Sunday, May 30, 2010

Happy Memorial Day

And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.    Matthew 25:40

Cathy maroon

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Goodness Gracious, Great Balls of ... Wool??

I try to read the weekly column that Mary Jane Butters (*the* quintessential Farmgirl and entrepreneur extraordinaire) writes in our local newspaper.    A few weeks ago she wrote about using wool yarn to make laundry balls for the dryer.  I was intrigued because their intended purpose is to replace dryer sheets with a simpler, cheaper and more natural item.

My last dryer's heating element bit the dust last fall and I'm convinced that the dryer sheets played a role in that.  We've since bought a front-load washer (which I hate) and a front-load dryer (which I like).  But like or not, I want to ensure that they will both operate optimally for many many years.  So, I decided to try these dryer balls.

The first step is to get wool yarn.  Of course, mine came from unused skeins of 100% wool that I purchased at the thrift store.   Wind them into balls that are about 2-3 inches in diameter.

Thread the ends of the yarn onto a tapestry needle and insert into the ball.  Go in and out a few times so that the yarn end is secured inside.

Toss them into a mesh lingerie bag and throw them in with your next load laundry (in hot water).    After washing, Keep them in the bag and add them to the dryer (hot temperature).  You are basically felting them.    Viola!

Here is Vanna Boomer showing the dryer balls.  Cat and pillowcase are shown for size reference.

Some wools felt better than others.  On these, you can still see the strands.  But I've had others turn out just like a felted wool ball.

To use them, throw 4-6 balls into the dryer instead of dryer sheets.  They really DO work!  Utah is a very dry climate, with average humidity less than 30%.  Static cling is a given when doing laundry.  These balls work as well as the dryer sheets. The only time I still get some static is when I'm drying fleece, but I still got it with dryer sheets, too.  When I'm done folding the laundry, I just leave or toss the balls back in the dryer until the next load.   They are supposed to last for years.  And I can live without a frou-frou scent.

I'm making these balls to sell this year at our local Farmer's Market (4 for $10).  I'll let you know how that goes.  In the meantime, why not try it yourself??  

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One final note:  Crazy Quilting International has posted the 2010 Purse Contest pictures.  To view them, visit the CQI Blog.  And while you're there, check out the wonderful CQ eye candy!

Cathy maroon 

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Estate Sales, Garden and Stuff

Yesterday (Saturday the 22nd) was a cool and cloudy day in the Salt Lake Valley, with scattered rainshowers as had been predicted all week.  So, there were not a lot of yard sales and estate sales.  However, there were some, and I made it my morning priority to get to two of them.  Neither were great for for me, but there were some little things here and there that I picked up.

In the first sale, I found a sewing box with some trim in it and some old silver.  As I accumulate this silver, I still can't decide if I want to use the bowls and plates I get for display or to sell.  Either way, I will polish them up a LITTLE.  The tarnish adds character (at least to me) and I'll have to leave some for that wonderfully shabby look.

The second estate sale was held in the wonderful old (and pricey) Harvard-Yale area of Salt Lake City.  The home itself was like a French cottage and had just sold.  It was just a treat to go in and see parts of the home.  Much of it was blocked off, and all the furniture and goods were in the main floor rooms.  In fact, the living room and its massive fireplace were set up like a bedroom, with sunlight streaming in the French doors onto the bed.  Wish I'd taken a picture!  

Anyway, I fell in love with this chest of drawers - a former jewelry box? - when I saw it.

It's about 18" tall and wide and about 6" deep.  Probably not more than 20-30 years old, but OH!  I brought it home and moved my bias tapes into the drawers, by  colors.  It all fit except my pinks, which you can see in a ziploc bag on top of the chest in the first picture.   But that's OK, once I get sewing again on aprons this spring, I'll use up a lot of it.

The floral motifs that cover it are hand painted.   And they wrap around to the sides and top.

I paid $35 for it, and another few dollars for a vintage iron (you know, the heavy old irons that you heated on the stove?!?  Didn't get a picture of that). But here's how nicely the bias tape fits:

So it was not a bad day for The Hunt.  

And now for some miscellaneous things.  Earlier this week I was cleaning out my sewing desk and ran across one of those big ol' store-bought tomato pin cushions.  You know the ones with the attached emery strawberry for sharpening needles.  Well, I often stick my sewing needles into the pincushion itself, with or without thread, and they've been known to get lost inside the sawdust of the pincushion.
I was about to throw away the pincushion (very, very hole-y) when I felt the prick of a needle.  So, I thought "what the heck".  I've always wanted to tear one of those babies apart  disassemble one in a very ladylike manner.  (ADMIT IT - you have too, right?!?)   

Well, guess how many needles I found inside?  Thirty-nine!  

Sorry for the bad picture (but honestly, how exciting is a pile of needles, anyway?).   I was just totally blown away when I kept finding a needle, then another, then two more......  And yes, they're mostly sharp, useable and will be put back into use!  

My dear hubby Bruce and I have a running joke about his vitamins.  I take regular women's vitamins.  He takes the Costco brand of "mature vitamins".  One morning he was being his usual humorous (and slightly silly) self - a trait that has added a lot of fun to our marriage.  Anyway, we were taking our vitamins when I saw his "Mature Vitamins" container and told him they obviously weren't working!   We got a good chuckle over that, and now, every time he buys a new container of vitamins, the label is "corrected" to read:

And last but not least (which you'll probably agree with after reading the previous....), here are a few snapshots of my garden.  THEY ARE SAD.  It's been such a cold, wet spring and I've had neck and shoulder issues for which I'm doing physical therapy.  But slowly, very slowly, I'm getting to one bed after another to get it cleaned up, trimmed, weeded. mulched, planted.  Warning:  not all things pictured have had their "spring cleaning" yet!  

Case in point:  Our Snowball bush really well, snowballed this year!  It's beautiful, but needs it's feet cleared of overzealous lavender (and weeds, I admit it).  And it needs a good trimming and shaping.  It's on my list for this season.


On the left, the planter bed under the north-facing front window (with spent daffodils) is just about to bloom with several varieties of iris.  More pictures in a week or two.  Meantime, on the east side of the house, our champagne irises are just beginning their show.

I have some of the front porch planters planted; there are another 3-4 left to do.   Some of the tulips are still blooming, and I have mulched a couple of the front beds.  And the porch posts are slated for filling and sanding and painting this year.  


Here you can barely see my favorite garden serpent hiding behind the bleeding heart.   To the left (front) of it is a small daylily variety and the bark is my Double Delight rose tree.    In that same bed are other daylilies, a hosta, some russian sage and a few annuals.   The calla lily died and was pulled.

We have a hole in the front perennial bed where the golden chain tree was.  I think we may plant another.  Down at the end of the bed (where the house ends, past the birdbath and rose) is where we had the #@&*! holly bush.  It's gone, praise the Lord, and in its place I'm thinking of either a burning bush OR an arbor to further extend the front facade of the house.   Wisteria?  Climbing Roses?  Still thinking on that one.  Meantime, I need to do more weeding and mulching here, and that's on the agenda for this week.  

A friend and neighbor of ours came by this week and tilled our garden for us.  We own a tiller, and let him borrow it to till his garden, too.  Win-win, since Bruce's outdoor activities are limited from his winter back surgery.  He did manage to replace all the outdoor security light fixtures, however.   So, I'll plant the garden this week.  We're also getting bids on having our front parking strip dug out & soil-treated, the sprinklers capped, landscape barrier put down and decorative gravel delivered and installed.  

Well, I think I've rambled long enough.  Hope I haven't put you to sleep!!

Cathy maroon

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Wheeler Farm Spring Cleaning

You may remember that last year I told you about how Hampton Inn had an online voting contest for their annual "Save a Landmark" project.   The county-owned historical working farm where I am employed as a part-time bookkeeper had been nominated for the Western Region.  Well, thanks to you lovely people and your support, we won the voting.

Earlier this week, a crew of 50+ volunteers from Hampton Inns in the Utah area converged on Wheeler Farm and began spring clean-up and other projects.  This year it was particularly needed and appreciated, because Salt Lake County has cut our budget (it's the same everywhere isn't it?  the economy....) and we just didn't have time or money to accomplish all that needs to be done.

Well, I forgot my camera, (the above pictures were taken two years ago) but luckily there were TV stations and newspapers on hand to record the events. Check out these pictures and articles from today's Salt Lake Tribune and Deseret News.   

Also, we do allow photographers on the property, although it is supposed to be for personal photos (weddings, family reunions).  Commercial entities are usually charged if they use our venue for advertising purposes.  This one slipped by us (no comment), but since her photos are lovely, I'm posting one of her pictures here.  You can see others on her blog.  Enough said.

Part 2 of this program will take place in August.  The funds donated by Hampton Inn will be used to refurbish the historic farmhouse brick and porch.

Again, thank you to everyone who took the time to vote.  And thank you to Hampton Inns for their generous donation of $10,000.00 plus all the volunteer labor.  I love it when a community works together!  I'll certainly do my part to support them in the future!
Cathy maroon

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Creating Motifs for "I Love Paris"

Over the last couple weeks, I've been sharing some of my thoughts and steps in creating my "I Love Paris" purse.   In the past I showed how I pieced, gathered ideas to develop the theme, organized my supplies and how the French girl was created.  

Although I had originally intended to have a front and a back, I ended up calling them the Poodle Side and the Eiffel Side.  For although the original front was supposed to be the girl and poodle side, the Eiffel side was by far my favorite!  

The Poodle Side

I like to start off with a few seams, either stitched or trimmed in ribbon, lace, etc.  To me it's a bit of a warm-up.  The seams can always be covered up with things later, so it's not a major first step.  I try to avoid seams that I know may be involved in another treatment or motif (if I've got something concrete in mind). 
Also, I didn't want to cover up the fleur de lis in the fabric with seamwork.  In piecing the purse, I tried to place the fleurs de lis where they would show, but not necessarily the center of the patch.

The first stitched motif was the perfume bottle.  You can't really tell from the pictures, but the atomizer is trapunto'ed (is that a word?).  At this point I was experimenting with the painted lace and the velvet flower (which I'd done for another project but appropriated for the purse).    You can also see that globby looking ecru mess (near the bottom) - that was the first poodle body.  I did it in French knots (what else?) but the color looked dirty to me, so I scrapped it.

More placement experimentation, with some vintage lace (white loops) and vintage trim (pink and gold) added.  The black & white ribbon with French sayings on it (Rive Gauche is "Left Bank") came from Alpha Stamps.   They've got lots of fun things!!

With the poodle redrawn at the approximate size I wanted, I could play with the girl/poodle placement on the purse.  Since they were both basically oriented in a left direction, I wanted them on the right side, facing IN.  And since they would take up at least two patches, their placement needed to be determined early.  The poodle body and head was beaded on felt, then attached.  Later I embroidered the feet, face, etc.  The girl was not added until the purse was sewn, lined and turned right side out.  I didn't want to deal with the wire arms and legs catching on everything, so she was the very last addition.

This picture shows some metallic lace I had hoped to (but never did) use in the lower left.  The vintage millinery flowers and picture of a lamppost in the upper right were scrapped, too.  I really wanted that streetlamp, but that area was better suited to the bistro table and chair I eventually embroidered.  And I didn't want a vertical image like the lamppost on the other side of the purse to compete with the Eiffel tower.  The other item that was scrapped was that pink/green ribbon and rhinestone bling in the upper left because I wanted more handwork and fewer "things" added.  Of course, any Paris purse has to have SOME bling, LOL!

So this is how it ended up.  The lace pieces were actually parts left over from the lace that surrounds the Eiffel tower.  They serve as repeating elements to each other and to the lace on the reverse.  The one in the middle right is also a good "stopper" for the vintage trim gleaned years ago from a dress I bought in a thrift store.   And I was able to add more  "bling" by attaching a heart buckle-and ribbon "charm" to the handle.

The handle was a thrift shop belt.  On the plain white side, I glued (Fabri-Tac) some wide French-style ribbon (see Eiffel side pictures).

The Eiffel Side

First up on this side was placement of the Eiffel image on the center spot I'd pieced for it.  This delicious lace just screamed to me to let it become a lush frame for the Tower!  Here you can also see that I was auditioning various trims like the pearl (too heavy), vintage silk ribbon rose trim (later used but in a different spot), the corset-shaped vintage lace (ok, ok, it's just a lace bow turned on end, but it looked like a corset to me!) and the dyed floral motif.  The dyed motif was chucked early - not in keeping with the theme.  

Image sewn down and more lace added to bottom.  The green lace and pink tatting were added below.

The lace "corset" was voted off the island, and instead I fashioned this naughty lingerie from lace and trim and a stick-on rhinestone.  THAT necessitated an "ooh la la" being embroidered nearby.

This seam treatment turned out to be one of my favorite happy accidents.  You can see the polka dot tulle fabric in the upper right.  I cut a strip of it, gathered it down the center and sewed down.  I meanders lazily down the right side of the Eiffel area and curves right.  Over the stitching I tacked some black and gold soutache trim to echo (reinforce) the black in the lingerie motif.  

After stitching "Ooh la la", I began experimenting with bling (upper left), adding flowers around the Eiffel Tower, and auditioning more trims....

Again, the black vintage trim was used (repitition from reverse side) and that, with the black-but-light-in-scale stitched bicycle further echoed the black in the lingerie.  The flowers in the bike basket bothered me (the white ones "disappear"), so I eventually colored them with a paint brush and some Adirondak ink.  And you can see more flowers and leaves added to the lace trim, along with some light stitching for accent.

More decisions made:  left bling finalized (I HAD to use that broken earring!!), more seamwork started, still more central flowers....

And the final version of the Eiffel side.  Those tiny pearl buttons in the lower right were some of a boxful that was left over from my grandfather's sweater factory.  He owned a business in NYC's garment district and he designed children's sweaters and the workers machine-knit them.

So that wraps up "I Love Paris".  Now, I'd love to really, truly visit Paris one day!!  And thank you, dear readers, for following along!!

Until next time,
Cathy maroon

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Grandma's Show & Tell

Grandma, that's me!  I have one biological granddaughter - London, who is now 8 months old.  In addition, I have three delightful grands by my step-daughters Emily & Stacy.  They are Deacon (2), Abbie (6 months) and Hunter (13 months).  On Mother's Day, Em & Stacy and families visited their mom.  And my three adult children visited me.  So, London was the star of the show.  I just wanted to share some pictures of London eating a strawberry.

Cautious first taste.

Ooooh.... that's... tart? Sweet?  (and why is everyone laughing at me?)

Ummm.... I'm done now.   

Daddy did a good job of cleaning me up!

Tomorrow:  Creating Motifs for "I Love Paris"
Cathy maroon

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Recent Sale-ing Finds

As regular readers know, I love to go sale-ing.  Estate sales are my favorites, but I'm also a regular yard sale and thrift store visitor.   It's impossible hard for me to steer by an antique store without dropping in.  Here in Utah, we don't have the "flea markets" that are common in the east and midwest.  Here in the west and intermountain areas, we have Swap Meets.  I think it's basically the same thing.  

Anyway, last Friday afternoon, my daughter Megan and I had some time time to spend together.  So, after my Weight Watchers meeting and lunch together at a little Chinese restaurant we found, we visited a couple sales.  The first was an estate sale up in the Avenues area of Salt Lake and the second was a 200+ family church "rummage sale" with proceeds to benefit their Bell Ringers.

I've never seen so much furniture at one sale as I did at the church rummage sale!  Almost a city block's worth out on their front lawn area.  The only furniture I bought was a $15 solid oak rocking chair  (no picture) - it's all that would fit in the back of my Prius.  I bought it for London's mom Heather, but she's already found one for herself since the last time we'd talked.  But Bruce loved it, and is going to clean it up and use it.  Happy ending.

I have a weakness for vintage embroidered linens, and found several pair of them at the estate sale.  The embroidery was impeccable, so I bought a pair of each of the following patterns.  And what a steal of a deal it was!   Some of these will likely be turned into little girl dresses for my booth at the Farmers Market this summer.

I thought these simple silver-plated bowls were interesting, and since I got them for a total of $3, why resist?  They look wonderfully shabby as-is, so I may leave them tarnished or may clean them up.  Who knows.  Probably will sell them and let someone else decide.

And then there's the silverplate.  I was telling Bruce the other day that I'd seen (and added to my idea files) several cute projects done with vintage silverware.  I mentioned that I may watch for a good coupon to get a metal stamping set on sale, and he replied "No!"  Then he ran to his laBORatory, rummaged around for a few minutes, and emerged proudly displaying not one, not two, but THREE different metal stamping alphabet sets.    The man is a true packrat gem, and boy do I love him!!

There was this pile of vintage fabrics at the rummage sale, and I grabbed it up.  Correction:  The retro floral print on the left came from the thrift store last week.  Three wonderful yards of heavier-weight cotton.  I may use one yard to do an apron (picture it with coordinating modern polka-dots...) and will probably sell the other two yards (contact me if interested).   The other three are yummy, and of various textures.  See the brown and gray print in front?  It's a 36" cotton (?? must do a burn test) from the sixties and has the most glorious soft hand to it.  There are just over two yards, and along the selvage is printed "Everfast Fabrics, Inc.".  I've been doing some research - they're still in business in the PA area.  Anyway, once I touched it, I fell in love....

Finally, some vintage in-package napkins, loop braid trim and some millinery leaves.  PINK  (are you drooling, Pam??)

Tomorrow is Wednesday, and that means Seniors (55 or over) get a 20% discount at the local Savers thrift store.  I haven't been there for two weeks, so I'm due for a visit.   And I'll be happy to take my discount - a small consolation for getting older.   Luckily, I still have to ask for it because they always think I'm younger!  HA!  I used to hate that when I was 21.....
Cathy maroon