Category Archives: Random

Creating: The Tote Project Part 1

It all started because of two things. One a little article I had read about using felt markers and alcohol to paint on tee shirts and two, I needed a new knitting bag. Well in reality,  I didn’t think I needed a new one. The pink, blue, yellow, white and lime green striped one I found at the dollar store, the one with the blue handles was working fine. It was hubs who didn’t like it. Not because it was getting dirty but he just didn’t like it.

So I decided to make a new knitting bag. This one would even have a pocket on the front with a zipper for all the little stuff knitters like and a top that also zipped just so there would be fewer accidental spilling of contents on the car floor or wherever I might be knitting.

But first I decided to take a little detour to decorate a tee-shirt. Had trouble with the tiny ribs of the fabric creating hazards for my pen work so decided that I’d give it a try on some plain cotton. I ventured forth into the most creative fun I had in years. Decided that it would be the perfect thing for the zipper pocket on the front of my knitting bag. And experimenting away I ended up with eight pockets and a Christmas gift project to make for my three daughters, my daughter-in-law, two granddaughters, my sister and best friend.

  • I began with loose sketches.
Chicadees

chickadees

Fox

Fox

20150215_144028

Giant Red Mushroom

Giant Red Mushroom

Poppies

Poppies

Elm Leaves

Elm Leaves

Geraniam

Geranium

Number eight was from a photograph of mine of a Hydrangea my daughter gave me. As I mentioned, my sketches are very informal, they are little more than little guide to what I hope to create.

Then I fearlessly jumped into paint with markers directly onto my fabrics. The actual work is of course done, but showing your the progress and results begins in my next post.

Until then keep creating, or reading, or listening to music, or painting. Just enjoy what you do,

Cheers,

Shez

 

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Filed under Art, Crafts, Creating, Learning, Painting, Random

Painting

Those of you who have been following this blog know I am a DIY enthusiast. My list of “can do” is long. It’s a passion, but not my fault. It’s genetic. Genes handed down from an inventor, a teacher of upholstery and cake decorating at college level, knitter, a quilter and a foundry pattern maker.

This time I am not talking about painting walls, or making wallpaper which involves paint, nor doing faux walls. I am talking about creating artwork.

Son, Paul*, is a partner in our business. His cubical at work is next to mine. He has been doing a lot of painting recently and is honing his craft. He told me he finds it very relaxing to go home and paint. He loves acrylic because it can be stopped and started at any time. He encouraged me to give it a try.

A trip to the local art store and five tubes of paint; red, blue, yellow, white and Payne’s Grey, plus the practice canvas boards Paul provided and I was set to begin. There was a scene I had passed several times at the end of summer when the fields are golden and some trees were beginning to show their soft colors before they fully color up. A dark sky with the sun peeking through added long shadows. I wanted to paint that but I did not want to get so tied down with details. It needed to be a free and relaxing creation.

Self imposed rules were to use only one 1″ brush borrowed from my watercolors. Do not wash the brush and be finished in 20 minutes. I did it in 30.

1" Brush 30 Minutes First Acrylic Painting

1″ Brush 30 Minutes
First Acrylic Painting

There are now 8 paintings in my stack. I learn something new with each one. This weekend I see the obsessive detail beginning to creep in again. Detail is not relaxing. It is not necessary. Omitting some detail leaves the viewer room to imagine. I have discovered a love  for landscape. That does seem to be when I relax and enjoy it the most.

*A word about Paul. At two years old his favorite TV show was not Sesame Street it was Bob Ross. His wife is an artist also. Paul teaches at his wife’s studio, Vine Gogh Artist Bar. You can view some of his work at the link.

Cheers to creating,

Shez

PS It is very scary to share the first painting. There are skills not yet developed. Hopefully you will see positive progress.

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Filed under Art, Crafts, Creating, Decorating, Random, The Great Outdoors

Living with Celiac Disease

w20130909GFCupcakes
Gluten Free Banana Cupcakes with Vanilla Butter Cream. *see end of post
Four years ago I had figured out I was gluten intolerant and had tried to avoid gluten. A recent routine endoscopy showed damaged celia and the biopsies confirmed I am a Celiac.  The doctors were perplexed, the tissue samples confirmed Celiac, but my blood work was perfect. Four years of Gluten Free eating resulted in perfect blood work.
I had an appointment with a dietician. It was there I learned the dangers of being Celiac. She gave me a full folder of facts, details and information.
Celiac Disease is life-long. The celia never grow back but they do heal to the point they begin to processes nutrients. My tolerance is zero, so even cross contamination such as double dipping a knife in the peanut butter or jam to spread onto regular bread does cause me to react if I use a clean knife in the same peanut butter or jam jar to spread on a slice of GF bread. Each exposure takes a several days or weeks for the injures to the celia to heal enough to begin processing nutrients. During those days, I am freezing cold and exhausted.
w20130620BerrriesAndCream
Fresh Berries from the garden with real freshly whipped cream.*
One of the things in the folder of stuff is a list of all the names of foods that contain gluten. Many are simply different styles and types of wheat and different processes that end up  gluten of a different name.
NOT ALLOWED IN ANY FORMWheat (einkorn, durum or duram, faro, graham, kamut, semolina, spelt, freekeh, bulgur), Barley, Rye, Triticale, Malt, malt flavoring, malt vinegar (are made from barley). Barley contains the highest percentage of gluten of all the grains.
Beer is out, wine and distilled spirits even wheat based whiskeys are fine. The gluten molecules are too big to make it through the distillation process.
Wheat Free is not safe, Certified Gluten Free is. If in doubt do NOT eat it.
w20130830BrightGFBananaCake
Butter Cream Frosted GF Banana Cake*
It goes on to say labels must be read every time foods are purchased. Manufacturers can change ingredients at any time. There is a huge list of additives that may or may not be GF. That list includes: modified food starch, starch, dextrin. If it does not say certified Gluten Free do not eat without calling the manufacturer to inquire about the root source of the starch. ie: Tapioca Starch and Corn Starch are safe, of course.
Eating Gluten Free as a way of losing weight, may be trendy. It won’t hurt you but it is not a disease and you can eat it anytime it is inconvenient to go hungry.
These two websites have tons of information. www.gluten.net which is a Gluten Intolerance organization in Auburn WA. Also www.celiac.org. Be wary of simple internet searches without verifying the source. The mayo clinic has info. Canada has a really good web site with lots of really good information.
w20130616MerangueStack
Chocolate Studded Merengue Stacked with Whipped Cream*
Celiacs are supposed to carry a card in their wallet and even a health bracelet identifying Celiac. An emergency hospital stay, from a car accident for instance, complete with typical hospital fare of crackers and pudding could be the last nail in the coffin… fun, huh?
Gluten Free is healthy because it focuses on fresh fruit, vegetables, beans, lentils, fish and some lean meat. It is no more healthy than any other diet that includes sweets, cakes, pastas, sodas and other rich foods. I focus on healthy with great taste, but sometimes a special occasion calls for a special treat. Four of those are shown above.
* Learning to cook GF has been an adventure. Instead of trying to mimic the taste of  “normal” food, we have learned to appreciate a new world of food we had not known. The bottom line is it has to taste great. It needs to be something guests will enjoy as well. Slowly I am developing special occasion recipes. Sometimes a great desert can be as simple as fresh berries topped with freshly whipped cream and a sprig of mint. Sometimes the occasion calls for something spectacular, even a multi layer cake. The deserts in the photos are my GF recipes and were served for special occasions. The merengue is naturally GF and without the chocolate and the whipped cream it is not too unhealthy.
Cheers to healthy eating,
Shez

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Filed under Celiac Disease, Food, Gluten Free, Health, Photography, Random, Words to Ponder

Being Green

I did not write this, it came to me via email, but I am old enough to remember this clearly.  The photos are my cell phone photos that I took today to go with with fun piece. I added personal comments in green throughout. 
BEING GREEN…

Bright green recycle poster

This sign is required to be posted in our place of business. Did it use paper and ink plus gas for a young lady to drive to us, inspect our building, go through our trash can and hand us this poster? Did I mention we had been recycling for 13 years at work? She found a pop can in our trash and gave us a 15 minute lecture. Perhaps someone, it could even have been a truck driver from out of state, mistakenly thought the small recycling container would be the trash because the large container is should be the one for recycling. That could easily happen since at our homes we have small trash containers and huge recycling containers.

 

 
Checking out at the store, the young cashier  suggested to the much older
woman, that she should bring her own grocery bags because plastic bags
weren’t good for the environment.
The woman apologized and explained, “We didn’t have this ‘green thing’
back in my earlier days.”
The young clerk responded, “That’s our problem today Your generation did
not care enough to save our environment for future generations.”
She was right — our generation didn’t have the ‘green thing’ in its day.
Back then, we returned milk bottles, soda bottles and beer bottles to the
store. The store sent them back to the plant to be washed and sterilized and
refilled, so it could use the same bottles over and over. So they really
were recycled.
But we didn’t have the “green thing” back in our day.
Grocery stores bagged our groceries in brown paper bags, that we reused for
numerous things, most memorable besides household garbage bags, was the use
of brown  paper bags as book covers for our schoolbooks. This was to ensure
that public property, (the books provided for our use by the school) was not
defaced by our scribblings. Then we were able to personalize our books on
the brown paper bags.
But too bad we didn’t do the “green thing” back then.
(There was almost no plastic, our bread came wrapped in waxed paper, which were opened up, cut in squares and used to wrap our sandwiches.And also to keep the irons gliding smoothly over the damp, starched fabric of our clothes)
We walked up stairs, because we didn’t have an escalator in every store and
office building. We walked to the grocery store and didn’t climb into a
300-horsepower machine every time we had to go two blocks.
But she was right. We didn’t have the “green thing” in our day.
Back then, we washed the baby’s diapers because we didn’t have the throwaway
kind. We dried clothes on a line, not in an energy-gobbling machine burning
up 220 volts — wind and solar power really did dry our clothes back in our
early days. Kids got hand-me-down clothes from their brothers or sisters,
not always brand-new clothing.
But  that young lady is right; we didn’t have the “green thing” back in our
day.
Back then, we had one TV, or radio, in the house — not a TV in every room.
And the TV had a small screen the size of a handkerchief (remember them?),
not a screen the size of the state of Montana . In the kitchen, we blended
and stirred by hand because we didn’t have electric machines to do
everything for us. When we packaged a fragile item to send in the mail, we
used wadded up old newspapers to cushion it, not Styrofoam or plastic bubble
wrap. Back then, we didn’t fire up an engine and burn gasoline just to cut
the lawn. We used a push mower that ran on human power. We exercised by
working so we didn’t need to go to a health club to run on treadmills that
operate on electricity.
Recycle box with recycle-able paper.

Paper recycling very light weight cardboard box container under my desk was brought in to replace the heavy-duty recycled cardboard box I had used for several years. It was had for me to grasp the concept of yet another box when the one I used had been working perfectly.

But she’s right; we didn’t have the “green thing” back then.
We drank from a fountain when we were thirsty instead of using a cup or a
plastic  bottle every time we had a drink of water. We refilled writing pens
with ink instead of buying a new pen, and we replaced the razor blades in a
razor instead of throwing away the whole razor just because the blade got
dull.
But we didn’t have the “green thing” back then.
Back then, people took the streetcar or a bus and kids rode their bikes to
school or walked instead of turning their moms into a 24-hour taxi service
in the family’s $45,000 SUV or van, which cost what a whole house did before
the “green thing.” We had one electrical outlet in a room, not an entire
bank of sockets to power a dozen appliances.
And we didn’t need a computerized gadget to receive a signal beamed from
satellites 23,000 miles out in space in order to find the nearest burger
joint.
Bright green poster attached to the lid of a recycle container.

Our very own special recycling container which replaced the large recycle bins that served multiple businesses.

But isn’t it sad that the current generation laments how wasteful we old folks
were just because we didn’t have the “green thing” back  then?
Please forward this on to another selfish old person who needs a lesson in
conservation from a smartass young person…
We don’t like being old in the first place, so it doesn’t take much to piss
us off…especially from a tattooed, multiple pierced smartass who can’t
make change without the cash register telling them how much.

The end !
There is so much truth to this, but I for one applaud having a cell phone, permanent press clothes out of the dryer and I love my computer. I do think we could make this a better world if we embraced the ways we each can recycle and keep junk out of the landfill and keep people slimmer and healthier with all the walking. However walking to work wouldn’t be good, unless I lived much closer.
So with thanks to an unknown writer and apologies for not being able to credit the right person, I hope you enjoy this and it brings back memories if you are one of the older among us. If you are one of the younger among us, perhaps you can learn something from history, or your elders and stop rolling your eyes, really it worked.
Cheers,
Shez

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Filed under Humor, Life's Contradictions, Random, Uncategorized, Words to Ponder

Doll Project

Doll pattern and fabric.

Doll pattern and fabric.

 

One thing I love to do is make doll patterns and dolls. It suddenly dawned on me that fox girl had not received her doll. I know she is more an animal person than a doll person and she has dozens of dolls, whole collections of Bratz, Barbies, Monster High, Disney Princes, all in multiple sizes plus lots of Polly Pockets, and miniature dolls that go with bugs and animals of all sizes. The one thing she didn’t need was yet another doll. But on the other hand she couldn’t be the only one of my girls not to have a soft, handmade doll. After the panic to get the fox dress done, nothing would do but I would burn the midnight oil to made a doll for her.

Since she had spent hours sitting in my lap “helping” and watching while I did all the drawings for my book, I thought it was time Lexi came to life. It was a huge gamble that she wouldn’t care, but for me I love to make dolls and this was a great excuse to make another one.

So I dug out my pattern, the fabric and I was off and running. Sweet Hubs was just shaking his head in disbelief that I would take on such a project with so little time available and I only had ten days to do it. That is ten days that were all fill to overflowing with work, housework, decorating, cookie making parties, dinners, guests, etc. Oh and let’s not forget a daily photo blog commitment plus and occasional post here and wanting to keep up with all of your blogs.

Parts growing.

Parts growing.

Unfortunately, I didn’t even think about taking many progress photos. So you will see in the next photo that I did get the parts cut, sewn, stuffed and mostly together.

A doll in progress.

The headless doll is nearly ready for her head.

And she needed a bit more stuffing before the head was attached.

Doll has her head attached.

Head attached.

The next three steps are to add her face and give her a haircut and make underwear before the next photo.

The doll has a face and underwear.

Meet Lexi. I hope you recognize her from my blog icon.

Here is Lexi waiting for her new clothes.

The doll is named Lexi and she is finished.

Lexi is finished.

Now to make a dress and shoes for her. If only I had been able to take Monday off work, but I couldn’t and I realized that Lexi would likely not have shoes.

The doll has a dress that matches the young girl's dress.

Lexi in her Fox dress.

No shoes but a dress just like the girl’s dress. And in case you are wondering, while managing to applique a fox on a child’s dress was time-consuming and tedious, the smaller the applique the harder they are to do. To say this doll dress took hours would be accurate.

Wish I could tell you that my granddaughter loved it all, but that would be stretching the truth. Oh, she was sweet and gracious and would never hurt my feelings intentionally. She did not like the denim because it was shiny with silver threads, she doesn’t like dolls nearly as much a foxes. She knows it’s special, but I could tell it’s not really her thing, now. I had a ton of fun making it. Maybe she’ll let me borrow it.

Little girl with doll.

My sweet granddaughter with Lexi on New Year’s eve.

Little Granddaughter’s pajamas just happened to coordinate with Lexi’s new dress. The new black boots were too small.

My Christmas present was a NEW SEWING & EMBROIDERY machine!!! So some new clothes for Lexi was a great way to try it out. It’s my first computerized sewing machine and it takes a bit of a learning curve, but I LOVE it!! No excuses now not to get some projects finished up.

Wishing you all a very Happy New Year. Thank you dear friends for sharing yourselves with me through this past year. It is wonderful to have friends all over the world.

Cheers to new friendships,

Shez

 

 

 

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Filed under Children, Crafts, Do It Yourself, Holiday, Random, Sewing

The Baker

On Wednesday my grandson wanted to come over and hang out in the evening. I told him he could, but he had to help me cook for Thanksgiving Dinner which was the following day. He thought about it and said he would help. This came as a shock to everyone, he never wants to help. But Wednesday evening when he got there, he was ready to work.

His job? Make bread sticks from scratch.

His experience? None.

So we began by a discussion of measuring, he got it. He scooped, he measure and the ingredients began to fill the mixing bowl. We heated milk and butter, he added it to the bowl. He cracked his first egg into an empty cup, we fished out some shell, he added it to the bowl. I showed him how to turn on the mixer. From there on he would stick his arms out to guard the bowl because, “I can do it.”

When it was ready to turn onto the board to knead is when I remembered to grab my camera to document this event.

Dusting the bread board.

Dusting the bread board, concentration on getting it just right is evident by his tongue.

Kneading the dough.

Kneading the dough, gently squash it down, turn and fold.

The dough was put in an oiled bowl, covered with a towel and placed in a slightly warm oven to rise. While we waited we moved on to peeling potatoes.

Peeling potatoes

A pan for scraps, a large bowl filled with ice water for the potatoes.

His enthusiasm for peeling waned fairly quickly but he hung in there working until the bread had risen to the top of the bowl and was ready for the next step.

Punching the dough down.

Turned out on the floured board, Hayden punches down the dough.

He was so surprised at how soft and tender the dough was. Again a lot of concentration as he flattened the dough.

Folding and turning the dough

Folding and turning.

Marking the sections into even amounts

Marking the sections into equal sizes for cutting and shaping.

The first half of the dough is cut, shaped and ready for the baking pan.

The first half of the dough is cut, shaped and ready for the baking pan.

A Ta Da moment for Hayden. He wanted a commemorative photo of the event.

Laying them on the pan.

Laying the bread stick dough onto the pan.

The second half of the dough has been measured, cut and shaped and is on the pan.

The second half of the dough has been measured, cut and shaped and is on the baking pan. Hayden is brushing melted butter on the top of each bread stick.

Adding a sprinkle of salt.

Adding a sprinkle of salt.

Into the oven they go.

Into the hot oven they go.

Our young baker had no confidence in pot holders keeping him safe.

Our young baker had no confidence in pot holders keeping him safe. At this point he set it on the door of the oven and told me to put them in.

Done!

Done!

Next time we will not do gluten-free. He will be experienced and not intimidated by getting them smooth. I was so proud of his enthusiasm and his “I CAN DO IT” attitude, I simply let him roll.

They are awesome!

Thanks, Hayden for your help.

Hugs,

Grams (Shez to the rest of you)

PS When he arrived the next day the first thing he wanted to know was had I posted the photoz to prove to everyone he had actually “made the bread sticks all by myself.” So here you go Hayden, proof you actually made them all by himself. You Rock, Buddy.

(No I do not call him Buddy, I call him Sweetheart, but at 12 and in middle school, it’s not cool to call him that in public.)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Filed under Children, Do It Yourself, Family, Food, Holiday, Random

Where’s Waldo?

Halloween Costumes

Halloween Costumes

Okay I apologize, but I had to post this photo of my daughter-in-law the mama fox and my granddaughter the fox kit. They look so cute in their little costumes and the great face paint. But the big question here is this: Were you able to find Waldo?

A close up of Waldo, the mother fox and the fox kit.

A close up of Waldo, the mother fox and the fox kit.

I thought perhaps a close up would help you find my grandson aka Waldo.

We turned the page on the calendar and that means Thanksgiving and Christmas will be here before we blink. What is it with time rushing by so fast?

We have much to be thankful for simply because of where we live. I do worry about everyone one on the east coast that was affected by Hurricane Sandy. Such devastation, where are the people whose homes and everything they own are gone, going to spend the night? Will they be warm? Will they be fed? Who is there to help them tonight? How can I help them?

Until we meet again, be thankful,

Shez

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Filed under Children, Decorating, Family, Holiday, Random