Thursday, May 31, 2012

How it started to get better...

In what has to be one of my least-intelligent financial arrangements, today I bought back a doll I gave to Dearest Son, for two bucks. He’s destroyed several others, and I hated to see this one get wrecked – although he’s identical to a doll I already have. But he’s mine again, and once I cut his boots off (how’d I get those on, anyway ?), I intend to get him cleaned up, redressed, and reintroduced to his twin. Once again, I have both Kenner Han Solo and Indiana Jones dolls. It’s gonna be fun fitting this wide-legged dude on the doll shelf !

What’s funny is, I bought ‘Indy’ thinking he was a Han Solo doll, wearing Han’s black vest and nothing else, at a yard sale, in the jumble of a Barbie herd with one other Ken. I thought it’d be funny to have two vintage Hans, and the dollar price was certainly right ! Of course, this was back in my ‘not enough guys for the 150+ girl dolls I have’ days. It wasn’t until I noticed they had different eye colors and different dates and trademarks on their backstamps that I clued in to what I really had. When I had one of my more ruthless doll culls, poor Indy had to go, but Dearest chose him out of the box, with several others, to play with. I’m really glad he did.

Got to the Library yesterday, as you probably read (grin). Their Wi-Fi is every bit as good and fast as McDs, with a lot less noise and more comfortable chairs, too ! And I didn’t have to watch an ad to use it. By 7pm, about half the chairs parked in front of the Library’s computers were vacant, something I’ve never seen in the mornings and afternoons I’ve been there. In our PreviousTown, their Library’s terminals are never without users ! Ya gotta sign up or make reservations for two-hour blocks. I wonder if Wednesday is a slow day for them.

The last book I requested, This is How, by Augusten Burroughs, was waiting for me, and I snagged it. While it’s really basic information, most of which I learned the hard way years ago, it’s nice to read and apply it to our current situation, and agree with him. I confess, I thought most of his previous works were long, drawn-out love letters to himself (Running With Scissors was an enjoyable read until he got to his love life, after that, it got too self-congratulatory for my tastes), but I really am enjoying this one.

And I came to an important conclusion today, which has led to a vastly improved mood, even though the situation hasn’t changed one whit. Fact is, FIL has done us wrong. He’s done his wife worse. But here’s the big thing – we’re doing about the worst thing we could possibly do to him. We’re saying ‘this far and no further’, and we’re walking away. He’s not used to that. He probably fully expects us to stay and take care of everything for him, because if we don’t, we’re selfish and mean. And after all he did for us ! (tsk, tsk !)

Well, that’s fine. The cheapest way to pay is money. He’s actually paying for this mess in relationships. Even if MIL returns to him when/if he comes back, their marriage won’t be the same, ever. Any respect or positive feelings I had for him are burned off, the ashes desecrated, then dried out and burned again, and he will never get those back from me, ever. And I’m not even gonna describe what this has done to Beloved Hubby and, to a slightly lesser degree, Dearest Son. FIL’s lost a lot more than he’ll possibly ever recognize, and this came from of his own bad decisions. All because he didn’t want to pay his own bills. Pretty pathetic, if you ask me.

I don’t need revenge. I don’t even need restitution. FIL has already hurt himself far worse than I ever could. I wonder if he’ll ever realize that.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

No CAMs, but hey ! Fabric !

Current Mood : Relieved, now that I've had some 'me' time. 

At least today’s mail was mostly ads. No new cards of banking doom, but no good surprises either. I’m OK with that.

We’d had an intense storm all night, with lightning so close and bright, it was like watching white silver chains being flung from cloud to cloud. We also got about three minutes of pea-sized hail about 6am. So much for getting back to sleep ! Oliver-kitty showed up at our bedroom windowsill, looking bedraggled and upset when it ended. I wondered what hail must seem like to a cat. ‘Wet cold rocks from the sky’ is probably a fair guess. Everything was soaked, so Beloved Hubby was home all day. He and Dearest Son played various Lego games for hours on the Wii.

I was restless and jittery all morning, so I volunteered to run some errands Beloved kept putting off. He knew – ‘cause I told him ! – that I’d look for those Create A Monster guy dolls while I was out, and he was OK with it. I hoped I’d find ‘em because I really wanted them, but hoped I didn’t, as that cash is needed at least six other places, too.

As it turned out, it wasn’t a real concern. Two months after taking down all the ‘Sweet 1600’ shelf talkers and other signage, our stores are literally swimming in the dolls. Well, the girl dolls, at least. Not a single Clawd, and only one or two Clawdeens to be seen. There’s also a full complement of ‘Skull Shores’ dolls, minus the Frankies in any color and Gil. Lots more Cleo vanities and dress-up bits, but few doll clothing sets or other dolls. Like I saw at another store a couple weeks back, Mal-Wart evidently got all the remaining one-torso CAM sets available. I must’ve seen a round dozen Dragon/Werewolf sets. I’ll bite if they go on markdown, but no way otherwise.

Instead, I got to spend some time in the new fabric section ! Most Mal-Warts dumped their fabric and notions sections a couple years back, citing low returns on the square footage, but most sewists know that we may come in for cheap thread, but leave with some new fabric, something for dinner, the new notebooks Junior needs for school, a soda…half of any retail outlet’s biggest job is just getting foot traffic in the door. Fabric sections help bring a lot of crafty folk in, and once they’re in, they usually find something to buy ! Plus, it all started vanishing back when it looked like M-W was trying way too hard to be a low-rent Target. In any case, the fabric is back, and while the cutting table and pattern sections may be smaller, if anything, the material choice got bigger ! I saw so many new designs that aren’t at Hancock Fabrics or Hobby Lobby. No dollar a yard fabrics, but it may be early yet.

I really enjoyed the 99c fat quarters ! They had several pretty prints in a mostly-empty rack, but the red musical notes on black really caught my eyes. It may still be ridiculous to pay a buck for a quarter-yard of fabric, but the ones I’ve seen lately elsewhere are inching towards $3. ! On the bolt shelves, a glittery cat-and-butterfly stripe shimmered with potential. I got a quarter yard of it, because more would be too much ! It really is kinda gaudy. There’s a matching bolt of just the black cats scattered on bright pink glittered fabric, but the cats were too big for doll scale, and the print was too visually overwhelming for me-scale ! That was a truly hot pink !  

Also, Target’s got a good sale going for you Barbie fans ! Everything is ‘buy one, get the next one 50% off’ now. I asked, and that does extend to doll clothes, and even the Stardolls our local one had on markdown for $14.99. So tempting…but I decided to hold out for the CAM guys. Here’s hoping they show up when we got money !

Not sure yet if we’ll have to sell her, but I got Starlight’s tag renewed anyway. After the fiasco with FIL and the blue truck, I take no chances with plate renewal anymore. Also paid the ridiculously overdue cutoff notice electric bill, which ranked. Especially after we got a call from our apartment complex yesterday, telling us they’d have several more available units in two or three days. So tempting, to let the overdue bills here go, and move already. Only reason we didn’t is because there was no way MIL would be ready to leave it all Friday or Saturday. And it would be sort of unfair to ask her. Heck, we just last week got her to agree to come with us next month ! She doesn’t know about the latest round of bounced checks yet, but we’ll have to tell her today. That’s one task Beloved Hubby will have to do himself.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

I can only be petty, mean, suspicious me.

Current Mood : Recent convert to chaos theory.

There it is, the ‘space shirt’ that I sewed for Deuce. It’s wastebasket bound, unless I decide to make a go at redoing the thing. But, since I clearly need practice in narrow hemming, I think I’ll just start fresh. Even thought that color looks good on him, I’m gonna hafta  switch fabric, since I’m nearly out of that thread !

I kinda took today off, since it was more family chaos today. MIL is needing lots of support right now while she works through things, but she wants it from Beloved Hubby, not me. I can’t fault her for that, but between working to try to salvage this mess and spending hours talking with her, Dearest Son and I hardly get to see him. Ah, well. I’m sure after we move to our tiny apartment, we’ll see entirely much too much of each other !

He gave me some cash to put gas in Starlight’s tank, but I stayed home. I knew that, if I went anywhere in the mood I was in, I was gonna search until I found that Create A Monster set, and I’d buy it. We can’t really do that right now, so it’s best if I don’t tempt m’self. That said, I still wanna go look ! (grin) It’s really hard to say ‘wait’ when your  selfish mind says ‘You deserve something nice for yerself for dealing with all this turmoil ! You should have something that says what you want matters and might actually happen’. I really gotta get that part of my brain removed…

Got another ‘bounced check’ notice from FIL and MIL’s bank yesterday. He’s writing bad checks from the Eastern Seaboard now, well after he’s been told (by us) that the account is waaaay past empty. Beloved Hubby’s scared to death MIL is gonna get arrested for FIL’s creative use of the US Banking System, and with that in mind, we’re talking to banks about what can be done. Main problem to that is getting her to even consider it – separate checking accounts are considered darn near a divorce around here. But I don’t know how else she can protect herself.

Oh, and did you hear that the San Diego Comic Convention exclusive MH doll has been announced ? It’s that ‘Sarah Screams’ one they had last year on display for voting. Still can’t believe that one won, compared to high-fan-interest Headless Headmistress Bloodgood or exotic newcomer Daughter of Arachne, the otherwise unnamed spider doll. I’m not much interested in Sara, aside from the school jacket part of her costume, because I can’t really duplicate that just yet. Oh, I could possibly approximate the jacket, but the sleeve decorations will probably elude me for a while. Embroidering on satin – or even finding a good pink and white ribbon – is a challenge I’m not quite ready for yet. 

Monday, May 28, 2012

Cannulas and challenges...

Current Mood : Ticked off

Tryin’ to figure out what to do with all these cannulas. The company that serviced my oxygen prescription said they couldn’t take them back, so they remain bagged up here. I have five 25-foot ones and seven 7-foot ones. The little leaflet inside the individual baggies says ‘RX Only’ – does that mean I can’t sell or give ‘em away ? It’s just plastic tubing with a nose-piece, but I have no idea how to use them for crafts. The one idea I have would use less than a foot of the stuff. The VA gets all they want from the air companies, too. Wonder if a school would take them, for crafts or something. Could always put ‘em in a ‘Free’ box at a yard sale. Last time I had one, this guy – who didn’t buy anything – hoisted the whole box onto his shoulder, loaded it into his car trunk, and drove away.

FIL wrote Beloved today, I’m so glad we wrote to BIL. He says he knows everything, there’s a bank error that’ll resolve today – too bad banks are closed – and there’s nothing to worry about. We checked again and didn’t see any errors on that statement, and the account’s been negative since 19 April. Even allowing for the glitch, didn’t MIL deserve to know, before she wrote any bad checks ? And that still doesn’t explain why the power, cable, and gas bills haven’t been paid since February. Twenny bucks we don’t have says we’ll still have to pay the backlogged power bill at month’s end, along with the water, too. But I hope I’m wrong. If it does turn out that way, I will post a public apology as soon as it happens, if I have to sling my computer into a tote bag and walk across town to publish it. But right now, I’m so sick of all this drama, it’s all I can do to not just go back to bed and hope it’s better tomorrow.

Can’t do that, so I sewed. Months ago, I downloaded some ‘Pattern Blocks’ from a DeviantArt website, and I found m’self wondering if or even how they’d work. They were just basic shapes, supposedly drafted from MH doll measurements, with no seam allowances or adjustments. Kind of a ‘use at your own risk’ pattern, but at least they were free, unlike other rotten companies who pull that crap for cash (coughLivingsofthack). I was rather spoiling for a challenge to take my mind off stuff, so I printed out the ‘Boy’ version. And cut out the shirt pieces.

Yikes. Much too small. It barely fit the girls. There it is, on my ‘dress form’, the long-ago-damaged DLaura. That’s the neat thing about fashion dolls – even a near-totally wrecked one can still be a good dress form over on the ole sewing Arena.  Added seam allowances – a quarter inch all around, except at center front – and a bit more for back closures and an extra quarter inch of length, and it worked up OK, it was just too big all around, and the ‘cap’ sleeves looked like something out of a bad 60s ‘space’ movie. Or a Joan Crawford film. You could get linebacker shoulder pads under that thing, and not see ‘em at all. And it was still shorter than I wanted. So I eliminated the side-seam allowance and added more length – then redrew the ‘sleeves’ into more of a wide-strap tank top. I hope to get that test sewn up tomorrow.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

McDs and memories...

Current Mood: Confused but game.

What a mixed-up day today was ! But I learned many things, mostly because of all the mistakes…

On the neat side, my laptop plays DVDs ! I hoped it might. Watched  Blazing Saddles as I did some hand-sewing today, and it was clear and perfect. Years ago, I read this seamstress’ description of her sewing room – she had a TV/VCR player in there, so she could watch how-to videos. I envied her that, just a twinge, as my Lab was much too small. Well, now I have the equivalent of a portable theater wherever I sew. Who knew I was so stinkin’ rich ?

We packed up all the computers and headed to the Library a few minutes after they opened today. Too bad they were closed. I mean, I knew they’d be off for Memorial Day Monday, but Sunday ? They’re only open on four hours to begin with on Sundays. We weren’t the only ones confused, though. There was a steady stream of cars parking, people getting out, then getting back in and driving off. Well, shoot.

So we blew ten bucks for lunch at McDs, and I got the Blog updated and had a bit of fun  lookin’ around. Not much though – the Library’s Wi-Fi may not be as fast, but there aren’t infants screaming nonstop for 45 minutes there ! Whoo. Dearest Son didn’t scream that loud even if he was hurt, and this was just one kid, with one steady, loud, constant wail. My ears rung when we left. Found out my mouse has an on/off switch when I couldn’t get it to work there for a minute. That’s something new for me !

Once back, I noticed that my sewing machine cover had some stains on it, and I’d noted a spot on Brody’s embroidery machine cover when I took all those vest photos, too. Since I just wasn’t in a sewing mood,  I tossed both in the wash with some other necessaries. Several buttons I’d glued to KJ’s cover came off, and two are MIA, but I had others and I made sure to sew them on. Everything sewn stayed.

A sticky-back patch I had on the KJ cover came off, too, leaving a sticky mess where it was, and a nice, clean patch I could put anywhere. Using the tip Andrew_S. gave me for getting decal residue off those Fearleader costumes, I applied lots of rubbing and rubbing alcohol to the sticky spot. There’s a bit of stain remaining, but only if you know where to look for it. Besides, I made this cover in 2002. I’m surprised it hasn’t rotted away by now ! I then sewed the patch back on in a better place. I like my ‘new’ cover ! I think it’s funny that my very first try at applique – that red gingham heart – is right next to my most recent one, the ‘Goddess’ patch. Lotta history on that thing – and a lot of Hancock Fabric’s markdown buttons ! The stain on Brody’s came right out, so I’m happy. I need to embroider some more on that one, but it comes in handy for doll photos…like the vest ones !

This afternoon, I got distracted making my usual gallon of Kool-Aid a day, and only used a cup of sugar. It actually tastes better ! Of course, I’m using the Aldi’s generic drink mix packets, but I don’t remember the real thing tasting good with half the sugar. (grin) One of my Aunts used to make that stuff with no sugar at all ! Imagine a romping Saturday morning playing Star Wars with your cousins  in their backyard, then coming in for a nice snack – my Aunt was the best cook on the planet ! - and the red punch is the most sour thing you’ve ever tasted. It’s all you can do to swallow. Your cousins are drinking it down, and you can’t help but wonder if it’s only you or something. Apparently my expression was priceless, since it was the talk of the entire school (it seemed) Monday morning. Ah, memories…

Decided to start pulling a box or two a day, starting Friday, out of where they’re crammed in the storage building, and getting them ready for Moving Day ! We only have about a dozen or so, and most are books. But there’s some office supplies and bathroom and kitchen stuff out there. Although if we’ve gotten along without it for this long, we may just ditch it now, and save us the trouble later. Not to mention shaking out any bugs that may have crawled in for the winter. Beloved wrote BIL an e-mail, detailing what’s going on here, much like he laid out for MIL, late last night via his cell phone. No response to that, either. But they do have internet, I saw where both BIL and FIL updated their FaceBook pages today. (sigh)

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Just keep sewing, just keep sewing, sewing sewing....just keep sewing....

Current Mood : Moving along...

Beloved Hubby and I had the much-delayed talk with MIL, which went about as well as can be expected when you tell someone that they’re a financial shipwreck and the storm just started. FIL, of course, told her about what he told us about bills and their Checking account – next to nothing, with no indication that all this was on the immediate horizon. ‘Stunned’ is perhaps the best description of her reaction. The electric bill came in, and it’s about what we thought…  very high and already in cutoff, since it hasn’t been paid since we took care of it in February. We can cover it and the water bill, to keep the utilities on for now, but after that, they’re pretty much on their own. We’re barely gonna make our own rent and bills. At her request, we left messages for BIL to please call, but haven’t heard back from him yet. Not sure what good telling him is gonna do, though…

Both Beloved Hubby and I repeatedly urged her to move in with us next month, at least temporarily until FIL can dig their way out of the mess he created (at least, we hope). I think now she will. I also think he’ll need a very skillful proctologist when she’s done with him. I finally saw some fire in her eyes, even if it was just a flash of anger, but it gives me so much hope for her !

As for today, we were going to the Library while Beloved was at work, but Dearest Son misbehaved and then lied about it, and there was no way I was rewarding *that*. Can always post this tomorrow. We had a long talk, especially about lying and current events, and I think he understands the importance of trust a little better than he did. Everyone felt better after showers, and Beloved was home fairly early – exhausted, though. We put him right to bed after a very late lunch.

That left me some time to sew, so I gave the vest project the ole college try – now it’s partially lined. Maybe the best description is to say the front, from side seam around the neckline and down to the other side seam, has a facing, instead of a full lining. So, really, it‘s ‘faced’, not ‘lined’ this time. The armholes and back are simply folded and hemmed. This version looks a lot smoother and fits nicely, so I’m happy. Still have to work on getting it more parallel on both sides, though. Truth be told, I about had it right on the second try, but that bright striped fabric doesn’t have a matching thread to help hide the stitching. But with all this practice, my ‘sewing about 1/8th inch from the edge’ stitching is getting much better ! And it only takes about a half-hour to make one now.

Oh, and ya wanna know a secret ? I was sewing this when the fuss with Dearest went down, so I wasn’t giving it my full attention and messed up – the green polka dots are actually the wrong side of the fabric ! The inside is much more vivid, but you wouldn’t know to see it as-is.

The #3 try went back into the trash after I did the photo – it’s just not worth saving. The others…well…I’ll probably never use them, and if I do, I’ll hafta spend hours erasing bad stitches in PaintShopPro, but they’re a lot harder to throw out ! Ever have that problem ? You know it’s not your best effort, and it may not even fit right, but you just can’t toss it out, so you figure, I’ll probably dump it later, and put it in with the rest of the doll clothes. Heck, I only really toss bad efforts out when we move ! Uh, oh…

Got the final version scanned, with directions. You’d think, after making something several times to get it right, I’d remember, but not always. It’s always best to spend a few minutes writing down what I did so that next time, this step or that part isn’t a frustrating blank. 

Friday, May 25, 2012

I'll always have Frankie and Ghoulia...

Current Mood : Resigned

Current Image Notes : Click to see without stuff in the way ! 

Remember that ‘downhill’ thing I mentioned yesterday ? Turns out, I didn’t know the half of it. Every last bill here is in ‘pay off or cut off’ already, except the one we paid Monday, and the IL’s Checking account balance right now is negative $700. Yes. You read that right. It’s got a negative balance so high, there’s no way we could ever catch it up. So the already-delayed mortgage payment is gonna bounce, and FIL is apparently still able to draw cash out of various ATMs wherever he is. He hasn’t even been gone two weeks, and I’m starting to think he set us up. Not a single utility has been paid for months, since the last time we paid it.

Thing is, it doesn’t really change anything. All the money we hope to make between now and year’s end won’t dig them out of this mess for a month. And it’ll start all over again with or without FIL here the following month. Frankly, their financial shuffle /brink of disaster dance has been going on for years. So we’re still moving, MIL is just gonna have to understand How Things Are Now and come with us, and in the meanwhile, we’re gonna try to keep the electric and water on ‘til it’s time for us to leave, but that’s about all we can do. We may have to sell Starlight to get us that far. We didn’t make this mess, I resent* FIL leaving us holding his bag of disaster, but that doesn’t help. All we can do is cut our losses, keep everyone together, and move on.

But talk without action is nothing, so I sewed. The vest mostly worked with the new idea – it’s still fully lined, but I hemmed the armscryes after I stitched the two pieces together at the sides and neckline. It fits OK, but it fit better when it was just a single thickness of fabric, two makes it a little stiff.  I have one more idea left to try, but the pattern itself is good. Not sure what I’ll do with my new vest pattern, but it’s nice to have one if/when I need it !

I also did the dishes and sought comfort and hope in the bottom of a potato chip bag. Didn’t find it, but the bag’s not empty yet ! There was French Onion dip, too…

Also meant to tell you of the neat coincidence this week. Beloved Hubby read Without Conscience : The Disturbing World of the Psychopaths Among Us and I had the chance to devour it, too. It’ll be a while before I forget that read. Several times it referred to Diane Downs, a woman who’d shot her three kids. I remembered reading her story in the true-crime novel Small Sacrifices, probably decades ago. I found m’self wanting to read it again – and I found a copy on the Library’s ‘Book Sale’ shelves for 50c ! Snag ! I can read that one at my leisure. Which is good, because Beloved started reading it himself last night, but is only on chapter two.  

(* used here, ‘resent’ is one of the biggest understatements of 2012.)

Thursday, May 24, 2012

I'd actually expected things to not cave in 'til he'd been gone a month....

Current Mood : Bewildered

Well. When stuff starts to roll downhill, it only gathers speed, that’s fer sure. Sorry to have to drag in more ‘real life’ on ya, but updates to this will be sporadic at best for a while. We had to pay the ‘pay off or shut off’ gas bill this week out of our moving funds, and today, cable and internet got shut off for the same reason. Luckily, we all have laptops that we can take to various free Wi-Fi spots, so I can update on occasion, but I don’t see us doing that every day. And we sure don’t have the funds it’d take to pay the cable bill.

To tell the truth, we’ve been trying to get FIL to shut off cable for years, since it’s hard to justify $160./month when the $40./month gas bill is in arrears every other month, but he’s always refused. Even if we had the funds, I wouldn’t want to spend them on CSI and The Closer  reruns, and I know Beloved Hubby feels the same. It’ll be hardest on MIL, but I just don’t see what else we can do. I have to focus on everyone right now.

Yeah, we’ll all miss internet, but I think that’s for the best, too. I sew more when we don’t have access. I’ll probably make time to do those tutorials I’ve been thinking about ! Dearest Son doesn’t see six million cars he wants for roughly $3K each, and I think even Beloved’s blood pressure goes back down when he can’t see the political / financial pages at will. While Beloved doesn’t know yet – he’s at work – Dearest is handling it well. He was upset for maybe three minutes after we had a discussion about what was happening, then he snagged a snack and the Finding Nemo DVD and headed for our room. He’s happy as clams at high tide.

As for me, I got the bright idea to try that vest again, version 3.0, lined this time. So I sewed two together, planning on turning it right side out, so all the stitching’s on the inside. Good idea, but it didn’t work. Too narrow at the shoulders to turn. Even cutting it and giving the vest shoulder seams didn’t save it – that threw off the fit so badly, I had to toss it. But I have a new idea…

I’d say I don’t know why I’m so obsessed with getting the vest to work, but I have an idea about that, too. It’s not connected to anything going on here, really, but I’m a superstitious sort, and deep down, I think if I can get the vest to work, maybe Life will work out, too…I just have to work harder and be more clever.

What the heck. It’s not like I have a better solution to everything right now…

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Lab experiments !

Current Mood : Happily weary - with lots to read ! 

The kitchen is finally about as clean as it’s ever gonna get, unless I wanna scale a ladder and start scrubbing the cabinet shelves. I really should, since the doors got taken off for repair years ago, all the dirt, grease, and muck landed right in there, but after what I had to scrape / sweep / scrub off and around the stove top, I find m’self unwilling to jump into another major project this week. I just hope getting it that icky was fun. I’d hate to think all that…mess was there just because no one cleaned up behind himself.

When that was all done, it was trash time. First, I got all the trash out of the ‘alleyway’ between this place and the neighbors’ house. Someone has a habit of sticking semi-full trash cans out there and leaving them in the rain for a few weeks, probably because the pick-up bins tend to fill up fast. That’s why I made the effort to get the alleyway trash out first. No wonder the mosquitoes are so bad here ! Even with the brackish water dumped out, the cans weighed a ton, but I got them emptied, then the empty cans got turned upside down so as not to become rain catchers again. Beloved Hubby trashed all the other bins and plastic boxes that were out there for no apparent reason two months ago, so the alleyway is nearly clean now. We must have the most understanding neighbors on earth !  With that done,  I gathered up all the trash from every room and took it out. This completely filled one bin. Whew ! You know, once we move out, they can probably save a few bucks and go back to just one pick-up bin…

MIL knows we’re moving out next month. Kinda hard to not know when there's two sofas in the living room. She e-mailed Beloved Hubby, asking us not to leave. I feel for her, and she knows we’re not gonna abandon her, but we can’t stay here any longer. I’ve tried to get her to come out and participate more, but you can’t do much when the she prefers to e-mail us instead of talking.

With all that done just before noon, I was still rarin’ to go. The library notified me Saturday that the fourth and final Monster High book was waiting for me, and after making lunch for the crew and grabbing a much-needed shower, I was off. I actually got some time to m’self, since Beloved Hubby was home then, and neither he nor Dearest Son wanted to go.

I found a treasure trove of books in the Free bin this time – a bunch of encyclopedia ‘yearbooks’ from 1969 to 1980. Wow. I claimed eight, but when I went back for the last three, they’d been claimed by someone else. Oh, well. It was kind of funny, though. I’d managed to drag the eight plus several other book sale finds and a couple loaned books out to the car by m’self, but the lady who’d grabbed the three needed help getting them and two other books to her car. Wow. I must be doing pretty well !

I also got rid of several books we didn’t want to keep, including some earlier second-hand purchases from other libraries and yard sales, plus a buncha older Entertainment Weekly magazines I’d found when we cleaned up the Garpartment. Our library system welcomes darn near any contributions for their ongoing book sales.

Once home, I watched cable with Beloved and Dearest, did my online usual, and then it was time for the experiments. I had a cut out and Fray-checked second go-round of Tarja’s jacket bodice / vest ready to go, and I wanted to play a bit with that crystal pleated organza. I'd researched that stuff, and could find no directions on how to sew it. Learn as ya go, always one of your best entertainment values. I cut out a piece with a stain and a diagonal seam and put the rest away – at least if I totally butchered it, it would be on a ‘bad’ spot anyway.

But first, the vest. It fits much better, but my sewing on it is awful. One side is much wider than the other, and you can see every poorly placed stitch, but it may just be one of those things I need to practice and tweak a bit more. It wasn’t until I finished it that I realized I still had the ballpoint needle in KJ, from sewing that ribbing a few days ago ! You’d think I’d have learned to check that by now… At least that explains some of the tension issues.

After I swapped needles, I cut a near random rectangle from the organza, measured out some quarter-inch elastic, and got to it. I still have ‘fun’ (a growly, frustrated kind of fun) sewing with elastic, and this bit looked bad but stitched well. At least I’d remembered to measure a doll’s hips instead of just matching the organza to the elastic. Turned out OK, but I thought it looked better with the elastic covered up by some matching ribbon. Dead Tired DLaura’s wearing that with the ribbing bodysuit / romper I made Monday. They look kinda funky together, but at least now I have some crystal-pleated organza experience under my own elastic belt !

I’m kinda writing vest 2.0, the organza skirt, and the romper all off as ‘lab experiments’, since I can do better, but it was important to do them. Not sure if I’ll keep any of ‘em, even though I’m glad I tried. I wonder if a bit of adjusting will ease out that ‘dent’ in the organza on DLaura’s left side ? And if I don’t use the hem that comes on the organza, what is the best way to hem it – sewing it somehow, or just some Fray-check ? I wonder what would be the right ribbing width to make a *good* romper ? And I wonder if I’ll ever get the shoulders on Tarja’s vest the same size on each side !

But that’s the best thing about experiments. You can learn from ‘em and do ‘em over ‘til you get ‘em right, or just plain give up, ‘cause you learned something else instead !

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Oh, my.....

Current Mood : Clean and happy.

Whew ! Well, I’ve nearly reclaimed the kitchen from the mess FIL and Beloved have left it in. Gosh, what a job. Three hours of dishes this week and I’m still not done. I’ll be so glad when it’s our kitchen I have to clean – we don’t eat so much fried food.

I was cleaning up from yesterday’s fun when I had a thought. With careful nurturing, it didn’t die of loneliness, so I’m launching it out into the world. So. Many of Barbie’s  playline ‘designer’ outfits these days come in a single package, with shoes, a purse, and an accessory. The clothes are tacked onto a plastic body shape which is then attached to a cardboard back that hosts a stylized image of the dream girl, with the accessories attached around her. The flat image is shown as sort of ‘modeling’ the outfit. These tend to run about six bucks or so.

In comparison / contrast, the Monster High clothes also come on a clear plastic body, but their clothes are tacked to more of a paper doll  instead of a flat image. It nearly looks three-dimensional, since the paper doll is lifted off the package back, which is dramatically striped, and adds to the eye appeal. MH clothes tend to come with matching shoes, a purse, another fashion accessory, like a belt or jacket, and a prop, sometimes with a trading card. I’ve been able to find all the ones I have for $8. or less.

My question is this – would you prefer less packaging and fewer props if it meant the outfits were cheaper ? Or do you think Barbie’s stuff would sell better if it came with small props that weren’t made of paper ? If everything else was equal – the contents, the availability, etc. – would you prefer to play Barbie prices for MH clothes with less packaging and props, or is the extra couple bucks worth it to you ? I’m curious.  

Me, I like how the MH outfits are presented, and I love the props. I just don’t like how character-centric most of them are. If I could get off my butt and find some confidence, I could probably make a mint off basic black skirts and pants for these dolls. Not to mention the cash for guy-doll clothes. But those things are easy to make, so I’m glad Mattel’s taking more of a fashion risk with the MH line. There’s no way I could make most of those shoes, for one thing ! And I do so love the shoes….

Ahem. Anyway. Not a lot else going on today, but I hope to sew tomorrow. The rest of the kitchen disaster should only take an hour or so !

Monday, May 21, 2012

I think it looks better on Clawdeen !

Current Mood : Real happy. 

Current Image Notes : I love how well this turned out ! Click on it to see it nice and big !

Today, I finally decided. The Barbie Shelf, on My Bookcase of Everything I Enjoy, was crowded to the point of dolls occasionally falling off it. I thought I’d trimmed them down pretty severely during the last move, but I couldn’t deny it anymore. Today was the day I had to play Survivor : Sixth Scale, to find a new home for at least two. Odd, that. I had seven* Barbie dolls as a kid, five in a cabinet in my 20s, about ten to fifteen – which mushroomed to a whopping 217 at one point -  in my 30s, and now, middle of my 40s, I want it down to 20 or 21, so they’d all fit seated on one shelf. That meant at least two had to go, and I knew deep down which two, even though I’d had a long history with all the dolls I still had.  

Thing is, sometimes you can have a long history and good times, and still not like something. Sometimes, even some one. I’m not gonna fool m’self and think my dolls are real or such, but…well…I bought a Matchbox Lisa Hayes doll pretty much as soon as they came out, from a TRU in Augusta, Georgia. Sure, she didn’t much look like the beloved  Macross / Robotech character, but her uniform was close enough for me. And, yes, I loved her box. About a decade later, I overpaid for a Rick Hunter character from the same line, mostly to serve as company for her. Neither were very appealing, but I stuck with them regardless.

Truth be told, I never really liked either. I’ve kept them because I’ve had them so long, not because I really enjoyed them or even appreciated the effort a company that mostly made toy cars put into them. Once I realized that, I knew they had dates with another destiny.

And I also decided against keeping Sailor Pluto. She’s gorgeous, and I still love her lush green hair, but again, I’ve kept her ‘cause she’s rare, not because I have a special affinity for the character or fondness around her at all. Plus, we found her in a box I thought I gave away years ago, after I’d winnowed down my collection for the move. So, at day’s end, Sailor Pluto, Rick Hunter, and Lisa Hayes will be moving on. I’m surprised that I don’t really feel sad about it. I feel more relief than anything else ! I still have plenty of dolls – in all different sizes – to play with and sew for, so it’s all good.

Speaking of sewing, I’m thinking of starting another tutorial. I kind of miss doing those, and I have some energy these days, why not use it to help encourage others to sew their own doll clothes ? Since my efforts to draft patterns from scratch have been a mixed bag at best, I think I’ll start with something that’ll be faster to do, easier to achieve. Perhaps…making patterns from the clothes the doll comes in, without taking said apparel apart ? I know the MH guys can always use more tank shirts and such.

For today, though, I wanted to crack open my last gift from Mother’s Day – I kinda hid it behind Operetta and Toralei’s outfits, but I’d wanted that Barbie outfit ever since I saw it a few weeks prior. Kinda funny, that – I’d seen it and hoped soooo hard it’d still be there when we had funds. I completely forgot that Barbie clothes tend to linger much longer than MH ones. I just knew that purple and that animal print would look fantastic on Clawdeen. Just had to adjust the fit.

And this one was much easier than the other Barbie dress I adapted to fit Frankie. I put it on Clawdeen inside out, pinning it to fit, then drawing over the pins with a chalk pen I got years ago from a Hancock Fabrics closeout section. It took a couple tries with basting stitches before I got it right, then I sewed it again with tiny stitches. Didn’t even have to touch the Velcro ™ in back. Thinking of adding some black sparkle tulle to the hem, to lengthen it, make the pink stand out a little more, and give it a bit of ‘Solo In The Spotlight’ callback.

The purse that came with it is OK – I think DracuLaura would like it more – and the pink studded belt has a BARBIE buckle on the front, but that’s OK. It’s also where the clasp is, so it can easily be rotated to the back. Shoes, of course, aren’t wearable by the ghouls, but I still have 21 sixth scale dolls, eleven of which can use ‘em. It’s funny how they remind me of Spectra’s boots, they’re about the same color.

Speaking of MH/Barbie connections, you probably already know this, but Mattel’s learned quite a bit from how MH was presented. And the webisodes, for better or worse, are a big part of its early success. So now, Barbie has her own short cartoon web series, called Barbie : Life in the Dreamhouse. It’s actually pretty cute. There’s four episodes so far, and I’m hoping it also does well. Here’s a preview, and a link to the site for you !

I also made a simple slip-on ‘between fittings’ romper out of ribbing I had lying around, and when I make a better one, I’ll share. It’s a bit too loose in the top, so I sewed a ribbon to it to cinch it up. Now I wanna make more. I have so much fun, I can’t find the hours for it all !

(*Malibu Barbie, Malibu Ken, Quick Curl Barbie, Quick Curl Skipper, Ballerina Barbie, Growing Up Skipper, and Sweet 16 Barbie. I tend to count Princess Leia as less a childhood doll and more of a transitional one.)

Sunday, May 20, 2012

I can see Toralei wavin' goodbye...

Current Mood : Relaxed

Well, last night was interesting ! We had another of the ‘major pieces’ we needed for the new place fall into our laps – a new-to-us sofa ! It’s light brown corduroy, in decent shape, just needs a cleaning and some support added under the cushions, where it’s pretty saggy. But it’s in good shape, and will work for us ! Best part is that it was another curbside find, so it was free. And we got it before it poured down rain all night. Dearest Son was so enamored, he slept on it – on top of a quilt – last night. I can’t help but think we’re moving at the right time, since the Garpartment gets pretty hot, mostly ‘cause the crappy underpowered air conditioner doesn’t work very well. FIL was always monitoring the door between the house and the Garage / Garpartment, and got really upset when it was slightly ajar. Now, if we can just find a good vacuum cleaner and maybe a couple of bookcases between now and next month…

But before that, we decided to run up to our new place, see how noisy it gets on spring/summer weekend nights. Not too bad. There was a small party on the second floor, but we could barely hear it from the parking lot. Depending on what music they like, we could probably hear it inside, but that’s why we all got new headphones ! I’m feeling better and better about things !

So I laughed when we went to the FormerTown Mal-Wart, and got to prowl the Monster High section. They had most of what ours did, just fewer – a Jackson, a Cupid, two Neferas, three Rochelles, one Abbey, and just the one Operetta outfit – with one exception. They had *tons* of Create A Monster sets ! Oh, crud. If they had what I wanted, it’d be soooo hard to walk away from it, and I didn’t think I could…

Luckily, the six packages of CAM sets were the old ones. And not the old ones reissued, nope. These were first-run one-torso sets. What a relief. I mean, I just *got* two new dolls, I’d like to keep my acquisitions down to one or less a month, Mattel ! Of course, I’ve already blown that for 2012 – with Cupid, greyscale Frankie, Rochelle, Jackson, Skull Shores Lagoona and Ghoulia,  and Operetta, I’m already up to July !

Made me wonder, though. With the ‘old’ sets being reissued with two torsos, are the old one-chest sets even gonna sell ? Possibly to non-collectors, I’d think. Or folks who like to have the ‘older first run’ versions. I’m kinda hoping for markdowns, ‘cause I would love some cheap shoes for a change ! (grin)

I also wondered about my own dolls. When had I bought each – and what year did I buy the most ? How many have I given away or put aside for trades ? So today I did a new nose count. In 2010, the year they were first released, I snagged 13 dolls in about six months. And I kept every last one. In 2011, I bought 20 dolls, but have since given away or traded eight, so I only kept 12, a good ‘one a month’ average. But with the shelves getting crowded and the fun just not stopping from Mattel, this year I’ve already bought seven dolls and kept ‘em all. And this doesn’t even count the beds, clothes, and other misc. like ComicCon bags and Valentine’s Day cards. Heck, there’s a little $5. Stationery set right now at Mal-Wart that I want. But I really need to slow down on the dolls…at least until I find that two-guys Create A Monster set !

You know, I whine a lot about Mattel’s distribution, especially last year. But when you can say that, at one point, you had 40 dolls, all bought within two years, and almost all of them were original from the first run, you can’t really say “I can never find anything at my stores !!1!” with a straight face. Most of us eventually find what we want, we just don’t get it as soon as a fortunate few. Of course, all of us want all the goodies at once, so it ends up breeding frustration and a little jealousy. I confess, when I saw Tabitha’s CAM guys lookin’ good in her Flickr Photostream, I was a little jealous. But I know I’ll have mine soon, without driving across half the state, paying too much to scalpers, or annoying sales clerks for a month. Even if I do, it’s my choice to act like a nut, and in no way Mattel’s fault. In the meanwhile, I got stuff to sew, other dolls to play with in three other sizes, and a pretty good life to enjoy. So there’s no point driving m’self crazy over it.

Too bad it took me two years to figure that out, huh ? (grin)

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Got a whole Lottie love...

Current Mood : Grateful we don't have a K-Mart...

Whole family came down with upset tummies last night, so we each retreated to solo suffering accompanied by the distraction and comfort of computers, sofas, cable, and books. I knew I’d need a lie-down in bed, so I snagged a favorite book I haven’t read in a year and something that’s been on my mind for a while.

Last time we moved, it was one of those ‘yard sale Saturday, completely moved out by noon Sunday’ deals. We’d been sort of packing off and on the whole time, but got the bulk of it done in less than eight hours. I can see you flinching, because you know that kinda schedule leaves little time for careful packing. Ya end up throwing most of your thousands of worldly goods haphazardly into boxes, and hoping it comes out OK on the other side.  

Of course, my dolls, being non-fragile plastic and vinyl, got this treatment. Most did come through  just fine, but my much-loved Charlotte (Princess and the Frog ) had one side of her hair completely smashed flat. I sighed when I unpacked her, as I’d loved her curls. One of the reasons it was so easy to let go of the Becky set was because both dolls had the same hairdo. Normally I’d keep the brunette, no surprise, but Lottie looked so happy (and actually a little less goofy than Becky !) that she made me smile from the day I found her on a retail shelf. And seeing the second Disney-exclusive doll of her made me really upset that mine got a little damaged. Have you seen that one ? She’s more cross-eyed than Lum ! Nice dress, though – but we’ve all seen more pink, elaborate, and fluffy on yer average Christmas Barbie.

Anyway, as you can guess from this long-winded wind-up that the ‘something’ was Charlotte. I’d had a little success with ‘jailbreaking’ Cupid’s similar style, and was ready to try restoring Lottie’s. Much as I love washing out the spray glue/starch/museum paste Mattel uses to keep hairstyles intact in packaging, some dolls have hair I don’t want to even try to restore after a sink shampoo. I’d discovered that I could brush out Cupid’s curls and they’d spring right back, even free of the product. I’m not sure why I was so surprised, my 1962 Midge still has her original curls, too. I just curl their hair around my finger with the doll brush.

So, when Lottie still looked good this morning, I gave her a bit more of a spa treatment and washed the rest of the spray from her hair. I wanted to keep the high curl and the tulle fluff, so I washed around ‘em. Much better. I don’t feel like I damaged her now, and with that whatever stuff out of her hair, I think she’s better than before. And when we move this time, she and the rest of my fashion dolls are gonna travel standing up in a divided container liquor store box. That I keep on my lap for the drive over. Hmpft.

I admit, I kinda felt somehow unfaithful to the Monster High dolls, but they seemed to understand. Even when I borrowed Cupid’s stand to keep Charlotte on her feet last night. Yes, MH stands can work for Barbie – if you can push the ‘c’ shaped piece down far enough to clamp one thigh. That’s right, MH waists are the size of one Barbie leg.

Today’s been interesting, too – although I mostly did some neglected housework, I still made time to read my various MH doll information sources. (sorry, that site’s so awful, I’m not gonna link it) showed the Roller Maze dolls available, so several fans barreled off to their local stores, or tried the modified in-store pickup thing the website offers. Turned out, the dolls are not available yet (not supposed to be ‘til July, which normally means mid-June, but nearly all the new stuff surfaces in California early), and the ones who successfully placed orders found Dead Tired dolls waiting for them instead. Seems K-Mart uses the same UPCs for both series, and the website reflected that. Made me glad the nearest k-store is over 50 miles away, even though I wouldn’t have gone unless they were less than two miles away. Until they start showing up on eBay with stupid ridiculous prices, MH dolls darn near don’t exist.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Need a soda, Ghoulia ?

Current Mood : Ready to Party ! Who's got the soda ? 

I was barely awake before Beloved Hubby asked me to go with him on a soda run – and we scored a white plastic set of narrow shelves, made by Plano. I’ve seen that name before, usually on tackle or tool boxes. It’s pretty tall ! We could take two off the top as end tables and still have toy shelves for Dearest Son’s room. Or a place to display all my dolls. It’s amazing what we’re finding out on the curbs this week. Despite shoving out a ton of stuff during Spring Cleaning, we didn’t find anything then.

As the heat grew, Beloved wanted to loaf on the sofa, but Dearest and I were getting restless. So we hit some yard sales. Pretty bad. Out of five stops, about all we saw were lots of little-girl clothes and baby stuff, and one was trying to sell bras and bikini swimsuits, along with trademark violation umbrellas, all brand new. Another had eBay printouts under most of their items, perhaps justifying their prices. He found a small Lucite box, probably for office paper clips, but also perfectly sized for Hot Wheels cars. I scored a still packaged set of four cork squares. They’re 12 inches, just right for doll photos or make-your-own bulletin boards. One side had a $2. price sticker, the other side just wanted a dollar. I didn’t see the other side until after I got ‘em home, luckily I saw the $1. sticker. I don’t think I’d have paid two for them.

From there, we went to Target. I confess, I really wanted a big jar of their Zen Garden trail mix, the one with all the tasty rice crackers, but I just couldn’t spend $8. on ‘em right now. I may indulge after the move. Nothing new on the Monster High front either, but I was still happy to see they had something on the shelves. Couple Rochelles, Operettas, and Jacksons, several Neferas, an Abbey, and a Sweet 1600 Clawdeen. Nothing else but dress-up clothes, erasers, and sketch books. I don’t mind telling ya’ll, if it turns out those new Create A Monster sets can make me two complete new guys, it’s mine ! Heck, from what I’ve seen, the older CAM sets are being re-released with two torsos as well. Ya know, I always liked that Sea Monster doll…just didn’t like her with a pink chest and blue arms, legs, and head. Guess our checkbook’s lucky they didn’t have any of ‘em today !

Debated buying a Stardoll outfit set on a slight markdown, but again, I couldn’t bring m’self to shell out $14. for just two pair of MH doll shoes. Dearest seemed to have similar economy issues – he turned down a $3. ‘collector’ Hot Wheels car to instead choose three 89c ones. He enjoyed them all afternoon, racing them around the ‘track’ he created with masking tape on Wednesday’s found desk. We’re livin’ large, baby !

I did find more erasers shaped like miniature food in the Dollar section, and snagged two sets. I’m a total sucker for those, but two corn dogs, a slice of pizza, a burger and fries, and a foot-long hot dog for a buck is irresistible on its own. Being able to take the burgers and hot dogs apart to make Lagoona a ‘kelp burger’ just makes it awesome.

They’d be even more awesome if they looked as good – and were more in scale – like Deborah’s. Her doll food is exquisite. She makes food I don’t even like look good enough to eat, and small enough to fit a dozen in a Sucrets tin ! Check out her store here.

From there, we stopped by PetSmartCo, whichever it is. Since FIL’s fish are mostly still swimming – four out of six ain’t bad ! – we decided to let Dearest choose a new tank resident. We're giving serious consideration to starting a much smaller aquarium of our own in the new place. We carefully looked at them all, and while I’m partial to neon tetras (what can I say, I’m the flashy sort), I really love the Black Molly we got. He (I guess) is stunning, almost completely ebony, fast and a bit playful. He likes to hang out by the filter, and seems to ride the currents from it, at the top of the tank. He also ate quite a bit at feeding time, and his fins seem to be up and healthy. Here’s hoping Brawley (Bro + Molly) is long-lived and enjoying every minute of it. 

And ‘Ghoulia Week’ concludes today with our favorite Classroom zombie. Since she just got something new, I decided a re-pose, with the underskirt showing, would be good. And with all this ‘eraser food’ sitting around, all she needs is a soda, which her Dad is bringing from the kitchen. The ghouls have plans for later tonight, so Ghoulia likes to eat early. TGIF, ya’ll !

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Ghoulia rethinks her bright yellow bike...

Current Mood : Silly

Kind of a slower day today. It’s hot as anything since daybreak, so hot we cut each other’s’ hair. We’d all been needing it, and today was a good day for it. Beloved Hubby did most of the cutting – Dearest Son flinches too much for me to do a decent job of it – and I love my new, shorter ‘do. Dearest then went back to playing with the garden hose, which I’d had out to clean trash cans, and that devolved into a front-yard water fight that soaked all three of us. I beat both of ‘em into a shower, though. When my hair gets cut, both ends are sharp and dig in to skin ‘til I get every last cut-off strand down the drain. The ends left on my head somehow smooth out during the night, and aren’t sharp the following day.

By midafternoon, though, we were dry and hot again, so we finally turned the air conditioning on. It’s been off for nearly two weeks. The only other big news of the day was that we finally got the washer to drain completely without flooding the Garpartment. That’s good, ‘cause we gotta save every dime we can for The Move, and not running to the Laundromat will help. I’ll miss the romantic fun of those late-night runs, though.

I got down my Barbie Country Living Home, mostly to just look at it, and see what I’d stored inside. Whew ! I was afraid I’d lost some of this stuff. There was the wheelchair, the window, a white plastic 'wicker' chair, the trash can, and the vintage Barbie 10-speed. So glad I still have all that – plus a table and two chairs in bright orange, and a very fragile thin plastic Barbie bed. Since I couldn’t think of a good photo for my ‘Basic’ Ghoulia, I saved out the bike, and there it is ! Wrote in the Flickr that she’s still saving for the scooter she wants…

Also got the last of the library books turned in. Hope we won’t need more before we move – ever since we lost that one, I’ve been paranoid about losing another.

Oh, and Social Security has ruled that I don’t qualify for disability. Fine with me, it was the hospital and people at the VA who encouraged us to file in the first place. Yeah, I was pretty bad off this time last year (just didn’t know it yet), but I feel so much better now that, if I had been approved for it, I would have either felt horribly guilty for taking it or I would have refused. Feeling guilty all the time and being scared someone’s gonna catch you enjoying your life is no way to live, so I’m gonna take the denial and enjoy it. Since I never got anyone to give us a straight answer on the heart transplant issue, I’m gonna assume I’m no longer up for that, either, and take what I’ve learned so far to…well, to heart ! Besides, I really like having at least one piece of fresh fruit every day. And my kiddy-grade yoga on Wii Fit. And being outside for at least ten minutes a day with Dearest.

What’s kinda strange to me is that I miss my air hose sometimes. Lately, I’ll lie down and start to sigh, thinking I forgot to turn it on and secure the hose when I realize it’s been gone for a week now. While I was headed to the library, I got behind a truck moving some invalid bathing appliances and an oxygen concentrator, and felt an amazing surge of gratitude. I hope that person’s move goes well.