Monday, August 14, 2017

Monday Check In

What I'm Reading:  Still, My Brilliant Friend  and The Brothers Karamazov.  I resorted to downloading the Audible version of MBF in an attempt to get it completed before tomorrow.

What I'm Writing:  Re-wrote memoir notes; may have another memoir in the pipeline.  Another poem.

What I'm Crafting: Orange socks!

I finally joined up with the "Procrastinate No More" Christmas knitting project started by Brenda and Heather on Ravelry.  (They started the project on July 25, I signed up today -- procrastination is the name of my game!)   These socks are for Nate; if he decides to wrestle for the North team instead of the East team this winter, I guess these will be for Clay (who can wear them when the Browns play!), and buy a skein of B&H Blue Blazes.  See that cute little camper stitch marker?  From B&H -- they're so fun.

What I'm Sewing:  Patches onto Jenny's volleyball ref shirts.

What I'm Cooking:  Eggplant Parmesan (just "eh" -- the melty cheese was good) and peach cobbler (yum) were about the extent of my cooking last week.  I did freeze 7 quarts of peaches.

Fun Stuff:  Watching Good Behavior with Clay.  It's splendidly non-edifying.
Lunch at Batar with Deanna -- we talked until the restaurant closed and then talked outside for another 40 minutes, which is the definition of fun in my book.
An auction on Saturday, which I had decided to skip until Jenny called and told me I really needed to go -- she was right.  I promised myself "no linens" and "no dishes", but a violet tea set is too sweet for me to pass up.  Some kitchy stuff, some costume jewelry and a jewelry box, a cow picture (much like the one my grandma had at her house), turquoise-handled silverware, sturdy end and coffee tables, 3 bamboo fishing poles and a vintage kitchen step stool completed the day.  Plus all the stuff we bought for the market (especially an adorable yellow kitchen table and chair set!)  And, I got to talk to Blake a little, which always makes me happy.

Difficult Stuff:  2nd Anniversary of Joannie's death; went to Mass and breakfast with Linda and just cried a little a couple of times.  I miss her every day -- she laughed at my weirdness, gently tried to steer me straight when I got off track, and made hard work great fun.  I've made it clear to Linda that she may not die before me -- she gets me just like Joannie did, and even through she tries to convince me that she's rotten and not to be compared to Joannie's goodness, she's wrong.

And then, Charlottesville.  But I am too sad to write anything else about that this morning.


Monday, August 7, 2017

Checking In

Every Monday, I'm going to blog about what's shaking around here.  Hopefully.

What I'm Reading:  My Brilliant Friend by Elena Ferrante (for book group), Lead With Humility:  12 Leadership Lessons from Pope Francis by Jeffrey A. Krames, Blasphemy by Sherman Alexie (because I want to read what the cool kids are reading) and The Brothers Karamazov by Fydor Dostoevsky, because I think I should.  (I really want to start Britt-Marie, but am making myself wait until at least one of these others is completed!)

What I'm Writing:  A couple of poems.  This blog post.  Memoir notes for a friend.  I'm thinking about the novel.

Only 60 more squares to go!

What I'm Crafting:  A knitted afghan for the Welcome Blanket project, a crocheted shawl for hospice (with really squeaky acrylic yarn -- it's painful.), and hoping to cast on for some Christmas gift socks soon -- my friends, Brenda and Heather, are hosting a "Procrastinate No More Along" on their Ravelry page, and one of these days I'm actually going to join in, as soon as I stop procrastinating.

What I'm Sewing:  Nada.  But I want to be -- I have so many quilt ideas banging around in my head.

What I'm Cooking:  Dishes with beautiful produce.  And blackberry cobblers.

Fun Stuff:  Watching Hidden Figures outside at Jenny and Brian's farm Friday night with a fun group of people, a little alcohol and s'mores.  
Going away supper for Carly as she gets ready to leave for her sophomore year at Belmont.
Birthday supper for sweet friend, Ann, with Tammy and Lori.
Delivering 47 blackberry cobblers to my generous friends; ergo delivering $1000 to the Southern Indiana Center for the Arts from the sale of those cobblers.

Difficult Stuff:  Funeral for Helen, my dear friend, Laverne's mother.  Visited with our friend, Pam, who lost her beloved dad last week.  45 is still the POTUS.

Big Question of the week:  Why do people hate Ed Sheeran?


Friday, July 21, 2017

Re-start, Re-charge

So you may notice that I haven't posted on this blog since August of 2015.

Two years.

Lots and lots has happened. I won't even try to catch up, but may include some of the lovelier moments of those two years here in the next few weeks.

I also haven't written much at all in the past two years; my novel, which I quit a great job to write, is still unwritten.  I did start a political blog (Jumping Down from the Shelf) in January, but have only posted there 10 times.  I'm proud of the blog entries, although I get a little timid every time I'm ready to hit the "publish" button -- I'm a blue woman living in a red state with a lot of red friends and a couple of red enemies.

But I have been inspired to re-charge this blog by two people/things:  1) my sweet friend, Margaret's, lovely blog (My Own Allegory).  It was just a few weeks ago that Clay asked if I'd ever read her blog, and I am ashamed to say that I hadn't.  It is sharp, introspective and passionate -- just what I want my blog to be.  I'm probably going to steal her "Weekly Ponder" idea for my blog, just to keep track of books and such on a more regular basis.

2) Women Writing for (a) Change.  I went on retreat last week.  I was so incredibly nervous, as I was stepping out of my comfort zone -- I knew no one else who was going.  What I soon discovered is that these 17 lovely, amazing women on the retreat with me are probably my tribe.  I think this retreat has changed my life.  (More on that to follow...) I have come home ready to right the world with my words.

Well, write, anyway.  Away we go.



Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Happy National Dog Day

Please don't take my picture.

Please don't take my picture.

I asked you not to take my picture.    


Monday, August 17, 2015

Olive's Doll -- My First Waldorf

I've been thinking about and studying up on Waldorf dolls for a few years now.  I've made a lot of dolls in the past, from corn husk dolls and knitted dolls to rag dolls and dolls made from felted sweaters.  But a Waldorf doll is special, yet open to lots of creative interpretations.

Waldorf dolls are a part of the Waldorf School tradition, founded on the philosophies of Rudolph Steiner in Germany in 1919.  Steiner believed in practical and creative education, based on play and imagination -- my kind of school -- and opened his first school at the Waldorf-Astoria Cigarette Company in Stuttgart for the children of the factory employees.  Waldorf-style schools still thrive around the world, and many charter schools in the US follow the Waldorf paradigm.

The basic idea of Waldorf dolls is that they are to be played with.  A lot.  They are traditionally cloth dolls, made with stockinette fabric stuffed with wool roving.  The faces are sculpted with heavy thread, then covered with a jersey-type knit fabric.  Facial features are either embroidered or painted on, then hair is stitched on.  If you google "Waldorf dolls", you will get thousands of photos of unique dolls, some with perfect hair and features, some more free-form.  Dolls are sold on Etsy and other sites for hundreds of dollars.  Speaking of Etsy, I purchased a kit from Reggie's Dolls for my first attempt.  I received all the traditional supplies I needed -- stockinette, knit, roving, heavy thread, ball-point needle for my machine, and a cute little crayon for her cheeks.  Plus, Reggie was so helpful with my questions, guiding me in the right direction.  I relied on the internet for the body pattern, but think I could probably sketch out my own for next time, or for bigger or smaller dolls.  There are no hard and fast rules -- the goal is to make a doll that will be loved and played with.

So, here she is.  I think I'll call her Red until Olive gives her another name:

Of course, I planned to take a lot of pictures during the process, but once I got going (and other things, like a flooded basement interfered!) I just forgot.  But here are the body parts cut out of the jersey knit:

And some stitching on the arms.  One hint I read was to use a zigzag stitch, so I did.  Next time, I'll use only straight stitching -- I don't like how there are tiny gaps between the zigzags when the body is stuffed.  Not awful, but a little annoying.    

Stuffing the body with wool roving was perhaps the most enlightening thing about making the doll -- for years, I have used the polyester "fluff", but the roving feels better, doesn't squeak and keeps the shape of the limbs and body just like you want them.  Does that make sense?  Just know that is it far superior to squeaky fluff, and I'll be using it all the time now.

I re-did her head several times to get the facial expression I wanted -- I would like her to be a little "smilier" still, but I think she's pretty cute.  

For her hair, I crocheted a little cap, then stitched it to her head, then threaded hair into the cap.  I don't know if Olive's hair will be red like this (the little bit she has is currently strawberry blonde), but I just really liked this color and the texture of the yarn.

Her dress was from a pattern from Reggie, but I messed up the sleeves twice and decided to make it sleeveless.  I had this fabric in my workroom, and the rickrack is from a big box of vintage trims my pal, Richard, gave me after his mother passed away -- it makes me happy to be able to use her things.  I added two snaps on the back. I crocheted Red's shoes and beret, and knit her little sweater using a pattern from Bamboletta -- it's a little big.  I was knitting on the sweater in the evenings before the body was completed, so I didn't do much measuring.  Next time, I'll be more careful.  I also made her some little panties, because I think all dolls should have them, right?

Does this look weird?  

Here she is, in all her finery.  She likes to hang out in the camper.

 I also added a little label on her back:

And I took Red to the fair, where she won a blue ribbon.  OK, so she was the only doll in her category, but Clay says she would have won the blue anyway.  He is nice.  

(See how her little beret looks like an olive?  Tee-hee.  I bought this great olive green yarn at Shabby Sheep and Ewe in Columbus, a sweet little shop -- it's a sport weight held with a mohair-like yarn to get the fuzzy look.  I wish I could tell you the brands, but I misplaced the ball bands.)

So, Red will be Olive's birthday present, and now it is time to start thinking about Abby's.  Chestnut brown hair, coral dress?  Gold sweater and hat?  I think, if I didn't have any other things to do, I could sit and make dolls all the time.  Maybe someday I will do just that.


P.S.  Here are some other sources for dolls or supplies:  BambolettaNova Natural Toys and CraftsMagic Cabin,  Bella Luna ToysPaluma Inspired LivingWeir Crafts This Child of Mine, and  A Child's Dream.

Sunday, July 5, 2015

A Little Baking for the 4th. And 1st.

A newer tradition in our family is to have 4th of July breakfast at the Eggers'.  Dave made eggs, bacon and biscuits and gravy -- what more could you ask for?  Bloody Marys?  Mimosas?  Baked treats, you ask?  OK!
Jenny gave me some fresh raspberries from her mom's patch on Thursday, so I made scones.  The great recipe is here from Creme de la Crumb.  They were very good.    

I also made Clay's favorite, Blueberry Buckle.  The recipe is from our good friend, Joan, via her mom, Norrene.  Like Florence's Peach Cobbler, it's a great one preserved in the 1991 St. Ambrose PTO cookbook.  (You know -- before Pinterest.)  We made two cakes -- one for the morning, and one for Maggie's last evening, and I got several requests for the recipe, so here it is!

Blueberry Buckle

3/2 c. sugar                                              1/4 cup soft butter
1 egg                                                         1/2 c. milk
2 cups flour                                               2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt                                               2 cups well-drained blueberries

Cream first 3 ingredients; stir in milk.  (I use a hand mixer.)  Sift together flour, baking powder and salt; stir into butter mixture.  Carefully blend in blueberries;  spread batter in greased and floured 9" square pan.  Mix ingredients for crumb mixture:

1/2 cup sugar                                             1/3 c. flour
1/2 tsp. cinnamon                                      1/4 cup soft butter

Sprinkle on top of batter.  Bake 45-50 minutes at 375 until toothpick stuck into center comes out clean.  Serve warm, fresh from the oven.

Just one more.  Since the 1st was Canada Day, and since Grandma Olive was from Canada, and since we were having a family supper, I made this:

It's just angel food cake, torn up in the bottom of a 9x13.  Then, I chopped up some strawberries, mixed them with a little sugar and spooned them over.  Cool Whip on top (yes, I do prefer whipped cream, but there are some Cool Whip lovers in this family, and it's really just easier, isn't it?).  More crushed berries on the sides and a raspberry maple leaf (can you tell that's what that is?) in the center.  O, Canada!


Wednesday, July 1, 2015

David and Goliath Go to the Dominican

My friend, Linda, is going on a mission trip with her church to the Dominican Republic, where they will be teaching Bible School for lots of kids.  It sounds like great fun, and I know it will be a rewarding experience for her.

(I have the happiest memories of Bible School at Bethany Baptist Church in Crothersville.  I would get to spend the whole week at my grandma's, and every morning she would hold my hand as we walked into the sanctuary, where we'd say the pledges to the American and Christian flags and sing "Onward Christian Soldiers" and "The B-I-B-L-E".  Grandma would go down to the basement to make the grape Koolaid and set two cookies on a napkin for each kid to enjoy after our lesson, games and crafts.  CRAFTS!  It was the greatest.)

Anyway, Linda asked me if I knew of anyone who made puppets -- the mission team wanted David and Goliath puppets.  I didn't, but thought I could probably figure out how to make them for her.  My one big puppet-making adventure was many years ago, when I worked on the Bookmobile and made a Thanksgiving-dinner-swallowing puppet to go along with the book I Know An Old Lady Who Swallowed a Pie.  She was pretty adorable, and the kids loved stuffing the felt turkey, potatoes and pie into her big old mouth -- I wonder if they still use that little old lady?  

Anyway, I started at Pinterest, and found this blog that had great directions for puppets.  I also googled some images of David and Goliath, and ended up with these:  

David was made exactly from the pattern on the blog.  For Goliath, I used a compass and increased the head and body pattern by about an inch all around.  I just fooled around with his arms and legs until they looked big and fierce enough!  

The only purchases for this project were 3 beigey-tanny t-shirts from the Goodwill.  Everything else I had in my workroom.  David's tunic and sandals are felt; Goliath's tunic is old sweaters -- the skirt of his tunic is scraps from a Gap sweater I've already made into a purse.  His sword, shield and breastplate are cut from an old Cricut mat and covered with silver vinyl.  Their hair is yarn and David's slingshot and G's sandals are leather lacing (Yes, I do have a lot of crap in my workroom.)

Wine bottle make excellent puppet stands.  But maybe not at Bible School ....

G's feet.  I thought they were cute.
 David could easily be transformed into any number of Biblical people -- a young Jesus, Zacchaeus, Isaac.  Goliath?  Well, he looks a lot like that caveman on the insurance commercials ....