Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Off on a grand adventure!

DH and I are off today on a 3-week adventure.  The adventure, unfortunately, begins at 3:30 a.m. when the shuttle picks us up for the drive to LAX.

We both celebrate our 65th birthdays this year.  It is also our 40th wedding anniversary.  Spending big bucks seemed the appropriate way to celebrate!  We fly to Amsterdam for a 4-day visit, depart on an Avalon Rhine River cruise, then spend about 10 more days exploring Switzerland from several cities.  We'll be traveling via rail in Switzerland on our Eurail pass.  Talk about an adventure!  I don't do well getting on and off trains (something about my past lives, perhaps), and DH has us on a train every day once the cruise is over.  We may have to discuss this a bit.

There is so much to look forward to on this trip.  Our stops are all new to us.  We enjoyed walking along the canals of Copenhagen immensely several years ago and hope to have a similar experience in Amsterdam.  Visiting the Anne Frank House will be emotional, I am certain.

We plan to taste German beer at each stop along the Rhine!

We are even spending a day in Steckborn, home of Bernina International.  We'll take a tour of the plant, then I get to play in their Creative Center.  I'm hoping to have a demonstration of the cutwork tool to see if it might be something I would actually use rather than just keep in the box.

Inspite of our determination to pack light and do without e-mail and the Internet for three weeks, we just couldn't do it.  So yesterday we hopped over to the shopping center and purchased a Toshiba netbook.  It's cute!  We'll have access to our e-mail and the Internet from time to time on the trip.  I hope to blog a bit, as well.

Packing is done, refrigerator is empty, bills are paid, books returned to the library.  Alarm is set for 2:30 a.m.  Next stop - Amsterdam!

Monday, August 30, 2010

Darci's Dress Up Quilt - Doll #14

Introducing Doll #14.  Taking some inspiration from Brandywine Design as well as the Martha Pullen tv show, I used stitch #702 on my Bernina 640 and adjusted the width a bit so that I could weave the little satin ribbon through the stitch.  Boy, did that take some doing!  I envisioned using a safety pin or a bodkin to pull the thread through.  That did not work at all since the stitches were so small.  After almost giving up, I remembered that I recently bought a very slim pair of tweezers at a swap meet.  Worked like a charm!

Stitch #702 is the heirloom style stitch that Martha says looks like little railroad tracks, and it does.  I know I'll use this idea again.  Learning  more about heirloom sewing is on my sewing to-do list.

The last piece of fabric from the quilt guild project is a pretty shade of lavender with just a touch of orange.  I had an idea for this dress and was determined to finish it before our trip.  That was before our unexpected excursion to Los Angeles last Saturday.  The next block will just have to wait until we return from our grand adventure - more information to follow!

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Another kick-in-the-pants reminder --- do it now!

On the day I received my official driver's license at the ripe-old age of 17, I called my grandma and invited her to go shopping and lunch with me as long as I could drive her car.  Typically for a teenager, I procrastinated.  I never did take my grandma to lunch.  She committed suicide before my 18th birthday.

Decades later, my DH and I planned a weekend visit with dear friends who had just built their dream retirement home on a beach in Mexico.  Something - who remembers what - interfered with that visit.  Shortly after our postponed visit, my dear friend passed away from lung cancer.  I did not even know that she was ill - she was that kind of person.  Keep it personal, keep it close to your chest, be brave, be stoic, be undemanding.

Last Saturday, DH and I attended a memorial service for a friend of 20 years.  Bob was the best man at my sister's wedding; we attended his retirement party; we've hugged his wife, daughters and granddaughters, numerous times.  We've camped with Bob, we've partied with Bob, we've raised a glass of "gout" with Bob - we never imagined that we'd be saying goodbye to Bob before his 70th birthday.

Bob was a Vietnam veteran, wounded several times, and a tireless advocate for the Disabled American Veterans.  Bob was married to Renee, a Frenchwoman whom he met while stationed in France in the late 50s and my brother-in-law's aunt.  We talked about vacationing in France and finally getting to meet the family and seeing La Boule.  We didn't do it.  Time ran out.

I'm revisiting my bucket list.  Tonight, take at look at your own bucket list.  Your personal timetable may not be in synch with life's timetable.  Do it now!

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Darci's Dress Up Quilt - Doll #13

We are ending up with lots of pink and yellow fabric as we reach the end of this project.  Once all the blocks are done, of course, I'll be mixing and matching according to the wishes of my little granddaughters (and their momma).  Should be interesting to find fabric for the sashing and borders, too.  Can you just see me with all these blocks strewn about the local quilt stores?  Yikes!  I'll have to rent their classrooms just in order to shop ..... and I'm sure they'll be lovely enough to help me make a great decision.

I used this idea before (see Darci's Dress Up Quilt - Doll #5) with the ribbon down the center of the dress.  I picked up this lovely lacy edging somewhere in my travels and rummaged through all my scrapbook embellishment stuff to find these cute little organza bows with little pearls.  The smaller sleeves seemed to go with this dress maybe because the temperature has been rising steadily over the last days - summer has finally arrived!

The color is showing up a bit darker in the photo due to my poor photography skills.  DH would be happy to do the photos for me, but I hate to keep asking him since he sets up all kinds of stuff in order to do it "his way" and makes me feel guilty!  So, try to imagine this color as a little brighter.

If you've taken on a project like this one - or are thinking about it - here's a site that I found with some cute ideas.  I'm using one of the designs for the next block with a few modifications.  Guess I needed a kick start to my creativity button and these cute outfits just did the trick.

Our big trip is coming up fast -- next Tuesday!  DH and I are working our way through the to-do lists.  More about our trip in the next post.  Here's a teaser:  I'm actually going to tour the Bernina factory!  Whoo hoo!!!!

Friday, August 27, 2010

Definitely a martini night - help, please!

Okay, I'm usually a pretty calm person and reasonable to boot.  BUT - and this is a super huge but - my third Rowenta iron just bit the dust 3 days before we leave on our trip.  Purchase date:  8/12/09  Warranty:  one year from purchase date.  Today's date:  8/27/10  I don't have time for this!

Three strikes and you are out, Rowenta.  I thought you were the cream of the crop.  So, tomorrow, after driving all the way into the valley to attend a memorial service and then driving all the way back home (five hours in the car minimum), we will have to buy a friggin' iron!

Do you see why it's a martini night?  Yup, one wonderful Bombay Sapphire martini with a twist made by my favorite bartender coming up.

I'm seriously considering buying the cheapest iron I can find.  Help!

One proud momma - make that two!

I spent last Sunday at my daughter's house working on a cute little sundress for Talia's first day of school in September.  Sara had seen an adorable dress on display at her local JoAnn's over the summer and fell in love with the pattern.  Unfortunately, by the time we got around to checking on the pattern number, the store had replaced the sample with a fall dress!  We researched online, asked clerks at several of the stores, checked and rechecked, then finally settled on a substitute pattern that resembled the first one.

Sara took Miss T., the elder, to the store to buy the fabric.  Big mistake!  Sara had her heart set on coordinating print fabrics that are so plentiful now for children's clothing and quilts.  Miss T., however, zoomed in on an Ariel print!  How could we not see that coming?

I loved working with Sara on this project.  Sara's home economics classes in school consisted of making an embroidery sampler and a batch of chocolate brownies.  Being a working mom myself through most of her growing up years, I had put my own creative sewing on the back burner in lieu of keeping the household running and the bills paid.  I have some regrets that I didn't at least do some simple sewing with my daughter while she was growing up.  Add that to the list of "things I would do differently if I had the chance."

The manual for Sara's sewing machine (a very nice Husqvarna Viking) is "somewhere in a box in the garage."  The first time we tried to sew together at her house, we couldn't figure out how to wind a bobbin.  I ran to the JoAnn's and had the salesperson show me how to do it.  Did I take a picture?  No.  Did I write down the instructions?  No.  For this project, I ordered a duplicate manual for Sara.  Hurrah!  We now know how to wind the bobbin properly.  Progress!

Every hobby has its own language, I suppose.  Those of us who have sewn for years take our language for granted.  Sara had difficulty with the pattern instructions not because they were written poorly or unduly complicated.  She simply does not know the language of sewing.  She's a quick study, though, and was gaining confidence with each step.

Here's Talia's first day of school dress made by her proud momma.

And I am so very proud of my daughter who told me as we finished that she might make another dress from an easy pattern.  Now we have all three generations interested in sewing.  Isn't that lovely?

Friday, August 20, 2010

Darci's Dress Up Quilt - Doll #12

The old cliche - seeing the light at the end of the tunnel - seems appropriate today.  I've finished the 12th block and am well on my way to completing the next one.  I have two more pieces of fabric from our quilt group swap.  Drum roll please ..... I even have ideas for those!  My goal is to finish these last blocks before we leave on our trip to Europe.  (More about the trip later.)

Here is block #12.  Maybe it's the butterfly button that I found somewhere in my travels or maybe it's the white collar, but something about this block tickles my fancy.  Many of the gals from my quilt group have drafted new collars or sleeves or pockets or even dress shapes.  Their creativity seems endless.  I'm intimidated by straying from the rules, but I took a chance and drafted both a new collar and new sleeves for this block.  I like both of them.  I'm using the sleeve pattern for the next block as well.  It's hard to see from the picture, but I used a yellow thread for the buttonhole stitch on the main part of the dress and on the white collar.  I think the yellow against the white adds a little zip especially with the butterfly button.

So, I'll have 15 blocks when done.  Now the math part .... how do I make 15 blocks stretch into two wallhangings -- one for Miss T., the elder, and one for Miss T., the younger?

Thursday, August 19, 2010

He's back! Or, Grandpa goes to summer camp ...

My love of professional football started years ago when I would watch the Sunday game on tv with my dad.  In those days, games were only played on Sunday afternoons.  Usually, one game was broadcast in any market as long as it wasn't subject to a tv blackout.  My dad worked 6 days a week; so, Sunday afternoons with him at home were pretty special.

My passion for the NFL and the Raiders, however, dates to the late 60s and early 70s when the Raiders could actually win games and championships and when a 40-something football legend, George Blanda, often saved the day by kicking a game-winning field goal.  I loved this guy!

If 60 is the new 40 (sounds good to me), then 40 must indeed be the new 20.  Brett is back!  Yup.  The on-again, off-again retirement of Brett Favre is off-again.  He has returned to the Vikings summer camp to begin yet another quest for the Vince Lombardi trophy.  Brett, who turns 41 this fall, became a grandpa last spring and wants to give "one more try" for a Vikings Super Bowl berth.

I'm a committed Raider fan - Commitment to Excellence or needs to be committed - you choose!  But watching Brett Favre play football is pure joy for this football nut.  The man loves the game.  The man gives everything he has to the game.  It's just FUN to watch him play!  By the time it's obvious that the Raiders won't be headed to Cowboy Stadium on February 6, 2011, I'll be pulling for Brett and the Vikings to head that way.

Go, Grandpa, go!

Tuesday, August 17, 2010


I must not have been completely satisfied with the last dress block because I kept it out on the dining room table instead of putting it away with the other finished blocks.  As I was getting ready for our Monday quilt guild meeting, I realized that it needed a little extra zip.  I added 3 small red buttons, and I am much more pleased with the result.

What do you think?  Is it better?

Almost done with the next block, too, which I will share with you tomorrow.

It is hot, hot, hot here today.  Summer has finally arrived.  We've had such a mild spring and summer with few days in the upper 90s let along approaching 100.  We've run the air conditioner the last two nights, which we prefer not to do.  But the house is just too uncomfortable for us to sleep well even with the ceiling fan.  Guess we're just wimps!

Friday, August 13, 2010

Darci's Dress Up Quilt - Doll #11 (Finally)

I've noticed over the last few days that my energy is returning.  Hip, hip hooray!  Life was getting to be a bit boring, I must say.  I think spending the weekend with family celebrating our daughter's 33rd birthday and playing with the three kidlets - who have an endless supply of energy - forced me into recovery mode.  Lunching with some dear friends helped lift my spirits, too.  Or maybe it was just the passage of time.  Today marks four weeks since the surgery.  I am now free to go swimming, have a tub bath, soak in the spa - and remove the last remnants of tape covering my boo-boos.  Normalcy!  Can't be beat.

I finished up another dress block this week.  At a recent quilt show, I purchased two small hand-crocheted red hearts.  I intended to use one of them on the bodice of a dress, but the scale didn't seem right to me.  So, they became pockets.  The mini-rickrack also seemed a better scale.

Four more to go.  I already have an idea for the next dress with a fabric that is not quite pink, but not quite salmon either.

I'm still crazy about the Nook e-reader that Doug bought for me.  I'm halfway through Emma by Jane Austen.  This was my favorite Jane Austen book as a teenager, and I'm thoroughly enjoying it the second time around.  Barnes and Noble sends me an e-mail once a week offering about a half dozen of their classic editions for free download.  So, I loaded Howie (that's the name I gave my Nook - guess why?) with a few of the titles on my "Books I Should Read Before I Die" list:  Women in Love, Uncle Tom's Cabin, Sons and Lovers, Anna Karenina, Madame Bovary, Three Musketeers, Dracula.

Now the problem is to find time to read all these wonderful classics and still keep up with the bestsellers that I enjoy.  And sew.  And play.  And see the family.  And travel.  And visit with friends.  And sleep.  And blog!

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Cherished moments

My oldest granddaughter (Miss T., the elder) has always shown an interest in sewing.  I usually take some kind of sewing project with me when we go to visit family, so the kidlets are used to seeing Oma with needle and thread in her hands.  From the time Miss T., the elder, was quite small, she would sit and patiently watch me sew and ask to help.  I try to find something for her to do - push the needle through the fabric, take out the pins, etc., etc.  About six months ago, she asked to make something by herself.  So, we decided a blanket for her baby would be a good first project.  What fun!

I brought lots of pieces of colorful fabric from my stash as well as my little Featherweight for our sewing adventure.  Talia picked out the fabric she wanted and then we proceeded to sew.  We had a wonderful afternoon together.  She's not tall enough to run the machine by herself, so we alternated between her using the foot pedal and me guiding the fabric and then switching roles.  She took to the process like a charm even though she had just turned four!  Sewing teachers would be proud of me .... I emphasized that we never, ever sew over pins and Talia was quite emphatic about shouting "Stop, Oma!" as we approached one.  Cute, cute, cute.

Of course, just having a baby blanket wasn't enough since there was more fabric to look through.  How about a pillow?  We agreed that her baby doll needed a pillow, and Talia picked out some great red fabric with chocolate bon-bons all over it.  We quickly made up a pillow and then placed an emergency call to Grandpa to find Oma's stuffing and bring it with him the next day.

Poor Grandpa.  He had hardly stopped the car when Talia was running out the front door asking, "Did you bring the stuffing, Grandpa?"

Of course, if you learn how to sew, you also have to learn to unsew!  Here we are a few months later learning how to unsew the "scratchy" underskirt of one of Miss T's favorite dresses.

These are cherished moments, indeed.  Brother Jack isn't quite so interested although he does like to take the pins and put them in the pincushion.  And Miss T., the younger, doesn't stop moving long enough to contemplate anything as sedantary as sewing!

We're off again this weekend to visit family.  This time, we'll be looking for fabric and a pattern to make Miss T., the elder, a sundress for the first day of preschool in September.  Betcha she'll want to do more sewing!

By the way, notice the hair style change on Talia between our sewing dates.  She had been asking for short hair.  Guess Mom wasn't fast enough in making a trip to the beauty salon!  So, Talia managed to climb up onto the bathroom cabinet and find her mother's hairtrimming scissors!  She loves it -- no tangles!  Mom's hoping it'll be long again by kindergarten!

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Ahhhhhh .... this is it!

If I was destined to have an appendicitis attack and subsequent surgery, I can think of no better time of year for it to have happened.  No one wants to be sick around the holidays, birthdays, wedding anniversary or - horror of horrors - right before our BIG vacation to Europe next month!  But July?  Well, that's a horse of a different color in our household.

NFL summer camps start in July, you see.  Around the second week of July, daily news stories crop up in the paper.  How many millions will it take for that first round draft choice to make it to camp?  Is that off-season surgery really going to work?  How many players are going to be late to camp because they (1) are still fulfilling their probation requirements, (2) haven't managed to lose that extra 45 pounds, or (3) failed the random drug test?  Is the new coach a miracle worker?  Has Al Davis' money run out or will this be the year he finally buys his dream team?  Is Brett Favre retiring?  Thinking about retiring?  Talking about retiring?  Texting about retiring?  Ahhhhh ..... gotta love the NFL.

My Raiders cut JaMarcus Russell so shouldn't be bothered by his recent arrest for possession of a controlled substance (cocaine syrup, whatever the heck that is).  Mommas - don't let your babies grow up to be NFL quarterbacks.  They have way too much money and way too little common sense, it seems.

By the third week of July, summer camps are underway, the news gets even juicier, and my blood pressure and sense of excitement start to climb.  Can't be too long now until the first exhibition game in August.  This is also about the time that the subject of football creeps into my conversations and eyes roll.  I am sure my family starts to think, "Here she goes again."

So, if I have to be sore, fatigued, and totally lacking in motivation, I can still read about my sport.  I can get Howie Long's book down from the shelf ("Football for Dummies") and once again try to learn the intricacies of this game.  I can ask someone to buy a $5 bet for me on the Raiders to win the Super Bowl.  Don't laugh.  Real fans are ever hopeful.  I can wonder what an NFL season would be like without Brett Favre.  Not a nice thought.