in Step #1.  Putting the right sides together, sew the lining together around 3 sides, just like you did for your bag.  You will not be turning this right side out but you do need to turn down the top about 3/8″ and press this.

3.  Choose what material you want to use for your handle.  I used a dense wool for the main handle with a felted wool accent that I topstitched on top of the dark wool.  You will also want to take your bag to your spinning wheel and a tape measure and hold it about where you want it to hang and then measure how long the handle should be.  Add a few inches to this measurement because you’ll need the extra slack when you sew the handles into the bag later.  You’re ready to cut out your handles now.  The dark wool is 1-1/4″ wide and the accent strip is 3/4″ wide.  I centered the green strip on top and topstitched it along both of the long sides.  No need to hem your dark strip.  The wool is dense enough that it shouldn’t fray.

4.  Place your lining inside the bag, wrong side against wrong side.  Now take your handle and place an end between the lining and the bag (right side of the handle facing out).  I stuck it down in there about an inch and pinned it before stitching it in place.  You are going to stitch it back and forth across your side seam to secure it in place.  I stitched it about 1/4″ from the top edge of the bag.  Don’t worry.  This stitching will be covered in just a few minutes.  Repeat on the other side of the bag for the other end of the handle.

5.  The next thing I did was pick some felted wool to use as a scalloped border around the top of my bag.  I discovered that one of my scrapbooking rulers made an excellent template for the scallops.  I just traced along the ruler and cut out my border.  Then I placed the border along the top of my bag (straight edge of the border aligning with the straight top edge of the bag) and pinned it in place, leaving the excess border hanging for the moment.   Be sure that you catch the lining, the bag, and the border – all 3 layers- as you are pinning.  I then stitched the border along the top of the bag.  When I neared my starting point, I trimmed off the excess border so that my ends would butt together and finished sewing it on.  This step was the trickiest part.  When I was finished, I went back and doublechecked to make sure my lining was securely caught by the stitching.  I had to do a little ripping and restitching in a few spots where the lining had shifted but it was quickly fixed.

6.  Now you just have to decide if you want to hand stitch the bottom part of your border or machine stitch it.  I took the lazy route and machine stitched it.  It isn’t perfectly aligned but I’m telling myself that this adds to the “rustic” charm.

7.  Here is the finished bag, showing the lining.  I’m sure there are more polished ways to put a lining inside a bag.  You could do piping and/or facings but I just wanted something that could be done quickly and with a minimum of fuss.  This fits the bill.

8.  Voila!  Here is my finished bag all set to go on my spinning wheel.  I had originally planned to do buttonhole stitching around the edges of the bag but after I got this far, I decided that it just wasn’t “asking” for the stitching.  It seemed to me that it wasn’t going to look quite right with this bag so I left it off.

9.  Here’s the finished bag on Valentina all ready to be filled with my accessories.  Have fun designing your own bag and happy spinning!

Five Things I Enjoy When My Spouse is Away

Today is Friday and that means it is time for Friday’s Fave Five.  Since the Commander has been off on a business trip this week, returning today, I thought it might be fun to write about five things that I always look forward to doing when he is away.  You see, he rarely goes anywhere on business so these trips are few and far between.  I know that most spouses dread having their husbands away on business.  Well, at least that is what they say.  But for me, I always kind of feel like the proverbial teenager whose parents turn to her and say, “We’re going to be gone for the next week and we’re leaving you in charge of the house.  Bye!”  Whee!  Oh now, don’t let your imagination get the better of you.  I hardly go crazy when he’s away.  But I definitely feel like the adult has left the building.  Time to throw some spitballs.  So here are five things that I always look forward to doing when the Commander is out of town.

1.  I get to sleep with the dog. Poor Fresca never gets to sleep in our bedroom (and certainly NOT on the bed) when the Commander is in residence.  So when he is not home, Fresca gets to not only be in our bedroom but hop on the bed and snooze there all night long.

2.  I get to stay up as late as I want. When the Commander is here, I always feel like I should head to bed around the same time that he goes to bed.  Many times I’m in the middle of doing something on the computer or I’m just not tired and don’t really feel like going to bed but I drag myself off to bed anyway.  Then I like to read for awhile but I feel guilty about reading too long since I don’t want to disturb hubby’s sleep.  So when the Commander is away, I can stay up as late as I want to AND when I DO go to bed, I can read in bed as long as I want to, also.  If I want to keep the light on until 1 a.m. and read, I do it.

3.  I can sleep in in the mornings. Well, in theory this should be doable.  However, since the dog is in the bedroom, she insists on getting me up at the usual time because she wants to eat and be let out around 7 a.m.  So even though I might have stayed up late the night before, I’m usually up with the birds in the morning, too.  But I COULD go back to bed, I suppose, if I wanted after feeding the dog and letting her do her business.

4.  I can eat whatever I want WHEN I want to eat. When my hubby is away, I don’t have to fix supper if I don’t want to AND if I want to eat dessert only for my meal, I can do so.  (I told you it was like being a kid left in charge of themselves.)  I just HATE having to drop whatever I’m doing to go fix a meal.  It would be so nice if house fairies just showed up with a full meal in tow, piping hot and ready to serve each day around 6 p.m.  Alas, that doesn’t happen at my house.  So when I don’t have to feed anyone but myself, it is a luxury.  My diet hasn’t been the greatest this week, but I’ve dictated the terms.  Such empowerment!

5.  I don’t have to clean the house. Whee!  I can leave things laying around if I want to and not feel guilty.  In theory, this is the case.  In actuality, I usually get bothered by the mess and end up cleaning anyway.  This week, one of my girlfriends came over for a sewing lesson so I ended up having to clean the house anyway.  Phooey!  But that was offset by the fun we had sewing and kibitzing throughout the day.

There you have it….the five things I enjoy “when the adults have left the building.”  If you’d like to read what others are writing about for their Friday’s Fave Five visit Susanne’s site at Living to tell the Story.

Making a Spinning Wheel Accessory Bag Pt. 1

Valentina, my newest spinning wheel, needs a bag to hold her accessories.  I’ve seen some nice knitted ones on pictures of other people’s wheels but I had a bag in mind for Valentina and just couldn’t find one already made up that looked like my vision so I decided to make my own.  I wanted one that had a rustic look with a folk art feel to it.  So today I gathered my materials and started working on the bag.  Here’s what I’ve done so far.

The first thing I did was make some sketches of the sheep that I wanted to applique on the front of the bag.  I decided to use the design on the right so the next step was to draw and cut out each individual piece of the sheep.  If you’ve ever done applique before, you know that you need to cut out each piece of the design separately, i.e. the sheep face, the legs, the main body, the ear, and the pieces of the blanket over its back.

The next step was to gather bits of felted wool and other bits of wool that I’ve collected for projects such as this.  I had decided to make my bag out of felted wool, line it with a cotton print, applique the design on the front in wool, and outline the edges of the bag in a buttonhole stitch.  Once I decided what colors I was going to use for each piece of my pattern, the next step was to trace the pattern on the wrong side of the wool and cut it out.  For some pieces, I fudged and just pinned the pattern to the wool and cut around it.

The next step involved deciding how big I wanted the bag to be and cutting two pieces out of the wool for my bag.  Now I was ready to start appliqueing the pattern pieces to the front of the bag.  I had decided to just do a quilt stitch around the raw edges of the sheep pieces.  Since I’m working in wool, I don’t really have to worry too much about fraying and since I don’t plan to be throwing this bag in the wash, again…I’m not worried about turning under my raw edges.  Any stray threads will add to the charm.

You might be wondering how I got that little tail on the sheep.  The grey wool was actually a beret and the little “tail” was in the center of the beret.  I wasn’t using this beret any more so decided to cut it apart and use the wool for applique.  When I saw the little tab, I immediately thought, “sheep tail” and incorporated it into the design of the sheep.

An important thing to remember when sewing an applique pattern is that you want to start with the pieces that are on the bottom layer of your design and work your way to the top layer.  In other words, the sheep’s face and feet where the first things I sewed down.  Next came the sheep’s main body.  Now, I’m working on the “bottom” layer of the decorative blanket and will working upward, finishing with the smallest circle.  Finally, I’ll sew on his ear.

That’s all I got done today on it because I was also teaching a friend of mine how to machine quilt so most of my time was spent doing that.  Tune in Saturday for the next steps in making the accessory bag when I’ll (hopefully) be sewing the front and back of the bag together, inserting the lining, and adding a strap.

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