Tuesday, January 27, 2015

I wore shorts today. It wasn’t pretty.

They're supposed to be snowflakes, but since I hand-stitched 'em,
they look more like stars. Oh, well. 
Jo-Ann Fabrics issued an Invitation To Shop to me today – so I did ! I also returned library books, donated the junk in the trunk, toured three thrifts, and got what I needed so we’ll be ready for tomorrow’s MUGA. Since Dearest Son will be hangin’ with his grandparents, I got them the cat chow they asked for, and I’m also sending him with a bag of his favorite popcorn and a fresh 79c cauliflower. MIL, like Dearest and me, loves raw cauliflower, and it’s been expensive since Thanksgiving. She can keep it all, I have two !

You may be surprised to learn that, while I hit three thrifts today – and found that ‘new’ hospital one, finally ! – I didn’t spend a dime at any of ‘em. Was tempted, but I’m really keeping my eyes open for a $5. or less TV I can lift. While I saw TVs from $5. to $25., they were all either huge or too expensive, so I’m hoping OldTown thrift will have something tomorrow.

And, the only thing I bought at Jo-Ann’s was the single silver sequin tiara they had left in stock. They had some pretty turquoise ones, several gold ones, and an overstock of red, but that one silver was evidently waiting for me. The fabric I saw on the website that I wanted to see in person wasn’t what I really wanted, so I didn’t buy any – even if it’d been perfectly what I did want, it’d have to wait ‘til Friday. Plus, I really want to make more of an effort to use what I got. I’ve pulled most of my white fabric together, and yes, it’s more than the drawer can hold, in every thickness from transparent to canvas, so you know I have plenty of everything else, too. While digging for a particular piece, I found a gorgeous ‘galactic’ print that’s too big for most of my dolls, but would probably make an awesome cover for Odyssey. Oh, and the Christmas gingerbread houses are still only 50% off. It was funny to see two of the three markdown fabrics I bought at the first of the month stacked next to each other on the sale rack !

I was about to throw away the hang-tag that was on the toy Furby I bought at Dollar Tree yesterday, but I remembered I have several out-of-date magnetic calendars waiting for a crafting. A few minutes with scissors, some glue and heavy books, and we have a new Furby fridge magnet ! And I’ve halved 2013. 

Well, tomorrow starts early. Wish me luck ! 

Monday, January 26, 2015

So sleepy...

Belle’s new skirt is still a work in progress, one I hope to show tomorrow. For now, though, the larger girls have a new pet to play with ! Took Dearest Son to Dollar Tree this morning, and he found ‘pencil topper’ miniature, non-mechanized Furbies over in the collectable cards/sticker display. He thought they were finger-puppets, and they work just fine that way, too. Most were primary colors, but I liked this one the best. He has matching feet, and all the ones I saw share  the same expression, a decent version of machine embroidery. Kinda wish I had that design, I’d make some really odd Furbies ! His hang-tag is as big as he is (about 3” tall from feet to ears).

We also toured two thrifts and a pawn shop. Dearest found a CoolPix camera he liked at the pawn – it cost him all his saved-up allowance, but he’s very happy with it. It even came with the original box and manual, everything but the storage media card and USP cable. It’s easy to find the cable online, but since we’ll be at OldTown Wednesday, we’ll check that good thrift’s Wall of Cables first. I snagged Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets and Batteries Not Included from the 99c DVD shelves.

I found two huge TVs, one on sale for $5., my target price, but there was no way to get it home, and I honestly didn’t like the picture. It looked way too orange, and very fuzzy. The smaller one I liked, with good color and small enough to fit in Emmy-car, was too expensive. Ah, well. We’ll see what happens later this week.

I’ve finished two Nicholas Sparks novels (The Guardian, The Lucky One) and remain unimpressed. I feel like I just read fanfic treatments of two Lifetime movies. About the only real difference in them was who owned the incredibly intelligent and fiercely loyal dog, and the motivations of the unhinged bad guy. Since the donation pile in my trunk is getting big, I hope to have ‘em both gone tomorrow.

Speaking of which, I gotta get some sleep. My medical anxiety has kicked in early, and gave me raging insomnia last night. It was further aggravated by Dearest waking me up every 20 minutes of my hour-long attempt at a nap. (yawn)

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Embroidery Sunday !

Today I learned that leftover take-out crunchy tacos make a pretty good lunch after they spend about 10 minutes or so in a 350° toaster oven, flipped once midway through. Even the lettuce wasn’t bad, although tomatoes and sour cream might have been, so I’m glad these had neither.

And when it took me over two hours to select the thread colors for today’s two-for-one embroidery project, I learned that having over 200 colors can be just as bad as having only eight. Skin tones seem to be a real issue – they’re either too pink or too pale, or just plain look wrong. Years ago, shortly after I got Brody (when we had money at the expense of Beloved Hubby’s health), I got Beloved to get me the Madeira Treasure Chest, a gorgeous three-drawer cabinet with 194 spools of glorious rayon colors, a few more of black and white, and some thinner bobbin thread, plus bonuses of a sample pack of various stabilizers, a CD-R of designs, and a branded thread clipper, with free shipping, on sale. I love it still, so much that the main reason I didn’t give up and sell it all when my interest waned and I didn’t touch any of it for nearly two years, was because I didn’t wanna give up the Treasure Chest, since the thread’s rather too thin to use for regular ole sewing. That, and knowing I’d never get back the low triple digits I spent on supplies and designs encouraged me to wait it out and see.

I’m glad I did. Because even with the color fun – while most designs come with color suggestions, it doesn’t help when the designer suggests color numbers from Sulky thread and you use Madeira, and the equivalents are colors you just don’t have – I had great fun stitching tonight. Even got to use my sparkly magic iridescent thread (actually, a thin plastic much like cassette tape) on Elsa's cloak ! And I’m rather determined to use as much as possible of what I have, especially when it comes to consumables. If that means I spend about $10. a month on new, inspiring designs, well, at least I’m using up some of what I’ve already got, right ? But it is embarrassing going through all the designs I’ve snagged for free or on sale, and know I couldn’t possibly live long enough to stitch them all if I did ten of ‘em a day – and I’m buying more ! Not many more, and only the ones I’ve wanted for weeks, but still…

This was tonight’s project. I think I did OK with my color choices, even if you can’t tell that I used different colors for their skin. Each one took about 10-15 minutes, they’re about two inches tall, and they’re two separate designs. Ordinarily, I’d have used a program to combine them into one design, but my ‘forever free to you, the user !’ program (coughStitchEraUniversalhack) quit being free in less than three years, and is now a subscription based, cut-service version. I just used Brody’s built in software to position them, and didn’t remove the hoop in between designs. It’ll probably become a doll skirt tomorrow. I think it’s Belle’s turn.

And just for fun, I can tell ya that the Elsa design was the one I was tearing up Etsy to find a few weeks back. I kept finding it as a finished hair clip or small pin, with no credit given to the designer, Lynnie Pinnie , anywhere. Sad. I always try to say where I get a pattern or idea, because Heaven knows if I can do it, anyone can. It’s getting easier for me as I find my confidence, but I still act like it’s a house of cards, and I often feel I’m one wrong breath or nanosecond's distraction away from catastrophe. This one went so fast, once I began, I didn’t have time to freak out and worry. You may be seeing a lot of small, quick stitching designs in the near future, ‘til I feel less clumsy about it all.

And, as January comes to a close, I feel pretty good. How about you ? 

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Hope your Saturday was quietly awesome, too !

What a nice Saturday ! We all slept in and Beloved Hubby made us pancakes for brunch. Then it was haircut time ! Our formerly long-haired Dearest Son requested a ‘high and tight’ cut, and Beloved delivered. I have no idea where my little boy went, but the obvious teenager standing in his place seems so much more mature.

I went next, and my longest-since-I-was-10 hair hit the ground, unmourned. I look so much more like myself again. He gave me an adorable blunt cut that’s curling by itself into a pagegirl that swings just above my shoulders – and hides my lined and wrinkled brow. I feel like a cross between Molly Ringwald and Princess Leia !

After a quick round of showers for all of us – we were all covered in sharp, just-cut  hair – Beloved and I hit Aldi’s. We’re well-stocked for another month. I snagged two heads of crisp cauliflower for 79¢ each, and can’t wait to cut into the first one. I’m also trying to hold off opening my bag of chips for as long as I can…

My task for the day was to empty out a shelf in the cubby. It was filled with small doll props and MH doll stands, and I had a better use for it. Tired of having to wash and re-wash white fabric every time I go to use it, so stashing all my white material in a closed-up drawer should help with that. Was gonna buy either a plastic bin or some bedding for the clear zipper bag, but this way was much cheaper. Had nearly all of it stored in a half-hour, and the fabric I washed last week is all tucked away. So is the Happy Meal MH pail I use for small fabric scraps, freeing up a piece of much-needed Arena space, important now that I have three sewing machines. I like getting what I want done, and not having to buy anything new to do it !

Got word that the test I missed – the one that got my pacemaker surgery cancelled – is called a MUGA (Multiple Gated Acquisition) scan. I’ve had one before, I think, about a decade ago. I get a pinch of radioactive chemical, and a camera follows it through my heart and provides images for further study. I remember feeling very cold when it hit my system, and being amazed at the images, but not much more. The VA helpfully sent me a brochure detailing the whole thing, and it’s happening Wednesday. Since it takes about two hours, I have to call DM&FIL, see if Dearest can hang with them, as it’ll be awfully boring for him, with no one to talk to. Hopefully it won’t be too exhausting, and we can hit that thrift afterwards !

Although, truth be told, I’m almost embarrassed about buying Odyssey last week. Don’t get me wrong, I have no regrets, but… I discovered today that Brody also has about 90% of those same stitches. Erk. But since it took me a bit to get Brody set up for embroidery, I really didn’t want to use him for anything else. So, for less than $4., I got the best of both worlds – I don’t have to reconfigure Brody, and I get all the snazzy stitches with Odee. I feel a twinge of guilt that someone who doesn’t have a Brody won’t get Odee, either, I got all the candy, but I’m sure I miss out on a lot, too, and I don’t worry about it.

Forgot to get some thread order info off my computer when I let Dearest borrow it, and now I’m too sleepy to start a new design. So, tomorrow, for sure ! Kinda tired of doing shirts though. .. I might do a skirt instead. 

Friday, January 23, 2015

Please meet the fully armed and operational... Odyssey !

Didn’t get to play with my new sewing machine until after supper, and it was too dark to take pictures. But, oh, I love Odyssey. Yes, that’s her name. She wanted to be called Rarity at first, but after being introduced to two dolls and several ponies by that name already, she settled on Odyssey, or Odee, for short.

She scared me at first. Finally got her all plugged in… took a breath and stepped on the foot pedal. Whirrrrr. But nothing moved. Whirrrrr. Unplugged the foot pedal and pressed the ‘go sew ‘til I tell you to stop’ button, and got a similar whirrrr, one that I could feel coming from the vent holes on the side as a light breeze. Oh, man, wouldn’t that be the luck ? She lights up and everything, but doesn’t work at all ! I was about to settle into some heavy-duty self-chiding and cursing the donor when I remembered. Brother machines have sort of odd bobbin winders. They barely seem to move at all when they’re engaged, and unlike my first Singer, the needle doesn’t move a bit. Yup. The bobbin winder was activated. Once I moved it back, she put more action in her whirr, and she was ready to sew !

As you can see, Odee is awesome. All the stitches I tried work, and I can even play with the sizes, as the scrap in the middle shows. Wow. It even tells me what presser foot to use with the stitches ! Which, again, I have all but the walking foot from Brody, and they fit perfectly. Printed out a few select pages from the manual for reference – didn’t need to print the whole thing, most of it’s identical to Brody’s. I blessed the donor, hoped he/she would someday be rewarded for his/her kindness, and had fun playin’ ‘til bedtime.

Today, however, has not gone very well. Got my computer back from Dearest Son to discover it’d picked up Bing somehow. I’m sorry, I don’t care how ‘benign’ it is, when I have to delete it three times from under hidden names and reconfigure my browser settings and restart twice, Bing is not benign. I reassigned my curses to Bing developers.

And I didn’t win the Tiny Doll Sewing Challenge. Didn’t even get a mention or a ‘thanks for trying’ note. Kinda figured I wouldn’t,  although mine had the highest view count, but while my images got favorited, it wasn’t  by Jen*Wrenne, the challenge and pattern creator. You can guess which ones did win. Oh, well. I’m still proud of what I sewed – let’s face it, getting that pattern to work on a doll with even a small bustline took a lot of skill ! Plus, I did it with a buncha 2 ¼” scraps on one. At least, that’s how I’m consoling m’self.

We went out to eat, and it was heavenly. I may have binged on the food, but I was good at the drink bar. Tried Sobe ‘LifeWater’, a beverage line I’ve avoided just because of the uber-grandiose name. The restaurant had Yumberry Pomegranate, a flavor I would have also avoided due to it’s ridiculous moniker, but it was that or sugar sodas. It was actually fairly good, kind of an adult Kool-ade – water with flavor, just more subtle than Strawberry Blast. In fact, I could say that a good chunk of the taste actually came from the scent and aftertaste more than the beverage itself. At least, at zero calories, it was something I could refill on, and enjoy my dinner most heartily with !

I’ll probably sew tomorrow. Just not in the mood for it today. I’m leaning towards some more embroidery…

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Haven't seen a takeover bid like this since Turner and Murdoch...

Snow ! We woke up to about a half-inch of it, pretty and white, showing the cardinals and wrens in the backyard to their best advantage. Too bad it was nearly all melted by 11am, Junior-kitty could have used it for camouflage. Birds here are kind of mean. When he goes stalking, they tease him !

Speaking of snow, is it wrong that I sort of want to read those new Frozen chapter books ? The sample chapters, available at that link, along with some downloadable activity pages, were actually fairly well-written, if rather too slow for me. After all, the target audience is less than a fifth of my age ! And the illustrations are pretty, even if you’d think Elsa’d get tired of her ‘snowflake’ gown and train after a while. Just dragging around a cannula and oxygen tube got on my nerves in less than a day, not to mention it picked up dust, stray socks, and the occasional slumbering cat. I guess I’m behind the times yet again, I was surprised to learn the 120+ page books are ten bucks each, although that is for a hardback. A little more if you’d prefer a more durable Library cover. Guess that’s a cheap price for parents if it encourages their kids to read – over on Amazon, they’re flagged as bestsellers. You go, Arendelle !

And I even have the perfect snack for a cozy read. Yup. Frozen cereal. Those white and blue blobs are supposed to be snow and ice crystal marshmallows. No one’s explained the weird shape of the cereal itself. I find m’self wanting to see exactly what a Collector’s Edition box of cereal looks like. I’m sure I’ve seen other Collector Edition cereals before, I just wasn’t aware of them when I was looking for knockoff corn flakes. And yes, I have seen the Frozen fruit snacks. They always lose out to Cheez-Its or potato chips. Maybe one day…

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Elsa finally gets a new shirt !

Who knew that toothpaste and a soft rag removes china marker / grease pencil from textured plastic ? I didn’t, but I know now ! Was trying to erase the thrift store’s price marks from my new sewing machine, and plain water and paper towels were only smearing it in circles. Orange degreaser, Awesome Spot Remover, and knockoff Windex all struck out. A gaming chat board discussed how to remove marks from second-hand board games, and that was suggested. Worked like a magic charm. Removed a few other stray marks, too, and discovered that the LCD display was still protected by the thin plastic it shipped with. Between that and the Brother-wound bobbin, I seriously wonder if my newest machine was ever used at all. Either way, it’s now minty fresh ! And my hands smell good.

It’s actually a good thing that the sewing machine was there. It’s the only possible thing that would have distracted me from the $3. TV. True, it was an old CRT, and not even very big, but it’d allow me to actually watch cable in here. Told Beloved Hubby about it, and he said I was welcome to fetch home an old TV if I wanted, but he was planning on upgrading our family room TV soon, and allocating our current one to the Salon. So, if I find another super-cheep one, I’m going for it !

Dearest Son’s hard drive spun in last night, so we’re sharing my computer. Fine with me, gives me more of a reason to sew ! Figured I’d get that embroidery design worked out, and if there was enough time, sew Elsa a new t-shirt. Even though it’s an awesome Greek goddess design (Nyx) from Urban Threads, things did not go well. Ever do the right thing, and it backfires on you ? The fabric I washed yesterday was nice and dry, and wrinkled as a great-grandma pachyderm. It’d sew just as well wrinkled, but it’d be easier to work with and end much nicer if I ironed it, so I got it all set up. Very first stroke left a huge rusty spot square in the middle of the fresh white fabric. Arrgh ! Washed it out in the sink, cleaned the iron’s sole plate, and ironed it dry. Same end result, just took a lot longer. And I used a press-cloth this time.

Once I started Brody, there was some trouble with the design. Thread broke four times, for no apparent reason. Probably time to replace the needle. Or my thrice-used stabilizer, now down to odd-shaped strips, was a bit too thick in spots. Had to make a few hand-stitches to recapture the flow, but while I can’t set a straight stitch, at least it didn’t take long. Give me a day and I’ll forget where my stitches are and like it better. I only had one of the three recommended colors, but I think the ones I chose blend together just as well. As for now, I think it came out pretty good, despite its shaky start. Both Beloved and Dearest could make it out as ‘a doll shirt with a girl on the moon’, so I consider that a success.

Used my trusty KJ today to sew the blouse together, instead of the new, as yet unnamed Brother. Figured I’d take tomorrow to stitch up a cover, and just play and familiarize m’self with all its charms. Maybe even learn his or her name. Turns out, the new one’s a lot like Brody, even came with nearly all the same initial accessories, so I’m not missing much buying used. Mostly a hard case/cover, a walking foot, and a quilting table, and the usual consumables. Truth to tell, if I didn’t already have a couple years with Brody, I’d have been a bit intimidated by this one. It has the same ‘stitch ‘til you say stop’ function that negates a foot pedal in the first place, the option to cut threads and raise/lower the needle automatically, and a needle threader that’s a bit more challenging than Brody’s, but that may be unfamiliarity talking. If I didn’t have any experience with them, I’d be sort of hesitant, instead of hopeful.