Saturday, March 30, 2013

Rhonda......Where Are You????

I don't know that anyone has missed me, but in the off chance that someone has, I thought I would check in. There is no Sleeves On Saturdays post today, just a story. In order to tell you where I have been the last few days, I need to explain the history behind it all.
When I was 24 I had a good friend who was in dental school. One day she told me that since she was now a senior, she needed patients and asked if I would be willing. Ironically, dental insurance had just been added to my insurance plan, so why not? I actually remember telling her that this would be fun. I would go in, let her clean my teeth, and that would be the end of it. But, being a good dental student, she talked in me to x-rays. The night before my follow up appointment, she called and said that she did not want me to be alarmed, but the head of the school would be doing an examination the next day. I immediately thought that this was not normal procedure as she tried to convince me it was, but okay, no need to worry, just wait for tomorrow. As it turned out, it was not normal procedure, I had a tumor. Luckily, the biopsy showed that there was no cancer in that region, but I was told that with this type of tumor there could be cancer in another region. So, the race was on to prepare me for surgery. Needless to say, I left that day with my head spinning. My husband and I had only been dating for a couple of months. I was so happy that I did not have to go home and be alone as he had taken the day off in order for us to go canoeing. To be honest, I can't even remember whether we canoed that day or not.
The following couple of weeks consisted of many tests and root canals to save the teeth that were over the area where the tumor was. The day arrived for me to check in to the hospital. At the time, I smoked. Yes, me, Miss Health Nut...I smoked. On my way into the hospital that day, I threw my cigarettes in the trash. I had already been told that I would have an 80% chance of the tumor recurring so I thought that if it turned out to be cancer, there was nothing I could do about it now, but if I continued to smoke and it returned and it was cancer, I had been warned. If I stopped smoking and it returned and it was cancer, well, at least I tried.
As it turned out, the tumor had taken over more of my jaw than they had thought, but there was no cancer. What I had been told would be a month of recovery turned into three months. My husband, whom I was dating was so good to me through all of this. Regardless of his efforts to feed me, I lost so much weight. I came to realize that so much of the joy that we receive from eating has to do with chewing. I was left with only a small sliver of my jaw, so this had to heal before they would allow me to chew again. I longed for crunchy vegetables!!
Throughout the process of all of this, I was told how rare this was, in fact, in the history of this school, they had never seen my particular case. So, they decided to make my case the final test for all graduating oral surgeons. They had said, "you'll be famous!." Believe me, I could have lived without that type of fame:) I also did not realize at the time that this would benefit me one day.
Finally everything healed and I thought that would be the end of that. Not so. Some years later, I began to have horrible headaches and pain that was directly related to the surgery and there was also some thought that the tumor may have returned. My dentist sent me to see a  wonderful woman who was now head of the same school that had dealt with the tumor. When she walked in the room, she sat down, smiled and said, "So, it was you!." She had my case as a graduating oral surgeon. Incredible!
What needed to be done was reconstructive surgery. I went through a three year process to rebuild my face from the damage that had incurred from the removal of the tumor. Bone graphs, metal plates and screws...I look like the ride of Frankenstein in x-rays!! The good news was that the tumor had not come back. Once again, I thought, "that's the end of that."
Once everything had healed, I needed to have my gums repaired and once again I thought, "that's the end of that." I need to stop saying that!!!
Last December I went in for my normal dental checkup only to be told that once again, there was a problem. My dentist and the surgeons all said, "this is very rare." I will say one thing about this, it may be rare, but when it happens to you, it is no longer rare. Initially, it all looked very bleak. I cried to my dentist, "but, I take such good care of my teeth," as if pleading my case would somehow change things. It had nothing to do with how I take care of myself. It just happened.
The surgery was on Thursday and I am very happy to say that it turned out to not be as bleak as they initially thought. It was not fun to have my mouth cut open once again, but, I'm really doing quite well.
In my own mental preparation for this surgery, I looked back at all I have been through and I thought of how the right people have always been put in my path precisely at the right time. So I took comfort in the fact that the hand that has carried me through is still there guiding my way. Of course I am no different than anyone else who faces something that they have so control over. I too have asked why. This life holds so many unanswered questions and to situations far more tragic than mine. I could say that it reminds us to realize the gift of our life, but that seems rather trite when I think of the incredible suffering that some endure. There is a verse that says, "All things work together for good..." What I do believe is there will be a day when I will understand why. Not during this lifetime, but the answer will come.
I will leave you now with the Prayer of St. Francis, as it has given me great comfort.

Lord, make me an instrument of your peace.
Where there is hatred, let me sow love;
where there is injury,pardon;
where there is doubt, faith;
where there is despair, hope;
where there is darkness, light;
and where there is sadness, joy.
O Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek
to be consoled as to console;
to be understood as to understand;
to be loved as to love.
For it is in giving that we receive;
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned;
and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life. Amen

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Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Pillowcases For Mary Bridge

To my great surprise, not long after I posted that I would like to start a drive for 900 pillowcases for The Mary Bridge Children's Hospital, I received a message from someone on the staff thanking me for my efforts. And guess what. our little project is on their Facebook page!! If you are on Facebook, just go to their page and you will find the post dated March 13th.
I have been even more inspired and amazed by all of you who have offered to help. Yesterday, I received two packages, one from Linda and another from Meegan. Both packages contained 10 pillowcases.
They are really beginning to pile up!!
Please forgive me ladies if I have confused the two of you, but I believe the pillowcase that is pictured above and below was made by Meegan. What a cute pillowcase. On one side she used a dinosaur fabric and on the other side robots. So great. 
Below are cases that both Linda and Meegan did. I love the whimsy that they used in putting these together.
Thank you so much Linda and Meegan for your time, effort and creativity. If nothing more, you have truly touched my heart, but I know that your efforts will appreciated by many.
At this point, a number of you have pledged cases. I even have a pledge from Spain!! A lady here in Chicago is donating fabric and another lady who recently opened a sewing studio has offered her studio for a day of making pillowcases!!
If you would like to get in on the fun, it is not too late!! Even if you can only make one pillowcase, it will be greatly appreciated. Just email me at sewbussted@yahoo.com and let me know if you would like to participate. In upcoming posts, I will start giving you a count as to where we stand in our journey toward 900 pillowcases. Here is a link to the pattern, http://siterepository.s3.amazonaws.com/00569201012271239106026.pdf, and here's a link to the original post, http://www.rhondabuss.blogspot.com/2013/03/pay-it-forward-can-you-help.html
To those of you who have pledged to help, thank you for helping me make this happen. There is truly strength in numbers.

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Sunday, March 24, 2013

Sunday Night Reflections

Life and Faith

A kid once asked a coach what was the best way to play baseball. He was looking for advise on how to throw the ball and hold the bat. The coach recognized his enthusiasm and simply said, "kid, just get out there and enjoy the game."
Prayer is much the same way. Our relationship with God is not dependent upon how well we do things, or if we say the right words. What counts is the prayer that comes from our hearts. We acknowledge that God is God and that He knows what He is doing. Then, as the Lord's Prayer says, let his will be done.
The best prayer we offer is one that seeks God's grace, guidance and will. We can ask for His healing, or we can ask for a special grace, but always remembering that more than anything else, we need to accept His will for us and those whom we love. At times it is easier to think that we know the answers. Our prayer reminds us that we are created, not creator. The course of our life is in His hands. So the best, most effective prayer we make is the one that heals our doubts, and our pride and opens us up to receive from the Lord his love and whatever grace He wants to give us.
                                                                            Author Unknown  

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Sunday's Soup

I am a barley nut!! In fact, I could eat it everyday, but then...my also husband lives and eats here too, so I can't just do as I please all the time. It has been far too long since I've had barley, so I decided to make a barley and mushroom soup today. Just a quick note, this recipe calls for 1 cup of uncooked barley, but I usually cook the entire bag(2 cups)and then I have barley for breakfast the rest of the week!! Barley is great with a little cinnamon, stevia and fruit and maybe a splash of Almond milk:)   
Mushroom and Barley Vegetable Soup
The ingredients;
For barley;
1 cup of uncooked barley
3 cups of water
1 tablespoon of olive oil
Combine barley and water with the olive oil and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for approximately 30 minutes or until the liquid has been absorbed. Set aside.

For soup;
1 8oz. package of small portobello mushrooms sliced
1 8oz. package of white mushrooms sliced
3 carrots chopped
3 stalks of celery chopped
1 large Spanish onion chopped
1 large clove of garlic chopped
1 package of dried mushrooms of choice (I buy mine at an Asian market, I have no idea what these mushrooms are, but I like them!)
2 tablespoons of Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon of soy sauce
1 large cube of Knorr vegetable bouillon
2 tablespoons of olive oil
6 cups of water
salt and pepper to taste
1/2 cup, packed of finely chopped parsley

Begin by placing dried mushrooms in boiling water. Boil water and then pour over mushrooms. Water should just cover the mushrooms. Set aside.  Heat oil in saute pan. Add chopped onion, carrots, celery and garlic. Saute until onion is tender.
 Add sliced mushrooms and saute for about 3 to 5 minutes or until cooked but still firm.
Transfer mixture to a large soup pot. Drain the dried mushrooms, but reserve liquid. Add the now soaked dried mushrooms to the pot. Measure the reserved soaking water and add enough water to equal 6 cups. Add to pot. Add cooked barley, Worcestershire sauce, soy sauce and salt and pepper. I like to use a mixture of peppercorns.
Bring mixture to a boil and then reduce heat to a low flame and simmer for about an hour. Cooking the soup on a low flame for a longer period of time really allows the flavors to come together. Now add the chopped parsley.
To serve, I like to garnish my soup with Labna. This is a Middle Eastern yogurt that is very much like sour cream, but it has a creamier taste. If you are not able to find this, sour cream, or creme fraiche will do just as well. The Labna is a personal taste of mine.
 And there you have it.
If I may say so myself, the soup is delicious. If you would like a non-vegetarian version, you can add  grilled beef or lamb and use a beef broth or bouillon in place of the water.
Hope you are having a lovely Sunday. We were supposed to have enough snow to shovel. I hope I'm not speaking to soon, but it looks like we've been spared. I love winter and I love snow, but I am really ready for spring:)

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Saturday, March 23, 2013

A Peg Skirt Tutorial

I saw a plea for help on Facebook yesterday accompanied by this picture. She wanted to make a knock off of this dress for her daughter but was stumped on the peg aspect of the skirt. The dress is really cute and once you know how to draft the skirt, it's really easy. So I told her that I would post a tutorial this morning on how to do this skirt as I thought some of you might also like to do something like this.
Begin with a straight skirt pattern.
The first pleat line looks to be 2" away from center front. Draw in a vertical line perpendicular to center front.
The second pleat line meets the first pleat line and angles to the hipline.
Cut the first pleat line to the hem but not through the hem and spread it 3". Notice below that the dart has been cut out of the skirt. We will be rotating the fullness of the dart into the second pleat line.
 To rotate the fullness of the dart into the second pleat line, begin by closing the dart as you see below.
Now spread the second pleat line 3". The 3" is measured from the point where the pleat line was cut to the point of the closed dart.
 Now we need to fold in the pleats. Crease on the first pleat line that was drawn in and then fold over.
Crease on the angled pleat line and fold it towards the closed dart. As you can see below, the pattern piece now has the bow of a peg.
 Cut off the excess paper at the waistline.
 Unfold the pattern.
You will want to mark notches where the pleats are to be folded as you see below. I have the original piece on top and the final pattern on the bottom.
 A closer shot.
 My final pattern picture is a little fuzzy, but I think you can see how it will look.
The center front of the skirt will be cut on the fold. The back skirt will be cut as a basic straight skirt.
So, very simple to do. Good luck with your dress project Kathleen. I hope your daughter loves her dress. Let us see pictures!

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Friday, March 22, 2013

Swimming With The Fishes...A Hem

As you can see from the title of the post, this is not a Fabulous Free Pattern Friday piece. I'm putting this week's post on hold until next week in order to do a short tutorial for Miss Pdiddy of  http://psewing.blogspot.com/ If you are following her blog, you know that she is feverishly working on her wedding gown as well as a number of gowns for her wedding party. This morning I received an email from her asking for a little help with a fishtail hem. This is a wonderful hem to add to any long gown. One thing I learned from working on gowns, well two things actually.....well, come to think of it, there was a LOT I learned but that is beside the point at the moment. I could entertain you for days with wedding stories. Anyway, back to the point, a woman's back is beautiful, but the back of the legs, well they really shouldn't be shown. If my bride wanted a straight dress and no train, I would still do a fishtail hem. This allows her to walk freely, as well as dance freely and the hem looks so pretty and graceful from the back and the added bonus is that the back of the leg is covered. By the way, this is beautiful on the back of a prom gown or any evening gown for that matter.
Below is a skirt I made for myself. I did not press if before I took the pictures. You can see that is is basically just a straight skirt with a sweep in the center back.
In order to hold out the fishtail, or sweep, I added a number of rows of ruffles.. The first row of ruffles goes all the way around the skirt. The second row stops at approximately the side seam. The next stops a little shorter and so on with the following rows. If you look closely, you can see that I just ripped each strip for the ruffles and did not finish the edges as I wanted a frayed look to the edge.
This organza layer was attached to the lining, so it is not the full length of the skirt. You can also see that the lining is the straight skirt with a slit in the back. I did not add the fishtail to the lining.
A thread chain holds the organza layer to the skirt.
 Drafting the fishtail is quite easy. Begin with the back skirt piece of your pattern.
I like to start the fishtail just below the bottom of the hips. The tail swings out as you see below. Please do a muslin to see if you would like a fuller sweep. But, this is really all there is to it. 
If you would still like a straight skirt, but more of a train affect, begin at the side seam of the back skirt and taper down as you see below to achieve the desired length of the train. This can be bustled once the ceremony is over.
I hope this helps Miss Pdiddly!    

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Thursday, March 21, 2013


In preparation for the Sew It All Casting Call contest, each contestant was sent questions to answer. If you missed the post on the Sew News blog, I thought that you might like to read the questions I was asked and my answers. By the way, you might want to sign up to receive the Sew News blog posts as each week they have a contest and you'll also find some great information as well. Hey! we all like having a chance to win something :)  

Rhonda Buss

We’re getting super excited for the Casting Call on March 3rd! We’re getting everything packed up and ready, and we’re getting to know our contestants. You may recognize Rhonda from her guest post on our blog, the 8-gore skirt tutorial, a few days ago. Read more about her below:
Sew it All: When did you learn to sew? Who taught you?
Rhonda: My grandmother taught me to embroider when I was five years old. I still have my first project! She hoped that this experience would make me thirst for more. It did and I couldn’t wait to sew and so we began with lessons on her treadle machine. She never owned an electric sewing machine. Her machine now belongs to me.
SIA: How long have you been blogging?R: I began blogging three years ago, but without direction. The blog has truly evolved over the past three years.
SIA: What are your favorite project types?R: My favorite projects are those that are time intensive. I love doing handwork, manipulating fabrics and creating something that is truly one of a kind.
SIA: Who do you sew for?R: After graduating from school, I worked as an assitant designer for a dress manufacturer. From there I worked as a costume designer and I taught at the school I attended. An opportunity arose to begin my own bridal business and I created and restored vintage gowns for over ten years. After so many years of creating for others, I now sew for myself, my husband, my dogs!!!!, and from time to time, a good friend.
SIA: What inspires you?
R: Beautiful fabric inspires me.
SIA: What is your sewing room like?
R: My sewing room is really my sanctuary. I allow myself to be free to create and not worry, too much, about the mess. It’s a large room with a large cutting table, vintage pictures on the walls and special mementos that have been given to me over the years.
SIA: What has been your greatest sewing success?
R: For years I have wanted to create clothing that would inspire and teach people how to create lovely garments with simple shapes. So many give up on sewing because their first experience was negative, the garment didn’t fit, it was too complicated…so many reasons. For over a year now, I have been creating simple shapes that are easy to execute and have hopefully inspired people to sew.
SIA: Do you have a sewing pet peeve?
R: My biggest sewing related pet peeve is jealousy. As a community we need to support each other and realize that there is room for everyone. The more people there are who are creating, the more this wonderful craft will flourish.
SIA: Do you have any bad sewing habits?
R: My worst habit is also the one that I give myself some freedom about and that is allowing myself to have a messy studio!
SIA: What’s the best piece of sewing advice you ever got?
R: An incredible seamstress once told me that in her entire career she only created one garment that she felt was perfect. She told me to aspire to do my best and always…always realize that I am human.
Great advice, Rhonda! Thank you for taking the time to answer our questions and we can’t wait to see your audition! Are any of our readers going to the Sewing & Stitchery Expo in March?
SIA CAST CALL logoforweb2 Casting Call Contestant Profile: Rhonda Buss

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Tuesday, March 19, 2013


At long last, the videos are up!!!and you can cast your vote for I hope, ME!!!!!!
Here is a link to the video, http://www.sewitalltv.com/contests/casting-call.html

On March 3rd I competed for a chance to be a guest on the television program Sew It All. I am one of two finalists, but in order to win, I NEED your vote. The video with the most votes will win, it's as simple as that. So, any and all help will be MUCH appreciated. I have watched the video. I thought it was going to be difficult to see myself, but actually, it wasn't too bad, I did an okay job :) A little added bonus, you will finally be able to hear me speak!
Thank you once again!!


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Monday, March 18, 2013


I missed my Monday Morning Inspiration post today :( The morning was an early one for me today, so no time to do the post and sadly, I just didn't get to it ahead of time. But, I thought I would share with you the the dress I wore today. You can see the original post here, http://www.rhondabuss.blogspot.com/2013/03/pacos-treky-dress-revisited.html just in case you missed it last week.
I look a little tired and I am. I actually closed my eyes on the train coming home. Thankfully I didn't miss my stop!
 The dress received lots of nice compliments today.
Hope you've had a good day!

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Sunday, March 17, 2013

Sunday Night Reflections

Rock Balancing
No glue, no tricks, simply held together by being perfectly balanced. www.gravityglue.com

Like nature, we too can accomplish great feats when we live a well balanced life.

Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. (Phil. 4:6–7)

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Sunday's Soup

It's St. Patrick's Day! In honor of my Celtic heritage, and the color for the day, green, I'm doing a fun little soup with a twist. Some time ago, I watched a documentary about the Celtic nation. They talked about the Roman empire and how they had conquered most of Europe, really just about all of Europe except for the Celtic nation. An historian who was being interviewed was asked why the Romans never sought to try and conquer the Celts. He replied, "Because they thought the Celts were crazy." When I heard this I thought, "you mean that you went all through Europe conquering everything in sight and yet this little group of people scared you?" Were they really crazy or were they exceptionally smart? I think it may be the latter :-)
This is a creamy soup, but no cream was added. It has all the colors of the Irish flag, green, orange and white with a nod to the fact that the Romans never took over, pesto!!
    Cream of Broccoli Soup with Pesto
The ingredients;
2 pounds of broccoli
1 pound of carrots
1 large onion
2 cloves of garlic
2 stalks of celery
5 medium size Irish potatoes
1 cup of dried green split peas
2 large cubes of Knorr vegetable bouillon
1/2 cup of prepared pesto
2 tablespoons of olive oil
10 cups of water
salt and black pepper to taste

Heat olive oil in large pot. Chop onions, garlic and celery and saute in oil until tender. Add chopped broccoli and 4 cups of water. Bring to a boil and then reduce heat and cook until broccoli is tender.
 Using an immersible hand held mixer, puree broccoli mixture. You can also puree mixture in a blender.
 Add split greens peas, sliced carrots,
 and chopped potatoes along with 6 cups of water and the 2 bouillon cubes.
Once again, bring to a boil and then reduce heat to low. Cook until vegetables are tender.
Add pesto. I used 1/2 cup but you can use more or less depending upon your taste preferences.
Stir well. Add salt and black pepper to taste. Remember, the pesto can be rather salty, so add less salt initially and more if needed.
To serve, garnish with a teaspoon of pesto and chopped green onions.
My favorite pesto recipe comes from The Silver Palette Cookbook, a great cookbook to have in your library. I posted the recipe a few years ago. You can find it here,  http://www.rhondabuss.blogspot.com/2010/07/pesto-pronto.html.
Hope you have all been enjoying this day!

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