Welcome to my blog! I hope to make your visit worthwhile and reward you with some new inspirations, sewing and recycling, crafts tutorials and recipes. Please add yourself as a follower, so that you will automatically be updated when I post something new! Please comment, I appreciate sharing mutual interests, like sewing, crafting, cooking and of course eating well! I am a former Family and Consumer Sciences Teacher, I sub in 3 school systems and moonlight at a retail ladies clothing store. which sometimes allows me to indulge my creative energies. A wife, a mom through adoption, Christian, boomer and a member of the sandwich generation I hope to share my unique perspectives and help you with some of yours!

Monday, May 31, 2010

Picnic times calls for a Safe Potato Salad!

If you are visiting my web site and sew a bit, you might have seen my Homage to the Humble Safety Pin, a post listing fav tips and tricks, as a result of a request from SewMamaSew.com If you haven't visited them,I highly recommend it. I learn something new every time! I was so honored to be featured here:
Sewing Tips/Tricks Part III , I got alot of "hits" as a result.  If you are visiting for the first time, comment on what you see, tell me if you picked up anything new, and if you like my music?  Should it be on autoplay or should the user decide.  I will be pay attention to the results, so weigh in, ok?  Also, I will continue my series on Thrift Pile Redo, in the coming posts.  See my past posts in May for what I am talking about.

Since this is Memorial Day Weekend, I am posting a favorite potato salad recipe, that is safe to take to picnics.  No Mayo, here, the vinegar also helps keep it from growing bacteria...of course, you don't leave picnic food in the sun for long, so use common sense.  Here goes:

German Style Potato Salad from a cookook  from the 60's -"Come into our Kitchen", recipes by the members of Calvin Reformed Church, Grand Rapids MI

6 medium, boiled potatoes

Whites of 4 hard boiled eggs diced

¼ cup chopped parsley

1/3 cup green onion

2 teaspoons sugar

1 ½ teaspoons salt

Cube potatoes and add other ingredients; toss lightly together.

4-6 slices bacon, diced

2 Tablespoons bacon fat

2 Tablespoons flour

1/3 cup vinegar

2/3 cup water

Yolks of 4 hard cooked eggs, mashed

Fry bacon until just crisp; remove bacon and pour off all but 2 tablespoons fat. Add flour to fat and blend until smooth. Add vinegar and water; cook until thickened, stirring constantly. Add mashed yolks. Spread bacon over potato mixture, pour sauce over all and toss lightly.

I made this recipe recently for a side with hamburgers, unfortunately didn't have eggs, so I omitted.  And I added in the carrots, celery and the green onion from my garden.  I topped with some dill and cilantro, instead of using parsley, I just like the flavors better.  The picture doesn't do it justice, but it was satisfying!  Guess we like our meat and potato recipes.  And anything with bacon is definately great!

And I must end this post with a pic of my Honeysuckle plant, the smell is so heavenly wafting into my Family room, I wish you could smell it! I will share some gardening tips for perenials coming up soon as well.  I held a garage sale this past weekend, and was selling my excess plants as well.  We are having rain arriving soon, so I will get my plants moved and re-installed to take advantage...

Saturday, May 22, 2010

My Quest Part 2 and Skirting Tuts

My quest for motherhood, began with my son in 1986 and it wasn't until 1996 our dream of completing our family with a sister named Kate was realized.  My story follows my short discussion on adding a lacy ruffle to fancy up your skirts and another Thrift Pile skirt redo tutorial.

I am a confirmed lace-aholic, I have lots of it thoughout my home, in the form of doilies and linens, and whenever possible, I like to add it to my clothes. I purchased this sheer poly/nylon  rows of ruffles fabric, 3 years ago in the garment district in NY City. I love the look of a petticoat layer peeking out from under skirts, gives it a girly look and adds some inches when I feel the skirt show too much of my crinkled knees. I simply cut the fabric in strips following the lines of the ruffles. I then add this to the underskirt, or directly on to the edge of the skirt. No finishing needed, the fabric has a knit like quality so it doesn't ravel.  I remember the fabric being around $10.00 a yard but I felt I could get alot of trim out of it for all my projects. The second last pic shows an application of a layer of straight eyelet. Here are some examples.

Included in my thrift pile (mentioned in the previous post) is a sparkly pale green cardigan sweater, that I may delay changing till fall, it is so pretty without altering...but there are 3 skirts of varied sizes, destined for myself and daughter. Attacking the tiered black and beige one my daughter claimed first. 

1.  The Before picture, the skirt was cute, I believe a Mossimo size medium, from Target. 3 tiers, and lined with a layer of black cotton, it was cute but daughter didn't like that it was below her knees or that it was too big.

2.The skirt was an elasticized waist that was stretched out.  I simply cut a piece of  wide elastic, the measurement of my daughter's waist, and after altering, attached to the flirty skirt. (I purchased the 3 inch wide elastic from an etsy seller as I have not seen this type of wide elastic at JoAnns.) The picture shows me cutting a few inches off the top of the skirt, serging the two layers together, or zigzagging, as long as you keep the two layers even.

3. I placed marker pins equally spaced around the elastic, to help match up the side seams and evenly distribute the gathers by marking off in matching increments, so that the gathers are nicely distributed.

4.  I stitched two rows of gathers along the top below the serged edge. Pull the gathers gently.
5. I stitched the elastic, right side to wrong side of waistband. Voil'a. No hemming needed, it is already done for you. Took all of 25 minutes from start to finish!

6.  After most of the skirt is attached, I took the garment out of the machine, and pinned the two cut edges of the elastic together, stitched at a slight angle, wider towards the skirt, narrower towards the top of the waistband, and then finger pressed open.  I then finished attaching the skirt, to the elastic.

Kate is modeling for me reluctantly, as she didn't want to change her top to make this photo more attractive.. oh well...

This purchased skirt retailed over $25.00, bought on sale, my redo cost around $5.00!
The polka dot skirt will be demonstrated next post, so watch for it. 

I picked up the blogging bug right after I started my own etsy shop in fall of 2008, and I have become so addicted to writing and showing off what I make and learn as I go through life.  Having followers who read and try my stuff is a real honor and motivation to keep it going.  I just "curated a treasury" for etsy.  The link is here.  I met some nice ladies and even helped sell the table cloth pictured!  I was kind of eyeing it for myself, but I am sure she will find me another...:)

My Quest for Motherhood, Part 2
Well as promised, here goes my story of my second child through adoption, Katerina. For the years following my son's birth and childhood, I harbored the dream of having a sibling for him.  When my son was 7th months old, I amazingly got pregnant and lost it around 6 weeks. Carrying a child, if I could get pregnant again would be difficult according to the specialists.   I wasn't ready to give up, so I continued my pursuit of a pregnancy, enduring more laproscopies and surgery for endometriosisFibroids were my new enemy.  Treating these didn't help me much, and the anemia I developed in my late 30's definately brought with it debilitating new problems, including a diagnosis of lupus.  When my doc finally agreed a hysterectomy was in order, I felt relief, but I wasn't giving up on adoption.  We contacted an agency in Columbus that pairs birth parents with adoptive parents.  Early in our application process, the agency was seeking a home for a pregnant teen who needed housing while she waited for her child to be born and placed.  We cleared out a spare bedroom and welcomed her.  I was working part time then, and it was nice to have a "nanny" who could help out a bit in exchange for room and board. She made it clear to me that she was choosing a couple for her child that were both doctors.  She wanted a home where the child would want for nothing!  When her labor began, I accompanied her to the hospital and sat with her as she gave birth.  I didn't get to see the baby arrive, her mother had come up from southern Ohio to be with her.  She went through with her choice of family, and I was devastated that she had gotten to know us but didn't feel we were the right family for her child.  Not too long after this, another birth mom had selected our resume from a big pile, and wanted to meet us.  It was spring time, blossoms were just budding, the colors never looked so beautiful to me as we drove to Columbus.  I was so excited to meet her and I the social worker take our picture with her. About 2 weeks later, we were told she had gone into labor, but the cord had wrapped around the baby girls' neck, and it was stillborn.  We had the nursery all ready for this little one, and I so hoped it was a girl.  I grieved quietly for the child and her brave birth mom, and closed the nursery door with all the baby stuff still with receipts on it,  mocking me and my dream.  I later developed that picture, and there were swirly white lights emanating from around the girl's abdomen.  It was so erie to see this, it seemed like a premonition.

Months went by, my 40th birthday came and went, and our home study's expiration date of November 30th was looming.  To renew our home study would have meant alot of hastle and more money, and we were slowly letting go of trying.  Two events seemed very telling in hindsight, but I so believe in miracles, I know there was one brewing for us...I attended a mother's prayer group  that fall and I know it was early November, when I blurted out to everyone that we were hoping for another child, but my time was running out.  The group of 10 women ferverently prayed for me, and comforted me as I tearfully relayed what had happened earlier in the year.  That following week, I was in church, with my family.  When baptisms are done in our church, the pastor baptizes in the front and then walks to the congregation, and hands off the child for a few minutes to acknowledge we all are involved in the faith walk of our children. Moments before he walked up the aisle, a shaft of light shone on the child's head.  It was blindingly bright.  I felt God's presence..  And the next moment the pastor handed me the child and allowed me to briefly talk into the microphone.  I gasped and said I was so honored to be picked and I was waiting for a second child to adopt.  I burst into tears, I am sure that he felt I was a little wacky.  I know I can't explain those moments, but I felt prayer being answered, even though I had no way to know about the next event.  Exactly 2 weeks later, my hubby and I had a business trip to NYC, and the Monday afterwards, I got a phone call, and the social worker asked if I would like to pick up my daughter on Wednesday!  Turns out just 2 weeks before, our birth mother had picked our resume and had made a birth plan for our family to adopt her soon to be born daughter. (Amazingly our home study was to expire just 4 days later.)

I screamed loudly, and my 10 year old son standing near by, grasped what it was that made me so happy.  We jumped up and down together, and made plans to scrap making Thanksgiving dinner that week for the joy of welcoming our daughter.  Wednesday, we made the short trip to a local social workers house, where we met Katerina for the first time. 

At the social workers home, our first glimpse of Katerina!

Wow, I have never been so sure of my God that in those heady days that followed.  We had our Thanksgiving week, and boy did we ever give thanks!  Family members brought us our dinner on Thursday and took turns visiting her and bringing gifts.  I have worn a small cross, with a tear drop rhinestone ever since, as I renewed my life to Christ in total gratitude. Those early years saw me alot more active in my church, first volunteering in the nursery, and later as she passed through preschool, leading to a position as a Preschool Sunday School Supervisor, a job that kept me close to my support and faith. I continue to volunteer for nursery greeter and sometimes supervisor, so I can continue to get my fix of the babies and their young families.  I actually have an interview on Monday of this week, to discuss getting back onto staff, maybe this time as a ministry assistant.  Pray for the right opportunity for me, it is in God's hands as always!
My daughter and her friend Madi on their way to their first fancy dance, at church!
And first high heels!!!!

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

My favorite sewing tip/tool (besides my sewing machine) is the humble Safety Pin

  Sew Mama Sew is asking for posts to highlight sewists fav tools and techniques and will be featuring these on their blog at the end of May. I chose to accept this challenge, with my low tech, tool of choice.

My homage to the humble Safety Pin.

You can do so many things with them

Pin baste a quilt for sewing, so you don't get stabbed...
Gather stuff you don't want to lose...
Pin to create a tube, stitch then...
push pin through to turn to right side by scrunching the pin through to opening
Use it as a pin back for a pretty rose...
Take a cute couple's pic...
and make a simple way to create a wall hanging for the wall...

And not shown,  is a pic of me pinning my pants instead of sewing on the button that popped off because I won't lay off of baking and eating!!

A bit of history from Ideafinder.com about the Safety Pin
Walter Hunt had no trouble thinking up new ideas. First he invented a machine to spin flax. Then he invented a fire engine gong, a forest saw, a stove that burned hard coal. His inventions worked, but he just did not have the knack for making money from them. One day in 1849 Walter Hunt wanted to pay a fifteen-dollar debt to a friend. So he decided to invent something new.

From a piece of brass wire about eight inches long, coiled at the center and shielded at one end, he made the first safety pin. He took out a patent on his invention, sold the rights to it for four hundred dollars, paid his friend back and had three hundred eighty-five dollars to spare.

Then he watched his latest brainstorm go on to become a million dollar money earner for someone else.
There is a moral here I am sure...

As a Home Ec teacher, my classroom was the one room in the whole school that a student could find security in knowing we kept a large tin of safety pins.  Probably had someone stop almost every day, as there are mulitple reasons to need one. 
**Check back my regular readers, as I will be continuing my posts on my Quest, part 2 and Thrift Pile Recycles Tuts.  See you soon!**

So Sew Mama Sew, add me to your Fav's list of Fav Tools!

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Thrift Pile Sweater Upcycle

The Thrift Pile!
Having fun with thrifting,   Upcycling is the answer,when your budget and time are a factor. I couldn't resist jazzing up that plain jane green Ann Taylor cotton sweater. I was fortunate to find items in good condition, though the neck edges were a little rough. I decided the best way was to cover worn edges was to hide them.

Here is a pic of the edges, not very attractive...
The sweater has 3/4 sleeves, and is soft and comfy. I love the look of lace, and sewing an edge and making roses with pearls seemed like a nice way to perk it up. Should look like a twin set with a lacy tank or t-shirt.  I know it is perfect for our on and off again spring weather.   I will show what I do with the other items, in the following posts.  Stay tuned!
A close up, of pearls and lace made into small flowers.  LOL, I pinned and sewed on and realized that they are on my right side, and I know usually corsages go over your heart.  Oh well, it is my take on an upcycle.

I was featured in a Treasury on Etsy today, or recently, I am not sure.  The curator sent me an email today letting me know.  She did a collection of Rainbows, and my Girls Rainbow Halter Top was chosen.  I was so excited, I have never been featured before.  I have been selling items on Etsy for over a year now, and it has been a fun hobby.Guess I better get more items up there, and pronto!
One of my blog readers Susan Boyd, recently wrote me for clarification on my Crochet Swiffer Cover.  I was so pleased when she said she made one successfully, and sent it to her sister, who promptly sent her picture.  Here is her Sis, holding the cover made up in variegated yarns. I decided to make a flick group for blog readers to post pics based on my tutorials or inspirations.  Please post your pics and Strut Your Stuff, 4Rs Style.  I welcome your cool projects. 

Spring is still trying to warm up, but my garden planting is starting to see some benefits. I have an old sandbox with tomatoes I started inside.  And around my back porch, are pots of various experiments.   Pictured here is my future salad, hope I can harvest soon.   The sad little pine tree was from a school project, guess I should put it in the ground soon.

Next post, I will detail the story of how my second child came into our lives, and another thrifed clothing item gets reshaped into a new size.  See ya soon and post your pics!

Sunday, May 9, 2010

My quest for Motherhood

At the Lutheran Children's Agency, both of our moms are beaming at our new son!

My last post I wrote a tribute about my own mother, whom I credit with teaching me what it meant to be a mother.  Fiercely protective, and proud of her 3 kids, I know I share alot of the same feelings towards my adopted 2.  10 years apart, they get to experience parents at different times in their lives.

Ted and I in college
I was 16 when I met my future hubby, Ted.  He is one of 6 boys in a typical big Irish family.  Our first "date" after we had met at the beach below my parent's house on Lake Erie, consisted of a painting party.  (That first meeting, I knew I had met someone I could spend my life with. I told my mom so, I know she might have been skeptical.)

A group of his friends planned to paint the exterior or a home for a teenage friend's family who died suddenly from a heart condition.  The family was going through hard times, and the home suffered from neglect.  My hubby, Ted, along with his friends from St. Ed's, gathered a group and I was invited to help.  I met alot of the other guys girl friends, and joyfully we spent a day or two hanging on ladders, I remember I clung to a window over a porch, that I painted.  None of us were painters, but felt a sense of purpose as we tried to show love to the family of this fallen friend.  5 years later, we married, right after we both were finished with college, and weeks before we both left the country to join the Peace Corps in El Salvador. (Our time there was cut short by a civil war.) I knew that when we returned we would start our own family.  I had no idea, what a struggle that would become.  After I taught for a few years, we continued to pursue our dream of having kids.  A bad pap test, early in my quest, detected Stage 3 Cervical Dysplasia.  Fancy way of saying I had pre-cancer of the cervix.  One of my first surgeries had a large proportion of my cervix removed.  Of course it was mentioned that I might not conceive as a result, or be able to carry a pregnancy, but at least I was considered cancer free afterwards and able to resume trying to get pregnant.  Tests and 3 laproscopies revealed a number of other factors, that would make this difficult.  In particular was a bad case of endometriosis, a problem that caused me significant pain and anemia, over the course of my 20's. and 30's. I endured the roller coaster brought on by Clomid and 8 cycles of Pergonal injections, but without the IVF, (insurance wouldn't cover it for us, so the drugs were simply increasing our chances.) As the years went along, we also pursued adoption.  We wrote a biography to give to anyone who might know someone, who could help us find a child.  We looked into foreign and private agencies.  Cost was prohibitive for us, so we hoped for a private adoption.  We knew it would be difficult, but a miracle arrived in a phone call, from a co-worker at my husbands' company.  She knew of someone ready to place her child for adoption, and forwarded our letter and resume.  We were ecstatic when she chose us to parent her child.  Just 2 weeks later, our son was born, but in our county, notice has to be posted for the dad to come forward, to terminate rights.  So we knew it could be weeks before this requirement was satisfied. 

We were friends with another couple, who had recently adopted.  Attending their son's birthday party, we were drawn to a couple with 3 kids, one was an infant boy with piercing blue eyes. I asked to hold him.  They told me they are foster parents for Lutheran Children's, the same place we were working with for our home study.  I asked when the boy's birthday was.  They told me July 30th, and I almost dropped him.  I then relayed that we were waiting for a baby, and this was the same birthday.  Of course, it was our son, but we weren't able to see him, technically because permanent surrender from both parents hadn't occured yet!  We were so excited to have this sneak peek, that we called both sets of parents over to meet him.  We were already calling him Kevin, even though his name was Zultan, because each of the foster kids were given a letter of the alphabet name, he was assigned the letter Z. 

Wow, what excitement for us.  He was real, not just a promise, and my friends lived on W 226th.  So we called it the "Miracle on 226th Street".  It was only a few more weeks when we finally got to bring him home.  His birth mother never wavered, and the father never came forward.  8 months later we finalized and have had the joys and challenges ever since. Ironically, I did get pregnant one time, when he was 7 months old.  I was told I would probably have had to go to bed rest.  I made it to 8 weeks, so I felt some confirmation that I was destined to be a mother through adoption. Miscarriage was next, and I found it hard to be on a maternity ward, after so many years of infertility, but I was grateful that I had the chance to experience the joy of pregnancy even if it was only for a short while. (I know I will meet this little soul, in heaven one day.)  My Kevin will turn 24 this summer.  God has been good to us, even though we had no way of knowing our trip was just beginning.  My daughter's story follows this one, 10 years later.  Hers was an unusual one too, maybe next post!
My journey was begun, but I have another story to tell about my second child, Kate.  To be continued!

Recycle, Repurpose, Redo and Renew - I will demo how I practice the 4RS.

Here is a batch of items I got at Goodwill yesterday.  I will post what I am doing with some of these on my next blog post.  Can you guess what I will do with the green sweater...?

Monday, May 3, 2010

Mothers Day Musings and Contest

Hubby, daughter and I just got back yesterday morning from Chicago, a quick 2 day business trip that allowed Kate and I to run around the city, shop, eat, go to a musical, ride city busses, visit a museum and enjoy each others' company.  Poor hubby had to work straight through, both of our jobs had him working alot.  We even got two offers on two of our real estate listings, which kept him chained to phones and the computer as the last minutes of the tax incentive deadline drew near.  More later on all of this, I have to unload the cameras. 

 I am a follower of many blogs as evidenced by my list in the side bar. Recently I discovered one that is having a Mothers Day contest with a few simple rules. Check out Tea Rose Home You simply post on the comments how what your mom taught you, become a follower, and link back to her site. I have her button on mine if you missed the link above. She has some great stuff in her Etsy shop and is offering a credit towards your choice for the prize winner.

My sis Jean, daughter Ashley and I surprised mom for her 55th Birthday with a few friends and luncheon. It was her last celebration.

My mom has been gone for over 21 years now, but sometimes I still dream about her smiling face as she teaches me about making every day count. Her time on this earth was short.  I have tried to make my time here count too because of her.  "Every day is a gift from the Lord, rejoice in it..." I am pretty sure that was from the bible, a book she read most every day.  If you read my blog you'll learn more about her, she was a joyful soul, who never complained.  She had 3 kids pretty early in her marriage.  Carrying me, (the oldest) she was battling a serious thyroid disorder, that subsequently had to be destroyed so they could regulate it.  My sis was born a year and a half later.  2 years later, my brother was born with a cleft palate, and then her own mother died of breast cancer.  Since my dad traveled alot, and all her family were back in Chicago, this meant we did alot of time in doctors and hospital waiting rooms as my brother endured over 20 surgeries over the course of his childhood.  In her 30's she was stricken with rheumatoid arthritis and psorasis, and had major fatigue and mobility issues.  Finding breast cancer at age 51 after her first mamogram she cheerfully announced that you can live with cancer, that this was not a death sentence.  After a mastectomy, she chose to have reconstruction because this too was not going to stop her from enjoying life.  A year and a half later, the breast implant had ruptured and caused her immune system to go haywire, so the implant had to go. I believe that she would have had a fighting chance, but succumbed to bone cancer that had metastisized from the breast cancer cells and her inability to resist it. Towards the end, every day she would wake fitfully asking if she was still here, and dissapointed that she had to wait to go to heaven.  Her last hours, we held her hands and she whispererd she could see God , she was so convicted of it, I know she went joyfully, just as she lived her life.  Her legacy to me is the joy I get every day when I get to help someone make their day count too.  That is the love of working with kids, teaching, and mentoring, providing a stable home for my own 2 so that one day they can provide a legacy for their own families and friends.  This was a post I have been wanting to write, and on Mothers Day, I am sentimental, especially since my own journey to motherhood was a long and difficult one. I will tell that story in my next post.  Journaling for me on this blog is a way for me to tell the stories I might not have told my own kids in detail.  I hope you take the time, dear reader to write down your stories for your kids.  In our busy screen addicted lives sometimes we don't take the time to communicate our struggles as well as joys.  Both are important. I hope to print this blog out and make a book someday.

I'll end this post with my favorite poem, one I memorized in grade school, I have kept it in my memory for a long time, don't know the author, but it is so much the "fabric" of my life...guess it is telling I love to work with fabric!  Here goes:

The Weaver
My Life is but a weaving
between my Lord and me;

I cannot choose the colors

Or all the pattern see.

Oft times He weaveth sorrow
And I, in foolish pride,
Forget He sees the upper,
And I the under side.
Not til the loom is silent
And the shuttles cease to fly,
Shall God unroll the canvas
And explain the reason why.

The dark threads are as needful
In the Weaver's skillful hand,
As the threads of gold and silver
In the pattern He has planned.

He knows, He loves, He cares,
Nothing this truth can dim.
He gives His very best to those
Who leave the choice with Him.

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