Sunday, May 29, 2016

Back to Class

One of the benefits of buying a sewing machine from a local shop is the ability to take classes. Now, from what you've read in this space before you might not think that would be necessary but I'm here to tell you that the class I took on Friday was very helpful. There were only two students, myself and Lupe, along with our instructor Mickey. Although we don't have the same machines, much of the information pertained to both of us. Mickey started out with what should be obvious but in my experience is anything but.
 Many long time seamstresses just use whatever they have in the way of thread, and that is mostly whatever is inexpensive. I brought home a box of threads that belonged to Bruce's Mom and I've been using them whenever possible because I am nostalgic like that.

She explained that that type of thread sheds lint like nobodies business, wreaking havoc with our sewing machines innards. Not only that but you often experience tension issues when using inappropriate thread and or needle. I can't tell you the number of times Pam has called saying her tension has gone crazy and my advice is not to mess with the tension--change your needle! Anyway, while Mickey talked, my co-student sewed, or she talked on the phone. Occasionally she would take instruction as is shown in this photo of Mickey showing her how to make a buttonhole.
Looking at the photograph you might notice her undergarments through the knit material. Well, and believe me this story is true, another woman came into the classroom, presumably a friend of Lupe although I can't be certain as I don't speak their language. Of course, you would think so when you hear what happened next! They chatted for some minutes while Mickey was assisting me, and much to our surprise, we glanced over, and could not help noticing Lupe had her blouse up, and her pants down, showing off those undergarments!!! Honestly it was unreal; you can't make this stuff up.

Mickey is an interesting and talented woman. She made this notebook cover that I found very striking. Should I ever get a hankering to make the same, the stitch is available on my machine.
Of course I would have to ask her again about the material she used....

Again, I am glad I bought the same brand as I had because much of it is the same, aside from the bobbin winding, one of the most important parts of sewing. When I came home with the machine I could make hide nor hair out of the diagram, eventually taking to YouTube to learn how. That said, it will take many times for it to become second nature as it was before. Furthermore, after much trial and error, Mickey had me using the needle threader with tentative ease. What a feature for old eyes!
While I was at the shop I bought the backing fabric for my quilt, and it is all pinned and ready to go.

Mr. Peck got a new pressure washer for his birthday...sounds exciting right?
On sale at Costco, we picked it up last week, putting it to good use yesterday. During our stint helping Bill, the old one finally went kaput. After doing the yard, Bruce did a once over on the pool deck, returning it to blinding white. Blinding? Yup, that travertine has crazy reflective issues when it is sunny, although more importantly it stays cool on your feet in our brutal Florida summers. After mowing the lawn, I made my first appearance in the pool--so, so refreshing! Then I decided I would pressure wash the driveway; following instruction from Bruce, I began. Whew, this sedentary girl suffered when two hours later she was done.

After cleaning myself up, I took to the couch to watch golf, and see my boy Jordan doing very well. Sure hope he doesn't fall apart today! Anyway, finally taking the time to look through this lovely book of bird postcards Matt sent from England for Mother's Day, I enjoyed a soothing cup of tea.
Lo and behold, just outside the window sits the bird bath, which began seeing action. Oh my, what is going on with the cardinals? When this one showed up I presumed it was maybe a young one because of the feathers. (took these between the blinds, and through the window and screen if you are wondering.)
Anyway, it was a hot day, and this little girl wanted to cool off like I did earlier in the pool.
As you can imagine I was transfixed...then this cardinal showed up looking very pale.
What is going on with their feathers? Generally molting season is much later in the year so I'm very puzzled indeed. Our second little girl looks like this:
Perhaps they were born earlier in the Spring and I missed the nest? Anyway, despite her bedraggled appearance, she too had a good time cooling off as well.
Then, she too flew off, and that was that.

Adjacent to the bird bath, my purslane has gone crazy, providing some much needed color against the dark gray house.
Let us hope it stays vibrant throughout the summer.

Surprised there are no owl photographs? Because I only heard from Bev, I can only assume you are bored with them. I'm not so expect them another day!!

Slept very well last night,

Gail

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Neighborhood Goodies

When I first began taking photographs in earnest I needed places to practice because at that time my yard was pretty much green, unlike now when it is looking very colorful and pretty if I do say so myself.

 In those long ago days, I drove through neighborhoods, in my beautiful MINI Cooper, looking for flowers, and well, really, anything that caught my eye. Well, I don't have a MINI any longer and I no longer need to drive looking for beauty because I am so darn fortunate to have friends that provide beauty for me. Not to mention vegetables....
Pam not only has flowers, but she grows several types of onions, peppers, a big variety of tomatoes, and herbs.  When I cut into this onion it was a beauty with no tears from the chef. I don't consider myself a chef by any means but using the word cook just didn't sound right!

The variety of blooming plants in her back garden is especially impressive. As is often the case, on this day there was a butterfly enjoying a snack.
Isn't this a beauty? If only the plants were not so bright. Nonetheless, seeing the entire body so clearly was something I would have died over had I taken it eight years ago. Now, I expect even better of myself.

The color of this lily is so scrumptious...
with water droplets from a recent watering a bonus. As well she has a big patch of what I call Black- Eyed Susans, which is probably not exactly right, but in the family. In fact, some of the flowers have this neat brownish red coloring in the middle. Lucious.
I could go on and on with photographs from her garden but I do have something crazy special for you today. Well, some of you anyway.

If you've never had the opportunity to watch an owlet see her reflection on a car top, you have missed something really entertaining. Or at least it was to me. The secret to finding the owlets is to head over at daybreak, which during this time of the year is around 6:30 in the morning. Because my darling husband woke us up a little after 4 in the morning, getting on my bike just after 6 was no problem at all. I'd already made loaf of blueberry bread, made the bed, emptied the dishwasher and more. Without further ado, take a look at this:
Originally when I pulled up I spotted first one and then the other in the trees by Nell's house. Then one flew over to the other side of the street, followed soon thereafter by her sibling. Oh my goodness this was so fun to watch.
With barred owls, the biggest difference between males and females is the size, the female being the larger of the sexes. That said, it is hard to tell even when they are side by side but if I had to guess, the one on the car is the female with her brother watching her every move.

Furthermore, Mamma brought food with the roof sitting owlet flying up to get a bite. You may be delighted to read that I am sparing you the sharing of the mouse photos, but this one does show how the owlets still do not have their entire head feathers.
After only a few bites, Mama, shown with the mouse in her talon, took off to another tree, waiting, I guess for the kids to come to breakfast. Reluctantly I forced myself to take off, after all I was supposed to be getting some exercise before sitting down at my sewing machine.

That reminds me, before the bike ride I moved the sewing machine to the other side of the table, Bruce put a light up over my ironing board and we moved the table closer to the wall. Working on a new block called Card Trick, it takes every bit of concentration I have. Almost like a jigsaw puzzle, the 24 pieces have to go together just so.
I'm making a quilt for a wedding gift that although won't be needed until the Fall, I'm pondering hand quilting it, so if that is the case I need a long time for that! I was pretty happy with the color scheme I'd chosen for a purple lover, however, returning to the store for more purple fabric, I decided I liked this print better. As well, the red is not quite so prominent.
Sadly, my points are not perfect--only pretty good.  In case you are wondering, there is a point to the green, I just cut it off when shooting the photo with my iPhone. I'm completely terrible with that thing which is kind of interesting because I started with a point and shoot camera, a fact that really riled up "real photographers"!

Speaking of photography, coming soon to a store near you....gift bags with my images. Actually I have no idea where they are going, but according to my mailbox money inventory of sold stuff, under licensing two different gift bag images and a pillow and something else that I have no idea what it is. Licensing is when they use an image, rather than have SunDance print image. As well, I earn a 25 % commission on licensing rather than the 10% for prints. Whatever I receive, I still cannot believe my efforts came to this..unreal to think I have a publisher isn't it?

Steve, Bruce's boss came to town Tuesday to meet with the general contractor folks about the end date. His real purpose was to light a fire under them, something B has been trying to do for the last few months. With something like two months to go, it is getting to be crunch time. We went back to North Quarter Tavern. Pretty funny they both were wearing a white shirt and jeans..
Yesterday morning I woke not feeling as perky as is mostly the case and as the day progressed, I think the crazy concentration needed for the blocks, which, let's face it, someone else might put together with ease, caused me some consternation. While trimming some of the triangle "tails" I did this and decided it was time to quit for the day.
The new day came with new energy. Ripping out the middle section, I re-made the middle block and it all worked just fine. I found a very nifty design for this quilt, if only I can execute it!

Do you have time for one more neighborhood goodie?

Back to the sewing machine,

Gail

p.s. I almost forgot---I bought this orchid from Jim and Kathy at the market a few years ago, and I may be wrong, but I think this is only the second time it has bloomed. I looked out back a few days ago and what should I find....


Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Have We Got Things to Talk About

You will not be surprised in the slightest that I'm brimming with things to discuss, beginning with this intriguing feature from the New York Times. What invention of the last 150 years do you think matters the most? Please weigh in!!

I was in total agreement with the person who scoffed at anyone saying the smart phone was the winner because when you think about it, it is merely a collection of things we've had before. Maps, telephone service obviously, calculator, notepad, even messaging is kind of like a new- fangled version of the telegraph. Furthermore while it has spawned some jobs, it has killed way more. Although it is not true for the rest of the country, Florida has benefited greatly from the wide spread availability, not to mention, affordability of AIR CONDITIONING!! It may not matter the most, but it sure is great. Just ask anyone who grew up here without it!  Our population growth during the last thirty years has largely been due to this marvel of engineering. Thank God for our inventors.

Finishing the photo challenge over on fb, my final photo was of the sunrise at Lake Conway yesterday morning. I was up early---what can I say?
From there I rode to see the eagles, however, I found the eaglet, (wonder where the other one is?), on the pine tree across the lake from the nest. Too dim to get a good shot, so on to see what my owlets were up to. Good choice Gail. Arriving, I saw one in the magnolia tree, and one in the birdbath...score! What happened next was fun to watch..
Yup, just perching on the shingles...
Those big brown eyes staring are just too much!

Over the weekend we were lucky enough to use David's tickets to see an Orlando City game which proved to be entertaining in loads of ways. I seriously can't help myself when I photograph things that either interest or amuse me. Does this remind you of a character from a book or movie? It did me, however, the name eludes me.
It is both a sporting and a cultural event for long time Orlandoans like us. For one thing, they have up and changed the name of the stadium which kind of bugs me because it is such a silly name.
Then too, there were only about three people sitting in our vicinity, aside from ourselves, of course, that spoke English. That said, excitement in any language is easily discernible--the crowd went crazy when the Lions scored the winning goal.
Sunday, following church, the "kids" met us at Dubsdread for a birthday lunch for Mr. Bruce. Surprisingly, both outings we enjoyed pleasant weather, much to our relief.
While it is true that I have gained weight in the last year, I didn't think it was enough to put me into a size 12 sewing pattern, but indeed that is the case. As such, I threw away some old ones, that no doubt, will never be used again.
You do remember that I said sewing patterns bear no relation to ready to wear clothes, don't you? Talking to Nancy about this, she asked had I taken my measurements to find the right fit? No, I was guessing before. Now I'm not!

It is also true that the very first garment I made in Home Ec, all those years ago, was an A-line skirt out of blue kettlecloth, a fabric I've not seen in years. So, what better way to break in my new machine than repeating that same garment? This white skirt is made from denim with a little spandex for comfort. The top you will remember from my last post.
I am all dressed and ready for the monthly Days for Girls get together. There were eighteen women in attendance, all working like busy bees. Sharleen, pictured below, is our fearless leader who organizes everything. As well, she brings all of the materials, spending the better part of a week getting ready.
I took quite a number of photos yesterday to show you what it is like. Kim, to the right of Sharleen is not a sewist, however, her work is invaluable to the effort. I got a chance to visit with her yesterday, learning she was a baker at Disney for thirty years before retiring. Bev, pictured below taught 3rd and 5th grade at Pershing for years and years. She worked on cutting which you will understand momentarily. The quilt tops on the wall are unreal..
The one on the right has pinned fabric in the middle of it, marring the look just a smidge but in person it is fantastic. Sharleen explained to me it is a pattern called Bargello, something I am going to research when I finish this! Susan, below, is working on the pads, or what will become the pads once they are cut apart by Bev. I did the same.
Once they are cut into thirds, they are serged, which is what Judy is working on below.
By way of explanation, a serged seam is what you find in ready to wear clothes. Look at this stack of pads!!
And we are back to Kim who is both tying the ends of those pads and using fray check for insurance. As you can see there are so many steps, and I'm not even including all of them. Each girl receives eight pads, pictured above, which are folded in thirds to use with the liners. It is definitely a labor of love for everyone, but no one more so than Sharleen. You've always heard the saying, "if you want something done, ask a busy person" and that rings true for her because not only does she spend so much time on this project, she sews for other charities!! What an inspiration.

All in all it was such a good day, beginning with the sunrise, and ending with the sunset over Lake Jennie Jewel where someone on the street has been so kind as to place a bench for the purpose of watching sunsets.
If you think the owl photos look cute today, wait until I show you what I saw this morning!!

Tune in again,

Gail

Sunday, May 22, 2016

So-So Sewing

Do I sew better than some folks? Definitely. However, there are far more folks that sew better than I, which is what is challenging me to improve. There was a time when I could make just about anything. It may surprise you to learn that in spite of having all boys, I made clothes for them as well. But that was a long, long time ago. The ensuing years brought less of a need to sew because you could buy clothes on sale, and then too, what boy wants to wear something homemade when they are 10 years old? Not mine! I think you've seen this photo before, but I came across it (long story) and thought it was worth a second look. Jonathan just turned 33 a few weeks ago.
The machine on the left is a serger, and the one you can't see, aside from the red dot, was the Elna Supermatic I got from my Mom.  My sewing table came from Bruce's Dad who got it while working on the VAB, at Cape Canaveral. It is in our bedroom when we lived on Whistler Drive. I so adore that sweet little face on Jonathan. Sorry for how choppy this sounds, just some background info!

But, long before I sewed for the Peck family, I sewed for the Price family. Here's a picture taken at our Grandpa Stahl's farm the summer we brought our brother Pat home from the Viet Nam War. He flew into San Fransisco and then on to St. Louis where our Dad met him and brought him to Grandpa's farm before we all drove back to Florida in a car without air conditioning. All seven of us!!!
Nancy tells me that not only did I make my little outfit, I made both hers, as well as Mom's dress. As to Carol's dress, I'm not so sure. Remember how I just became acquainted with Joelle? That's her Grandmother Ruth in the very middle. I can almost remember making all those scallops on the hem and neckline of Mom's dress with our Dad critiquing all the way.

So, it is with great frustration that I am not very good at sewing any longer. My ripper has seen more use in the last few months than it had in the previous twenty years. The last time I made a dress with set in sleeves I did a remarkably poor job. Furthermore, what once was second nature, now takes me forever to get right. The hours fly by when I am sewing, so I can't say how long it took, but I am finally happy with the end result of this sleeve installation.
I finally got to the point when the sleeves go in after spending a stupid amount of time getting the front placket right. For those who are lost with this lingo, it is the white bands on the front of the nearly finished top below.
I kept fiddling and fiddling with it to make it lay down better!

Hey, here's how basket looks like "on road."
I have been such the home body it is incredible...aside from my bike ride, I've hardly gone anywhere. If not for Bruce's birthday and such, well, who knows when I would have gone out? As it turned out, Abbe, from Vancouver, got into Orlando at 3AM, and was too pooped to go out on Wednesday night. Well, I'd canceled the family dinner before those facts became available, so just the two of us went to Santiago Bodega for a flavorful meal, ending with some croissant donuts and a candle.
On our way home I asked Bruce to pull over so I could take this shot of Lake Ivanhoe at sunset.
Thursday night, however, we went to Hillstones with Abbe who was tasked with seeing it while in Orlando. What a delightful young woman she is!
Of course I like anyone who praises my honey to the hilt. While B was in the restroom, she gushed over how much the girls in design love Bruce, as well they should is what I have to say about that! In very good news, the review of the plans for Plano went very, very well.

Actually I finally did leave the house on Thursday to return some library books. Who leaves the house in a driving rain? Me, that's who.
Actually, by the time I was at this intersection, the rain  had slowed down quite a bit, but what a storm before this! Blowing wind, and driving rain, are not ideal driving conditions, as you well know! I finally finished "The Girl on the Train" and what a thriller it was. I'm pretty sure my friend Bev told me to read this last year sometime; I should have listened to her then. Interestingly enough, the book, published in January 2015, is already a movie set to debut in October. Seems like that is a pretty fast turnaround to me.

Believe it or not, I'm still taking photographs like a madwoman, particularly while on my bicycle. Cheryle's garden is just spectacular this time of the year.
Everywhere you look there is a feast for your eyes. A few weeks ago I was made aware of something that just blew me away. During a Hill's Happy Hour, the talk turned to the tortoises on the same street. Say what? Well, I learned that the folks who bought a second lot behind their home, Dr. Yonfa's family, have for years and years housed a male and female tortoise in their lovely back garden. Immediately, upon hearing this news, I marched down the street to see it for myself. No dice that day, nor the ensuing days that I stopped to look. Well, finally I saw one of them on Friday afternoon.
Crazy, right? I'm pretty sure I heard Catherine say their is a baby tortoise as well. Unreal!

And finally I saw the owlets again. Last year, almost any day of the week I could find them readily but they have been so elusive this year.
Aren't they getting big? This was kind of fun to watch...
Pretty much all those downy feathers are gone now. In other wildlife news from Southern Oaks, last evening I got a text from Lisa about bats at their home on the other end of the street from the owls. What next?? She wondered if I wanted to photograph them for my nature photo challenge over on fb. Hmmm....maybe not.

I never did get into the discussion of sewing pattern sizes..good grief, no relation whatsoever to sizes that we all have come to know and love. Vanity sizing has not hit the sewing industry!

Trying to improve with practice,

Gail

Long Beach, CA