Monday, April 23, 2007

A productive weekend!

This weekend was very productive, but very tiring. Our lot is a long and narrow corner lot, with most of the frontage sporting a landscaped focal/divider mound. (This landscape feature probably has a name, but I have no clue what it is!)

When we first looked at the house in August of 2004, the landscaping was very overgrown and weedy. Since we purchased in August of 2005, we have done a great deal of thinning, trimming and weeding. This weekend we decided it was finally time to discourage the weeds before they emerged, and to lay down a thick layer of mulch.

Gerry & I got two dump truck loads of mulch (20 yards, plus), and moved it all ourselves, with wheelbarrow, buckets, and a rake. Just to give you an idea of why this project took nearly two years, here are some before and after shots (remember, the before shots were taken nearly two years ago, and things haven't leafed out here yet this year):

Looking west, before:

Looking west, after:

Looking east, toward house, before:

Looking east, toward house, after:

Note that we also had the pond dug last fall. Before this, it was a damp (at best) low spot that was very difficult to keep mowed and clean. Now we have deer, ducks, geese, and one lone frog. It's a start! This is just the main, long portion, which is all done. The other small portion at the narrow end of the lot is partially done. We probably have to get two loads of mulch in Gerry's little red truck, and will use half a day to finish that part.

Incidentally, I now know where the term "redneck" comes from. I have the reddest, most painful sunburned neck ever. My forearms are also nicely sunburned from elbow to wrist -- I was wearing a short-sleeved shirt and gloves. I had the good sense to use sunscreen on my face, though. I look pretty silly today.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

I love quizzes...

What American accent do you have?
Your Result: The Midland

"You have a Midland accent" is just another way of saying "you don't have an accent." You probably are from the Midland (Pennsylvania, southern Ohio, southern Indiana, southern Illinois, and Missouri) but then for all we know you could be from Florida or Charleston or one of those big southern cities like Atlanta or Dallas. You have a good voice for TV and radio.

The Inland North
The Northeast
The West
The South
North Central
What American accent do you have?
Quiz Created on GoToQuiz

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Progress on "Starchild"

A few months back, I posted about making a doll just for myself -- Go Gently Starchild. I've just started working on her again, and have made some progress in sewing darling little silk panties, and an underskirt and overskirt of two batik prints. Note here...the underskirt batik is some that my son picked up for me when he and his wife toured a batik plant on St. Kitts. He got me a bunch of scraps -- couldn't come up with a better souvenir, in my opinion!

I've taken a step back, unfortunately, with the wigging process. The wig I had applied was just too big to lay properly. I used the pattern, but it was giving her one heck of a lumpy head, so I un-attached it last night and have to trim it down and re-attach.

The following two pix are of the fabrics I'm contemplating for the bodice and sleeves. I'm thinking I'll use the purple and white St. Kitts fabric, same as the underskirt, and then use the star fabric as an overdrape.

After those parts are done, all she needs are shoes, and some embellishments, like a decorative belt, a necklace, and perhaps some pretty trim at the wrists.


Two things to share on the fabric front... First, I wanted to note this Laurel Burch mermaid panel:

My friend Phyllis had sent me two or three of the companion fabrics, but they weren't even in my mind when I attended the Cleveland Sewing Expo. I found a booth of fabulous fabrics (the seller called them "strong flavored" fabrics) and one of the things included was this Laurel Burch mermaid. By purchasing 5/8 yard, you receive two full panels, rather like a wide border print. So...I bought 1 1/4 yard and have a total of four of these panels. Don't ask me why, I just knew I needed it.

I've also been looking for a jacket to replace my lightweight purple wool flannel that I gave to that woman at the bus stop. I haven't found anything like it, and when you consider that I bought it at least five years ago, that's not a surprise. I decided to make my own...and bought some yardage of wool felt online.

It wasn't enough to find just the right purple, I had to get a beautiful soft green, and some rose and some peach, just to be safe. Don't ask me safe from what. I see a new, boxy, flannel throw on in my future -- maybe two! The fabrics you see here are after prewashing and drying, thus the textural appearance. And the purple, being purple, looks a little bluer here than it really is. Even with my good light cube, I couldn't get the color quite right.

Incidentally, Phyllis and I have our own private little monthly "squishie swap," in which we share with the other bits of fabrics, doo-dads and embellishments. I'm sure she'll be getting one of the mermaid panels, but I don't know when. I already have her envelope packed for this month, and none of it is related to what you see here!

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

New jacket

My new sewing machine has triggered a lot of sewing, especially with the unfinished dolls I have lingering about...and they are all still unfinished. It's also renewed my interest in sewing clothing and bags for myself. I have stacks and stacks of coordinating fabrics that I keep switching around, hanging from the door, and other auditioning techniques.

So...I finished this jacket, made with a piece of upholstery material, and a piece of decor fabric that is fabulous! It's ultrasuede, embroidered with holographic sequins, and in my favorite aqua color.

This first photo is what Gerry calls my "dork pose." Isn't he sweet? Note the greenness around's before the big Easter snow.

This shot of the back gives you a better idea of the embroidery and sequins on the ultrasuede. Too bad you can't see how glittery the sequins really are. I wore the jacket to work the other day, and was throwing rainbows and spots of light all around the office!

I love these colors...and you can see them in the banner above. The banner was done for me by my online friend, Linda Fleming. It's me! You can see more and order one for yourself, here:

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Happy Birthday, Daddy

If my father were still alive, he would turn 81 years old today. Amazing.

One of those unsung, silent, "Greatest Generation" people that Brokaw writes about, Daddy was at times challenging, at times unreasonable, but a father and grandfather who loved me and mine unconditionally. In retrospect, if I had lost both legs above the knee at the age of 19, in a war that didn't really end all wars after all, I would be far more unreasonable.

One of the images of him that stays most clearly in my mind is of him sitting in the yard in his wheelchair, watching the horses run in the pasture, no longer able to ride. He would shift and lean in his chair, and I know he was dreaming of the years he rode. Horses had been his passion since he was a young boy.

On Saturday mornings, he would wheel around the kitchen, heating coffee, whistling and singing, while my mother slept in. I loved lying in bed on those mornings, and listening to the soft noises filtering up from the kitchen. He was a lark, as am I.

Oh, how he loved his grandchildren. Each one was the most beautiful baby in the world to him, and he would tell me that their soft breath upon his neck was the most wonderful feeling ever. He was always eager to hold a baby, to cradle a toddler grandchild on his lap, or to sit on the floor with them as they clambered over his shoulders. I can still see him, talking to his sister on the telephone, and rhapsodizing about his grandchildren -- surely none had been as beautiful or accomplished.

This June will mark the 25th anniversary of his crossing over. I still miss him.

Donald James Kraemer
April 4, 1926 - June 5, 1982

Tuesday, April 03, 2007


I want to tell a long story (surprise, surprise) that will end with the reason this post is titled "Mushrooms." I'm one of those people who has to give a whole lot of detail to get to the punchline, and I *will* get sidetracked.

My family loves to cook...and eat, of course.

I've been reminiscing lately about the amount of cooking that was done, by almost all members of the family, and how it extended down, through the lines, so to speak.

My parents were both from very large families, especially by today's standards. My mother was second to the eldest of 10 children, and my father was second to the youngest of 16! I have 50 first cousins. Even though I have just one brother, and he's six years younger than I, it seemed like we had a huge family, because so many of my mother's brothers and sisters came to visit every weekend. My youngest aunts and my uncle really feel more like older siblings than aunts and uncles.

Now, for you to really understand the story, I should be going into lots and lots of detail about the personalities of said uncle, aunts and cousins, and I should tell you that my mother cooked for everyone but cooked by the book, and dad was picky and didn't want his food to be combined or to touch, and I really need to explain that my uncle is some sort of cross between a master gardener and St. Francis of Assisi. He could identify any plant, tree or rock in nature, and he could talk to the animals. He could also fly his bed around the room, but that's also a story for another time.

And so then anyway (as daddy always said), this interesting uncle of mine could identify everything in nature, and he took us on nature walks, and we gathered and identified, and enjoyed every bit of it. We didn't go bowling on Saturday afternoons, we went to the gravel pit and found agates.

One of the things this uncle could do was identify wild mushrooms. He knew which ones were safe to eat. He doesn't live nearby any more and I wouldn't dare pick mushrooms on my own, so as I was braising those white (but fresh!) slices I bought at the grocery store the other day, I got to thinking about the fabulous batches of mushrooms we would pick, and a young mother...I was occasionally lucky enough to take a batch home with me. I would braise them in butter and eat them all, all by myself, my entire lunch, while the babies were napping. Those mushrooms were delicious. Absolutely delicious.

Someday, I'll tell you about the aunt who can bake anything, and can recreate the long-lost family recipes, and repair the ones that people "share" but leave out crucial ingredients. I'll tell you about all the others, too, especially the cousin with the sophisticated palate and another aunt who reads cookbooks as though they are novels.

For now, I'll be grateful for the relatives who grew up with me, and for the relatives who cook, and for an appreciation of the simple things like wild mushrooms from the woods. But like all good baby boomers, this long-drawn out story will be continued....