Monday, December 10, 2018


One of the children discovered--by accident--that a combination of urine, heat, and time will soften wood glue (carpenters' glue)...enough to get the glue almost halfway back to how it was when it came out of the bottle. This may come in handy someday.

Friday, November 30, 2018

Perspective gained

With the national debt at over $62,000 per capita (not including interest), it seems obvious to me that we are in for one flavor of austerity or another in the future. Well, then...let's get back to the basics:





I've noticed something interesting in Proverbs 31:  the idealized "Proverbs 31 woman" does a lot of work with textiles, and clearly has built up a lot of skill in the fiber arts.

I think there are a couple of reasons for that.  The first is that the basics of sewing, weaving, knitting, crochet, embroidery, and so on can be done with very little investment in tools, and a moderate investment in materials. It just takes a lot of time to learn the skills, and to practice and use them.  Whereas growing food requires land and seeds, and possibly animals.  Knowledge and skill are also required, but living things do want to live and grow, which is a big help.

Water and shelter are more stable things--either you have a source of water, or you don't, and if you've built your house well, it will probably stand for years.

In recent years, the price of basic clothing has come very far down.  All you have to do is ignore the fact that much of it is made of plastic, and assembled by basically slave labor.  And then it's hauled across the world in big ships running on fossil fuels.

When the debt party ends, that's the end of way or another. So I see some wisdom in learning how to create my own textiles, even though economically it doesn't make any sense at the moment.

Monday, November 26, 2018

More sewing

More mending.  Trying to finish up an embroidery project that I've been working on for almost twelve years.  Trying to figure out the next step in a sewing project that's been stalled for a month.  Testing a baby clothes hanger to see if it'll work to support a wall hanging.

Plus I got an idea for a quilt:  a quilt made of squares based on the color schemes that I've been thinking about for years for the rooms of my someday-maybe "forever house".  I have some smaller pieces of fabric that I've been wanting to use in a project.

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Finally, some sewing

I was able to get some sewing done after getting the garden harvest stored:

1.  Mending:  Several items of family clothing received minor or moderate repairs.

2.  Clothing:  I finally got around to sewing one of the skirts I had planned to make for my "Wardrobe in a Week" sewing sprint in the spring. After it was sewn, I overdyed it, and the color turned out well.
Notable for this project was that the fabric shower curtain I was using for fabric wasn't quite large enough to cut all of the skirt pieces out whole, so I had to do some careful piecing and pattern matching to get all the fabric I needed. It adds a subtle but interesting custom detail to the finished skirt. (I did a flat seam by overlapping the pieces by an inch, and then sewing two lines of zigzag stitches down the overlapped part. The exposed raw edge has frayed down to the stitching, making a short fringe.)

3.  Curtains:  I was given several yards of cotton upholstery-weight velvet, and curtains seemed like the best place to use it; I have been thinking about how to bootstrap my way into a somewhat more mature style of decorating. I sewed up a set of curtains from the fabric, put them up, and then realized that the stiffness of the material made them almost impossible to open. And when they were closed, they were overwhelming the room. I took them down, and cut half of them in half lengthwise, stabilizing the cut edges with a quick zigzag stitch. Then I put them back up, and made some quick curtain ties from selvedge edges that were left over.  Now they make a style statement, but not too much of one.

4.  High chair cover:  Months ago, I threw out the cover to the high chair; I had gotten tired of it, and it had seen more than a decade of use anyway. I finally began putting together some bits and pieces of someone's abandoned wall hanging project from the 90's, and have a basic cover sewn together now. I'm not sure how far I'm going to go in finishing it nicely.

Tuesday, October 30, 2018


We were given a number of pumpkins, not all the same variety, and I have been finding different ways to use them.

Some, of course, became jack-o-lanterns.

Some I turned into "Cream of Fresh Vegetable Soup".  The recipe I use is in an old Soups and Stews Betty Crocker cookbook, but an identical version is online here (in a harder-to-read form, no handy chart).  Note:  when it says to only put part of the recipe in the blender at a time, it is NOT kidding:  when you blend hot liquids, the cool air that gets blended in expands rapidly...and sends the liquid upward in a big, hot SPLOOSH!!!

I baked two pumpkin pies, which didn't last long in our house.

I also froze something like fourteen quarts of mashed pumpkin.

And I still have four pumpkins left, plus there are two oblong pumpkins that may be squash hybrids, which my husband wants to cook up himself.

I found that the easiest way to deal with pumpkins en masse was to cut them in half from top to bottom, scoop out the seeds and strings, and bake them cut side down on cookie sheets, about 1.5 hours at 350 degrees. My cookie sheets are longer ones (they hold 15 cookies, not 12), so I was able to get two halves on each cookie sheet, and two sheets in the oven at a time.

Then, after the pumpkin is good and baked, scoop the flesh out of the skins, and mash it up.

I did puree some pumpkin that I peeled, cut into one-inch chunks, and cooked by simmering in water; I found that I needed to add a little extra water to the chunks for our blender to handle them.  (See the above note on SPLOOSH!!!, which applies here as well, if the pumpkin chunks are hot.)

I found that the easiest way to salvage the seeds for toasting was to put the pumpkin innards into a large bowl of water, pick out the strings first (instead of the seeds), and then get the seeds.

Cutting up the pumpkins was the hardest part; part of the time I used a dull hatchet, but it takes some very firm whacks, and my aim is not always the best, and there were bits of pumpkin flying all over the kitchen.  Otherwise, I used a long, serrated knife to halve the pumpkins.

Monday, October 22, 2018

Handkerchief box from greeting card

I've been gradually finding boxes and other containers for the things that I keep on my closet shelves.  I noticed recently that I didn't yet have a container for my small stack of handkerchiefs.

So I started keeping my eye out for one, as I went around the house, but all the containers in that size were already in use.

Then, I was about to throw away a greeting card, and I thought I might save part of the picture on it for a later collage project...or I could use it to cover a small box...or I could just make a small box out of the card itself...and that could be my handkerchief box.

I did a little careful cutting, folding, and stapling, and ended up with not exactly a box, but an adequate enclosure for handkerchiefs, with a partial bottom, and with the part of the picture that I liked the best being on one of the sides.

Tuesday, October 9, 2018

Toilet seat touch-ups

I wrote before about repainting the toilet seat. It looked much better, but under the extreme conditions in our household, the paint began to be worn through after three weeks.  That's the disadvantage of paint:  low durability.

The advantage of paint, however, is that it is easy to renew, especially if you have more paint of the exact same color (and it is not too old).  I was able to respray only the areas of the seat that needed it, with much less trouble than it took to repaint it the first time.