Sunday, December 15, 2019

Sunday, December 1, 2019

Sunday Night Reflections

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Mascara To The Rescue!

I hope that all of you who celebrate Thanksgiving had a lovely holiday. It was rather quiet for us, but lovely nonetheless. I did take my annual Thanksgiving day hike with Berkley. It was such a gorgeous day. I posted this picture on Instagram, so if you've seen it, I apologize for the repeat. It's just such a lovely picture of Berkley. Such a regal looking little guy :) Too bad that I am in the picture :/ 

I've intended to do this post all last week, and well, it didn't happen. So, I am doing things a little backwards. I decided to go ahead and do this post today, and I'll do my recipe post tomorrow. It's a good one...at least I think so ;)

Back in September, I attended the Denver, Colorado American Sewing Guild annual sew-in. If you have never taken the time to attend a sew-in, by all means, ya gotta! It was 4 days of no guilt sewing, and I loved every minute of it. So much so that I plan to attend again next year! 

One of the ladies who attended had a little treat for us, mascara brushes. She collects mascara brushes, puts them in the dishwasher to wash out any leftover mascara, and then uses the brushes to clean the lint form her machines. Who would have thought?!!!     

The lint brush that came with my machine doesn't even begin to compare with the mascara brush. And too, when I use it, it flicks lint around more so than actually picking it up.

The mascara brush really picks up the lint.

And the handle on the brush allows you to easily hold the brush while you reach into tight spaces. 

I just love how the lint adhere's to the brush! The lint is easily removed from the brush, but you can also rinse the brush if it gets to caked with lint. Just be sure to allow it to dry completely before putting it back in your machine.  

I can be the WORST about cleaning lint out of my machines. But, no more. The mascara brush really makes it easy...and fun too!

As we all know, lint can really clog up a machine. So, wash out those mascara brushes, and put them to use. You will love it!!!

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Monday, November 25, 2019

Sunday's Soup/Roasted Tomato and Red Pepper Soup

Happy Monday Everyone!!!
I had intended to get this post up yesterday, but my day simply got away from me. But, rather than wait until next Sunday to post the recipe, I thought I would go a head and share it now. Of course, all of us in the U.S. know that this Thursday is Thanksgiving. If you are looking for a lovely soup to incorporate into your meal, you are a little tired of pumpkin soups, and would like something easy to make, as well as delicious, this is the soup to make!

Begin with Roma tomatoes, cut in half and spread out on a large baking pan.

Cut up 2 purple onions, 4 cloves of garlic, and 1 red bell pepper. Spread over the cut tomatoes. 

Sprinkle sea salt, fresh black pepper, 1 tablespoon of sugar, and 1/2 cup of olive oil over the vegetables.

Bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for 1 1/2 hours, or until tomatoes have browned around cut edges. 

Allow vegetables to cool. Place everything in a blender or food processor, and blend until smooth. 
Transfer blended soup to a pot. Add 1-2 cups of vegetables broth. Bring mixture to a boil, and then simmer for a few minutes. Serve with a topping of basil oil. You and your guests will be in heaven! And, since there is no cream, the soup will make your vegan friends and family happy as well! 

Roasted Tomato and Red Pepper Soup
downloadable recipe

Soup Ingredients;

4 lbs. Roma Tomatoes sliced in half
1 red pepper chopped
2 red onions chopped
4 cloves garlic chopped
1 tablespoon sugar
sea salt
fresh black pepper
1/2 cup olive oil
1-2 cups vegetable broth

Basil Oil Ingredients;

1 cup fresh basil
1/2 cup olive oil
salt to taste

For Soup;
Preheat oven to 350 degrees
Slice tomatoes in half and place on a large baking sheet in a single layer. Sprinkle chopped red pepper, onions, and garlic over tomatoes. Sprinkle sugar, salt, black pepper and olive oil over vegetables. Place in oven and bake until tomatoes are golden brown on cut sides, approximately 1- 1 1/2 hours.

Remove from oven and allow to cool. Put vegetables along with all juices in food processor or blender and process until smooth. You will most likely need to do this in 2 batches. 
Place pureed mixture in soup pot. Add 1- 2 cups of vegetable broth to make soup desired consistency. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer until ready to serve.

For Basil Oil;
Place basil and oil in a small processor, or blender and puree until smooth. Add salt to taste. 

Both the soup and the basil oil can be made ahead a day ahead. The soup can also be frozen until ready to serve. 

A note;
Please do not leave out the sugar. The sugar helps to take any bitterness out of the tomatoes.    

For just a little fashion inspiration this morning;
I saw this picture of the gown that Taylor Swift wore to the American Music Awards. LOVE IT!!! For myself, I will make the underskirt longer. While I love the boots, I think I would wear a pair of lovely evening shoes. 

Have a wonderful week!

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Friday, November 15, 2019

Books That Will Make You Think

This past week, I received such a lovely email from one of my former exchange students. He is now a married man with 2 children. Hard to believe. He told me that in their home, they have a special wall devoted to family pictures, and among the pictures is a picture of my husband and me. Their daughter is 3, and their son will be 2 in February(they are busy!!!). He told me that he and his wife have told the children who we are, and their daughter will go to the wall, point to our picture and say, "Carl and Rhonda." When I read this, my heart melted.

A while back, I had to run a few errands with a friend of mine. I had told him about a book that I had recently read, and thought he might enjoy. He said, "bring it along, and read it to me while we drive." So, I did. Here was a grown man who listened as intently as a child while we drove and I read. He still talks about how much he enjoyed that day. 
This same friend purchased a book for his daughter for Christmas. Once she had read the book, he brought it to me as he felt it was one that I too would enjoy. The story takes place in Oklahoma during the worst of the dust bowl. It's a fictional story, but it gives the reader a true look at how devastated the people were by what happened. The story is lovely, sad, joyous, and heartbreaking. The author, Karen Hesse writes for children, older children. The book is intended for children 9 and above. I was so taken by the book, and Ms. Hesse's style of writing that I wanted to read more of her work. So today, I am sharing two of her books. 

The first book, Out of the Dust is the one that takes place in  Oklahoma. The second is The Music of Dolphins. I've highlighted both titles so you can easily find them at Amazon. But, my recommendation would be to check them out at the library, read them, and then decide if they are something that you would like to share with your children or grandchildren. 

Both books will take no longer than 3 hours to read. Once I began reading, I did not want to put them down. I hope you'll find the video review helpful in making a decision about whether you would like to read the books. I have enjoyed her storytelling so much so that I am planning to read two others, Witness, a story about the Ku Klux Klan's attempt to recruit members in a small town in Vermont in 1924. The other is A Light in the Storm. It's written as the diary of a child during the civil war, and discusses the true meaning of sacrifice for others. Both prove to be quite powerful.

I cease to be amazed by how a small, seemingly insignificant action can mean so much to another. When my former exchange student left for home at the end of his year with us, I thought I would most likely never see him again. He has now come to a place where he sees his time spent with us as a turning point in his life. "Had it not been for you...," he has said. 

Every moment is precious.

To be human is to live for tomorrow. Why does tomorrow matter? What is important is now. 
From The Music of Dolphins   

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Wednesday, November 13, 2019

Gifts/Scarves and or Shawls with a Tutorial

It's that time of year again! 

I don't know where I found the piece above, but I love it! I have never started to make handmade gifts a couple of days before Christmas, but I have bitten off more than I could possibly accomplish :/

I recently received a message from Fabrics-store.com about a linen they carry that's perfect for scarves/shawls. So, I thought I would give it a try. I really do like the fabric. They recommended getting 2 yards for an over-sized shawl/scarf. I would recommend getting 2 1/2 yards. The pieces that I made up are fine, but a little extra yardage would be nice.

I purchased 2 colors, the black and the poinsettia. You can find these and other colors HERE. Remember, you will get 2 scarves out of 2 1/2 yards of fabric.

I was so pleased with the fabric. The scarves below have been washed and pressed. There was very little shrinkage. The only problem is that I want to keep at least 1 for myself...maybe 2.

The tutorial was only available through an email, so I have attached it below in the event you decide to give it a try. 
Oversized Linen Shawl - Your Comfort!
  • A neutral and light accessory that can fit in the purse should it not be needed. But, is right at the fingertips to be wrapped around for warmth or to hide from the strong sunshine rays.
  • Something that is low maintenance and can be washed at home in the washing machine - I like my free time spent not running errands to the dry cleaners
  • An exquisite looking item - comparable to brand names that are selling their shawls as I type this for $168 (and theirs don’t even have tassels!)

2 yards and about an hour of sewing will make 2 Shawls
( so think of who you can gift one to - the shawls turns out pretty amazing)
Here are the steps to gift yourself and a lucky friend - sun protection, warmth, and convenience - aka - a linen shawl
  1. Pick your color scheme - 2 yards  of the color you like - I went with Fog (picking your color we need to save for last so I can show you the steps to make the shawl :)
  2. Receive the box - we ship your order either same day or the following morning
  3. Find the middle of the width (I folded the cloth in half - selvage to selvage) and pull a thread down the middle of the entire length

  4. Cut down the middle where you pulled the thread and cut off the selvage

  5. We need to hem the length of the cloth - fold under 0.25 inches 2 times and stitch

  6. Unravel the raw edges to make the tassels ( you can also leave it as just fringed without the tassels)

  7. Take 10-15 loose threads and bunch them up like a ponytail. Use the nearest thread to loop around the “ponytail” and tie a knot. Do 2 knots on each ponytail/tassel.

  8. Tassel both sides of the shawl

  9. Throw in the wash - gentle cycle - cold water. Dry on a delicate cycle with low heat ( iron should you like - the left one is not ironed and right one was pressed)

  10. Your shawl is ready to be worn and face the summertime with you


Not only is this an opportunity to take care of your skin and stay comfortable regardless of the weather, but this is your opportunity to have a finished HANDMADE item that would have cost you upwards of $160.
A couple pointers:
- if you are going for sun protection during the day - don’t pick dark colors. They will absorb the heat leaving you hot while wearing the shawl.
- If you aren’t in a tassel kind of mood, you can fringe, but make sure to run a securing stitch so the thread doesn’t keep unraveling.
And now the fun part - click below to find the color you want your shawl to be...
P.S. 2 yards are just the right length for 2 shawls size 27"x70".
This is a very quick project that will keep you looking and feeling fabulous throughout the hotter season.
Plus, this will leave you with a beautiful and useful item that was handmade by you and would have cost you over $160 at a store (these also make great gifts if you decide you want to share).
Don’t forget your 7% discount code ilovelinen at checkout.

You Risk Nothing - if, for some reason, you find the fabric is still sitting in a box a month down the line - simply return it to us with the receipt and we will refund the fabric cost.

I just had to share this! You may remember that I made a poppins bag with fabric that I had printed from a painting that I did last year. I had a little left over, just enough for a king-size pillowcase. 

One day last spring, I came home to find that my poor Gracie had chewed a huge hole in my duvet cover. We had a rain storm while I was out. Why she decided to chew the duvet cover, I have no idea. At least she didn't tear apart the down comforter inside!!! I loved the cover, and decided to see if I could find another. I did! Most of the fabric from the old cover was good, so I saved it thinking that I would find something to do with it. When I realized that I had just enough of my cone flower fabric left for 2 pillowcase tops, I remembered the duvet cover. I now have pillowcases in my very own fabric, and coordinating pillowcases too! Mr. Berkley thinks they're pretty great as well :)     

Remember, pillowcases make great gifts too! The children in your life would love a special pillowcase made out of a character fabric. You can also make lovely linen pillowcases and edge them with antique crochet lace. 

Happy Gift Making Season!
Just don't stress yourself out!!!

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Tuesday, November 12, 2019

Once You Obtain Tailoring Skills, It's Hard to Let Them Go!

Good Morning from the iceberg we are calling Chicago!!! Wow, is it ever cold!!! At least the sun is shining, so hopefully some of the iced over sidewalks won't be as treacherous as they are at the moment. 

I just have to brag a bit...Mr. Berkley graduated from level 3 to level 4 in his training. I am so very proud of him. Level 4 will be a little difficult as in this level he will have to demonstrate the ability to just walk past another dog without paying attention to them. Berkley is such a friendly guy, and always wants to say hello to other dogs. So, we have our work cut out for us. My goal was to have him complete level 3 by Thanksgiving. My next goal is to have him complete level 4 by Christmas. The challenge is on!!! :)

I apologize for being so delinquent from the blog. Just a lot on my plate. But, I am happy to say that my husband has healed from his broken leg, and is back to his normal activities. I've also been doing quite a bit of flying. I needed to do some currency work, so that has taken a good bit of my time. On my last flight, as I came in to land, even if I say so myself, it was a beautiful landing, a true greaser. The flight instructor said, "Do you do that just to impress me? Believe me, I'm already impressed!" Made my day :) 

Now, back to a little tailoring.
What I have learned about advancing your skills as a sewist, once you learn how, it's difficult to go back. 

I am putting together the Box Blazer pattern from Pattern Union. It's an unstructured, unlined jacket, but with tailored details.    

Here's the lovely Sarah in her creation.

The jacket was designed to be quick and easy to make, but...

As you can see, I have underlined the pieces with cotton batiste. I love cotton batiste for underlining wool. If you decide to use cotton batiste, be sure it is cotton batiste and not quilting cotton. Cotton batiste is a very fine fabric that works beautifully as an underlining.

Here's my jacket in the early stag of construction. I will be using horsehair interfacing for the collar and lapels, and I will also use the horsehair interfacing in the hem of the jacket and the hem of the sleeves. Using horsehair in the hems makes all the difference in the world as it makes the hems hang so beautifully. I wanted you to see the jacket at his stage as once the horsehair interfacing goes in, you'll really see the difference. 

The jacket was designed to be unlined, but...I need a lining :) I found this beautiful piece of silk charmeuse. How pretty will this be?!!   

The next step will be to do the bound buttonholes, and then the collar and facing will go in. Can't wait to get it finished!

Lots more tailoring will be following!
Have a wonderful day!

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Sunday, November 3, 2019

Thursday, October 31, 2019

Tailoring: The Professional Way

It's snowing!!! 
Yep, I love the snow, but I feel a little haunted today. Twenty-five years ago, on Halloween, we had a terrible, snowy night. When it snows this early in the season, the snow is wet and sticky, so on airplanes, it immediately turns to ice. Ice can bring an airplane down in a heartbeat. A passenger plane was flying from Indianapolis to Chicago when it encountered severe icing conditions and crashed in Rensselaer, IN, killing all 68 of those on board. I think about that crash every year on Halloween. 

Well, that story really beings the day on a somber note! 

Actually, I have something wonderful to share with you, but I have to apologize as it's an out of print book, Tailoring Suits: The Professional Way. I am helping a friend of mine tailor a jacket. She is so very excited. I am as well. The jacket is lovely and she is doing a great job. She came last week for a progress check, and instruction on where to go next. When she began to pull her things out of her bag, she said, " I have a gift for you," and handed me the book you see below.

The book was written in the early 1950s by a master tailor. Master tailors are becoming few and far between these days. As I thumbed through the book, I was amazed by the detail. I have other books on tailoring, but none are like this book.

The book begins with explaining what good tailoring really is. 

The book walks the reader through the entire process of creating a well tailored garment, beginning with pattern drafting, to the fitting and finishing of both men's and women's suits.

This is an old book, so no flashy color photos like we see in more modern books.

Every detail of the tailoring process is covered.

The chapter on pants has me mesmerized!

I also love the chapter on making a well tailored skirt.

If you would like to take a peek, I did a short video review of the book.

As I said, the book is sadly out of print. I found THESE buying options on Amazon. They are all quite expensive. And, I found THESE options at Abe's Books. These too are quite expensive. But, you may know of other online book sellers who just might have a reasonably priced copy. If you think you would enjoy tailoring, this is a fabulous book. I feel so very fortunate to have received it as a gift!

Happy Sewing!

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Wednesday, October 30, 2019

Outfit of the Day...I Wish!!!

The change of seasons, be it from winter to spring, or fall to winter never seem to come easily in Chicago. Winter is trying with all its might to make its fury known with cold rain that will ultimately turn into snow later today. 

Poor Mr. Berkley, he absolutely hates getting wet. He doesn't mind the cold, rather seems to enjoy it, but not the rain :/ We had a rather ugly, rainy day last Saturday. As Berkley and I were walking, I felt that he was having a flashback to when he was left out in the elements. Broke my heart. But, the good news for him is that there is no more being left outside, and as miserable as it is for him to walk in the rain, he gets to come into a nice warm house :) 

On days like these, the idea of staying in my pajamas all day long is quite tempting. It might would happen if I didn't have obligations...oh well. 

This is a pretty boring little post, but I thought I would go ahead and share it with you. I recently made a new pair of pajamas, and I absolutely LOVE them! They're really nothing special, just a t-shirt and a pair of leggings.  

I bought the fabric from Oak Fabrics. Sadly, at least for me, the owner decided to close her brick and mortar shop and just be an entirely online business. That's the end of my impulse buying! Anyway, the fabric that I used for the leggings is fabulous. It's the Ticino Organic Jersey Knit, made in Germany. Oak Fabrics carries 6 colorways and patterns that you can find HERE.    

A few months ago, Sew News had a free sew along for the Loveland Leggings. As far as leggings go, it's as basic as basic can be, 1 pattern piece, and that's it. No crotch gusset, no extra waistband. The pattern is no longer free, but it's still quite reasonable, only $4.99, and you can find it HERE. If you are new to making leggings, and would like a little guidance, you can find the sew along HERE.    

I used the Molly Tee from Pattern Union  for my top. It's just a great basic t-shirt pattern. You can find the pattern HERE

I love the combo t-shirt and leggings as pajamas so much that I'm making a second pair. 
A little secret, rather than change my clothes to walk Berkley in the morning, I just pull a pair of cargo pants on over the leggings. Then, when I come home, I pull off the pants, and I am still in my pajamas!!! 
Happy Sewing!  

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Monday, October 21, 2019

The Resurrection of a Fabulous Free Pattern Friday Design

How can it be that 5 years have passed so quickly?!! 

If you are fairly new to the blog, you may not know that I did a post on Friday's that I called, Fabulous Free Pattern Fridays. There were no printed patterns, just instructions on how to create garments from simple shapes; rectangles, squares, circles, and from time to time, a triangle thrown in for good measure. If you would like to see some of the garments that I created, you can find many of them HERE on Pinterest. 

I was recently with a friend who wanted to create 1 of the designs that I had done, the T-shirt Shawl. 

This top is still in my wardrobe and I love it. So very easy to make, just begin with a favorite t-shirt pattern. You can find the instructions HERE

I had wanted to create a dress version of this top, but.....never got around to it :/ When my friend asked for help to create the top, I thought, now's the time! 

The dress was made with a border print fabric. I so love how it turned out. I have worn it now on 3 different occasions.  

In the picture below, you can see that I basically stitched an outline of my body to secure the side. With the top version, I only did a small 3" stitching line at the waist to secure the top so that it would not open for the world to see what I may or may not be wearing underneath ;)  

If by chance you would like more detailed instructions of how to create this piece, let me know. I'm thinking about resurrecting the Fabulous Free Pattern Friday posts. I really loved doing them. After all, fabulous clothes don't need to be difficult to make :)


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