Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Too Hot for Hopscotch

Do you remember how I like going barefoot?
I remembered today.
Zizza and I were all ready to dart off to the mail box and collect "Lilo and Stitch" which arrived there, thanks to netfilx with the mail today. It was then that I noticed how efficient I'd been earlier in putting my shoes away. Generally, there is a substantial pile of assorted shoes on the floor under the collect-all chair. Not today.
Aside from the half pair of red flops which I know to be under the sofa (don't ask how long it's been there, or how long I've known it's location and left it where it lies) I was shoeless.
Now, when one is trying to sneak off to the mailbox while one's baby is sleeping it is important not to enter the room where said baby rests as this may disrupt the slumber that makes possible your sneak. So you see the tight spot I was in.
That is when a single but very important word,"barefoot" popped into my head.
I stepped onto my back patio to test the heat of the pavement. It felt downright cool so Zizza, the pup, and I set out on our sneaking.
On the way down the street I reveled in the warmth, the roughness, the bliss. "I wish I never had to wear shoes again" I thought. As I turned the corner though, the roughness was starting to wear on my wimpy, always wearing shoes out side, feet. That wear made the heat a little more intense and I had to step quick the rest of the way to the box.
I rolled my weight onto the outside of my feet and rested on the cooler-smoother concrete around the mailbox while I emptied it. Then it was time to return to the asphalt and start walking again. I'm not going to lie, things got a little dicey on the way back. I was relieved to reach the corner of my street again. The short stretch from my street to the mail box has no houses on it, no houses means no shade and that was nearly my undoing.
Back on my street scurrying from shady patch to shady patch, put me in mind of a memory.
It was late in the summer and record breaking hot. I'd watched the weather report on the mid-day news, so I'd known the heat was record breaking. 107 really did seem scorching before I'd experienced 115.
My sister and I along with a pair of our friends (also sisters) challenged our selves to a barefoot walk around the block.
We skipped from shady spot to shady spot, sometimes we even balanced on the beam of shadow cast by the top rail of a chain link fence. When velvety lawns presented themselves, we were only too glad to find rest in the cool, soft verdure. Be reminded though, this was the grip of summer, a record breaking day. Most of the lawns in the neighborhood, suffering from the strain, were rather brownish and pricklyish.
As we approached the last corner of the block we found ourselves in trouble. Our adventure had tested the strength of the calluses we'd been working all summer to build on our foot bottoms and we were facing the longest tree less stretch of side walk yet. A series of drive ways and block fencing bordered the walk on one side. If we'd taken our adventure in the morning hours that fence would have provided shade. Now though, the afternoon sun was casting that delicious darkness in the wrong direction. Wasted in the neighbor's fenced yard.
On the other side of the side walk was what passed as a grassy median strip. We knew though, there were a good deal more prickly weeds to be found there than grass of any kind. I would hesitate to walk there with shoes on, to brave it barefoot was unthinkable.
A very unpleasant few minutes passed by then. I think I must have blocked that part out. I don't really remember the rest. If I had to guess, I'd say we took turns dashing through to the refuge of the biggest tree on the block that beckoned invitingly from the far side of the death strip. Then, I imagine we hopped along the remaining shade spots home where we soaked our feet in the cool puddle left by the leaking spray at the water spickett that worked all day watering mom's garden. (Yes, I know the word is actually "spigot" but I'm having a memory here and it was always a "spickett" in those days)
If we were lucky enough, or sneaky enough we got twin-pops out of the huge chest freezer in the overstuffed garage and indulged our tired spirits by eating two sides each rather than splitting them like we were generally made to do.
You know, I could stand to eat both halves of a twin pop right now, and my scraped up feet sure would like the muddy grass of that spickett puddle.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

A dress and the study of a sleeve.

I started this at the end of last summer. I made the bodice in no time flat. It was one of those blessed projects that just comes together exactly the way you envisioned it on the first try.
The skirt was another story.
After my first attempt at the skirt failed miserably I put it away and forgot it for the winter.
When spring came, I gave it another go and this time the results were wearable!

I bought the last little bit of the floral fabric, not more than a yard and a half, with a top in mind. When I started sewing though, visions of maxi dresses danced through my head and I followed them. A risky decision with the small amount of fabric I had.
That's where the trouble with the skirt came in. Trying to achieve maxi-mum (I crack myself up) results with such limited resources was tricky tricky stuff.
The wide gray band at the bottom is thanks to the lack of any more yellow floral. I like it though. I like it a lot even. If I set upon this project again with more fabric, I'd make the skirt a little wider but otherwise I'd do it the same way.

I love how the sleeves came out. I cut a dolman sleeve for the front (Excuse the wrinkled state of the dress please, I've been wearing it all day)

And a raglan sleeve for the back, and somehow they fit together. It was a miraculous sewing event.

I can't take credit for the genius cross-bred sleeve idea though. The truth is, I copied it from an Old Navy top.
Speaking of cross bred sleeves, I had a Math prof at Utah State (an attractive South African fellow) who couldn't have owned more than 3 shirts (and that's being generous). Maybe he owned more, and just never chose to wear any of the others. I suppose I'll never know. Anyway, one of the shirts had the most interesting sleeves I've ever seen.
From the front it looked like an average raglan sleeved button down. From the back, it appeared a similarly average button down, this time with a set in sleeve.
The front of the sleeve was raglan, the back, set in. It was seriously. so. cool.
I sat there in class listening to him explain probability theories and blah-bidy blah in his hot accent and sketched pattern pieces, working out how to re-create that sleeve.
Yeah, I'm a geek.
I never tried making the shirt though. As interesting as it was, I honestly didn't care for it aesthetically. Maybe all the studying of that shirt I did in math class is the reason the sleeves on this dress worked so smoothly on the first try.
If that's the case, Math 1030 was time well spent.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Have a look at this photo

There's my boy in the wake of desertion when his sister left for Joy School a bit ago.
I could tell you about the uncommonly strong bond between them and how sad he was that she'd left him and he was attempting to unlock the door so as to run lovingly and loyally after her. But that would be a lie.
Her leaving did pique his interest in the front door, but that's not what this post is really about.
Take a closer look at this scene.

My strapping young son is wearing hello kitty crocs. He found them in the collection of out grown shoes at the bottom of his closet a few weeks ago and today he saw fit to wear them.
Zizza was so amused by his choice of foot fashion she imitated as best she could by choosing his flip flops to complete her own outfit.

With the feet of my children thus shod we were off to run our errands.

I must admit, I do have a bit of a problem with Enzo's new love of the Hello Kitty Crocs. You see, my rubber foot wear of choice is and will ever remain the flip flop. I bought the Hello Kitty's for Zizza as sort of an experiment. They'd stay on better than flip-flops I thought, and also there would be less worry over stubbed toes... so I bought them.
They were quite convenient to have around and Zizza surely loved them. The fell short in my book though and here's why.
A good deal of foot sweat is produced in such a shoe and the ventilation holes seem to let in more dust than air. The sweat and the dust combine to form a fine black sludge the likes of which haven't been seen since jelly shoes. That sludge creeps beneath the toe nails of the childish feet and stays there. No amount of scrubbing, can dislodge it. The nails can't be trimmed short enough to eliminate the sludge trough. The only remedy is to wait for the nails to grow long enough that the sludged portion can be trimmed away.
Zizza spent a whole summer and part of a fall with black edged toe nails. I was so happy when those sludge producing monsters grew too small and started giving her blisters so she'd stop wearing them.
As amusing, endearing and sweet as it is to see Enzo's masculine little bricks of feet stuffed in those pink Hello Kitty shoes, I don't think I can stomach another long term blackening of a child's toe-nails. Heaven help me, I just don't have the strength!

Monday, April 20, 2009

The good news is

My foot is not broken. The bad news is I still can't run more than a single mile on it which is a problem.
More good news; I've been referred to a podiatrist who schedules appointments through his web site. No need for phone calls means that so far this guy is the Dr of my dreams.

Still on the subject of good news, look at the New One's new trick.

She's holding her bottle like a little champ. Just now she finished off an eight ouncer without dropping it once.
That's all I've got for you today.

Thursday, April 16, 2009


I have a few relatively uninteresting things to mention.
First the winners of my Grammar contest. I picked two because I am in charge.
Annie wins because she gave me the "these ones, those ones" fuel all those years ago.
Also, Sarah wins because the variety of tenses she mentioned never crossed my mind when I was writing that post, but it bugs me too. (And did you notice how many commas I used just then?)
I'll get you ladies some prizes at some point.

Second, look at my side bar. See that "progress report"? I have a tendency to procrastinate. The bigger the project, the more I procrastinate it. The Mr asked me way back in January to please not leave these flower girl and bridesmaid gowns until the last minute. So far I have managed to put them off for three and a half months. I have a month and a half left until I leave for the wedding. As motivation to get a wiggle on with this project I will report my progress daily.
Don't expect much on the weekends though. I almost never sew on the week end.

Last, comments. I've always been a horrible commenter. I've been prodding myself to comment more but I haven't much improved. I've decided to take a different approach. Instead of working on leaving comments on other's blogs, I'm going to start answering comments on my own blog. I actually already started, so far so good.
The End

Grandpa's Blocks

I've been so busy procrastinating the pile of sewing I've got to do I found myself completely unprepared for Easter. Unprepared for the bunny part anyway.
Last week I called my mother, just 2 days before she was scheduled to come down for a visit and asked if she could squeeze in a trip to the toy store before she came down. She knows a really good toy store you see, one where they sell interesting quality toys. I've recently found a store of that kind here but I knew I wouldn't get a chance to go there without children so my mother was my only hope. She said she'd try to make it there before coming here, but she couldn't promise.
As an after thought I said "Or, maybe you could convince Dad to give us his old blocks!" "I'd love it if he would!" She said. But we both knew how slim the chance was.
My dad is a stuff collector. He loves him some stuff and he hates to part with any of it. He gets a little uneasy when people use his stuff. Not because he doesn't want to share, but because he worries about misuse and damage.
I found the blocks when I was a kid. I found them and sneaked them out to play with.
He never knew.
Marmie caught me one time, she told me just to be sure and clean them up and put them back when I was done. She was glad to see them getting some use. I've had a soft spot spot the blocks ever since.
I don't know how she convinced him, but the blocks are up stairs in my family room.
As soon as they saw them, Zizza and Enz set right to building.


Pretty soon, Grandpa joined them.

I'm still amazed at my luck. I always hoped I get the blocks someday but I didn't think it would happen in time for my own littles to benefit from it.
Thanks Daddy

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Packed up and in the mail

A few weeks back my good friend Kristi called. She and her husband are finally able to be sealed to their daughter so it was time for me to start on the dress.
I promised to make this dress years ago so, in spite of the seven flower girls and four brides maids dresses on my to do list, I set to work on the sealing dress.
Even after giving this project priority, I couldn't completely turn my mind away from the impending flower girl project. I ended up using the same design concept for this dress. A peasant style bodice with a full skirt layered under a corset in a contrasting texture.

With the basic concept in place, details needed consideration. A bit of lace at the gathered neckline and ruffles for the sleeves of the eyelet under dress.

Piped seams with the tone on tone plaid of the corset, and soft billowing organza laces to soften things up.

I am in love with the floppy bow.

Another requirement for this dress was alterability. Kristi wants her girl to be able to wear this same dress when she's baptized, so it will have to grow from the size of a five year old to the size of an eight year old.
Now, I didn't spend so much time stitching in costume shops for nothing. Inch or more seam allowances and quick alterations are standard issue in those places so making an expandable dress is fairly old hat for me.
The corset is pretty expandable without any extra attention thanks to the lace up closure. Still though, I left plenty of extra space in the side and shoulder seams. Also, rather than stitching up all the seams safely inside the lining I finished off the front piece and the two back pieces individually and left the side and shoulder seams out in the open.

I did the same again with the bodice of the under-dress. The best part though, is the skirt. I gathered it to fit the fully extended bodice and bound the gathered edge. I pleated the gathered and bound skirt to fit the current size of the bodice and stitched the two together. Now when it comes time to alter the dress there will be no need to redistribute the gathers. Just release those pleats and the job is done!

It's not the prettiest on the inside, but it's tidy and very efficient and that's what counts this time.
I boxed it up and sent it off today. Farewell little dress, good luck!

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Run along

I've been running.
I'm training for this.
Last night on my run I marveled at my progress since I started my training two months ago.
At the beginning, eight minutes of solid running was a triumph. I spent a generous portion of my workouts in fear that either my lungs or my head would explode before I made it home.
During my run last night I savored my progress as I loped easily past the "no helicopter" sign that was once such an accomplishment to reach. My steady, unencumbered breathing left me free to focus on the rhythm of my footfalls, my head felt more than safe from combustion and my sides were free of stitches. I ran that way for thirty minutes.
Today I decided I'd run down the street to the store and fetch a bag of butterscotch chips with which to bake a goody for my father who will arrive for a visit tomorrow.
I envisioned myself completing the 1.57 mile journey, entering the store and paying for my chips with a moist fiver. On considering the position of the cashier, I decided I'd have to come up with an alternate method of payment. The unavoidable dampness of the fiver would make for an awkward interchange regardless of my discretion in producing it from my bra, the only place I have to carry such things while running.
The whole plan went bust though, on account of the inexplicably sore foot I've been nursing all day refusing to cooperate and let me run.
And so I sit, waiting, while My Mr is out running my run, fetching my ingredient.
I suppose it's for the best, his running clothes have a pocket so no one will have to worry over damp fivers.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

What a girl wants

Zizza occasionally likes to talk about her future.
When she grows up she will be a mama in our house. The Mr and I will move away to Utah to live in a grandma and grandpa house and she, with her baby "Megan," will stay.
She will have my bathroom and my closet with all of my clothes and make-up. She's told me this many, many times.
My new computer was delivered a little while ago. She watched me open the box and plug it in. Then she told me "When I grow up I'll have that computer and you can get a new one."
"So you just want all of my old stuff?" I asked her, "You'll never get any new stuff of your own?"
"Yes" she said, "Except your earrings, you can keep those."
Apparently my earring collection needs work.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Let's talk grammar.

Grammar is something I notice.
I'm not the grammar police or anything, but I notice if a person I talk with a lot has a favorite phrase or a certain rule that they consistently either follow or don't follow. Blogging is interesting because when the words are all spelled out you see quirks in the speech patterns of your friends that you wouldn't be likely to notice aurally.
Now, after I've just made the claim that I am not an officer of the grammar police, I'm going to list the grammatical errors that get under my skin like an itch I can't scratch.
1- "Fred and I's" Generally, I think you would just say "our" but in the case that your audience didn't know the identity of the other half of that "our" you should say "Fred's and mine" rather than tack an "apostrophe s" on the end of I.
2- "My sister-in-laws surprised me" It should be "sisters-in-law" Putting the "s" on the end of "law" makes it sound like "sister in law's" as in "The party will be at my sister-in-law's house"
3- Ok now, this is the big one. I hate, HATE, the interchanging of the words "then" and "than".
It is very common to hear people say "other then that" instead of "other than that". It prickles a bit when I hear that one, but it's such a common mistake I'm rather desensitized to it. It's when the switch happens the other way that it really gets me. Example "and THAN I went to bed" When I come across this, my muscles tighten, my lip curls and I start sucking in air like it's the last chance I'll have to breathe. Inside my head I'm screaming "THEN, THE WORD IS 'THEN', 'AND THEN I WENT TO BED' FOR HELL'S SAKE WHY? WHY WOULD YOU SAY 'THAN'?"
I'm not sure why it is I hate that so much but I really really do. If you say/type that, I apologize if my honesty about my reaction has offended you. Please know that once I get over the initial reaction, I remember what a delightful person you are and put that pet peeve of mine behind me (until I happen upon it again anyway)
Now, here's the fun part. Tell me what you grammar peeves are. I really love to hear what bugs other people. For example, my college roommate Annie's mother can't stand to hear people say "these ones" or "those ones" it should be "these" or "those" the word "ones" should not enter into the sentence. That's a mistake I never knew I was making until Annie told me how it bothers her mother. I've tried to correct it in my speech since then. I can't guarantee I've been wholly successful in the endeavor but I have tried.
So tell me, tell me, tell me what bugs you. I'm asking out of interest, so if your peeve is something I do, go ahead and say it anyway. Don't be afraid to call out my favorite mistakes.
By the way, this is a contest. There will be a prize for my favorite response. Extra points if I made your most loathed mistake in this post.

Saturday, April 4, 2009


I reorganized and moved bookshelves today.
I found that the time had come to let go and say good bye to my old French text books.
I never could do it before now.
My study of French was always a bit spiteful. I feared I'd never reach the goal and so I worked on to spite those creeping fears that came to taunt me whenever I laid the goal aside too long.
It's been six years since I left school. I've forgotten much of what I worked so hard to learn. In the past when I've looked over my books I've felt compelled to keep them as a reminder, written proof of what I knew.
Today I looked at those books and I could picture myself telling my grand children someday "No, I can't speak much french anymore, but just look at this old exercise book! See what I did there? Observe the rows and rows of verbs perfectly conjugated in tense upon tense! Your old granny really knew her francais I tell you what."
So, today for the sake of my grand children, I gave up my old books.
I kept 3 dictionaries, "501 French Verbs" and a guide to French idioms that was quite handy in that french writing class I took way back when. Just enough so I'll be ready to climb back on that old french horse when he canters my way again.