Friday, December 30, 2011

Shopping at the Goodwill

I know, so far this blog hasn't been about sewing nearly at all.  But today I cleaned out my spare room, and went through my stash of magazines that were put away to look at 'when I have time'.  I did a lot of daydreaming and planning while I was doing that, does that count?

I found about a dozen different quilted vest variations that got me thinking about some sewing I need to do.  With the winter coming on (although there is a decided lack of snow on the ground) I will not feel sorry to go down to the sewing studio and miss any daylight... because there won't be any daylight to speak of!

So what does this have to do with Goodwill shopping??  Well, let me tell you, the Goodwill is one of my favorite shopping malls.  It's cool to go there now because the whole world seems to be into reusing and repurposing, but I always tell people that I've been shopping there since before it was cool! 

When I was in junior high and high school, I didn't have money or access to regular fabric stores.  My mom didn't sew (who would have time with eight kids??) so she never went to a fabric store until she went there with me in later years.  I had baby-sitting money, and there was a Goodwill store near the grocery store Mom shopped.  While she was food shopping I would go to the Goodwill and look for the largest garments I could find in colors and fabrics I liked.  We would launder them and I would 'unsew' them, pressing the resulting yardage. 

The challenge then would be to make the pattern pieces of a garment for myself fit onto this fabric.  I got quite creative in this process.  One favorite outfit began life as a blue and white herringbone wool blend dirndl skirt and ended up as an a-line skirt and vest, lined with navy poly from the local variety store.  I had a gold wool skirt made from another big, long skirt, and to wear with it I found a forest green sweater with some stains near the cuff of one sleeve.  Since the sleeves were pretty long, I cut the ribbing off, cut off the stained section, and sewed the ribbing back on, using a zig-zag stitch.

Yesterday, the 'grands' and I went to the big Goodwill store near us.  We started in books, and each of them picked up at least a half-dozen books if not more.  At 89 cents each, we can do that.  Yes, the library is free, but only if you return the books on time!  Besides, it's nice owning real books, but that's a post for another day.

We perused the assortment of dishes and glasses.  This store's employees group like things together for the most part, and the clothing is sorted according to size.  I like that in a thrift store.  :-)  We could have had 13 Pepsi glasses, or 3 Coke tumblers, but we passed.  E found a nice water bottle.  A wanted a purse. 

We cruised past jeans in dozens and dozens of colors and styles.  We have to shop for those while A is elsewhere... she has no patience!  Well, she's small.

I was looking for green wool sweaters to felt.  I have the coolest pattern for a Christmas tree table decoration.  You start with a piece of wire stuck into a board or a piece of Styrofoam.   Onto this "pin" you place circles of red and green colored felted wool cut from old sweaters, starting with the largest circle on the bottom, getting gradually smaller.  You top it with a gold star button or bead or even a felt star you sew yourself.  Totally cool!

Anyway, someone else must have seen that pattern too, because all the green or red sweaters that were there were polyester blends.  Better luck next time.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Missing Marty

This Christmas my dear daughter gave me a lovely diary for 2012.  She gave me a desk calendar last year, I thought this one was the same thing -- weekly calendar with space for appointments and occasions, you know the type.  When I looked at it again later, I realized there are two pages per week; one for appointments and the other for entries in diary form.  I tried writing a diary some years ago, but wasn't very consistent.

Blogging seems like the same thing to me.  Some folks seem to live on their computers, checking email or blogs regularly, not letting a day go by without posting. Then there are folks who don't update unless something BIG happens to them. The same seems to be the case with Facebook and other social media.  I think I start out in the first group, and gradually end up in the second.  For example, this week, since I'm on vacation and not checking emails at my office, I'm not checking at home either.  I did check today... good thing too, because I had over 100 unread emails (about 95% of them were from merchants advertising after Christmas sales).

I follow many blogs related to sewing and crafts.  I love Rita Farro's blog and Gertie's New Blog for Better Sewing, and Quiltville from Bonnie Hunt.  Samina at American Sewing Guild has a blog, as does Nancy Zieman.  From the links on these blogs I've branched out to the French General and The Warp and the Weft.  I've discovered that many of these folks blog daily, some blog several times a week, and a couple are what I will call 'irregulars'. 

It's disappointing when someone just stops blogging for a long while.  I was reading and enjoying Marty Sews, a blog by a fellow ASG'er, when she just stopped.  Her last blog was in August of 2011.  I miss her.  From some of her prior posts,  I understand that there were some health issues with both herself and her husband.  I hope everything's OK with Marty.  I wish there was a way to know!

That's part of the problem with going from diary to blog.  If you miss writing in your diary, no one knows but you and the person who has to clean out your papers after you go to the Big Blogosphere in the Sky.  But if you quit blogging, your followers have no idea whether you're very ill, never coming back, or just vacationing in the South of France!

Well, I guess you have to actually have followers for this to be the case.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Christmas Programs are for Children!

I'm the director of our church's Sunday School progam, for children age 3 to sixth grade.  I support the teachers, order the materials, plan special events and collect offerings.  Part of my job is to organize and direct the annual Christmas show.  This year is my first year doing this particular job, but I love spending time with the kids.

One Sunday morning while running around and taking attendance, making sure everyone had words and music for the songs, and arranging times for practive, we seemed to be particularly stressed out.  The older children came and rehearsed their three songs and read through their parts.  Then the 3 and 4 year olds came out to sing their two songs.  They were going to sing "Away in a Manger" and "I Am Jesus' Little Lamb".  These songs are very familiar to us, but to these little ones, especially the three year olds, this was the first time they were hearing it.

We sang the first song through a couple of times, and I was thinking, hey, they're doing pretty well.  So we started the second song.  We sang it a couple of times, and I could tell enthusiasm was waning.  I took a minute to look at them, really look at them.  I saw glazed eyes and wiggly bodies.  I said "I think from looking at you, that you all have had just about enough singing.  Am I right?"  In their honest way, they said yes.  I said, "can you sing it one more time and then we'll be done?"  Yeah, home run!  They sang one more time with gusto!

I decided then and there that it didn't matter if they memorized both verses of both songs, because their parents and grandparents are going to think they're adorable regardless, and Jesus will not care as long as they love him.  Stress vanished!  Wow, things got easier from there, right??  Not exactly...

Dress rehearsal brought lots of challenges.  A couple of sick children needed to be replaced.  The fire alarm bell was too hard for the boy who was supposed to push the test button.  One of the bells got broken.  Everyone had a suggestion for improvement.  The kids weren't singing with the piano, some of them weren't singing at all!!  This had disaster written all over it.  But I had a feeling I shouldn't worry.

So I didn't.  Day of the program came, the kids were all dressed so beautifully, and there faces showed the pleasure they anticipated in telling the Christmas Story.  We processed in, we sang, we rang the bells, not always at the right time but close!  We processed out at the appropriate time, and as we were leaving I heard APPLAUSE!!

So remember, blessed are the flexible, for they shall not be bent out of shape!

If you're reading this and enjoy this story, please leave a comment.



Thursday, December 22, 2011

Almost Christmas

It's almost Christmas, and I'm almost ready!  Today was wrapping and counting day.  I have a few things to finish but I'm nearly ready.  The two 'grands' (darling granddaughters) and I went to the grocery store and the drugstore today for some final shopping.  Boy, I love Walgreen's!  We got boxes, wrapping paper and tape, plus some hair accessories -- very necessary items in the female world.

I finished knitting and sewing together a sweater for a doll, and tomorrow I'll have time to finish up the last two gifts I'm making.

Then I have to make one robe for a Wise Man.  Our church does a sort of a live nativity play each Christmas Eve, with whoever has the newest baby playing Mary, Joseph and Jesus.  We have shepherds and live sheet, a donkey and some goats.  And of course three Wise Men!  I help with the wardrobe.  This year we got some new crowns.  I always remind the Wise Men that their wives said when they are done with the service they go back to being wise guys!

It adds a note of reality to Christmas Eve to have the live action.  We are in the fellowship hall with the tile floor, because you know what happens when you bring donkeys and goats in from the cold, right??  It's kinda smelly, but I guess if the Holy Family could endure it, we can do it too.

The kids in the audience are transfixed by the animals and the baby.  The Christmas story is read and acted out, and we sing all the appropriate songs.  It's a lovely tradiition.  Then it's home for dinner and presents.

For the people without kids, or those who want a serious service, there's a later candle-light service later in the church, but I like the live action play and having entire families there.  You can see the story coming alive for people.

So back to preparations tomorrow morning!  For the first time in a long time there won't be snow Christmas Eve.  It's too warm -- they have snow in Arizona and New Mexico but we're unseasonably warm.  The weather guys are calling it a Brown Christmas!

Time for one last run at the stores if you're so inclined.  I might have time to bake one last pie or batch of cookies...

Blessed Christmas to you all!


Wednesday, December 21, 2011

On your mark, get set...

Welcome!  This blog is an attempt to bring a slightly old school woman into the 21st century!  OK, I'll admit it, I love READING blogs.  I've become a follower of a couple of really good ones.  I admire those people immensely.

Having done the FB thing for a while, I don't want to become one of those tiresome people who has to publish what I have for breakfast each day. 

Who am I, and why would you be interested in reading this blog once, let alone repeatedly?  Let's see, I'm a wife and mother, grandmother of four, the Executive Assistant to a very senior manager in an international engineering firm, a sewing enthusiast, a knitter and crochet-er (is that even a word??).  I love to read, mainly mysteries and non-fiction but I'll read other things too.  I love the novels of Jane Austen and James Lee Burke, J.K. Rowling, Robert B. Parker and Charles Dickens, to name just a few.  I once tried to enter all the books I've read into one of those library programs and maxed out before I even scratched the surface.

I've always been interested in sewing... I wanted a better wardrobe than our family could afford so I started sewing in high school.  I figured if I could do it for my dolls, I could do it for myself.  But I'd never want to sew as a business -- then it would be too much like work!  I'm primarily a garment sewist but with the advent of grandchildren I branched out into children's wear and quilts.  An I run the best darned stuffed animal hospital in our town.

I think I'm creative, and I admire creativity in other people.  I try to learn at least one new thing every day.  My pet peeves are people who think that if they're right it means that everyone else wrong, mean people, and those who use bad grammar when they know better.

My motto is "blessed are the flexible, for they shall not be bent out of shape".  Expect a blessing every day, and see the glass as half full, that's the way I try to live.

When I 'grow up', I want to be as good a person as my grandchildren think I am...