Friday, January 31, 2014

Aesthetic Preferences are Value Neutral

I love the way that God keeps me humble about this...

I have two children.  My older child likes to listen to classical music and read classic books.  He's 13yo, and his New Year's Resolution was to read more great literature.  He got a nook for Christmas - I asked him what he wanted to load, he said, "Treasure Island".

My younger child likes everything popular.  Pop music (or electronica), popular TV shows, and she finally stopped reading the Wimpy Kids when I downloaded Percy Jackson onto *her* nook.  She's nine.

What does that tell you about their characters?  Not a lot.  It's just what they like.  Now, I'll not argue that the content of the books or the lyrics of the music don't matter - they certainly do.  But the arrangement of words or notes?  Not really.  It's just aesthetic preference.  They make Christian death metal these days...

Aesthetic preferences can be revelatory, but we put too much stock in them.  When I grew up, a straight man could still wear pink.  Really, I swear!  Now there are boys who feel like they have to choose between their love of personal ornamentation (unless that ornamentation involves tattoos, skulls, or black) and heterosexuality.  And if you're a girl who likes to fix things and wear plain clothing, someone is sure to call you a [derogative name for a lesbian].

Celibacy or heterosexuality are requirements in the Bible.  Aesthetic conformity *is not*.    Why are we loading up our kids with burdens they weren't meant to bear?

Why do we fight one another about this stuff?  Yes, I adore lingerie, fluffy things, and yes - I like pink.  So?  That has very little to do with my character.  I've taken my fluffy floral skirt and laced up my boots and hopped around on the jetty picking up trash.  Doesn't slow me down a trice.

The fact that I *like this stuff* doesn't make me a better person.  Just makes me the sort of person who likes pintucks.  The fact that I read quickly and easily doesn't make me a better person - when was the last time that scholarship was a virtue that I really needed?  Not a lot, in everyday life.  Is it bad or worthless?  Nope.  Just doesn't make me better that someone who doesn't like to stick their nose in a book and come back out on Tuesday.  (They probably don't try to chop vegetables while getting in just one more chapter,probably safer).

I hear a lot of talk about how we want to move away from "everyone goes to college" and back to a more varied set of life-choices.  We can't get there until we stop telling people what to choose in areas of their lives that are value neutral.  My son seems to be a natural scholar - but he's not a STEM nerd.  My daughter doesn't like rote anything... but I wonder what I can do if I help her to be more project oriented?  She's never going to get a PhD in anything that starts with the word "theoretical" - but practical?  Might get out of the way.  My niece just announced on FB that she's trying out to become a farrier.  Why not?  She's amazing with large animals and she's willing to get her hands dirty.  We need more people who are willing to get their hands dirty and work hard.

Honesty, kindness, hard-work, love, courage, honor - THOSE are Biblical values.  "I work with my brain, not my hands, and I like butterflies" is *not*.  It's just a thing.

We need to differentiate between the Truth of what the Bible *really says* about our lives and what the World calls success.  And where the Word is silent, let's try to withhold judgement.

In the meantime, if you really like wearing denim and studs and I come to do a closet makeover - fear not.  I am not there to force you to wear ribbons in your hair.

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Scrapdress - Stashbustin'!

I took a break from the corset-fitting process (at ALU if you're bored) and threw a scrapdress together for my daughter.  Some days it pays to have a good scrapdrawer.

Well.  I am good at getting the most out of what I cut, and I often have a half-yard or so of fabric left.  And sometimes I have more than that... :p

What comes of that is tiered skirts + bodices, not always from the same materials.  (I had enough of the flowered material to make a whole dress of it, but I like this better).  These fabrics were both left over from items I made for myself... so this was basically free.  I had the bias tape and lace in stash.

 She saw it, and she loves it!  :)

I put the little leaf-embroidery 'round the tops of the tiers, and 'round the edges of the neck and armholes.  Not only is this cute, it's very functional.  If you look at the stitch width, you'll notice it's as wide as a zig-zag, so it does a great job of holding things in place.  And it looks so much better.  Doing this was faster than hand stitching the bias-tape facings down, substantially so.

These dresses generally get worn to rags, or until they don't fit ... or both.  Not bad for a rummage 'round the stash!  :D

Wednesday, January 22, 2014


I has fabric!  :D

Well.  I have gobs and drifts of fabric... but I have *new* fabric, and that's what you wanted to know about, right?  Everyone nod!

Here's the fabrics - I got them online (on sale).  Clockwise from the brocade...  Cream and pink brocade, for my first corsets.  Blue pima cotton for 9yo's next dress.  (That is SO her color).  "Cream" "lawn" that is more like light tan and a heavier weave... was going to be lining, not sure what I'll do with it.  I have lots... it was cheap.  :p  Creamy linen - for a shirtdress.

Here are the fabrics up against a relatively untanned portion of my skin.  (My calf, if you care).  Check out how closely the brocade matches my skin tone.  WIN.  (It's lingerie, I don't want it to show through my clothes).    The cream is a nice shade on me too.... :D

Sewing more... soon!

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Lemons and Limes

I was out doing yardwork yesterday and noticed that a couple of my limes looked ripe - and I had a few more that were on the ground, which does them no good.  So I picked half a dozen limes and wondered, "what should I do with these?" and then I saw my lemon tree, and wondered if the lemons thereon were ripe or not and then I picked a few lemons (only a few, they weren't ripe - they're easy to pick when they're ripe), deciding to make a small pitcher of limeonade.

 The variegated lemon that I have in my front yard is bred off the old standard lemon tree, not the Meyer improved that I've lived with all my life, so I don't quite have a visible "ripe" test - just the picking test.  (Citrus fruit will come off fairly easily when ripe, and fight you tooth and nail when not ripe).  FWIW, ripe limes are the color of unripe lemons, NOT green.  Ripe (meyer) lemons are the color of unripe oranges, not bright yellow, and ripe oranges are whatever color they want to be, but they have to drop into your hand.
Anyway.  I knew some of these were unripe, but hey.  I wanted an -ade, and nothing good happens to fruit on the ground.

Here's a picture of the inside of my "Pink Lemonade" lemons.  So pretty!  No, it doesn't make pink lemonade.  But super pretty in glasses.  The pink varies, from distinct pink to hardly any atall.

Between the drought (we've gotten perhaps an inch of rain since our rainy season started, in November.   Probably less than that, and nothing in the past 6 weeks - it's actually hot and dry out, all my plants are parched) and being picked unripe, none of my pretty fruit was juicy.

My lemonade recipe is simple and delicious.  Juice lemons, limes, or whatever (well, not grapefruit) until you have a couple of cups of juice, more is better.  Pour juice into large container.  Add sugar until you're not ready to scream from the acidity.  Add water until diluted to taste.  Add more sugar, because it's still pretty tart.   This OBVIOUSLY depends on having a lemon tree of your very own, and ripe fruit.

As you can see from the inner workings picture above, this fruit wasn't juicy!  So, having once seen a recipe for traditional boiled lemonade, I made some.  I sliced up my fruit, put it in a pot with some water and boiled it a bit.

I strained the fruit out, added sugar (and raw sugar) to the juice, added water and refrigerated.  I threw in some flower syrup I got from Ikea a million years ago for more sweet and some interest.  (I ran out of sugar).   It tastes like the honey lemonade you'd get at the store.  My family hates it!  So - uh, guess I'll be drinking a lot of lemonade for the next few days.  :p

Notes:  Traditionally made lemonade tastes like the "lemon" candy, cough drops, bottled lemonade, powdered lemonade that you get.  This answers the eternal question, "Why do they think that tastes like lemonade?"  It uses quite a LOT less sugar, a lot less fruit, and produces a dark yellow lemonade.  It's not particularly acidic, there's really no bite.  

Pretty pictures, not the best result in the world... and if you think of it, you might pray for rain/snow for California.  The gov just put us on 20% water restriction, the same weekend I realized my normal winter watering hiatus was killing my plants.  :p  If we don't get some serious rain this Winter (hey, getting winter back would also be fun) and Spring, we'll be having fires all summer long.

In the meantime, this is how you make traditional lemonade.  Although I don't recommend it.  ;)

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Dresses for my girl

I was *so* excited about McCalls 6890 (  I thought, "Oh, perfect basic dress for my girl!" and didn't remember the iron-clad rule of flattery:  If you're not structured, your dress had better be.

Flowy boxy lines?  Turned into a sack dress.  And of course I'd all but finished it when I had her try it on... sigh.  I had the joy of ripping out quite a bit of very nicely done work.  I really must remember to keep my couture techniques for special garments and NOT everyday children's clothing.

But.  I learned to deal with lace - check it out!

I cut off the border of the lace and sewed it on separately, using the ribbon to cover where the two pieces are joined to my base fabric.  Gives the illusion that the piece of lace was triangular and just fit this dress, and that I didn't hack into it.  Good to get a new skill in my box, so that made me happy.

Here's the finished product:

Here's the other one.  (The neckline is fine, it's just wobbly on the hanger).  The important item here is the srawberry... she's had that patch for about a year, since she came to the fabric store for me and begged to pick "just one thing".  Had to make a whole dress to go with that strawberry!  

The strawberry, with the daisy trim that I hand-sewed onto the neckline and pockets, so it doesn't droop.

I made my life easy on this one - the dress includes pockets but I didn't feel like messing with sewing the seam pockets in and made patch pockets instead.  (I think they improve the dress).  I used regular bias tape for the facings (the pattern includes self-bias facings).  Unlike the first one, which since it is white had to be lined, no lining on the green, it is what it is.

She loves it.  We went out to dinner last night and she was more than pleased to wear it.  And I think I'll take the bodice (which fits well, at least after I cut it square) and add some tiered skirts from my fabric scrap collection and fill her closet back up.

It's a very young dress, now that I've modified it, and I'm a little surprised that she likes it so much.  But 9yo are all about comfort - at least if they're homeschooled 9yo - and this is a loose cotton dress in a bright, happy color.

Hey, this is easy, I'll take it.  :)

Wednesday, January 8, 2014


When we got the new bookshelves in, we reorganized the front room several times... the books themselves ended up pretty disorganized, as "my" shelf ended up in the corner farthest away from me.

I'm forever trying to tighten up my organization with the books and integrate them usefully.  I think I did a fairly decent job this time.

The bookshelf by my (messy) desk.  To do:  Clean desk.  Ah, the joy of January... so much cleaning to do!

Top shelf:  Bibles, devotionals, and a collection of "little books" and pamphlets.  Next shelf:  Literature, particularly collections thereof.  Middle shelf, casual fiction hardbacks.  2nd from bottom:  Classics.  Bottom:  A few pretty books for storage (way in the back) and reference books - the 5" thick Random House encyclopedia does best on a bottom shelf!

I left this shelf largely alone, the top two are classic books, college-level history and whatnot.  The bottom two are photo albums.  And growing girl feet.  Size seven this weekend.  Sigh.  She's 9.

Top shelf:  Studies on books of the Bible, mostly Dr.  McGee.  Second shelf:  Homemaking (Marriage, money, etiquette, napkin folding, etc).  Third & fourth shelves:  How to:  Gardening, building, drawing, calligraphy, etc.  Bottom shelf:  College books that aren't needed ATM but could come in handy - my hard-core women's studies books are down there, as are some intercultural communication books from my mom.

The piece-de-resistance:  Left shelf:  Top is biographies, then we go to history and some social science/philosophy on the bottom two shelves.  Middle shelf:  Top is Bible reference books and classics of theology.  Second shelf is Christian living books.  Third is classic literature, fourth is writing reference books and computer certification books.  Bottom shelf is comparative religion, and wonders of the natural world.  (I had to stick the atlas in with the history, but that was a size decision).  Right shelf:  Top is my sewing books, second shelf is books about planes and tanks, and the bottom shelf is about guns.

I have more books, of course - but this is most of them.  :)  I feel good about having sorted my library, and hope that this is more functional.

And I hope you enjoyed the tour!

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Morning Walk in the Park

One of my NY Resolutions was to walk my children every morning.  Just get 'em up, get 'em out, let them sort breakfast and whatnot out after we're home.  (They aren't morning people).

A few of my friends 'round the 'Net were posting pix of their outside adventures... so this is what our morning walk looks like.

Here's the view to the East - the park is on top of a mesa, so it has panoramic views.  You can see the morning clouds and mountains in the distance.

Here's my goofball of a dog.  Spot's an English Setter.  I spent so much time trying to train him out of quartering, I had no idea people pay good money to train their dogs *to* quarter.  I've given up and just enjoy watching him be silly and try to hunt on a leash.  He's happier, I'm happier, and Cesar Milan would probably be horrified... or maybe he wouldn't care, since Spot's doing exactly what he was bred to do.

Cold and dry right now... not much in bloom, not that this is a particularly floral park anyway.  But - some bougainvillea for you to enjoy.

Sun coming through the pine trees over the volleyball court.

Panoramic views!  This is the Rosicrucian Fellowship, the natural shape of the hills (minus houses) and the Pacific.

More views.  This time just of the neighborhood and the sea.

Yet more views.

It's not much of a walk, but you have to start SOMEWHERE.  :)

Friday, January 3, 2014

Gloves! I made gloves... and a pattern. :)

Okay, it's not much of a pattern, but I did write down my very loose directions for "how to make fingerless gloves out of knit fabric" - I even put a picture of the first gloves on it.

It's been a useful day.  We keep going out and so far I've been wearing the fuzzy gloves*.  Uh, it's been 70+ degrees in the middle of the day, I don't really want to wear *warm* gloves!  So making mitts was a very high priority for me.

I started with the knit fabric I found in the remnant pile, since I had quite a lot of it.  (I still probably have enough to crank out a tank top).   I made one pair of trial and error gloves, then two pair for everyday wear.   I think these are my husband's favorite gloves, he likes the California Girl vibe.  They work well with my tshirts and casual clothing - well, so long as the colors don't clash too violently.

I made one pair of white gloves - I got quite a lot of this thick white knit.  It's almost thick enough to make a bandage dress out of.  Very squashy and comfy, and very blah in person.  But I have a huge lace stash, much of which is vintage and too delicate for cotton lingerie (that I wear/wash frequently).   I used the basic glove pattern for the stretch fabric, then cut a matching piece of lace and sewed it on by hand.

I added a small row of lace on top.  I was wondering what I could do with this pretty, pretty lace - there wasn't much of it... this is just about perfect!

And I made a pair of crushed velvet red gloves.  (The color doesn't read true at all - they're a pink/red - but when the color read true, the velvet pile looked horrible).

So - operation gloves?  A resounding success.  And I have a pattern (written down!) so the next time I come across 1/4 yard of fabric that meets my specifications, I can add to my collection.  Hoorah!

* The pink and lace mitts were voted a resounding "fail" by my husband, he won't be seen with me wearing them.  Eek.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Sewing Longevity: 2013 (and a bit of 2012) version

I didn't sew quite as much as usual in 2013 ... but I made enough.  Here's how my garments are holding up!

I shortened this wool skirt, made in 2011... still wearing it.  I wear it out fairly often, being wool it's not really a scrub-the-floors skirt.  Looks the same, total win.

9yo is still wearing this skirt, although it's stained now.  Win.

This dress, made in 2012 - still going strong.  Win.  Wear it once a month or more.

Green jacket - my wearable muslin for the red jacket a la Gertie.  I don't wear it much... I don't wear jackets often... but it's in the closet and it got a good deal of wear last spring.  Expect the same for this coming year, it's a good color on me.

Chemise-style tank top.  Yep, still in the drawer.  I don't wear it super often because of how radically unfitted it is - but it sure is comfy.  Got this in the remnants pile ... total inexpensive garment "win".
Tap pants.  They were made from stash fabrics, including some elderly lace which didn't survive the first run through the wash, and DH thought they looked silly.  Off to the DAV.

Four little dresses, made in fall 2012 - well, they're shorter.  And three of the four are stained and "home only" - but my daughter wears these nearly daily.  Expense vs.  use - total win.

The inside of the blue corduroy skirt.  Never very exciting.  Passed it on to a friend who wears corduroy.

Seaturtles.  I love my seaturtle dress, and wear it quite a lot in the summer.  It's still not the most tremendously flattering thing - but comfortable and cool, and it makes me happy.

 Another adventure with elderly lace - 9yo wore this twenty times, it's on my mending table.  The belt wants replacing, but the rest is in good shape.

I wore this skirt to death this summer.  I wore it so much, and it was so comfortable, despite being a terrible color for me and only really wearable under a tshirt, that I made another (and more flattering) version.  I've put this away for next summer... but I'm sure I'll get more wear out of it.

9yo is still wearing the owl nightgown that I made her last year.  The ribbon and the mini-rolled-hem are showing wear, the rest looks good.  I've noticed that mini-rolled hems don't hold up well to being worn/washed heavily. 
Green vest.  DH didn't like it, and I kind of thought I looked like a theme waitress.  It fit well enough and it was really well made.  Off to the DAV, hopefully it's blessing someone not-me.

The peasant blouse.  2013 was the summer of the peasant blouse!  I made and wore these dears to death, still wearing them under my denim dirndl.

9yo is still wearing this.  Cost >$20.  Time to make >15 minutes.  Win.

Another peasant blouse.  Wore it to death.  Put away for next summer (it is paper thin).  Will make more.  Blue denim skirt made in 2012?  Much faded, worn constantly.  Constantly.  It's one of my pair of "jeans". 
 Overshirt?  Put away.  It never did fit properly, but it got a work out keeping the sun from my arms while I sat and sat and sat some more at swim practice.  The plaid skirt?  Ugh.  Learned a lesson about not buying paper thin fabric - it stretched out of shape by the time I hemmed it.  I wore it a few times, went on with my life ---- and it went to DAVs.

My blue peasant dress?  Wearing it now, dahling.  The low-back (which I totally didn't anticipate) makes it something I don't wear out of the house much, but it makes a lovely and comfortable house-dress.  I spent more than I might on this dress, but I imagine I'll get years of wear out of it, and I'm not sure how much more comfortable you can get than a dress held on by two ribbons. 

Silk charmeuse nightie?  Still wearing, it gets its week on, two weeks off rotation with my other two silk nighties.  Holding up *very* well. 

If I wear this skirt any more often, someone is going to come take it away from me.... :p  Well, it's a tad light to wear ATM as it's just quilting cotton, but I am SUPER pleased and it nets me many a compliment.

Silk nightie, version 2:  Handkerchief silk... yep still going.  The new kitten put a hole somewhere in the vicinity of my knee that I'm meaning to sew up... but the fabric is so fine that I don't know how long it will last hole or no hole.  Loses dye every time I hand wash it... I'm pleased with my sewing job, love how soft it is, and recognize that its time will come far before the one that's twice as thick!

Denim dirndl.  DH loves this... and it's super comfy.  Like a half-corset, for taking the weight off.  Also, the confused stares amuse me.

Denim skirt:  Well, I'll never make a skirt of denim quite THIS thick again.  I was hoping for a 501esque weight skirt, but what I have is oddly wrinkly denim.  However, this is my basic skirt, in a basic color, in a basic fabric - and I'm wearing it 2-3x/wk. 
There you have it - what I made and where it ended up.  Seems like I'm doing pretty well... onward!