Friday, December 7, 2012

THE Rule

I have created a rule.  Not just any rule, but THE Rule.  Capitals are required.  

Whenever either of us leaves or returns from anywhere, no matter how far or how long we were gone, hugs must happen.  Must.  No getting out of it unless the other person is sleeping.  If they're sleeping, it's acceptable to skip THE Rule, but that's the only exception.  Even the cats are subject to THE Rule when it's me coming and going.  

I've decided that this just makes me happier.  I'm generally pretty happy anyway, but hugs make everything better.  It's hard to stay grumpy when you're wrapped up in a big bear hug with your favorite person in the whole world.  I think it helps B be less grumpy, too.  Just to find out if anyone had actually studied this (which I was pretty sure someone had), I trolled the internet for articles.  It turns out that some family psychologists have decided that we need "4 hugs a day for survival, 8 for maintenance, and 12 for growth."  This is backed up by research that has shown hugs stimulate the area of the brain where positive emotions and trust are generated.  They've also been proven to lower levels of cortisol (the stress hormone) in the blood after hugging.  This was determined with blood tests, so it's actually really real.  Hugging has also been shown to decrease risk of heart disease.  

Hugs lower blood pressure.  When babies are hugged during blood tests and immunizations, their heartbeats stay more regular and they cry less.  Hugs stimulate nerve activity, too.  I wonder if that could hypothetically increase brain function?  They say the increased nerve function improves circulation throughout the entire body.  Pretty cool, huh?

Hugs even trigger small dopamine releases.  So hug someone and get a little high on happy :-D  

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

SitRep and Thanksgiving

So I am about thoroughly over this whole pregnancy gig.  I never was really too stoked on the idea to begin with.  I mean, what happened to that damned stork that's supposed to airmail these suckers, huh?  No muss, no fuss, just a knock on the door, and ta-da!  But in all honesty, it's not been as bad as I anticipated. A friend asked me a couple months ago how it was going, and I was honestly able to reply "piece of cake."  I can't really say that now.  I'm starting to have aches and pains that I haven't had before.  Simple stuff is getting more difficult.  I lost the ability to touch my toes, and sometimes just getting in and out of bed is something of a chore that would be made much easier with an engine hoist installed in the bedroom.  I think I am finally over the awesomeness of my huge bed that requires a step-stool to get into when I'm not bigger around than I am tall.  As a matter of fact, I pulled something getting into bed last night, and today I'm really kind of pathetic:  hobbling around like an ungainly weeble trying really hard not to do anything to stress the spot further.  I'm down to the final 4... that's all the weeks I have left.  It's kind of intimidating.  I'm getting performance anxiety.  I'm kind of excited, but mostly nervous.  I think it's pretty safe to say, though, that the actual pregnancy part hasn't been too bad.  It's been quite tolerable, actually, and nothing like the horror stories people have fed me over the years.  So in brief, the sitrep is I'm pretty ok.  Which brings me to the Thanksgiving bit.  I have a lot to be thankful for, but one person just so outshines everything else this year.

I believe there is only one reason why this pregnancy really hasn't been as difficult as it could have been:  My B.
He is awesome.
He is patient.
He is loving.
He is kind.
He takes care of me.
Boy does he ever put up with me.
He takes the time to push the swelling out of my feet and ankles for me.
He puts me on orders to take a day to chill and damn the housework that gets neglected.
He helps me with the housework.
He sometimes just randomly does the dishes.
He carries baskets of laundry up and down the stairs for me.
He asks me how he can make it better.
He brings me chocolate.
He holds my hand.
He sleeps on a pallet next to the couch when I can't manage to get comfortable in the bed.
He puts up with my elaborately piled pillows that have taken over our queen size bed.
He helps me get *into* that ridiculously high bed that I was so tickled with and specifically requested when my step-mom built it.
He gives me a hard time when he knows I'm feeling playful enough to accept it gracefully.
He doesn't when he knows I'm moody, hurting, or just not feeling good.
He appreciates me.
He gets up at Oh-my-gods-it's-early to go to work every day, and he doesn't complain about it.
He turns his paycheck over to bills and household necessities, and never seems to begrudge the fact that I don't contribute much financially.
He makes me laugh.
He encourages me.
He does his very best to balance me.  When I get worked up or stressed out, he's calm, patient, and reminds me that there's no need.
He doesn't yell or get ugly when I'm moody, bitchy, and catty.
He hugs me when I'm moody, bitchy, and catty.
He ties my shoes for me.
He seems to think I'm doing a fine job, even when I feel like I'm being a slacker or a sissy.

He makes me feel confident.
He gives me strength.

He has been so wonderful throughout all the physical and emotional ups and downs all this year.  I can't even begin to list every single thing he has done to help me, encourage me, cheer me up, keep me grounded, make me happy, and comfort me.  I just wish there was a way I could show him how much it's meant, how much he's helped, and how much I appreciate everything he does all the time, every day.

Homemade Creamer and other Completed Craftiness

Where've I been?  Honestly... I'm cheating on my blog.  Pinterest has become something almost consuming it it's hold over me.  I pin all the time.  I pin the bath, I pin when I'm cooking, I pin when I'm cleaning, I pin while watching TV or movies, and I even manage to pin while having conversations with my husband.  I think I have a problem.

Pinterest is so much less work than a blog, you see.  You just make boards and stuff things there in categories that may only make sense to you.  I've started so many recipe boards and money saving type boards (like DIYs for cleaning supplies, furniture, sewing, and hygiene).  If I try something and like it, I move it to a different board, so it's easy for me to find again.  If I don't like it, I move it to yet another board, so I know not to use it anymore.  It's pure awesome.  A few of my pinned projects have made it over here, but I think I've been extraordinarily neglectful of my blog over the past several months.

While not a pinterest project, I have added a few more diaper covers to my stash while I was away.  My husband is so tickled with these things.  He brings me chocolate every time I finish one... I am not sure if that is incentive to make more, or if I should stop before I gain even more weight with this pregnancy escapade than I already have.

This has also been completed while I was away.  The sideboard is made of scavenged pallets.  I love it all unfinished and rough around the edges, especially with my cast iron hanging above from a likewise rough shelf/pot rack.  B made them both, and he seems to think it's a bit odd that I just love that they're not quite true, that there are knot holes in them, and that there aren't two boards of the same color among them.  It makes me happy.  He wants things to look nice when he makes them, and even though the materials are really primarily responsible for the finished look, he gets frustrated when he can't make crooked boards make straight lines.  He gets over it because I just love it!

These are my answer to canisters.  I spent $24 total on a case each of half gallon and quart jars.  I'd love to have some gallon jars for flour and sugar, but the half gallon ones work out fine.  Wide mouth jars have a big enough mouth to easily get a 1/4 c measuring cup in there, and I am pretty sure a 1/3 c measuring cup would make it, too.  I can scoop out what I need without having to lug out the big buckets underneath where I store the bulk of my bulk dry goods.  The shipping tags were only $3.99 for a package of 100 from Office Depot, and the jars came from Ace Hardware's website, since it seems to be impossible to find half gallon jars in stores when it's not canning season.  I think they're super cute, and they fit right in with my primitive/rustic storage.  I also love the fact that they're not $20 each like the glass canisters at the store.  The lids and rings won't last forever, but those will be cheap and easy to replace when the time comes.  I'm happy with them.

These were a pinterest project.  Dollar Tree baskets ($1 each), and cotton print fabric on sale 30% off at Hobby Lobby.  I spent about $12 on the whole project (not counting the glue sticks, since I already had those), and ended up with 4 fabric covered bins for the price of one (or two if you're lucky) from Wal-Mart. I hot glued some cute little painted wood cut outs onto the sides.  There's a motorcycle, a tiger, and a guitar. Somehow when I was in Hobby Lobby, I forgot I had 4 baskets and only got 3 embellishments, but it works out since one of the baskets really isn't very visible in it's place on the bottom shelf of the changing table.

This actually might deserve an entry to itself.  It is another pinterest project that I have altered and tweaked over the past few weeks until I have almost exactly what I want.  It's liquid French Vanilla coffee creamer, and it's way cheaper than $4 per bottle.  The original recipe I found on pinterest called for a can of sweetened condensed milk, milk, and real vanilla.  Yes, it honestly did taste better than mine.  Mine, however, can be made for even cheaper, and all the ingredients can be bought in bulk and used for plenty of other stuff (like cream of anything soup mix, homemade bisquick, and homemade instant oatmeal packets, for a few).
I use:
1.5 c powdered milk,
1 c sugar
2.5 c hot water
5 T imitation vanilla flavoring.

Truth be told, real vanilla would make a big difference in flavor.  It's more intense and really shows off with the coffee, but it's also a LOT more expensive.  That big bottle of imitation vanilla was just a few dollars at Sam's.  Real vanilla is several dollars for a tiny little bottle that you'd use up in a single batch and dramatically increase the cost of making this, thereby defeating the purpose.  Put it all together, stir it up good, and put it in a container of some sort.  I reused a liquid creamer container I'd saved.  It only take a few minutes to mix up, and the dry ingredients have a really long shelf life.  I have no idea how long it keeps once mixed.  Ours never lasts more than a week with both of us having a couple cups of coffee each morning.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Red Beans & Rice

My cousin recently told me that she'd never had red beans and rice.  For shame! My sister-in-law got this recipe from the back of a mystery novel set in New Orleans.  I've altered it a bit to give it some more flavor.  It says it serves six, but I'd say it would easily serve more than that, unless you skip the rice and just eat the red beans and sausage like a gumbo, then it might only serve six.  It's very filling, and it freezes really well.  To thaw it back out, just put the frozen block in a pot and put it over a very low heat shifting regularly until you have enough liquid in the bottom to keep the beans from burning.  Then  turn the heat up to medium-ish and stir it every so often, again to make sure the beans don't burn.

Here's the original recipe with my alterations and additions in ( ) :

This recipe takes approximately 5 hours, so start it early.  I started mine around 1 and we were eating around 6:30 or so.  I am sure this could be accomplished in a crock pot overnight, or all day, and taste just as good, but I've never tried it.  I don't think my crock pot is big enough, truthfully.  

Red Beans and Rice

*1 lb Dried Kidney Beans

*2 qt Cold Water
*1 meaty ham bone or a thick slice of raw ham cut into cubes
(Instead of ham, I used smoked pork neck bones.  They're about $1 lb and I had several bones leftover for soup beans or stock later.  You could also use smoked turkey wings for good flavor if you're not into pork)
*1/2 lb hot sausage sliced thick (I used andoullie, but I imagine you could use ground sausage, too.  It does need to be REALLY flavorful, because it's going to lose a lot of flavor to the beans and water.)
*1 bunch scallions, including green tops
*1 bell pepper
*2 stalks celery
*3 medium onions
*pinch of thyme (more like 2 or 3 good big pinches)
*4 bay leaves
*Cayenne Pepper or Tobasco Sauce (I used both... )
*Salt (liberally)
*White Rice - not instant
(Tony Chachere's Creole Seasoning)
(Cavender's Greek Seasoning)
(Beef Boullion - 2 regular cubes)
(1 chile pepper)

I have doubled the recipe and thrown in 1 lb of black beans instead of a second lb of kidney beans, so it was a red & black beans and rice.  Still fabulous.  I don't like celery, but all the vegetables cook down into a flavorful mush if simmered long enough, so you can sneak all kinds of stuff to picky eaters in this dish.  Even if it's still recognizable, it doesn't taste like itself anymore.  

NOTE:  If you are one of those people who pre-preps their veggies etc. before they cook, add an additional half hour to the cook time before smashing the beans.

If you prefer instant rice, add an additional half hour to cook time after smashing the beans.

Rinse the kidney beans twice, toss any that don't look good (discolored), and get rid of any foreign debris that might've snuck into the bag.  Put beans and 2 qts of water in a big heavy pot.  You need at least a gallon stock pot for this.  It seems superfluous for 2 qts of water and some beans, but all your veggies are going to disintegrate into more broth, so you need the space.

Add the ham (boiling meat of choice), sausage, salt, and pepper.  Put on medium heat.

While your beans are heating and soaking - chop your veggies and toss them in as you go.  Add your seasonings (the original recipe calls for very little seasoning.  I liberally dosed mine with some additions, and it was not overly spicy)

When the mixture boils (I had to turn mine up to a med-high heat to obtain a boil) reduce heat to a simmer, and allow to cook for 3 hours, stirring every 30 minutes (or basically when you think about it, but don't wait too long.)

Using a spoon, squash about 1/4 of the beans against the side of the pot.  If they don't mash easily, try again in 30 minutes. 

40 minutes after you've mashed your beans, taste and tweak the seasonings.  Allow to cook for another 30 minutes while you prepare the white rice.  

Ladle beans over rice and serve.

All the veggies will practically disappear, and mashing the beans thickens the broth into something like a gravy.  I didn't squash enough beans, so mine was thinner than expected, but still really tasty. 

If you don't add anything else to the original recipe, I definitely recommend some cajun-ish spices, and don't be afraid of salt.  The beans and rice both really dull down any spices you add, so the broth has to be flavorful enough to make up for it. 

Friday, August 24, 2012

Recipe Holder - pinterest inspired

Please ignore the clutter in the background.  I'm getting ready to make dishwashing detergent, and got side-tracked.  My brain is so completely squirrelly lately that I am amazed I ever finish anything I start.

Have any of you seen this pin?

A friend of mine pinned it, and I repinned it thinking it a fabulous idea, if fabulously tacky.  It's been floating around in the back of my head for at least a few days.  I was trying to think of ways to make the hanger not look like a hanger.  I know, it's perfectly functional, but... I don't like it.  I also don't like my recipes getting icky.

I used to keep my recipes in one of those static page photo albums.  The clear laminate protects the recipe from kitchen effluvium, and they're easy to rearrange.  The only aggravation I have with those is you can't easily flip the recipe over.  I like to jot notes about alterations, substitutions, additions, and their results on the back of a recipe.  Sometimes the recipe is just too long to fit on the front of a card.  Sometimes I have two related recipes on one card (i.e. I have a recipe for two cupcakes, and on the back of the card I've got recipes for two servings of icing).  So, the static pages are a mixed blessing.  Something else I tried was just a binder with clear page protectors in it.  But that doesn't let me put more than one recipe in a pocket, unless there's nothing written on the back of either one.  Same problem.  So I like the concept of the hanger... just not the execution.

B likes to make things with wood.  He usually has scraps leftover.  I am a pack rat, and he's not always great about picking up his leftovers, so we have quite a lot of odd scraps of wood floating around in the storage room.  They also lay in the yard for a while before my inner pack rat wins out over my desire for him to clean up his own messes, so some of the bits of wood are pretty weathered.  I like weathered!

One of the scraps was only about 1 x 1.5 x 8 inches.  It seemed perfect.  A bit of twine, a sharpie, some picture hanging do-dads, and a couple clothes pins looked about like all I would need.  It turned out I used a stapler, too.  I wish my handwriting was neater.

 The picture do-dads went in the top, and I tied a couple nooses through them to string the twine.  B had a great idea to keep the recipe from flopping - attach the clothes pins to the back of the board somehow.  Well, I wanted them to be mobile, because not all my recipes are the same size/width, so we stapled the twine to the sides to create a tight line across the center back.

 Bird "helped" me tie the nooses for the string I intended to hang it by.  There's enough slack were I can easily flip the board over to read the back of the card as well.

So far it seems the best place to hang it is from the little cabinets above the stove hood.  With the cabinet door open, it hangs at eye level, and doesn't interfere with me getting stuff out for cooking, because the only things in that particular cabinet are the mosterously large insulated drink jugs B and the Pup got from 7-11 last year.

I thought about painting it, or using stencils to make the writing a bit neater.  But I decided that i would probably forget about it out drying and never finish it.  Really, my brain is that bad these days!  Besides, it fits right in with my bag drying line and my laundry sign, which are neither one very frilly, just twine, boards, and in the case of the laundry sign, a bit of paint.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Stone Fruit Blues and The BEST Cobbler Recipe EVAR

I had the misfortune lately to buy some of the ickiest plums ever.  This followed on the heels of buying some of the ickiest cherries ever.  They are both bland and rather sad tasting, and neither B nor I have any intention of eating them fresh.

Rewind a bit.  Last summer my neighbor Fin gave me a recipe for fruit cobbler that is, in my opinion at least (and everyone who I've fed it to), the absolute best cobbler recipe ever in all of the history of ever.  I've tried so many different cobbler recipes.  They *all* call for some type of canned something in some degree of syrup.  I dislike this for a variety of reasons, but mostly because it doesn't leave me any wiggle room and disallows me the ability to rummage through my fridge to see what might need to get used up.  Also, a lot of those recipes call for the batter to be put on bottom, and as it cooks it's supposed to float to the top through the fruit stuff.  Maybe I am just a baking idiot (which I don't believe), but I've always had problems with the batter not rising through the fruit.  I wind up with a burned mess on the bottom with a layer of raw dough adhered to it, and a mess of gooey canned fruit on top.

This recipe calls for ...  *drumroll*... fruit!!  Ha! Imagine that, if you can.  You cut up the fruit you're using, sprinkle it with sugar and allow it to create its own syrup, then season it (if you like) with whatever you like.  It's fantabulous!  CULINARY FREEDOM FROM CANNED GOODS!!! *looks around sheepishly, gets off the chair, and puts away the wrapping paper tube "sword"*

For the fruit:

3 c of fruit chopped/peeled/pitted/whatever as needed, sugared
1 T corn starch
1/2 c water
1T butter
1 T lemon juice
1/4 c brown sugar - give or take as needed, or use white sugar... or both!  Brown sugar is a bit less sweet and adds richness to the over-all flavor.
Spices and other goodies - allspice, ginger, nutmeg, cinnamon, vanilla, chopped nuts, raisins, dried cranberries, whatever floats your boat - or none at all if that makes you happy.
Amounts of sugar and spices vary based on the fruit and how much help it needs.  This is where being the cook has benefits:  you get to lick the spoon ;-)

Mix the corn starch, water, brown sugar, fruit, and spices in a pot and cook until it starts to thicken.  Depending on how juicy the fruit is, sometimes I will cook the fruit a little bit to draw some more liquid out before I mix in the corn starch.
Add the butter and lemon juice.  I usually skip the lemon juice.  I haven't discovered any real benefit to using it, other than it can help prevent some fruits from changing colors.

Pour it in an 8x8 pan, or a round cake pan.
This is a mix of plums and bing cherries that were a bit past their prime and an apple to make up the difference.

For the dough:
1/2 c sugar
1/2 t salt
1/4 c soft butter
1 c all purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 c milk
* I also throw in a tsp of vanilla, because I like it, and it turns the crust a pretty color.

Mix all of this together until it's smooth.  It will be VERY thick.
Pour over fruit.  I think my friend used the term "pour" loosely.  I end up dropping it with a small spoon to get it to spread evenly.  This is the one aspect of the recipe I find a bit aggravating, but it's totally worth it.  If anyone has a suggestion to make it easier to spread this super crazy thick batter around, I'd love to hear it!

Bake at 350 for 30-40 minutes, until golden and done.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Washer/Dryer safe changing mat/organizer - Pinterest Inspired

I pin.  Ok, not just pin, Pin... as in Pinterest.  I am not a pinaholic, yet, but it is a fabulous place to share ideas.  A lot of those ideas never manifest into anything concrete.  I know a few people who actually use what they find on there, but most people just seem to use it as a place to save pictures of things they might like, maybe, one day... if they ever get away from their laptops/computers/cell phones.

I actually use mine occasionally.  

For instance, I found this changing mat that folds up into a clutch.  I thought it was a really good idea, but as I started reading it, I liked her pattern less and less.  Elastic, batting, vinyl. bias tape, buttons...  I mean, I know how to use/apply those things, but boy they're tedious!  And vinyl can't go in the dryer.  I line dried my laundry all last summer, and intend to resume the practice next summer.  I'm being a slacker this year, because frankly toting hampers of wet laundry up a flight of stairs and hanging it out/taking it in in 110 degree weather just sounds really off-putting this summer, especially since going up and down the stairs has become more and more interesting as my balance has changed.  And yes, I realize that the vinyl is supposed to preclude washing much since you can wipe it off, but what about the fabric of the pockets?  It is entirely possible it'll get messy in ways that will spread.  Vinyl would not only keep it out of the dryer, but it could trap moisture and lead to mildew and mold down in there.  

I know, I'm probably reading way too much into this, but these were my thought processes as I'm reading the pattern.  I also really didn't want to fool with bias tape.  Honestly, I think that was my biggest motivation. And it's small!  What kid doesn't squirm?  If I wanted a small changing pad, I'd use the one that came with the diaper bag.  No offense meant to the wonderful people who gave me the diaper bag, and the little changing pad will be fine for those early days when he's small and can't get far.  But later when he starts squirming, and trying to roll over?  I know that it's good for kids to come in contact with a variety of germs so they can build up a strong immune system, but I don't fancy my midget wallowing around in the potential icky of someone else's child's poo and pee (thinking of public changing stations here).  So I think I'd like a bit more coverage, thanks.  

Another factor that came into play was the fact that I'd made some crib bumpers (yes, I know they're not recommended, don't start) that were of a really fun fabric for visual stimulation.  They were also light weight enough to be breathed through.  Unfortunately the lightness made them unable to stay put.  They drooped and sagged in the middle when I put them in the crib, so I decided to find another use for them, rather than just toss them in the trash.  

The pad ended up being about 20 in wide by about 24 inches long (give or take).  There are two layers of fleece inside for padding.  I sewed the two short bumpers together long ways with an overcast stitch so it would lay flat with no lumpy seam in the middle.  The pockets are about 1/3 the length of the pad.  

It easily holds a few diapers + inserts in one pocket, and the other pocket has room for wipes, a diaper cover, a full size container of powder, and a tube of butt cream.

 It folds up neatly, ties with a couple of ribbons, and fits in the smallest of the two diaper bags that came with my set.
Here it is in the bigger diaper bag along with a fleecy blanket, a receiving blanket, and a full change of clothes (underneath the rest).  

It'll completely eliminate the game of dig for the diapers.  Everyone's played that game where you end up dumping the entire contents of the diaper bag out just to find the tube of cream at the very, very bottom, or the wipes weren't even in there, but had somehow made it to a side pocket.  The outer fabric is duck cloth, which does give some water resistance, though not entirely water proof.  All its bits are machine washer and dryer safe, except maybe the ribbon, but they come right out of the loops they're tied through.  

B thinks it's pretty nifty, and I think that it saved me from wasting a couple yards of rather expensive fabric.  Now to figure out what to do with the pieces I cut for the long bumpers.  I'm thinking a few diaper covers, since I still haven't made any larger sized ones.  

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Rude Emissions - Diapers and Covers maybe?

And again, it's been forever since I last blogged.  I really don't know where the time goes!

I've been busy while I've been gone, though maybe not busy enough to justify such a long absence.  
But what have I been doing?  Making baby stuff, naturally.  

These curtains were an entire day project.  Unfortunately, the fabric wasn't 60 in like I thought it was, so to make it wide enough I had to sew two widths together for each panel.  Originally, the idea was to have double layers, with the green on the outside to reflect some of the light/heat, and the black on the inside as an additional layer of light blocking for nap time.  But, that didn't quite work out, so I made checkerboard curtains instead, backed with white denim that I had leftover from a project for B that never quite got finished.  I really should finish that, since he asked for it over a year ago... I honestly have forgotten how much the fabric cost, but I do know it didn't come out to as much as buying black out curtains.  They aren't quite heavy enough to block out all light, but the green only lets through a kind of limey glow when the sun is shining directly through them.  :-)  B made the curtain rod for me. 

These are the flat folds and soaker pads I mentioned in my last post. But they wouldn't do me a lot of good without covers.  So... 

Obviously these are not going to be all the covers I'm going to make.  These are just the ones I have finished as of right now.  I priced them, and they sell for at least $5-6 a piece for just a single layer of PUL (polyurethane laminate) with maybe some contrast color piping or something.  I think mine are way cooler.  I paid about $20 for the two yards of PUL, and so far I've not even used half of it.  The ACU digital was one of B's old uniform blouses.  The patches were more expensive than I would've liked, but B loves them and I admit they're damn cute.  Once the patches are factored in, each one cost a bit more to make than it would've to buy.  But they're definitely more awesome than the store bought ones, so I call it square.  Not all of them are going to have patches, so I'll still come out ahead.  

B wants me to start selling the diaper covers on Etsy or somewhere.  Nearly everywhere you look, all you can find are these annoyingly cutesy diaper covers with little baby patterns and pastel colors.  Some have bold primary colors, but they're still not remotely cool.  B thinks that people would buy them because they're not cutesy.  My only concern is the cost of the patches.  Unless I can find somewhere to buy cool patches in bulk for a discounted rate, they make the idea cost prohibitive.  A $2 charge for a patch is acceptable, but if you buy them singly, and have to pay an additional $3 for shipping, you're up to $5 just for the patch, not to mention notions, thread, PUL and cover fabric.  I don't know that people would be willing to pay $10-20 for just a cover when they can get an all-in-one diaper for that price.  

Oh, and I figured if I'm going to be sewing rude patches on baby butts, I might as well come up with a name for the shop that reflects that - hence Rude Emissions.  ;-)  I figured I could also sell receiving blankets, burp cloths, bibs, and other easy projects, just done in non-traditional prints and colors.  Bows and baby dinosaurs are ok, but I prefer something a little more fun.  I can't be the only one!

What do you folks think?  

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Flat folds and Pockets and Turkey Legs

I got a box of goodies from a friend yesterday.  In it were a few different styles of all in one cloth diapers, inserts, two sizes of wet bags (one for the diaper bag and one to hang on the door), and the weirdest thing I never would've thought of that makes fabulous sense!  It's a sprayer attachment for the toilet.  It's like a hand-held bidet, but another marketed use for it is to spray out dirty cloth diapers into the toilet so you can just flush it instead of rising it down the sink or tub.  What an idea??  

Today, since we got our last refund from the electric folks (we're going into a trial billing phase while they re-evaluate usage, which means no extra checks... boo, BUT!  It also means no bills, so I can keep the house as cool as I want it this summer at least), I went to Hobby Lobby and Wal-mart in hopes of scoring some fabric to attempt my own diaper covers at the very least.  I'd like to line them, and have a few all-in-ones, too, especially since my friend was nice enough to send me the three different ones she uses as visual aids for assembling them.  

I've also been looking at flat folds, because they are supposed to be much easier to get clean, more versatile in sizing, and in purpose of application.  A flat fold is just a square of fabric between 24 and 27 inches that's folded creatively to make a diaper. has pictures and instructions of how to do the origami fold

There are others, but they tend to get more complicated from there.  I could do either one of these two in my sleep, which is a high probability, unless I find a good deal on PUL somewhere.  I was going to get some at Hobby Lobby today, but for the price, even with a 40% off coupon, I wanted to at least be able to get colors I like.  B had the cute idea of making black ones and embroidering Jolly Rogers on them.  I can't put a Jolly Roger on pastel green or baby blue.  It's just... well, it's just not right.  That'd be damn near sacrilegious.  It's $10 a yard at, which is so far the only place I've found black PUL.  If my measurements are right, I'd only need around 2.5 yards to make several covers, and if I wanted to line them, an equal amount of lining material, but the lining material won't be $10 a yard.  JoAnn's has an annual Black Friday sale of $1/yd flannel, which would be perfect, since flannel is snuggly soft and absorbent.  If I line them, I might as well get a bit more fabric and do an insert to make an all in one.  Then I'd have options:  it could be used as a cover for a flat fold, or with the flat fold and the insert for double absorbency, or with just the insert as an all in one.  

I did get 4 yards of 90" wide muslin material for $1.37/yd at Wal-mart today.  If I make the diapers 24" square that gives me 21 diapers for under $25.  I will probably still buy disposables for road trips, but a small pack of disposables here and there won't break the bank.  

Now, since most of this day was spent at an OB appointment and the store, I think I better get off my butt and get something constructive done... like figure out dinner.  I haven't forgotten about the turkey leg recipe, either!  

(Yes, actually I did... but I remembered!  That's the point.)

Basically, I used the same recipe as Pioneer Woman's Caveman Pops, but instead of using the spice blend she used, I used Tony Chachere's Creole Seasoning.  Also, she mentions that she pours her brine over ice, but says you can just cool it in the fridge.  Well, I chose to cool mine in the fridge, and it turned out WAY salty.  I mean WAY salty.  So, I think that when she poured hers over ice it diluted the brine to a degree that is not accounted for in her recipe.  I would either tone down the salt in the brine, or use a seasoning mix that has no additional salt in it (which Tony Chachere's does) to make it less salty.  One last note - her cooking times are short.  I have a regular gas oven, no convection or anything fancy.  I don't know if she has a convection oven or not, but her cooking time did not bring my turkey legs up to temperature or get them done all the way to the bone.  If you're like me and paranoid about the doneness of your poultry, I'd add another 15-20 minutes of cook time onto the second cooking phase at 300degrees, or maybe increase the temperature to 350.  

B loved them, but agreed they were on the salty side, so next time I try these, I'm going to have to take that into account.  But, a pack of three cost around $4, so for $8 I had enough turkey legs for three meals for the two of us.  I froze the other 4 for reheating later.  My December freezer is getting nicely stocked, so hopefully I won't have to cook much at all for the first few weeks after Little B gets here.  

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Home again, home again, jiggity jog

Nearly another month has passed.  I've been told that I am not nearly as much fun to blog-stalk these days as I used to be.  It seems like there's so much going on that I don't have time to blog as much lately.

Since I last checked in, my neighbor and I rescued a kitten.

This is Bird on the day she came home with me.  My friend called me about a kitten stuck in a barricade in the commissary parking lot, so of course I had to go see if I could help.  Now, guess who's peeping from behind my computer monitor thinking hard about attacking my moving fingers?


Bird.  The little heathen is so much fun.  I haven't had a kitten around in way too long, and this one is so full of personality and stinking CUTE that I can't help but laugh at her.  B says that she's been beneficial in helping keep my pregnancy induced insanity at a lower over-all level than he seems to think it would've been had I not wound up with a gray fluffy ball of adorable to keep me smiling.

What a life, huh?

Also, we went back for our anatomy and development ultrasound.

Apparently it "looks like a boy".  I sure hope "looks like" actually proves to be "boy", because my sister-in-law conspired with my step-mom to put together a baby-Q (southern adaptation of the baby shower that doesn't require stupid shower games and has no gender restrictions) the weekend we made the trek to go visit family. We made out like bandits, and B was hard pressed to figure out how to cram everything in our little car for the 1,000 mile trip back home.

Thanks to the same friend who instigated the rescuing of Bird, we already had a crib, rocker, ottoman, and changing table.  B's sister gave us some other major purchases that are only a few years old from when she had her last boy, including a walker, swing, and pack n play.  She also found some play mat thingies, a baby bath, a whole bunch of waterproof bedding thingies (I hesitate to call them mattress pads, because they'e not.  They're not fitted or, in most cases, the actual size of the mattress.  You just put them under the area where the baby sleeps to help protect the mattress.)

We came home with a TON of adorable clothes, too.  If the kid needs any clothes before he's 7-9 mos old, I'll be amazed.  I have one drawer full of nothing but NB size stuff, another drawer full of 3-6 mo, and another drawer full of 6-12 mo.  There was even a little pair of shoes with paw prints on the soles.  I did say I was hoping for a puppy....

We only just got back late last week, and we decided "vacation" was going to continue until B had to report back in on Monday morning.  Yesterday was spent running around doing necessary shopping.  I used up almost all of our perishables before we left, so we were in need of restocking.  Today has been spent attempting to coax some order out of the chaos my living room has become (that's naturally where everything got offloaded to when we emptied the car), doing laundry, cleaning up the kitchen after a weekend spent being a complete and utter slacker, and trying REALLY hard to not to curl up on the couch with the kitten and take a nap (read sleep all day).

I'm trying a new recipe for dinner tonight:  roasted turkey legs.  I've roasted and baked turkey legs before, but I've never bothered to brine them.  Today, I decided I would get started early enough where they could brine before I have to put them in the oven.  If it turns out tasty (and if I don't forget) I'll blog it later.

Speaking of forgetting, does this "baby brain" thing every let up?  I forget the proper names of things, forget what I walked into a room for, forget where the kitten is when shes Sitting In My LAP!  It's kind of scary.  There's also this thing of the swelling of the feet that's irritating the crap out of me, although at least I knew about that.  I didn't know that my ribs would start to feel like they're coming unhinged.  Every time I sneeze, have to climb up on anything that requires me to pull with my upper body, cough, or otherwise jostle my ribs around, they ache like I've bruised them.  Even laying on my side has become interesting, because after a while they start to feel like the pressure is causing them to pull loose and squish.  Ribs do not squish.  Otherwise, aside from still being moody (though hopefully not as moody as the first three months), I still have an amazing lack of discomfort or anything that I would translate into such and attribute solely to pregnancy.  My sciatica has been acting up a bit more often lately, but I had that before, so it's nothing new.  Ditto with the heart burn, so I'm not really feel terribly put out or put upon, yet.  I have to throw the "yet" in there, because I've been told it will get more intrusive and interesting with progression.  Yay...

I am still of the unshakable opinion (while I am in my right mind, when I'm moody I have a slightly less stellar opinion, though even when I'm moody I admit that he's wonderful) that I have the BESTEST husband EVAR, because he puts up with me really, really, really, REALLY well.  Even I don't like dealing with me some days, but he just rolls with it.  We have that same running argument that all couples have (at least I think they do?) where "I love you" is answered with "I love you more" and then countered with "nuh-uh, I love you more."  The argument was ongoing and eternally undecided until recently.  I have started conceding that yes, he must love me more, because there's no way in hell I'd put up with the moody, unstable behaviors that he has nearly as well as he has.  So I do believe that he must love me more, and a good thing, too.  He's also way more patient than I am, and a good deal more understanding.

I love him lotses.

Monday, June 11, 2012


This is what I've felt like lately.  (

Wow!  Where did the last month go?  I really think I slept through most of it.

What I've been up to:

We go July 3rd to for our anatomy ultrasound, and might be able to tell friends and family what it is by the time we head up to visit in July.  Maybe now that I'm starting to exit my zombification, I'll start to get some of that excitement.  It's got to kick in at some point, right?  I think mostly I'm still mildly freaked out by the overwhelming feeling of responsibility that's danging over my head on a fraying strand of spiderweb.

A friend gave me a glider and gliding ottoman.  I've been reupholstering it, and so far it looks good (I think). I still have to finish the arms before it's done, but I have to wait until I can afford some more poly-fil.
I also made a silly little decoration thing out of fun colors of tulle.

You can't see all the fun colors in there, unfortunately.  :-( 

I've also made some attempts at making clothes (thankfully no pictures have been taken).  I went through all my fabric and got rid of all the stuff I realistically knew I wouldn't ever use.  Bye-bye piles of old polyester scraps...  I kept some lightweight cotton feeling fabric, and made an attempt at a dress.  It's ok... a little tenty (ok, a lot tenty), and it doesn't fit right through the bust.  That last bit could be because the darn things keep growing like I'm 13 again.  It seemed to fit ok when I first made it.  It needs lining as well, but a slip would also serve.  I have some more cotton feeling fabric that I am going to attempt to make into some poet/peasant shirts.  I actually have patterns for the shirts.  The dress was a sort of wing-and-a-prayer project.  B says it looks fine, but I'd really rather have a second opinion.  He's been trying so hard to be nice lately that I fear honesty might be suffering for it LOL.  Little white lies about how I look, or the state of the house, not like he's telling fat whoppers.  I made a skirt of out two silk scarves.  It actually turned out about as intended.  I need to seam up the side a little farther or add a second button under the first, but otherwise it turned out ok.  It also needs either a slip or a lining because it's so sheer, but it's lightweight and comfortable.  I don't know if I would brave wearing it outside of the house or just around friends/family, but it serves for now.

I honestly can't afford to buy a maternity wardrobe, so I'm trying to find ways around it.  I've been using rubber bands as button extenders for my pants, but I don't know how long that's going to work out.  My butt seems to be pregnant as well as my thighs.  Ugh!  If either get any bigger I won't be able to fit in my pants and shorts at all to use the rubber band trick.

How I've been:

BITCHY!  Wow, B is a saint.  He really is.  I haven't treated him like much of one the past month or so, but he's rolled with it like a champ.  I get so irritated at the stupidest stuff, and won't realize how stupid I'm being till it's already over.  Then, I'll feel really guilty and want to cry.  I don't cry, so that's even more disturbing than the bitchiness.  Bitchy (in moderation) is normal, but then wanting to cry because I suddenly feel so horrible about being a bitch is not.  I think B is more disturbed when I get leaky around the eyes than he is when I'm abnormally grumpy.  Most of the time he just gives me a hug and says "let it go, babe.  It'll be ok." There have been a few days when I felt he deserved a medal, or a least a commendation of some sort.  He's only gotten grumpy back a couple of times, and then was immediately trying not to be grumpy.  My sister-in-law says that he must be being absolutely amazing, because most pregnant women can't stand their husbands and think they're complete assholes.  There have been times he's gotten on my nerves, but I can recognize (sometimes when it's happening, sometimes later) that I'm being irrational.  I try really hard not to be psychotic, and B tells me I'm doing a good job.  But he also told me once that his philosophy when dealing with his sister when she was pregnant was "If I can't say anything nice, lie."  So he might just be humoring me, but he says I'm not quite as crazy as most of the pregnant women he's dealt with in the past.  I know he tries really really hard to be sweet and considerate, and I appreciate it an awful lot.  Just putting up with me without getting visibly irritated, I think, is a Herculean feat in itself LOL.  He's truly being wonderful.  I try to make it a point to tell him that every day.

So unbelievably tired...  I'll get up, have my single cup of coffee for the day, attempt to start *something* constructive or productive, then wake up on the couch an hour later feeling even worse than when I first woke up.  I'll struggle to stay awake all day, then at night - doing the happy dance of joy all the way there - I crawl in my bed, snuggle up amongst the pillows... and be awake almost all night trotting to the damned bathroom.

Nothing tastes or smells like it ought to.  I'll make something for dinner that I normally would love (like asparagus, or broccoli, or cubed steak, even fried chicken), only to put the first bite in my mouth and go "I don't want it."  We've been eating more fast food and junk lately than I think I've eaten in my entire adult life.  I normally can't stomach junk and fast food for long, because it makes me sick with all the grease.   But here lately, tater tots, hamburgers, hot dogs (oh my gods how I love hot dogs lately!  I normally gag on the thought of them) have been all I've seemed to really enjoy.  I don't only eat that rubbish, but I've indulged more that I really ought to have.  And things smell weird.  For a while I could smell EVERYTHING.  Literally, everything.  After work, I'd have to talk to B from the bottom of the stairs while he changed upstairs, because that's as close as I could stand to get.  Now, though my nose is still more sensitive than normal, it just seems to be out of alignment a bit.  Things seem to smell strange.  I'm completely weird about meat in the fridge now.  It all smells weird to me, so I can't tell if it's ok to cook or eat.  I'm constantly getting B to come smell something and give his opinion.

Fortunately, I haven't had anything I would consider morning sickness, no extreme food aversions, or anything like that.  The closest I have come to that is being strongly offended by the smell of the Blue Bonnets in bloom.  There are fields of them along the state highways down here, and they normally smell wonderful.  Any floral smell made my stomach roll over for a while.  The neighbors have a rose bush by their front door, and I'd have to hold my breath on my way to and from our door.  That's passed, though.  Yay!

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Cutting the clutter.... one small step at a time.

In case you haven't noticed, I save stuff.  All kinds of stuff.  I have odd bits of string, folded up bits of brown paper, wrapping paper, gift bags, bits of ribbon, scraps of fabric, old clothes...

You get the idea.

I am *trying* to do better.  Especially now that space is at even more of a premium.  I'm going to be sharing my office with the nursery stuff, because honestly the other little "bedroom" is only about big enough for a crib.  It's very small, and even the little closet has a steeply angled floor that is essentially useless for storage.  That room has become B's dressing room/office/catch-all room.  I told him that was his area to do with what he wants.  The only time I go in there is to feed and water the cat and put away bits of his work clothes.  Since I'm knocked up, he gets to change the litter box (WOOT!).  Other than that, I promised I'd not go in there rooting, throwing stuff away, or straightening.  Things have changed a bit since I made that arrangement, though.  I may end up sharing the space with him as a combined office for the both of us, later.  Right now, I think it'll be alright to have my office and the nursery combined.

I've started in my "old lady" corner in the living room.  The rooms upstairs have been thoroughly gutted and thinned since I rearranged the entire upstairs at the end of March.  I've been opening up the boxes, bins, and tins that have my Gramma's and Great-Aunt's sewing notions, saved bits of string, ribbon, fabric, paper... you get the idea (this is a handed down behavior :-P).  I've been tossing stuff I don't recognize the purpose of, stuff that's obviously past its prime (elastic that won't stretch anymore or breaks when pulled), stuff that is only available in bits too small to realistically be used, odd saved things that will never find a purpose in my home (a truly fabulous antique singer sewing needle that was so retro-cool, but realistically I won't ever use it, along with a cigarette holder, a single plastic brass-colored knob...)  So far I've actually consolidated several small boxes and bins, thrown out a small trash can full of oddments that I can honestly say I'll never use, and found a good bit of actually useful stuff.  Like five yards of thin elastic "for use in light underwear and doll clothes" that apparently cost 15 cents when it was originally purchased, and still has all its elasticity!  Perfect for those all-in-one diapers I am planning to sew.  I also found a tracing wheel, shears sharpener, several measuring tools (a ruler and some tailor tapes), and a HUGE pile of needles, both hand and machine for every imaginable purpose, and some I have no clue what they are intended for.

All those polyester slacks scraps are now gone.  I made a couple of couch pillows, and pieced a top for a couch quilt (but I changed my mind on it.  It's really not very comfy to snuggle with crunchy polyester from the 70's), but the rest of it is now gone.  I can't imagine what else I might have made with it that I would actually have liked.  It's so scratchy, even though the colors and patterns are fabulously retro lol.

I've got a few boxes of books I have no idea what I really want to do with.  I don't want them, won't read them, but don't know anyone else who would either.  I tried to donate them to the thrift shop here on post.  I didn't even want to consign them, just get rid of them.  The thrift shop won't even take them!  So... sadly, they may end up in the trash, but I've got to get them out from under my feet.

Slowly but surely, I'm trying to pare down the things I save.  I'm trying to re-evaluate what "useful" actually means, and hopefully in the process will get my home a bit more organized and less crowded feeling.  If I can open up some more space, I can possibly move some of the office stuff out of the nursery and open up that room a bit more, too.

Wish me luck!

Thursday, May 3, 2012


Well, it's officially official and officially unavoidable.  Not that there was really any doubt anymore at this point, but somehow seeing that misshapen blob on the ultrasound screen made it more real.  And more terrifying.
 According to the ultrasound tech, I'm farther than originally estimated by my doctor.  I don't know exactly how much farther.  I assume they'll give me an updated due date when I go back to my regular person.  It still seems weird, because it still feels only semi-real.  I've had only some of the "typical" pregnancy symptoms.  It kind of seemed surreal to see visual proof.

Is there ever a time to lie to one's spouse?  I don't think so, but at the same time I felt awful guilty for telling the truth.  When we left the hospital, B asked me if I was excited and happy.  I told the truth.


I'm not.

Not At All.

I feel like a disposable extra from one of the Alien movies waiting to find out if a chestburster is going to erupt from their innards.

I'm scared, nervous, anxious, a whole slew of things that are decidedly not happy or excited.
I have nightmares almost every night.
I'm surrounded by people who, given the opportunity, squeal and coo and giggle and make all kinds of obscene feminine noises that make me feel even more alienated, alone, scared, and guilty.
I feel even more guilty for smiling at these completely incomprehensible antics.
I feel like I should be excited, but this is just too big to be excited about.  Exciting is a new puppy, or a road trip, or something fun, pleasant, and eagerly awaited.  This is unpleasant and set only to get even more intrusive and unpleasant.  The end of these upcoming gestational months will not mark an end to the upheaval, either, although it should mark the culmination of the physical pain and unpleasantness.

Nope... it only gets even more scary from there, because after that I'm supposed to be responsible for the entirety of the existence of some other human creature.  Puppies, kittens, squirrels, birds, possums, goats.... name it, and at some point I've probably taken extensive care of it, up to and including nursing young back to health who've lost their mother.  They're nothing like human young.  I've dealt with those, too, and quite frankly I don't know what to do with them.  They don't communicate like other baby animals.  It's like they're mentally deficient up until they get to the pointing and grunting stage, which is only marginally better.  If I'm as ignorant of my own child as I am of every other human baby I've ever been forced to tend to, the damned thing won't make it past a year.

I think it was my Gramma who once said that it would be more appropriate to mourn at a birth and rejoice at a funeral.  She said the baby is coming into a world of evil and heartache, while the corpse is going home. There's not much religious stuff that I subscribe to.  I am more of a heathen spiritualist and shun every Western organized religion.  I'm a little more open toward Eastern belief systems, simply because they're less concrete, more tolerant, and less judgmental.  But I'm getting off topic...  I believe that.  I believe that we should be happy when someone dies and sad when someone's born.  Look around you.  Maybe not in your home.  Your home might be a pleasant place full of love and joy.  Look at the world.  The wide world.  Do you like it?  Do you love it?  Does it have a funky beat you can dance to?  You might, but I don't.  It's big, ugly, and indifferent out there.  The 1950's, good neighbors, patriotism, and rolling steel are gone forever from almost everywhere except military housing.  (I have to add that caveat, because I have found good neighbors here, and what actually feels like a neighborhood rather than just a cluster of humans forced to inhabit the same space.)

Why am I not happy and excited?  I was scared and a little disappointed when I thought I was losing it, but now that it seems it's going to keep, I feel even more scared.  Add to that all the excitement that everyone else is displaying, and I feel like maybe there's something not right with me after all.

When I told B that I wasn't happy and excited, that I was still tending toward nervous and scared, he just hugged me.  I know it wasn't the answer he wanted, though.  I'm glad he's happy and excited.  It makes me less scared, and sometimes it's even a little contagious.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Update: I haven't fallen off the face of the earth.

I think the last time I posted anything, I was busy rearranging and cleaning the house while B was TDY.
The weekend after that post, I took the 10 hour drive to go down and visit him for a few days.  I have to admit that, while I don't like the area, Fort Bliss has some nicer amenities than Fort Hood.  Fort Hood has two commissaries, two PXs, and a two screen movie theater that's been closed for almost a year.  There is a Chili's,  a Pizza Hut, and a scattering of fast food joints (food court in the Exchanges, a Burger King, and a Blimpie.)

Fort Bliss has a selection of restaurants, including a couple of bars, a sushi place, hot wings joint, a HUGE food court in an actual mall, a theater with I think 10 screens, and other stuff that we never got around to looking at. It's not a big post, but the area it's in is *really* bad.  El Paso, TX/Juarez, Mexico.  We tried really hard not to go off post much while we were there.  I think we left once to go to a really good Italian place, but honestly we didn't need to.  Bliss had so much to offer, that there wasn't much reason to leave.  I suppose if we were actually stationed there, I'd be half tempted to shop somewhere else, because even though there's no sales tax on post, there are no generic brands either.  It is usually cheaper to shop at a big box store like Wal-mart or Sam's Club.  Considering El Paso, though, I'd have to weigh that considerably against the area itself.

It was fun to get out of the house for a few days, even if it was to spend a large portion of time holed up in B's hotel room watching Animal Planet.  Even that was kind of neat, because we don't have cable, and without a converter thingy, we can't even watch the local news.

Speaking of news, while I was at Fort Bliss, I learned some other news.  Apparently, I can get pregnant after all.  It's still really early, so technically anything could happen, but B is so happy and excited.  Since I've miscarried before, and threatened to once already with this one, he just about won't let me do anything.  We were (mildly) arguing this morning about laundry and who would be doing it.  He wants me to "take it easy" and "put your feet up", and "let me do it."  And that's awesome.  I should totally take advantage of that, and I might... later, like when I can't see my toes, catch my breath, or walk up and down the two flights of stairs in our place without being in danger of toppling over frontwards or backwards due to altered center of gravity.  I'm not really complaining.  Well, not entirely.  I'm sort of bragging, too, because he's awesome.  He tries hard to take care of me, and he's been really sweet (mostly) with my random grumpiness and spates of ill-temper.

On the other hand, my neighbor, Bug's Mom, has suggested I bring my knitting and needlework over to her place for a while during the day.  Then I'll be slacking without the guilt, because she'll be slacking, too.  I think it sounds like a great solution to the problem of just sitting and doing nothing, even if it is somewhat justified.  Today, I can't, because the bug folks are coming this afternoon, so this morning I need to get everything out from under the cabinets in the kitchen and bathrooms.  Tomorrow, I might be able to in the afternoon, because all I really have going that morning is the Safe-lite folks are coming to fix the window on the truck.

Which reminds me of another bit of news.  B was driving home from the store and a haircut, when BLAM!  For no apparent reason, the passenger window shattered inward.  He said he thought he was being shot at.  I wouldn't be surprised if someone HAD taken a pot-shot, not thinking that their projectile was going to eventually cross a roadway.  He said no one was around, and it obviously wasn't thrown up from the vehicle in front of him, because then it would've hit the windshield.  He didn't get hurt, which is good, but he was really upset.

Anyway, I think that's all for now.  I have been knitting and cross-stitching, and soon I'll post some finished things, and some patterns.  :-)

Friday, March 23, 2012

Playing with Power Tools

So, I decided that I'd skip the sorting of the basement if favor of playing with B's power tools.

While the cat's away the mice will play!  At least, that's what I've always been told, and it sure seems to be true.  While he's home, I'd defer to him in the power tools and carpentry department.  After all, his dad was a carpenter and woodworker, and B worked with him a lot.  This makes me feel like my paltry experimental attempts at cobbling something together are probably gone about bass-ackwards and crookified.

But, since he wasn't here to tell me how to do it better, I played around with scraps of stuff, and I think it turned out pretty good.  The only gripe I've got is the feet are a bit uneven, but I'm not about to stick my hands close enough to a spinning blade to shave off the itsy bits that would even them up.  He can do it when he gets home if it bugs him.  :-P

I save everything... you know this.  So does it really surprise anyone that I save the scraps of wood leftover from B's carpentry projects?   While I was going through some boxes today, I found some old upholstery foam that I'd bought ages ago.  It came in a four pack, and I only needed two of them.  So, naturally, I socked the other two away for some other something someday.  I also had a scrap of gingham check fabric that I kept meaning to turn into a kitchen curtain, but kept putting off because B hasn't gotten around to making the rest of the curtain rod brackets, yet.  I found a rectangle of what I think is birch, and a couple of ends from some 2x4s in the shed.

Wouldn't you know, each end of 2x4 was 36 inches long?  four 18 inch legs, just waiting to happen.  But, I got to thinking, I know I'm not great at working with wood.  I've had no practice at it.  So I thought it might be more stable if I used 8 legs, like L's by splitting the 2x4 in half.  I didn't do such a great job at that, because 2x4's are not 2x4's anymore, so I was off by about 1/4 inch or so.  I also didn't want to have to try to match up the corners and all that stuff, so I just put two legs kitty-corner on each corner.  When I got the legs on, I realized it was going to be way wobbly, so I used the leftover strips from where I cut the 2x4's long-wise as braces.

I cut my foam to the size of the seat, and had two scrap pieces left that just happened to be half the width of the seat.  Triple layer cushy awesome :-)

Then, I just wrapped the fabric over the padding and the seat, tucking the corners sort of like hospital corners when making a bed but not so neat, and used my staple gun to tack down the fabric.  When the fabric gets too dirty or worn, it'll be really easy to pull of and change out.

What a day!

B's been gone almost a week now, and I've been trying to keep myself occupied.  It's ridiculous how you can tell yourself "he's just down the way, still in the state, even.  He's not, like... gone."  But you don't listen to yourself, and you miss him like crazy, have trouble sleeping, and find out just how much of your day centers around that person.

Well, maybe you don't, but that's what I've been doing.  Fortunately, I've been busy with some payed work lately.  If you were wondering where I've been, I've been exactly where I am right now.  Plopped in front of this darned laptop pecking away.  I finished my third job in a row just yesterday, and I promised myself that today I was really going to take advantage of B's absence and get some big stuff accomplished.

I went a few days ago and got some secondhand (but really really nice) dressers.  It was a tall chest of drawers, a long dresser w/mirror, and a matching nightstand.  I was thinking they would be typical modern fodder.  Light enough without the drawers for me to carry by myself.  Hell, no!  These things are beastly heavy and solid wood throughout.  Not even plywood for the drawer bodies.  I had to recruit my neighbor's husband to help me unload them and get them upstairs.  (I hope B keeps to his usual oblivion about my blog, because I want him to be surprised when he gets home!)

I was going to get some bookshelves, but the lady who's selling them kept putting me off, until today.  She sent me a message at 3 pm saying she'd be available till 5.  I was in the middle of my power tools project at the time, so needless to say that didn't happen.  For the past two days, she has been dangling a string in front of me about the shelves, so I'm a bit irritated with that.  Maybe this is a hint that I need to pare down my books yet again?

Speaking of which, I've moved my "office" to the spare bedroom, along with all the bookshelves and their accompanying books.  With the clothes now stored in actual chest of drawers, the little plastic drawer hoojies I got from Wal-Mart can be delegated to other purposes.  I've put paperbacks in them for the time being.  That actually cleared out a lot of room on my bookshelves, so I can start to bring books up from the basement.  I also put some more books into the get-rid-of pile.  I've no idea where I'm going to get rid of them to, because I really don't want to throw them in the trash.  (Sacrilege!!)

I've turned the old office into something like B's dressing room.  His uniforms are in there in that closet anyway, and I've made a stool for him to sit on to put on/take off his boots.  I'm thinking the night stand might make a nice little chest of drawers for his PT clothes, then all his military daily stuff can be in one place.  It'll also keep him from having to paw around in the dark at 0-dark-thirty trying not to wake me up.   I was thinking I could put his desk up there, too.  It's primarily just a catch-all surface for the random stuff he pulls out of his hundred-and-one pockets, so keeping all of it in one generalized location might help him find things better.... maybe.

I've still got more cleaning and sorting to do.  There are boxes of miscellaneous crap that I really need to look through again.  And as always, there's laundry and the kitchen to tidy... but for today, I really think I'm done.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Hidden Treasures

The other day, I went on a treasure hunt in my Gramma's old desk.  I knew what I wanted, and I thought I knew exactly where it was.  I had seen it, had my hand on it, put it right back where I had found it... so I thought.  

See the problem was my sewing machine needed tending.  It needed brushed for lint and oiled badly.  I'm ashamed to say I honestly have no idea when last it was serviced.  It had developed a truly nerve wracking squeak on every downward thrust of the needle.  At full tilt, this became a mind numbing eekeekeekeekeekeek that could no longer be ignored.  

It took me ALL DAY to find what I thought I could go right to.  It turned out to be in the desk, but in a different drawer underneath a whole bunch of other goodies.  

These unassuming cases held what I thought was a fascinating find.  I have no idea if I can use this as an attachment on my much more modern sewing machine, but isn't it cool as hell??  

It's a very old buttonhole attachment, complete with a full assortment of templates.  

I also found the mother load of needles.  There are sewing machine needles, hand sewing needles, upholstery needles, quilting needles, tapestry needles, embroidery needles... if I ever buy another needle again in my life, I will be surprised.  Very VERY surprised.  But that's not all I found.  

I know that by making these pictures this large, it is going to throw off the blog's proportions, but I think this is awesome.  Check out the antique sewing machine needle.  How awesome would it be to stumble across the sewing machine itself some day?  I know that's not going to happen in my basement.  If I had a gorgeous antique sewing machine down there, I know I would know.  I also know that it is't in my grandparents' old workshop.  I think Gramma held on to this needle as a keepsake.  The shears sharpener, however, will be useful just as soon as I find my shears... For some reason I can't put my hand on them anymore in spite of having an awesome desk to store all my crafty stuff on, in, and under.

Another rather useless but interesting find:  a cigarette holder.  

And thread...  The wall do-hickey was given to me by a friend.  She didn't use it anymore and thought I might be able to.  Oh boy can I.  

More thread.  This little number has brackets on the back, so it can also be hung on the wall.  Some of these spools are wooden with 5 cents burned into the wood for a price tag and brand information etched in reverse relief.  O.o  I plan to keep the wooden spools for something or other.  I really have no plan at this point, but I think they're awesome and don't want to toss them.  

This tackle box looking sewing box was a gift from my Gramma, and not included here because it was a recent treasure find.  It is included here because it is also FULL of thread!  I may well have to buy more thread in my life, but it won't be for a long, long, long time.

This is the complete user's manual, not just the front page.  The staples are long gone, but every page is accounted for.  This and the needle I mentioned earlier are all that is left of this gorgeous machine, but maybe one day I'll stumble across one just like it in a thrift store or yard sale.  What happened over the years to "useful" and "beautiful" not going together anymore?  Everything of yesteryear (with some exceptions) was functional, attractive, and meant to last a lifetime.  Now things are not nearly so pretty, almost never so sturdy, and half the time not as useful as the commercials want us to believe.  *sigh*  It makes me sad.

But!.... the day was not completely wasted.    I found this!

It is the complete user's guide and quick reference flyer for my Gramma's machine.  Now all those weird bells and whistles I didn't know what to do with before can become nifty gizmos and settings to play with.

And finally....

I found what I had been looking for all along.  The danged sewing machine oil.  I had to take the housing off and oil parts I had never messed with before, but I finally got that squeak to go away, and the old girl is running like a dream again.  :-)   Now, I need to figure out if she's strong enough to embroider around a name tape, because my fingers are not feeling this job at all.  I have to put a name tape on one of B's t-shirts for work.  Wish me luck....