Sunday, March 10, 2019

Friday, March 8, 2019

Broken Bones

Life has a way of taking twists and turns that we never expect.

I love everything about winter, winter sports, like snowshoeing and skiing, fires in the fireplace, wearing layers of clothing, wearing fabulous knitted items that I've made over the years, snow covered mountains, and the list goes on. But, this year, winter decided not to like me.

Three weeks ago, I went out to ski. It was a gorgeous day, bright sunshine, and the temperatures just right for optimum snow conditions. It was a quiet day on the hill, virtually no one around, my first run of the day, and I was feeling great. Then suddenly, my ski caught, on what I don't know, and the next thing I knew, I was tumbling down the hill. My husband was behind me. He said that I tumbled at least five times. I can remember thinking, "why am I not stopping?" I lost my skis, poles, and my googles even snapped off of my helmet. Then, my head slammed into the hill. Thankfully, I was wearing a helmet. Had I not been, I may not be writing today.

Once I came to a stop, my first thought was to get up, but I couldn't. The fall had really knocked the wind out of me. My body ached, and my head hurt. After a minute or so, I was finally able to roll over and sit up. A mountain host skied over and asked if I was okay. I said that I was. She wanted to call for the ski patrol to come with a snowmobile and take me down the mountain. I refused. Then my husband skied over with all of my lost equipment. She asked if he was with me, he said yes. Had I been alone, I think she would have insisted that I ride down rather than ski down. As she skied away, I looked up at my husband and said, "I just want to cry." But, I got up, got into my skis, skied down to the lift which I had to take in order to ultimately get to the bottom. Every muscle in my body shook, but by the time I made it to the final run to the bottom, my confidence returned. We went into the medics office where I was checked for a concussion. My husband was told that I should not be left alone for 24 hours, given a list of things to watch for, and I was told not to ski for at least 7 days. 

Somehow, I scraped up my face during the fall, and I could feel that my lip was swelling, so I popped into the restroom. As I was walking out to find my husband, a young guy called out, "ma'am, ma'am, are you okay?" Having just come from the medics office, and told of the possible things that would indicate a concussion, I wondered what I had done to alarm him. So I asked if I had stumbled. He said no, but that he and his friends were on the lift above me when I took the fall. He said. "it was violent!!!" He went on to say that they all felt so bad because they could do nothing to help me, then he added, "I just can't believe that you are actually walking."

By the next morning, everything that could hurt, hurt. I had pulled my leg muscles, groin muscles, neck muscles, abdominal muscles. Well, if it was a muscle, it hurt! I decided to just make the best of it, take it easy, and allow my body to heal. Or, so I thought...

The fall happened on a Tuesday. That Saturday, four days later, I took the dogs out for a walk, slipped on some ice, and broke my wrist. My husband had left for a quick out of town trip, so I was alone. When I fell, the muscles in my legs, groin, and abdomen were re-injured. If took everything I had just to get myself up. My wrist hurt like crazy, but I thought I could just shake it off, surely it was just bruised. I got a hold of the dogs, took about five steps, and knew that something was terribly wrong. 

I called a friend who dropped everything and rushed over to get me. I was able to catch my husband just before he boarded the plane. When we got to the hospital, I was immediately taken in. The nurse helped me get my coat off, and when he saw my arm, he said, "oh my!," and took a deep breath. My arm was pointed in one direction, and my hand in the opposite direction. I had actually broken both of the large bones that run from the wrist to the elbow.

This is me 3 hours later.  

I was told that due to the nature of the break, I would need surgery. Fortunately, they were able to get me in on Monday. I am now the proud new owner of a plate and matching screws that now hold my wrist in place ;)

At this point, I am 2 1/2 weeks out of surgery. The cast is off, but I have a brace that I will have to wear for another 6 weeks. The week of the surgery was incredibly difficult. I was in so much pain. I couldn't even stand the effort of getting in the bed. Since I had re-injured my muscles, any movement was almost more than I could stand, so I slept on the sofa. 

On a sweet note...
One night I awoke and felt a little body snuggling in around my legs. Somehow, Berkley had managed to get out of the bedroom and make his way to me.      

He and Gracie have been my constant companions :) 

When I fell and broke my wrist, my first thought was, "why did this have to happen?" Since then, I have thought often of the verse, "In all things give thanks."  This happened for a reason, not sure why, but in time, I will. 

Throughout this entire ordeal, I have had many blessings, a friend who was so calm under pressure, an incredibly attentive hospital staff, being able to get into surgery so quickly, sweet dogs to comfort me, and a husband who has been so understanding and helpful. Not being able to use my right hand has been an incredible learning experience, and humbling as well.

At my last rehab visit, the therapist had me hold a pair of scissors. I was told that I could begin to sew as long as I leave the brace on, and use my left hand to pick up fabric, etc. Each day I am feeling a little more like myself.

I'm looking forward to getting back into the swing of things!
Thanks for dropping by! :)

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Monday, February 11, 2019

Monday Morning Inspiration/Dior

I was so fortunate to have the opportunity to see the Dior exhibit at the Denver Art Museum this past week. Getting there was a bit harrowing as I flew into Denver during a blizzard. As the plane was making its approach, I looked out the window and thought, "this is not going to be good." When the gear touched down, I could feel the plane swearing a bit from side to side. I closed my eyes and in the form of a prayer said to myself, "hold onto this horse boys." The pilot did an amazing job by allowing the plane to keep rolling until it naturally slowed. Thank goodness for the super long runways in Denver!

For those of us who sew, we've had it drilled into us how important a muslin is. And, for those of us who sew, we've all experienced the garment that we thought really didn't need a muslin, only to make it up and find that it's a mess and into the garbage it goes :/ 

I'm sure you've seen the picture below many times. What you may not realize is that it is not a wall of white garments. It's a wall of muslin garments. Although meant for a muslin fitting, many of the pieces could actually be worn out in public. The attention to detail is absolutely incredible.

I was able to get an up close picture of this piece. The boning, the pleating, perfection.

The exhibit is huge, so large that I found it a little overwhelming. It's one that you can see at least twice, if not more. I took tons of pictures, so I will share them over the upcoming weeks as I know that everyone can't possibly get there, so a few up close pictures is the next best thing :)

This week I'll concentrate on some of the dark pieces that I especially enjoyed.

The piece below is so sleek, but then has the unexpected twist of the puddle on the floor,

and the super cute bag attached at the hip. 

Now, if you've followed the blog for a while, you know I love an interesting sleeve. This pleated sleeve is actually not a sleeve. The jacket is sleeveless. 

The "sleeve" is actually a pleated panel that is attached at the shoulder and just gives the illusion of a sleeve. 

A fairly simple garment, but I loved how the satin was inserted to give movement and slims the body. 

A piece from the 1940s. From a distance it doesn't look like much.

But, this is what I loved...those teeny, tiny little pleats that were inserted into the princessline seam.

I would gladly wear both of the garments below. The piece on the left is especially intriguing to me. 

I LOVE the collar detail. I need to do a little research as it looks as though it could possibly be a hood as well.

This jacket hangs so beautifully. I would love to see how the jacket was structured. Look closely, very closely and you'll see how perfectly the welt on the pocket was matched to the jacket.

The last piece for today...
I love this little dress. It's simple, and yet exquisite. The design is perfectly balanced with the trim that goes around the neckline and down the front, as well as the trim around the bottom of the sleeves.

As I said, I took tons of pictures. The collection is really quite bright and exciting. I look forward to sharing more with you.

The video below is only a minute long, but it will give you the feeling of actually walking into the exhibit. As you'll see, the dark pieces I've shared today are just a very small portion of the exhibit. 


If you would like to see more pictures, and read more about the exhibit, you can find it all HERE on the Denver Art Museum's site. 

Have a wonderful week!


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Sunday, February 10, 2019

Sunday Night Reflections

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Sunday's Soup/True Vegetarian Vegan Chili

I've told this story before, so forgive me if you've heard it ;)

A number of years ago, I made a pot of traditional chili, with meat. Now I love a spicy dish, but if it's too hot for me, no one in my household will be able to eat it. This chili was REALLY hot, even for me! For the life of me, I don't know how I convinced myself that the spiciness of the dish was a matter of mind over matter. If I acted like it was fine, no one else would notice. I don't know, maybe the overly hot chili had given me a momentary lapse in saneness ;)

So, when dinner time rolled around, I served up the chili. I sat down and began to eat it as though there wasn't a pepper in it. After a few minutes, my exchange student, who was from the Canary Islands, and did not like spicy food, said, "I'm sorry Rhonda, but this is just too hot!" My husband then chimed in and said that he thought it was just him and then asked if I thought it was hot. I admitted that it was extremely hot, but I thought they wouldn't notice. He said, "Not notice!!! How can you not notice when your mouth is on fire???" I have yet to live that story down :)

I do love a bowl of chili, but, since I no longer eat meat, I want a truly vegetarian bowl, no fake meat, just vegetables. The recipe I'm sharing today has a couple of secret ingredients.

For this chili, you'll begin with a large chopped onion sauteed in oil, along with 1 tablespoon of minced ginger. The smell will be heavenly.

Add 2 cloves of minced garlic, and 2 chopped bell peppers. I used an orange and a yellow pepper, but green will do just fine.

Now, this is where it begins to turn into chili...
Add 3 teaspoons of good chili powder, 2 teaspoons of cumin, and 2 teaspoons of paprika. Allow to saute on low for about 5 minutes. 

At this point, add 2, 28 oz. cans of diced tomatoes(I like fire-roasted tomatoes), and 3, 14.5 oz cans of your favorite beans, drained and rinsed. I used garbanzo beans, pinto beans, and small northern beans. Besides the ginger, the other little secret ingredient is a chipotle pepper in adobo sauce which you will add at this point. 

Allow the mixture to simmer for at least 30 minutes. 

I like to make a pot of bulgar, which is cracked wheat to serve with my chili. Serve up a bowl of the chili and then add a mound of bulgar on top. Delicious! You could also make a pot of your favorite rice rather than the bulgar. I just really love bulgar :)

True Vegetarian Chili With a Twist

1 large onion chipped
1 tablespoon fresh ginger minced
2 bell peppers chopped
2 cloves garlic minced
2 28 oz. cans diced tomatoes
3 14.5 oz. cans of beans, pinto, garbanzo, and small northern beans drained and rinsed
3 teaspoons chili powder
2 teaspoons cumin
2 teaspoons paprika
1 chipotle pepper in adobo sauce
2 tablespoons of the adobo sauce
3 tablespoons olive oil
salt and black pepper to taste 

Place oil in a large soup pot. Add onion and ginger. Saute over medium heat until onion is translucent. Add garlic and bell peppers. Saute another 5 minutes until peppers are tender. Add chili powder, cumin, and paprika. Stir well to combine. Saute for about 2 minutes to begin to release flavors.

Add dice tomatoes, the 3 cans of rinsed beans, the chipotle pepper, and the adobo sauce. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer on a low fire for 30 minutes, or longer. Add salt and black pepper to taste.

To serve, ladle into bowls. A mound of cooked bulgar, or cooked rice of your choice makes a nice accompaniment. 

As always, if you give the recipe a try, I hope you enjoy it. Don't leave out the fresh ginger! It really adds a lovely flavor. As for the adobo sauce, it can be a bit spicy, so put in a tablespoon of the sauce, and give it a try before you add the second.


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Monday, February 4, 2019

Tuesday, January 29, 2019

Giving the Merchant and Mills Francine Pattern a Test Run

I can be a very bold soul ;) 
As I just typed that, I remembered an incident that happened last winter while out skiing. We had skied up to get on a chair. This particular chair is quite old, and a little tricky to get on. There was a man in front of us with his very young, and very small daughter. The attendant had asked him to put the child on the other side of him and allow her to load the child onto the seat. He refused, lashed out at the attendant, grabbed his daughter and put her on the chair. But, the child was half hanging off the chair. I gasped as I thought for sure that the child was going to fall off. The attendant quickly stopped the lift, came around and properly placed the child on the chair. She commented to the man that if he takes the chair again, that he must listen to her. He snapped back...and then I opened my mouth. He turned back to me and said that it was none of my business. I replied, "But it is, accidents affect everyone who is skiing on this mountain." At that point, the lift began to move, and off he went. The attendant thanked me for defending her. While I did defend her, my actual concern was for the child. 
When we got off of the lift, I was ready for a confrontation, but the guy had skied off with his daughter, and I never saw them again. 

My initial comment though, was in regard to sewing, not me trying to be the police of the world :/ 

I have never used a Merchant and Mills pattern, so before I started using the Francine pattern to design other pieces for the upcoming challenge with Becky of Trail Balloons, I wanted to give the pattern a test run. I had purchased a lovely remnant of wool from Fishman's Fabrics in Chicago. Such a beautiful piece, it feels like butter against the skin. 

To make the dress, the pattern calls for almost 2 meters from a piece of 60" wide fabric. I only had 1 2/3 yards. But, I played around with the fabric, and was successful. 

We had dinner a few nights ago with a friend who is a retired Navy submarine captain. He and my husband were commenting on the fact that the United States is one of only 3 countries that doesn't use the metric system, Liberia and Burma being the other two. I'll be honest, when it comes to the metric system, I can be quite lazy. Thank goodness for online calculators!!! But, I still managed to make a mistake with the measurement calculations, and cut a dress that swam on me :/ And too...I need to enter here that I did not make a muslin, but cut the pattern directly out of my lovely piece of wool. I know, I know, shame on me!

Thankfully, all was not lost, only the pockets. Here again, I was lazy, so instead of taking out all of the stitching, I simply took in the dress so that it no longer looked like a tent, and chopped off the pockets. 

Pictures of me in the dress will follow. I have actually worn the dress a number of times since I made it. It is so comfortable, and easy to wear. It has been horribly cold, so I have worn a wool t-shirt underneath the dress, a black one. It just peeks out from the opening in the dress and looks quite cute. The side seam pockets would have been nice, but in the end, I really haven't missed them. But, I will add them back with the next dress.  

A few other pattern notes;

*There is very little ease in the sleeve. But, with the wool, the seam steams beautifully.
*I found the sleeves to be rather wide around my arms and wrists, so I tapered them quite a bit. In all fairness, I do have rather thin arms and wrists and typically taper my sleeves.
*Measure the circumference of the top, or dress pattern against your own measurements. And, a muslin would be most helpful before cutting your fashion fabric, especially if it's a very nice piece of fabric. 

As I said, I really love the dress. The shoulder seams hang off of my shoulders a bit, but that is hardly the end of the world. I just didn't want to take the sleeves out and adjust the shoulder seams. When I make my next piece, I now know what size to cut, and the pattern will hang correctly on my body.

I have a number of fun tweeds that I will be using for my challenge pieces. As soon as Becky and I have nailed down a few particulars, I'll let you know the start date of the challenge. I'm so excited!!! :)   

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Monday, January 28, 2019

Monday Morning Inspiration/Fringe It!

I feel like this post should be entitled, "Great Expectations." I had the best intentions of doing so many posts last week...and then...I did nothing. Maybe it's winter, but, it really can't be that as I LOVE winter. Oh well, I'm here today, and I guess that's what counts :)

Some fun things, not at all sewing related...

I am having the best time with Berkley! The very first night that I brought him home, he jumped up on an ottoman that rocks back and forth. Most dogs would quickly jump off, but not Berkley! He just rode it out. The thought came to me that he might enjoy an agility class. The only problem was how aggressive he became when he would see other dogs. So, I decided to have a trainer come and help me with the situation. Last Monday was our first session. He was a little shocked by the experience, but the techniques really work! I had him out for a long walk yesterday. We encountered 3 dogs. I could see that he noticed the dogs, but he just kept walking. I was so very happy. There's still hope for that agility class :) 

My husband's nephew had mentioned that I should find a cabinet for the Christmas Creatures that I have made. I thought it was a great idea, but I was a little stumped on what the cabinet should look like. It really needed to have the same funky aspect as the creatures. 

I found the cabinet pictured below, made from repurposed wood and an old window frame. Perfect! The only issue was that it would need shelves, lighting, and glass in the door/window. I took it to a carpenter/artist that I thought would do a nice job. He did :) Now the little creatures have their own home.              

We hung the cabinet last week. It weighs a TON!!! And, it was a bear to hang. But, it's up, and until the end of the world comes, at least for me ;), this is where the cabinet will stay!
What has been nice is that everyone who has dropped by has been drawn to the cabinet, and they have just stood and marveled at all the little guys inside. So nice :) It looks like there's a crack in the glass in the picture below. There isn't, it's just a shadow.  

Becky of Trail Balloons and I are gearing up for a new February challenge. We will be using the Merchant and Mills Francine top/dress to create woven wool/tweed sweatshirts. We have set our weekly challenges, so we have a game plan. Now to decide what I'll be doing. I did a little snooping around on Pinterest for some design ideas. As it turns out, I was really drawn to fringe. 

I love this piece from Chanel. Pictured on Anna Wintour on the left, I love how it was cut on the bias. With this piece, the fringe is not a self fringe, but feathers. Regardless, it's a great inspiration piece.  

Here's a tweed jacket that was given added attention with the fringe trim. So pretty. 

The fringe on the dress and jacket below looks like a purchased trim. But, the fabric could easily be fringed and sewn back on to the garment.

Another Chanel piece with self fringe.

Two rows of fringe on the jacket. It really pops due to the added black trim.

An extremely simple top given a little interest with the fringe hems. Love the added detail of the fringe on the skirt as well.

The center panel on the dress below would have disappeared had the fringe not been added.

Another super simple top made more interesting with the fringe on the sleeves and the hem. Love the added detail of the knitted cuffs.

The last two pieces are skirts and not tops, but I really love the self fringe on both.

Bubblegum 4 Breakfast did a lovely post on how she created this beautiful bias trim. You can find the post HERE.  

Here's another great post on making fringe from KBDesigns. 

So, if you find that you would like to embellish a garment, especially one that is made with a fabric that will fringe, there's no need to search and search for trim as you just need to pull a few threads!

Have a great week!

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Sunday, January 27, 2019

Sunday, January 20, 2019

Patty Cake Rice Cakes

My hometown is surrounded by rice fields. I can remember being amazed when the fields were flooded in the early spring. How could anything grow in so much water? And then, as if by magic, the rice would begin to emerge.

Rice has been a staple in my life from the time I could eat solid food. I grew up eating rice as a cereal, as a pudding for dessert, in soups, with butter, and smothered in gravy. When I would come to the table and see that rice was on the menu, I was a very happy girl. As long as there was rice, I could somehow choke down whatever else was there that I didn't care for. Just to show you how crazy I was, I would carefully move my rice to one side of my plate so that the other items on my plate that I did not like would not "contaminate" my rice. I know, crazy ;)

I still LOVE rice, and I am quite satisfied with a bowl of rice and a wonderful item that I get in Chicago called giardiniera. Here's a recipe for Italian Giardiniera that looks fairly authentic. As much of this stuff as I eat, I need to see about making a batch! Anyway...when I make rice, I always make much more than I can use at one sitting as I want leftovers. An item that I love to make with the leftovers is rice cakes. I love these things!!! I will eat them for breakfast, lunch, and dinner...and all in the same day! 

The cakes are super easy to make. Just begin with 2 eggs, whisk them until frothy. 

Add the rice, shredded cheddar cheese, bread crumbs. I stir this mixture together and then add finely chopped spinach, onion, garlic, dried oregano, red pepper flakes, salt and black pepper.

Combine all of the ingredients, and then measure out 1/4 cup of the mixture and form into round patties. The mixture can be a bit sticky, so I just keep my hands wet with water as I form the patties. Heat oil in a large pan over medium heat. Place patties in the oil and cook for at least 3 minutes without touching. Turn and press lightly to flatten out and cook another 3 minutes, or more to obtain a golden brown.

For breakfast, I serve the patties with poached eggs, and sprinkle them with fresh chopped parsley.


For lunch, I will place the patties on salad, or I just top them with giardiniera. For dinner, I like to make a mushroom or tomato sauce for the patties. So, they are quite versatile, and delicious anytime of day.

Patty Cake Rice Cakes

2 cups cooked rice
1 cup finely chopped fresh spinach
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1/4 cup finely chopped onion
1 clove garlic minced
2 eggs
1/2 cup bread crumbs ( I like bread crumbs with Italian seasoning)
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes (optional)
salt and black pepper to taste
Enough oil to cover the bottom of cooking pan

Whisk eggs in a large bowl. Add rice, cheese, bread crumbs and mix well. Combine onion, garlic spinach, oregano, red pepper flakes and stir into rice mixture. Add salt and black pepper to taste. 

Heat oil in large pan over medium heat, enough to coat the bottom of the pan.
Measure out 1/4 cup of the rice mixture and form into patties. Keeping hands wet will help to keep the rice mixture from sticking to your hands. Place patties in hot oil and brown on each side for at least 3 minutes, until golden brown. Turn patties, press lightly to flatten out and cook on opposite side until golden brown.
Place cooked patties on paper towels.

Leftover uncooked patties can be place on waxed paper and frozen to cook at a later time. 

Patties can be served for breakfast, lunch or dinner. For breakfast, top with a poached egg. For lunch, place on top of salad. For dinner, top with a mushroom or tomato sauce.

I grew up eating plain ol' regular white rice. When I cook rice these days, I typically use brown rice, but I also love red rice, forbidden rice, and wild rice. I just love having the opportunity to try so many wonderful varieties of rice :)

If you give my rice cakes a try, I hope you enjoy them as much as I do!

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Tuesday, January 15, 2019

A Bag To Pop Over!

Last Friday and Saturday, I had the opportunity to take a class, and make the Poppins Bag by Auntie's Two Patterns. It was a lot of work, but so much fun! 

As with any project, the big question is, what fabric should I use? You may remember the watercolor I did last summer and had made into fabric on the Spoonflower site. 

I had a piece printed in a 2 yard piece of cotton, just to see how I would like it. The quality was fine for basic cotton, and I had thought that I would do a skirt, then I changed my mind and thought of a kimono jacket...and then...I did nothing with it. I am so happy that I didn't as it became the focus fabric for my bag. Below you see the front of the bag once the quilting had been completed. Look closely as there is a pocket in the center panel.  

The bag has made some progress below. Rather than put another pocket on the back of the bag, I elected to do a strap so that I can carry it on the handle of my rolling suitcase. 

My finished bag. There is a frame inside the top of the bag that folds in when the bag is zipped.

 And then pops out when the bag is unzipped.

Here you can see the inside of the bag. There are 2 pockets, and loads of room! I think I could pack my entire wardrobe into this bag. Not really, but it is quite roomy.

I used this super fun rainbow zipper. 

And I love the stars that were provided for the zipper pulls. 

I made the bag at the sweetest store in Granby, Colorado. Tina, the owner is just the best! If you would like to make a bag of your own, you can order the pattern from her. The frame for the top of the bag comes with the pattern. If you do decide to make the bag, I would also order all of the foam pieces that are needed for the structure of the bag. You can find her website HERE. Just tell her that Rhonda sent you :) Don't worry, I get no compensation for this, I just love to pass along great projects, and great people :) Tina also carries the rainbow zipper and the fun star zipper pulls. 

If you do decide to make the bag, just a little word of warning, it is labor intensive. It took 2 full days to complete the bag. But, in the end, it was so worth it!

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