Saturday, January 31, 2009

Who can help with headers?

The good news, said with fingers crossed while knocking on wood, is that my preferred computer is virus free again and in use! While I consider myself very lucky to also have a laptop, thus preventing me from internet withdrawal, using it just isn't the same. What can I say? I am a finicky old phart (feminine version of the word) who prefers a portable phone, sometimes even the corded wall phone, to using a cell phone. Holding a portable in a shoulder scrunch is hard, holding a cell that way is impossible, but I digress...

The best feature of my laptop is the 17" monitor. When I am working on embroidery software , the extra width is great for detail. The same is true for another very important daily use: online jigsaw puzzles! But did this extra width lure me into a false sense of design ability? Last week when I decided to change my background on this blog, I thought I would go with a simple, solid page and add graphics in the header. The candy hearts image was sized and re-sized more times than an unwanted Christmas fruitcake is recycled. On my 17" monitor, I finally had the image and blog title the size that I wanted. Aahhhh, my little world was so pretty and peaceful.

Ack! This morning I opened this blog on my other computer and the I had to scroll to the right to finish reading 'Lazy Days and Sundays'. Uh-oh. And the candy hearts were much wider than the box defining the title area. While I try to figure out the wording to google for an answer to my question, does anyone reading this know how to set the header image and font so that it will scale to whatever size monitor is used by each reader?

Computers sure are humbling, aren't they? Just when you think you know what you're doing BAM!

The header issue is nothing compared to getting a virus. If I haven't already warned everyone, be very wary of pop up messages that warn you that your computer is at risk. I ignored the warning for two days because it didn't feel right. Before I did succumb, I examined the warning closely. Everything about it looked legitimate, but it wasn't. Choosing either the "click here to fix this problem" or "ignore" button is what installs the virus. If you have any doubt when a message appears, go to your anti-virus program and check for yourself to see if something is going on with your computer. I had been searching for a photo of an actor when this happened, certainly nothing I thought was dangerous.

I think I am starting to resemble Maxine a little too much. I am going to step away now. Thanks for any header suggestions you may have.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

In the words of Frank Barone....

Holy crap!

I just realized that this is my 97th post! I should be working on something exciting, scintillating or profound for number 100, shouldn't I?

Alas and alack, mundane things like snow removal, banishment of dust bunnies and war with the dishwasher have demanded my time. We won't mention the ants. They are like the snow. A sore subject that I am tired of.

Six years ago we replaced our old dishwasher after many years of dependable service. What did I want in a new one? A dependable brand, a white exterior and I wanted to avoid the utensil caddy being in the door. Some models had more bells and whistles than we would ever want or need. That not only boosted the price tag, but signaled more things to break. My husband is very handy and usually handles repairs himself. He didn't like a lot of what we saw.

We chose a Maytag. Good name, white exterior and the way the racks were positioned sounded good in the sales pitch. In reality, my old dishwasher held much more than this one, especially glasses. The top rack only holds our tallest glasses in one row on the extreme right. I am not talking stemmed wine glasses, just tumblers with thick bottoms or the tall glasses we like for water and iced tea. The bottom rack slants the opposite way, so my dinner plates only fit on the left side. Anything larger than a salad/luncheon plate on the right catches on the bottom of the upper rack.

Oh well, at least it works well. Until three years ago when it wouldn't open. The handle broke. The white PLASTIC handle. Bill managed to get the door open and announced we needed a replacement handle and latch assembly. We ordered one online, he installed it and life was blissful again. (It was summer, there wasn't any snow and the ants were residing outdoors.)

Sunday morning we experienced deja vu. I did get the door open, but it required a shoulder wrenching tug and some loud unladylike threats. Sunday evening I located the parts store online, asked Bill if xxx was the part he wanted me to order. Yep, that was it. Good news! It was delivered yesterday. Bad news! The part was only the latch assembly without a handle. We don't NEED the assembly. Maytag doesn't offer that part anymore. The replacement is now under the Whirlpool brand. Neither brand offers just the handle. The Whirlpool part WITH the handle is $7 cheaper than the handle-less Maytag assembly. I hope that isn't indicative of quality. A handle should last longer than three years regardless of brand.

Do you think it all went downhill after this man (Jesse White) died?

I was going to have Bill wear a hat and a red bow tie when the part comes in, but he isn't into wearing costumes. Dang double standards! I can't wait to get out of this French maid's get up. The fishnets and heels are killing me!

Monday, January 26, 2009

Happy Chinese Valentine's Day!

No, I didn't make up a new holiday, but combining Chinese New Year and Valentine's Day doesn't sound unreasonable to a craft addict. I should be doing many other things today, but I am SO TIRED of it being SO COLD here in Michigan that I am rebelling. No sense being practical and productive when you feel like this, right?

Yesterday I made two fabric fortune cookies. The inspiration is here at the Brassy Apple, but I didn't follow Megan's directions exactly. I didn't have iron on interfacing, so I sewed the fortune cookie on the left the traditional way (two fabrics, right sides together, thin quilt batting on top, sewn almost completely around with an opening left for turning). The one on the right is simply layered and stitched around the raw edges. It would probably look better if done on a serger, or done with matching thread, but these are my prototypes.
I think they are cute and plan to try it them using wool felt next. The mug in this photo was a $2 find at Home Goods. It was supposed to make me feel cheery despite the cold weather. It isn't working. I should have sprung for the $3 mug....maybe that one would have been more powerful!

This morning I thought I would try paper fortune cookies, based on directions given here, at For the Love of Paper. I have paper that has a coordinating print on the other side that would be cute for this project. If you look closely, you may notice that the paper cookie is about to spring open.

A second swipe of adhesive solved that problem. Here are my fat free fortune cookies on a heart plate with today's coffee mug.
Even though I drink decaf, I really NEED coffee to start my day, even when the weather is warm.
* sigh *
Remember warm weather?

I think I am done playing around with blogger templates for awhile. Maybe. I can't rearrange furniture the way I used to, so playing with the blog appearance has been a handy substitute. I do have a photo I'd like to use in the header, but that is on the sick computer.

* another sigh *

Oh, and silly me...those ants that I thought may have moved on? They are doing the macarena in my bathroom as I type. Couldn't I at least have ants that are up to date with the latest dances?

Friday, January 23, 2009

Ants, not in my pants

It is January in Michigan. There is no stinkin reason for ants to be inside my house! If I find the travel agent who advertised Vacation at Knitty's Hideaway, I am going to do some serious harm.

We don't have a basement here at Knitty's hideaway. Our home is built on a cement slab. It has been unusually cold this month and apparently ants don't like the weather any more than I do, hence their vacation to a warmer climate....inside my house.

One occasional ant dropping by for coffee doesn't wig me out.

Opening the refrigerator to get olives for martinis is getting a little pushy, in my opinion.

This trio was too much! Get out of my computer room and put that video camera down! The computer room is right across from the bathroom and I don't need anyone filming what happens in there!
The last straw was when I saw this guy with his blueprints.

I had vacuumed a battalion of ants and within 30 minutes, new ones arrived. I vacuumed them up, then washed the kitchen floor. An hour later, two more were in the same area, obviously making plans. I went upstairs to get my purse so that I could buy ant traps. I stopped in the upstairs bathroom and saw something on the wall behind the toilet. Yep, another ant!


Ants follow the water pipes into the house which is why they hang out in the kitchen, laundry room and bathroom downstairs. The one upstairs either thought he was outwitting me by relocating, or was into exercise and climbed the extra distance for a cardio workout. Exercise can be deadly. I killed the invader and flushed him!

The clerk at the grocery store told me that ant traps aren't in stock yet, it is the wrong season. Ha!

I bought a pack of three at the hardware store. As I was opening the package at home, I noticed two more ants trying to soften me up.

Too little, too late. Besides I am a happily married woman and if I were going to stray, I would stay within my species.

My neighbor to the west of me told me last night that they had an ant problem a few weeks ago. I haven't seen any here yet today. I wonder how my neighbor to the east is doing? Think I should call and see if anything is bugging them?

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Heirloom sewing

Once upon a time, I did heirloom sewing. Not a lot of it, mind you, as my boys were young teens and weren't partial to lace, flounces, ruffles and such. Darn testosterone! I came across these items last week when I cleaned my sewing room closet.

First we have a Day Gown. Just a simple little frock for your infant to wear any old day of the week. This was considered genderless. Little Brutus Aloysius could wear this just as well as his sister Penelope Rose. Maybe not in Michigan in this century, but somewhere, sometime, it was fitting and proper.

This trim is called Swiss insertion. I don't want to say it is expensive, but I will. It is expensive. Measure twice, cut once.

Here is a bonnet made with the same insertion. I loved making bonnets. They were fun and relatively easy to make.

My poor baby model looks a little jaundiced, doesn't he?

Here he is from the front wearing a puffed bonnet.

A special iron is available for ironing the puff in a bonnet or a sleeve cap. I do not have one, so Mr Giggles (the stuffed smiley model giggles when you press his hand) has a few wrinkles. Tough, Mr Giggles. If I can learn to live with a few wrinkles, so can you.

The back of the bonnet features another technique that I enjoyed doing, shadow work embroidery. I doctored the color in this close up so that the details are more easily seen.

Saving the tramp for last, here is my heirloom angel tart. She wasn't supposed to be a tart, but once she bleached her hair and got her hands on cosmetics, she became a fallen angel.

She hasn't lost her wings because they are tied in place.

Her pantaloons are knotted around her waist and ankles, so hopefully her virtue remains in tact.

Even though I am not her mother, I don't let out of the house looking like this.

I hope you've enjoyed my irreverent look back on a truly lovely niche in the world of stitching.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

I usually refrain from commenting on someone's appearance as I wouldn't like someone critiquing me on any given day, however....(you knew there would be a 'however', didn't you?) a celebrity who dresses for an event and poses for photos is different.

Ashley Judd is a very pretty lady, but not in this outfit. This photo was taken yesterday at "The Inaugural Purple Ball". What was she thinking?

At the other end of celebrity fashionistas, here is Dr Ruth smiling away at another inaugural event. Her smile made me smile.

A smile is alway fashionable.

Since I didn't attend any inaugural events, I didn't need a gown to sit and compost this post.

Er, on second thought, maybe a dressing gown would have been a good idea!

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Crabby, cold crafter

Is there a 12 step program for crabby, cold crafters? Do they meet at a tropical resort? Sign me up!

While I was freezing my considerable hiney here in MI, my hubby was working in AZ. The nerve! He came back with his face and arms tan! This was my daily view, not his.

What did I do that kept me away from the computer since last week? I performed my annual reorganization and purge in my craft room. My house and my budget would be much better off if I only had one hobby, but which one could I possibly give up? I considered taking a before photo of these shelves, but after being the catch-all for the items that I didn't know where to stash temporarily over the holidays, that photo would have been just too embarrassing.

Everything was hauled out of the closet in that room and evaluated before it was repacked, set aside for donation or tossed out. The house looked like a tornado hit it with most of the other rooms housing displaced sewing, knitting, scrapbooking, jewelry making, or art supplies. All of my fat quarters (that is not a butt joke!) and small yardages of fabric are in 18 qt bins, sorted by colors and labeled. These are on the shelf in the closet.

Besides ten of these, there is a very large bin on the floor with large cuts of fabric waiting for creativity to strike. There is also a box of quilt kits, mostly wall hangings or table toppers, on my long neglected to-do list.

This was my second quilt class project from years ago. I never finished it because I didn't like the color balance when I pieced the blocks together. I took it apart and reassembled it. It is now pinned and ready to be quilted.

In the evening as I watched TV, huddled under a fleece blanket, I worked on this knitted stole. I am at the halfway point now.

Even my bedtime reading has been craft related, and not just craft themed magazines. I am reading another Maggie Sefton novel about a knitter who solves mysteries.

The only mystery I've solved recently was what to make for hubby's homecoming dinner yesterday. Not certain if he would be off schedule regarding meal times, I decided to make soup and have sandwich makings ready. The soup is Paula Deen's Golden Ring selection in her current Cooking with Paula magazine.

Italian Sausage Soup

  • 1 (16 ounce) package sweet Italian sausage, casings removed
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 cup celery, minced
  • 1 cup carrot, minced
  • 3 (14 ounce) cans beef broth
  • 2 (14 1/2 ounce) cans diced tomatoes with garlic, basil and oregano
  • 1 (16 ounce) can light red kidney beans, drained
  • 1 (15 1/2 ounce) can great northern beans, drained
  • 2 cups diatlini (short tube macaroni)
  • salt and pepper to taste
In a large Dutch oven, cook sausage, onion, celery and carrot over medium high heat until sausage is browned and crumbles. Drain well. Stir in broth, tomatoes and beans. Bring to a boil over medium high heat. Reduce heat and simmer for 20 minutes. Add pasta; simmer for 8-10 minutes or until pasta is tender. Add salt and pepper to taste.

My notes: The recipe also called for a can of regular red kidney beans which I left out. My soup cooked much longer than 20 minutes before I added the pasta. I used two cans of low sodium broth and one regular can. I barely added salt at the end. The soup was delicious and very thick. I will probably add fluid when I reheat it. The next time I make this, I may cook the pasta separately and then add it so as not to dilute the soup through absorption.

Lastly, this having nothing to do with crafting, today is Inauguration Day. Here's to new beginnings, another chance to do better. That isn't a slap to the outgoing administration. Almost all of us can always do better when we think about it and try. Isn't that what New Year resolutions and my annual craft purge is all about?

I am blessed to live in a country where the change of power is done without violence. I joke about being crabby, but I recognize I am lucky in more ways than not. I hope to spend this year more grateful and hopeful while I work at doing better in all ways.

Cheers to all of us.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Birdseed Buffet

No reservations required at the Birdseed Buffet, although there may be a wait for available seating. Please join the others in the Forsythia waiting area.

Don't scowl at me! That group is still pecking at their lunch. As soon as they clear out, I will seat you next.

Party of five? Right this way...

There is open seating on the lower level. I hope you enjoy your meal.

Monday, January 12, 2009

A funny best man

A friend sent me a link to a video of this best man's wedding toast. While not everyone would appreciate this occurring at their wedding, the bride and groom have a sense of a humor and enjoyed the best man's toast.

There is no offensive language in this clip, but you might consider this adult humor and be alone when you view it. If you share my sense of humor, it will make you smile if not laugh out loud. Click on the picture to start the video.

Click here

Whether this made you laugh or not, I hope you all find many reasons to smile this week.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Let's make a card!

I channeled my friend Andrea this morning and decided to try a diamond fold card. Andrea is responsible for me spending $5,387 on scrapbooking paper, $739.17 on tools and organizers and another $8,634.75 on embellishments. Really. Or so my husband thinks. He adds funny though.

All pictures will enlarge if you click on them.

1) You will start with a piece of cardstock that is three times as long as it is wide. In this example, the paper is 12" wide by 4" tall. On the back, lightly mark the middle of the length with pencil. It doesn't show well here, but there is a mark at 6" on the white (back) side.

2) Remember being a kid and making cootie catchers and paper airplanes? This will be just as easy. With the back side showing so you can see your pencil line, fold the paper as shown, matching the long edge to the pencil line. The tool in the picture makes nice creases, but so does a credit card that is recuperating from holiday shopping.

3) Fold the left side of the paper in the same manner.

4) Open your paper and make the same folds from top to bottom this time.

5) When you've made both folds, it will look like this, sort of an arrow head with the diamond beginning to show from the first pair of folds.

6) Turn your paper right side up. Fold each end over to meet the point of the diamond (the intersection of the folds). Do this on both ends.

7) Turn your paper over again and bring each folded end to meet your pencil line again.

8) Almost done! The last folds you made in step 7 created mountain folds on the right side. Fold them the opposite way now, creating the valley fold that I am pointing at.

9) Here is where I will struggle a bit with description. Now that you have a valley fold running through the triangles that are formed on both top and bottom of either side of the diamond, you will fold those triangles along that valley fold. Do this on both sides.

10) Ta-da!

Add decorative paper or embellishments to the rectangles on the side and on the diamond. If you don't like the diamond popping up, it could be subdued into place with glue, unlike children.

I haven't decided if I am using the dragonfly paper and heart on this or not, so they aren't glued in place yet. Stretching the card open shows where you could write messages, add photos or other designs.

This card was made using a strip of paper 9" long by 3" high. The purple paper finishes to 3" square. I glued it to a 3 3/4" square of yellow cardstock. This prevents it from opening, but could be a cute package, place marker or glued to the face of a larger card.

Happy crafting!