Where Did July GO?

What have I been up to the whole month of July?

Well July is a busy month around here for numerous reasons. We have our annual excursion to Dairy Queen on the 4th of July, and then the oldest and her husband are off to the beach for a week. We have all the birthdays, Hubby’s sister, brother, Hubby and our grandson (Hubby and grandson are on the same day!), and Hubby and my 23rd wedding anniversary too. We also had the Red Cross Volunteer Picnic, a few other birthdays, family gatherings, and that doesn’t even touch the regular life things. But for me, I spent quite a bit of time in the craft-room too.

Big Cuz’s big sister had a birthday, and I wanted to make her a special bag. One that would be perfect for her needs. Soft, no zippers to fiddle with, or sharp edges, and an extra-long adjustable strap to be able to fit perfectly.

It did take some time and thought. But isn’t that what it is all about? If it were easy everyone would do it, lol.

I decided I wanted to make a bag for my sister-in-law (Hubby’s brother’s wife). She is one of the sweetest people you would ever want to meet. Also the mother of my twin nieces I made the messenger bags for.

I started to think about what I wanted to do for her. I realized I wanted it to be custom for her, so I needed to involve her. She was over for our grandson’s birthday, so I took her into the craft-room and picked her brain. I then went shopping for just the right fabric. I found one with all the perfect colors, and a nice complimentary lining fabric. I was showing it to the Wild Child one day and she pointed out that it had a design that some might find controversial (I won’t go into that here today, but I hadn’t even noticed). The point being that most would say, don’t pay attention to others with stupid agendas. But when you are making something for someone you care about, you don’t ever want them to be put in the position of defending something someone lovingly made them. This, of course, put me off the fabric choice totally.

I decided I needed to clear my head and do something totally different for her. So I moved onto the bag I already had everything for. Believe it or not, one for me.

I have been watching all sorts of classes, tutorials, and trainings. Now I am at the point where I can design my own bags. I am actually quite proud of how it turned out. Lots of pockets made to fit my needs, even room for my water-bottle, and a pocket to use as needed, like when going to the store and I need to take fabric samples, or the shopping list/coupon carrier.

Needless to say, I am on another path of adventure. Should I start making custom handbags? Matching a special wrapped stone to the person the bag is for? (See previous post)
Hmm, it does open a new window. . .

I Can Sew

As is quite apparent by past posts I have made, I can sew. In all my life I never thought of sewing as something people consider a special skill. That is what I was told recently, I have such a “special skill”. How I can make something out of nothing? People will actually take a garment to a tailor just to have a hook and eye sewn in. Or if they do attempt it themselves, it is a major accomplishment. Now I am in no way belittling that person, because there is a big reason for it. Sewing has become a craft of the past. My children learned because I did it. But if you were not that lucky, how do you pass it on? Now they aren’t all good at it, some totally suck. But if any of them had to sew on a hook and eye, they could. Or they would ask their mom, lol. The point being, these skills that have survived through the years have for a reason. But if we don’t pass it on, then what?

When the zombie’s come . . . ok so that is a little farfetched. But think about it, we have bad storms and power outages. A few years back just here in our area people lost power for up to two weeks, for us it was 10 days. Think about it that way. We knew the power would come back on soon, but what if it didn’t?

So here is my challenge to you – do you have a skill you can pass on? Then do it! Take a moment, take some time, and pass it on.

My most recent sewing project – a bag for my Big Cuz!

I also taught myself how to wrap a stone.

Making a Difference

There is something I want to share. I need to give a little background to get there, but honestly it is worth it.

I know I have mentioned our “Village” in the past. It is comprised of all the wonderful people who become part of our lives in a very special way; part of the village. We have a group of boys (now referred to as the guys) who became part of the village through the wild child. She went to high school with them, and one-by-one brought them home. We adopted them all, and they call us Mama and Papa to this day. One of them came by last night with his new girlfriend. We gave our stamp of approval, which was a very easy thing to do. For his birthday she arranged for his best friend (also one of the boys) to fly in from Oregon to surprise him. I think she is a keeper. During the conversation we reminisced about shared experiences over the years. I pulled up some pictures and we swapped stories. One thing he said was that the best meals he has ever had were eaten here. It reminded me of another conversation with one of the guys.

Pizza Night – a house full of hungry people and loads of homemade pizza!

One of the wild child’s guys had a dream of being a chef. He would often come over early to watch Hubby and I cook and ask questions. For his birthday one year I gave him an abbreviated version of our cookbook. I selected recipes which I had hoped would help him grow. According to the wild child he attempted to ‘tweak’ my macaroni and cheese recipe. The rest of the guys smiled and said it was good. She told him the truth. Then she explained that first you follow the recipe and get it right. Then you can tweak it to make it yours. It is nice to know your child listens 😊

A few weeks later she invited him over to help him make the macaroni and cheese the ‘right’ way. While sitting on the couch in my office I could hear them talking. She was so good at instructing him, and he was eager to learn. As they were cleaning up he thanked her for allowing him to experience cooking in a gourmet kitchen. Yes, he called our kitchen “gourmet!” Later that evening I walked into my kitchen and looked around. Humm, ok, I see his point. I hadn’t really thought about it, but Hubby and I have managed to collect quite the assortment of appliances and gadgets. We have spent a lot of time reading and watching shows like Alton Brown’s “Good Eats” and pay attention to having multi-taskers and not things with just one use. Which brings me to what I said at the beginning of this post.

On November 12, 2012 I made a post “Guts and Glory”. Hubby treated me to tickets to see Anthony Bourdain. Friday he took his own life. Not quite four years ago Robin Williams did the same (In Memory, Aug 14, 2014). Two such different people, both ending their own lives. Both leaving this world a lesser place without them.

On a personal note these two men added so much to my life. Also, in very different ways. Robin was joy, laughter, and what talent he had. We could easily express the loss. Anthony, well he was such a very different man. He was thought provoking, he made you ask questions, look for answers, and not just settle. I grew through having his words in my life. I didn’t always agree with him, but he made me think.

I look around my kitchen, at how much both Hubby and I have learned and grown. So much through the influence of people like Anthony Bourdain. We both love to cook. For me it is the entertainment, for Hubby it is giving people he cares about something wonderful to eat. Bourdain made me want to learn more, experience more, eat different foods, and explore different cultures. His words helped me have the courage to go to Iceland with just the youngest, and I will be forever grateful for that.

Poutine made with Hubby’s smoked meat. So yummy!

When the wild child texted me about Anthony Bourdain’s death she expressed the need to do something. Oddly enough I was in the process of editing a brochure for a Suicide Support Group. When I told her what I was doing, her response was, “There you go, making a difference.”

Sitting here I am reflecting on the lives of these two men. Then on my own life. They both made a difference in my life. In turn inspiring me to make a difference. They are gone, but their inspiration to me and others is something that will continue on. It was a very convoluted road to get to my point, but I hope it was worth it.

Adventures with Big Cuz

I must clarify something before I begin. I did something a bit out of the norm for me. Usually I see things through the lens of my Canon, and not necessarily experiencing it. So, this time I opted for my phone camera more often. You will see an assortment of photos in this post, some from both cameras.

A special two weeks was spent with my Big Cuz (BC). She flew out for a visit, and we filled it with such wonderful memories. She moved to the states when she was 20 (and I was 10) but has lived most of it on the west coast. We had a lot to show her, and she just loved all the green!

The first thing the oldest and I did was take her to breakfast at our favorite place, the Blueberry Café. We then had a family dinner night with all the kids, and Hubby’s parents too. They had just come back north from Florida for the summer.

The next trip was out to Yellow Springs, and one of the special shops there I knew BC would enjoy. Then it was off to Young’s Dairy for fun, fried cheese curds and ice-cream. BC had never had cheese curds until here, and it was such fun introducing her to them, and the local wildlife, lol.

The Friday morning of Memorial Day weekend the wild child and I drove BC out to New Jersey to visit other cousins there, SZ and BZ. On the way we stopped in Pittsburgh at the Duquesne Incline Railway. If you look back at the wild child and my visit to Chattanooga last August, we checked out the Incline Railway to Lookout Mountain. It was such fun we really wanted to see what Pittsburgh had to offer. Although not as long or high, it had its own charm. The car was authentic, and level, not on an incline with stairs like in Chattanooga. At the top we ate lunch at a restaurant with perfect food for the hot day, and a fantastic view!

 

Back on the road to New Jersey we arrived that evening. The next morning, we all headed into Philadelphia for the day. We walked around a bit and settled on seeing the National Constitution Center. We saw a performance in the round theater that literally brought us to tears. We walked to the City Tavern and had a wonderful meal. I just love the ambiance of the place, and of course the food!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The next morning cousin BZ brought home some yummy donuts. Yes, a bacon donut! Then SZ drove us to the American Treasure Tour in Oaks, PA. What and adventure that was. There was so much to see. You just have to experience it to understand. Player pianos, music boxes and calliopes, doll houses and miniature scenes, and walls lined with old vinyl record jackets. We were driven around a display of old cars, a giant Snow White and the 7 dwarfs, a castle made of popsicle sticks, the first car you could buy from the Sears catalog, and so much more.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We then went to our favorite market Wegmans for lunch and the English aisle. We ate tons and stocked up on English foods. BC was so excited to be able to get thing she hadn’t had it years.

We went back to NJ by way of a wonderful covered bridge. On a side note. BZ showed me how to take pictures with my phone using a word. What a wonderful way to get that shot I wouldn’t have otherwise. I stuck the phone out the window and said “capture”, and here we have it!

What was really funny was later I was taking a picture of BC, and another word you can use is ‘smile’. I said “smile” and through clenched teeth she said, “I am smiling”. Guess “capture” is a better word, lol.

The next morning, we headed into NYC by way of the train. As I walked out of Penn Station this is want I saw. Keep in mind I only took my phone with me. This was the first time in NYC without my Canon. It felt strange at first, but then I was really experiencing the city. It was fantastic!

The reason we went to NYC was to meet up with other cousins that were visiting their son who lives there with his family. BC hadn’t seen them since they were children together, and it had been about 13 years for me. We all had lunch and walked to the Magnolia Bakery for the best cheesecake in the world!

BZ, SZ and the wild child went to see the 9/11 memorial. We older ones went to have a good old English cup of tea, and chat. It was such fun catching up, and meeting cousins we hadn’t yet met.

Back on the train to NJ we munched on big pretzels bought at Penn Station, reflecting on a wonderful day. Early the next morning we headed home.

The next adventure was the oldest and I took BC to SunWatch Indian Village. She enjoys the Indian culture and has seen a lot in the southwest. She has taken me to see Tuzigoot, and Montezuma’s castle on visits to her.

During all of this I was sneaking away to work on graduation gifts for my twin nieces. I wanted to make them something special, so with the suggestions of the youngest I made them personalized messenger bags. We took BC to the graduation party, and she got to meet more of the family. Not only the girls and their parents, but Hubby’s Uncle and cousins came into town for the celebration.

Our last adventure for BC was to go to Cincinnati to see the Terracotta Army at the Cincinnati Art Museum. The oldest, her husband, and the youngest went with us. On the way home we stopped by Ikea to get Swedish meatballs for dinner. The next day we put BC on the plane back to Arizona. We are all so pooped, but what a wonderful time we had <3

Made With Love

Wow, I have been busy. Looking back at the last month or so there has just been such an assortment of things going on. The best part is that I have found myself spending much more time with each of my children, and that is always good.

We had a local event, “Taste of Greene County”, which was held at the WSU Nutter Center. I am a member of the local chamber and offered one of my prints from the Dayton Arcade for the silent auction. The wild child and I decided to go to the event, enjoy the food, and see how the auction went. It was such a neat experience. We were a little voyeuristic, in that we sat at a table across the room and watched people walking by the piece.

As people walked by it was so interesting to see the reactions. Some just walked by, but others would stop and really take it in. Quite a few bid, and there was a scramble at the end. At the announcement of the final countdown a woman ran over and bid, then just at the last minute a man jumped in and wrote a bid down. He and his wife were so excited to have won. We saw he had on a T-shirt for a local volunteer rehab group. So we knew they had a real appreciation of the piece. What was really neat was that just the day before I was at a Red Cross event, and they had partnered with the very same group!

Another perfect example of kid-time would be a few weeks ago my son mentioned to me he was getting our grandson a toddler bed. He needed a fitted sheet and comforter for it and knew I would want to make them. If you remember we did his room in hot air balloons. We wanted to stay in the same theme but change it up a bit. So, we took him shopping and let him pick out what he wanted. He went with airplanes. I got to work trying to figure out what to make. The fitted sheet was easy, but I am not a quilter. I have a lot of respect for people who quilt, especially by hand. But even by machine it is quite a project.

I got onto YouTube and found one done in strips. You cut up the fabric in strips of different widths, sew them together, layer with a filling, I used fleece, and a backing. Then you “stitch in the ditch.” In other words, you sew down the seams. It was quite an adventure for me, but I made something I am proud of, and I know will keep him nice and warm.

Working on the quilt did make me realize something. I don’t get the see my grandson a lot. His parents are busy, life is busy, and so we enjoy every time we do get to spend together. The thing is that as a child I only had one grandparent as the rest had already passed away. I didn’t get to see my Nana much, but I had a wonderful relationship with her. I know I was blessed to have her so long, as she lived to be 96. But I also know now why I have so many thinks knitted by her.

When I was pregnant with the wild child Nana asked me what I needed her to knit. I took this photo to show her I had so much already. But now I realize that when she was knitting things for her great-grandchildren, it was her way of spending time with them. I understand this now. With all the things I have been making for my grandson, every minute I am thinking about him. It is how all the love is instilled in the item, and they really do feel it. It is so very special that we still have all these wonderful things to pass down. Now future generations can feel Nana’s love too. <3

Preserving the Old & Honoring the Past

Yes, believe it or not I am posting another blog! I just couldn’t wait to share my weekend with you all. For a very long time I have wanted to photograph an old building in Dayton, The Dayton Arcade. This place was originally built in 1902-1904. It is a grouping of five buildings around a rotunda with a glass dome roof. It housed restaurants and bars, businesses like hairdressers and printers, offices, and apartments as well. The place has been closed for going on 30 years but is in the process of being restored, and brought back to life.

I wanted to document the history of the building before they started working on it. I wasn’t able to do that, but I did manage to get in this weekend. My good friend I have gone on some fun architectural photo shoots with in the past, found a way to get us in. I am so grateful for her persistence. I must admit, I am pretty proud of what I was able to capture.

The Rotunda

My personal favorite

I hope to be able to go back and record the restoration as it progresses. The plans they have for the Arcade are wonderful. You can read more about it here www.arcadedayton.com/

New Toy!

Yes, believe it or not I am making two posts in one day!

I have a new toy – a ProMaster LED 160 light. I have had the thought for quite some time – Using a constant light instead, or with, a flash. I was watching a webcast on KelbyOne with Rick Sammon. He was in Venice photographing people dressed up for Carnival. People were in fancy costumes, and white face masks. In order to brighten them up he was using the ProMaster light. What a difference it made. So I quickly went online and found one. I have been having a blast. My youngest brought me home some flowers a few days earlier. They were getting a little wilted, but still good enough to play with. These alien looking ones were kinda neat. I had to ask around to find out they are Safflowers.

We will be able to use the light next time we are in Arizona. It will light up the cactus in the dark so much better. It is so interesting how such a little thing can make such a difference in what you can do.

Why is it Blue?

I was informed yesterday that I have been slacking a bit on my blog 😊 It is true, so today I will rectify that.

We had dinner at one of Big Cuz’s favorite places. The owner brought her a Birthday Salad with a candle.

Hubby and I recently took a trip to Arizona. My Big Cuz was celebrating a special birthday, and we wanted to be there to celebrate along with her sister. While in Arizona, one of the things I wanted for Hubby, was to be able to shoot the sky. He loves photographing the sky at night. But where we live there is a lot of light pollution. In Arizona the sky is so clear at night, especially up north where my cousins live. Unfortunately, we had a very full moon, so it pretty much flooded the sky with light. This made it hard to get the stars. But he did have fun, and now knows what we need to do the next time we visit.

We flew Allegiant Air for the first time. There is no luxury there at all, and the seats have little cushion. But if you fold up your coat and sit on it, not bad at all. We think they should sell/rent the stadium cushions people take to watch a football game. I do like flying into Mesa instead of Phoenix. The flight was not bad, the cost was low, and even the rental car was less expensive. But the thing I loved most of all was the ease of getting from the plane to driving away. I will happily sit in a little less comfortable seat rather than deal with the main Phoenix Airport.

Now the reason I mention the flight first is to make the point that the airline charges for everything, even carry-on, and has a 40lb limit on the checked suitcase. We did find out later that they don’t charge Veterans for luggage, which is outstanding! But that being said, we were very limited as to what we could bring. So, we decided to just bring one camera, mine. Hubby set my camera up to use for the night-time photography. Part of this was to add a Clear-Night Filter. Worked well for him, but the next morning when I grabbed the camera to get some shots as the sun came up, something just wasn’t right. I really don’t think the cactus was this color??? I fiddled with the camera, checked my white balance, and just couldn’t figure out what was going on. Hubby was working, and I didn’t want to interrupt him. Needless to say, when he saw the pictures, he knew right away 😛 So here are some pictures I popped into Lightroom and ‘saved’, lol.

A few nights later we were down in Tucson at my little sister’s house. We wanted to take Hubby out into the desert to try photographing the sky there. The moon was still too bright, but we still had some fun. He walked away with a pretty nice shot if you ask me 😊

Cactus in the desert, nighttime. Taken by Hubby

He did have some help from us – lighting things up with our cell phones.

We rounded out the trip having breakfast with the folks. Hubby had a little trouble finishing his pancake. No idea why . . . 😊

Breakfast at Pappy’s

I am Chuffed!

Yes, this is my British roots coming out, but it is just the perfect word. It means I feel pretty pleased with myself – proud without being obnoxious, lol

Hubby and I belong to a couple different photography groups on Facebook. I find it interesting how very different they are. On one the activity is slim. When things are posted the constructive criticism is often attacked, so people avoid commenting. The other is the total opposite. This is a local Photography Group, and we are totally enjoying it.

The Group does a monthly theme, and the theme for January was Minimalism. I love expanding what I do. Last year my good friend, and fellow photographer, asked me to go to Cincinnati to shoot a building. Yes, take photographs of architecture 😊 You can see what I did here – Getting into the New Year, Feb 24, 2017 and Best Laid Plans, April 27, 2017.

So, the theme for January was Minimalism –  where do I start. The Admin put a link up to see more about it, I also went to my resource for this kind of thing, Ted Forbes – “The Art of Photography.” I then started looking around. This is what I came up with:

This morning Hubby went downstairs to work, and I sat down at my computer to work on a project. He messaged me from downstairs, asking if I had been on Facebook this morning. I hadn’t, so I looked. Here is where being ‘chuffed’ comes into play. My photograph was selected as the best illustration of minimalism, and will be the groups cover photo for the next month!

I am so terrible at self-promotion. I just can’t seem to get myself to go out and do that. When something like this happens, it makes you realize you might just have something.

See more of my work on my Flikr page

Happy New Year 2018

I was very busy over the holidays. Not what you would normally think; hours shopping for the perfect gifts. In fact, our Christmas is very low-key on that level. Thanksgiving is the big day in our house. We always have 20 some people, all the kids, and I just love it. Christmas is when the kids go to their significant others’ families. We go to Hubby’s parents house, and my mother will join us there. Sometimes our kids will be there, this year only the youngest. The big difference is that we have no little ones, so Santa isn’t much in evidence. Yes, we do have our grandson, who is 18 months old now. But for Christmas he is with his parents at his other grandparents’ home. A few years back we started having a traditional German, New Years Day pork and sauerkraut dinner. We have everyone over we weren’t able to spend Christmas Day with, exchange presents, and eat good food.

This year I decided to not fight the shopping craziness, and spent a lot of time in the craft-room. Of course, I couldn’t post things until the gifts were given. Here are some great gift ideas, where I got the patterns (let’s give credit where credit is due), and my thoughts. (Please note, all these photos were taken with either my phone or tablet.)

I started out by making bowl hot pads, or cozy. To be honest, my first sister-in-law shared a tutorial for these on Facebook a while back. I couldn’t find the one she shared, and there were a number of tutorials online. I can’t really give credit to anyone in particular, but to my “little sis” for suggesting it. The tutorials go from the simple, to people who have made really cool reusable templates you can order. I am about mid-way in this.

 

Then came the Pet Bandana. Keeping in mind we have 6 dogs among the immediate family. My problem here was just figuring out what sizes I needed. The pattern I used was from ShabbyFrabrics.com (with a YouTube tutorial). They turned out fairly nice, although I did make one adjustment. In the instructions they have you leave part of the top seam open to turn it right side out. After the first few, I sewed directly across, and turned them right side out through the holes for the collar. I did still have a sizing issue as they ran a bit big for our dogs. But it was a great place to start, and now I know where to change things for the next time.

Next came the Toddler Bib for my grandson. This also came from ShabbyFabric.com (with a YouTube tutorial), and I really liked it. The only adjustment I made was putting a pocket on one side. They advertised this as a reversible bib. To my mind if the side out is that dirty I wouldn’t want to turn it around, and that mess touch the child’s clothes. Now if you wanted to make the sides completely different for variety, then it is a great idea. But as I was using the same fabric for both sides, one pocket worked fine.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lastly I needed a couple of extra gifts. I made a padded Wine Bag, by so-sew-easy.com (with a YouTube tutorial). This turned out just beautifully. I used fabric remnants, and turned out a really beautiful gift.

Then I needed a guy gift. That was a real problem. It seems so easy to come up with something a woman would find fun. Eventually I came across this Phone Charger Holder from iThinkSew.com. I did change it a little by adding a faux leather pocket, which made it more masculine looking. It was a real hit. 1 – because they couldn’t figure it out, 2 – they loved it!

I also made a Tablet Holder from Debbie Shore’s book, Half Yard Home. Silly me didn’t take a picture of it. But I will make another one, as it turned out really nice. I also made her Bag Dispenser for the Wild Child a while back, so I will share the photo of that 😊

All-in-all I had a lot of fun. Having a craft-room has made all the difference to being able to get things made. The hardest part was always finding what I needed, and the space to work on it. I now have both, and enables me to get those creative juices going. Just love it <3