Apart from the obvious holidays this month (Veteran’s Day, Election Day, Thanksgiving) we also have a few lesser known national celebrations that have been growing in popularity. I’ll list the ones in which I may be inclined to invest some interest:
NaNoWriMo or National Novel Writing month. Although we’re already 5 days into November, which means we’re grossly behind on the deadline to write 50 K words by the end of the month, Skip has already started by writing the first chapter in a mystery tale. It’s in the point of view of “first person,” which made me laugh out loud picturing him as a private detective pulling out his gun in a parking garage…and he wants us to alternate writing chapters. Maybe we can incorporate a character who knits and dabbles in the creative arts while dodging bullets, so I can write about what I know?
Postings of what my Facebook friends are thankful for leading up to Thanksgiving: Thirty Days of Thankfulness. I always enjoy this, because it helps to count one’s blessings, and having visual images of them is a plus. I’m going to alter that concept slightly by making a “Thank You” card every day of the month. I’ve already made a couple, so as not to get too far behind on this deadline.
3. November is the time of year that men stop shaving for some reason. A carryover from caveman times, to add insulation against the cold weather? We’ve got Movember, which puts emphasis on mustaches, and/or No Shave November, in which guys don’t shave at all. If you want some clarification on this, here’s a link to a comprehensive blog post about it. Personally, I’m like Olive Oyl and I like a Clean Shaven Man, but it is somewhat interesting to see the beards and mustaches sallying forth among all the other activities this month!
Skip, feeling better about most things visual, is looking for some new projects.
What with the popularity of essential oils, he found a great kit at one of his favorite online locations, Penn State Industries, for Aromatherapy Necklaces that hold a few drops of essential oils within little vials that can be turned on the lathe.
Here is one he made for me, out of “genuine olive wood from Jerusalem”! It is beautiful, and he said it took him about 5 minutes to turn on the lathe!
The kit comes with several wicks, so you can change up the variety of essential oil whose vapors you want to go around sniffing all day.
Since I feel a little cold coming on (what would the change of season be without one, right?) I put some drops of an oil called “Breathe” in the vial. The gold coupling that is attached to the vial, and can be threaded onto the neck chain, has little stylized openings, to let the vapors waft through from the wick.
What an awesome project; I definitely feel better already!
I’m slowly coming back from a 10-day fast from Social Media. Some of my friends have done the same, making the 10-day fast not just a pity party of one, but really quite a social experiment.
Some of the results of this time period are eye-opening!
Of course, I had more time on my hands that I felt obligated to fill, doing something else. Being a crafter, you’d think I’d have had lots more time to make crafts. However, I cut back on watching You-tube videos of craft techniques because—You-tube is a form of social media. So my idea stream dried up a little.
Some of the activities that were suggested to do, rather than stare into the social media screen, included reading, exercising, cooking, communicating with real friends rather than virtual ones, hobbies, and cleaning.
I downloaded a couple of new Kindle books and read them, but hey! I was still in the habitual posture of staring at a little screen. Reading a novel is different than reading the little sound-bites and meme captions that you work through for hours a day on Facebook and its cronies Instagram and Twitter. Is a novel, then, better? Am I a better person for sailing on a ship in an ocean of complex constructed plot lines with character development, rather than splashing in the puddles of meme expressions and punchlines?
2. During this time, we celebrated our anniversary, and I didn’t post a pic of these flowers on Instagram like I’ve done past years…
Skip is pretty good with sending beautiful flowers and spreading around a lot of happiness that way. But I couldn’t help wondering if posting the pics is…gulp…humble-bragging? Ugh, Social Media will catch you up in that.
3. Some of my “friends” posted that they were shocked when they realized how much time they spent on those chummy social sites, and they’re going to set a timer in the future. And what a coincidence, a new iOS came out during the 10-day fast, which now actually logs the amount of time I spend on the phone or tablet. It divides the time into these categories: Social Networking, Productivity, and Creativity. I can schedule time to stay away and set limits and restrict myself from certain things. I could probably find a way to fool it into recording something unproductive as productive, but what if it finds out I’m trying to buck the system? I don’t want to be made into an unfavorable example when the Singularity comes around.
4. I’m more aware of my humanness, since I also sustained a physical injury (spider bite?) during the social media fast, probably when I was gardening. That goes to show what happens when you leave the virtual world and try to participate in real-time activities!
The first couple of days I had some serious aches and pains in my right armpit and felt like I was running a fever, but I wasn’t. It felt like a hard, tough miniature heat-infused hockey puck was underneath the bite. As you can see, it’s right at the area my arm would rest on the desk while typing. I kept bumping it on everything. I finally found these colloidal band-aids to keep it covered up, and the swelling underneath gradually went away, after many days.
Perhaps staying off social media sites for 10 days won’t break any long-held habits, but it did give me a long, slow breathing space to ponder the time I’ve actually spent, engrossed in some things I don’t really want to care about!
As I’ve mentioned before, certain paper crafting supplies are not cheap!
The market for such items is huge, though. A few companies that sell fancy papers, paints, inks, die-cutters and the like, are in extreme demand among the multitudes of folks who want to DIY their own greeting cards.
At our crafting class the other night, a few of us were talking about the monthly card kits we subscribe to, which run about $30 to $60 per month.
“I subscribed to [so-and-so’s] kit, but I refuse to subscribe to [such-and-such’s] because it’s way too expensive,” said one of our members.
I agreed. I also have a lot of stuff I’ve accumulated from the 3 months I’ve been a subscriber, that I haven’t used much of yet. However, I had been looking at that particular expensive kit, because its current offering has some equipment in it to make pretty gift card holders for Christmas. After a few days of mulling it over, I decided maybe I wanted to buy into just this one-off kit. But, in the few days it took me to get to that realization, the kit sold out! The only option was to buy a 3-month subscription, which was $97, not including shipping costs which would come to another $12 or so. Well, I darn sure wasn’t going to pay that…but then again, it was very unique, and it would only average out to $33 per month or so…I tentatively looked at the 3-month option again, and in just a day’s time, it was sold out too! Unreal!
Meanwhile, the company whose kit I do subscribe to, gives a mystery freebie item away with each order (separate from the kits). Which brings me to this item I received a few months back:
Can you tell by looking at it, what it’s supposed to do/be?
The title of it is “Monstrocity.” And inside the envelope are some metal wafer dies in the shapes you see in the image above.
I threw it in a drawer and stopped thinking about it until recently, when I began to get interested in making cards and stuff for Halloween, reasoning that maybe it could fit into the Halloween festivities somehow. So I went to the company’s web site and tried to find a stamp set that coordinated with the dies. No luck. It was not even listed anywhere on the site. I tried Googling it, and I did find a few images someone made using the stamp set back in 2015. On eBay, I found one used stamp set that fits these dies, and it was for sale for about $35, not including shipping and handling. So the freebie is pretty much unusable–destined for the Island of Misfit Card-making Paraphernalia— unless I want to buy the stamp off someone who bought it from the company back in 2015. Or, I could die-cut the little monsters out of paper, then draw and color them in while eye-balling a picture of the stamps so I’ll know what they’re supposed to look like? What would you do, dear reader?
In the interim, I did have some fun making Halloween cards.
As a crafter/maker, you know that you must keep on producing…something, whether on a lathe, with hardware, the written word, paint, a sewing machine…something! Right?
We’ve revived the Knitting group once a week, and expanded it to include other crafts as well.
One focus that has come forth in the group is the making of greeting cards, mostly by Tricia and me. She went to a Papercrafting Expo and came back with some great ideas and a resolve to make all her own greeting cards.
Papercrafting is BIG! The amount of tools and materials available for such pursuits is staggering. Several companies sell monthly kits with items that, they advertise, you can make at least 10 cards. With all the scraps and options you probably have around from previous projects, you can probably churn out way more than 10 from a kit (which costs about $40). But when you go to the store to buy cards for an occasion, you’re going to probably spend $5 a piece, or more, if you can’t resist the really ornate ones. And several super You-tube makers vlog about the cards they made from the monthly kit, which can give you so much inspiration and ideas.
Here are a few that I have made in the past couple of months:
I learned how to use the leftover strips of card stock (hating to throw anything cute away) courtesy of Shari Carroll’s “Lovely Layered Cards from Top to Bottom” class on the Craftsy platform.
These were made from 1) plain cards (the pink and blue “borders” in the photo above are the actual pink and blue cards that the decorative papers were glued onto) and envelopes that came in a big package of 80 sets from Michael’s on sale for $5, 2) two 6×6 pieces of card stock that came with the SSS kit, cut down to size so the background paper looks like a border, 3) the sentiments came from a couple of clear stamps and Archival jet black ink, 4) some large sequins I had leftover from my grandmother’s sewing stash, 5) floral butterflies from Hobby Lobby that came in a pkg of 4.
The package of four floral butterflies and the package of 80 sets of cards and envelopes were each the same price; go figure!
After being under the weather for about seven weeks, I finally felt okay enough to resume walking in the mornings before going to the gym. I was surprised that suddenly trees are blooming in the neighborhood! It’s Spring already!
Maybe you’re one of those hard-to-shop-for people who already has everything. So, for a holiday gift this year, maybe you got a DNA test kit from Ancestry.com or another company that was advertising them at a cut rate. You spit in the tube, send it off, find out what the pie chart of your ethnicity shows by way of percentages European, Asian, African, etc., then what?
We did the test a few years ago, after I was charmed by an Ancestry.com vendor at Rootstech.
Oddly (to me), most of the DNA connections I’ve found through ancestry.com have no pedigree listed on the site at all, so I have no earthly idea how I’m related to them. You can go and see what matches you have in common with them, and then presume that you’re related to them through a common ancestor from the match in common. But when you have some Smiths, Williams’s, and other such very common names in the various ancestral lines, it could be any one of them.
For one thing, my parents’ few siblings had no children, so I have no first cousins. The second cousins should be the descendants of my grandparents’ siblings. So I would have at least 4 common ancestors with a DNA match who is a second cousin. Third cousins: we would have 8 common ancestors to be descended from. Fourth cousin: 16 common ancestors. Unfortunately, in the majority of my matches, I have to guess which one of the 32 common ancestors the match is descended from. That generation (5th cousin) is my great-great-great grandparents, and most people haven’t gotten that far in their research. But, some people have gotten far. And maybe they can help me, because when you go back many generations, there weren’t as many people in the world.
Another quirky thing about the DNA test, is that a person inherits 50% of his or her DNA from their mother and 50% from their father. So it is actually possible for a brother to have a DNA match and his sister to not have that match. I have seen that first hand, since my son and daughter both had their test results registered on the site. The DNA match I’m referring to would be at the level of distant cousin.
Ancestry also has an affiliated phone app called “We’re Related.” You also have to link up with Facebook somehow, to get matches. And DNA has nothing to do with these matches, they’re all based on the pedigree you’ve entered on the site, and enhanced by information from other people’s pedigrees, I guess. So every now and then, we get a notice from “We’re Related” telling us who may be a cousin, and exactly how we are possibly related. This week, for me, it was Steve McQueen.
When we first get the notice of a match, it’s fun and interesting to see who is our distant cousin, but I never took it very seriously, since practically everyone in the US who has colonial ancestors, is related at the level of tenth cousin or so, right? [Or, as one friend put it, “we’re all brothers and sisters when you go back to the beginning!”]
But it wasn’t until I was reading a blog called A Tree Grew in Oakland that I realized I should be checking the connections given in these notifications, to see if they are feasible. I knew by clicking on the 10 in the notice above, and seeing the ten generations the site came up with for my lineage, that I only had an ancestor for the prior 5 generations. It ended with my furtherest-back ancestor, a great-great grandmother, but they listed 5 more generations previous to hers. You could say that I had a brick wall. I didn’t know where she came from. I still don’t know for sure, but these new connections are feasible, and when I entered some of the information, hints popped up to show that there are historical records that confirm the data.
Another coincidence is that a few days before, I’d gotten a notice that Derek Jeter is possibly my 8th cousin. When I clicked on the 8 to see what they came up for our common ancestor, the lineage included that same great-great grandmother, but this time it showed three previous generations in her maternal line, rather than paternal like the Steve McQueen connection.
Amazing, do you think that great-great grandmother wanted her lineage to be found? Time to stop all the fun speculation and actually follow up on some of these leads.
As Pat Shaul, the author of A Tree Grew in Oakland, says, not all of the connections on “We’re Related” are correct. But when he wrote that he had some checking to do, it hit me that those speculative relationships from Ancestry.com can be a gold mine of a starting point for research!
Thanks to Google, I was able to quickly find out that the French word for quilt is courtepoint. I have to admit, I’ve never ever seen or heard the word courtepoint before! Not that I have much of a working vocabulary for French anyway; my formal training in French words is limited to 2 years at Herndon High School back in the seventies…“Où est Phillipe? Il est a là piscine….”
But I have a family member who majored in French at the University of Florida. In fact, her grandfather was a French scholar and chairman of the languages department. Owing that French words and being a gator are dear to her heart, I designed a lap quilt around those two elements.
The design is based on the chants they make you do when you go to a football game. “Orange!” “Blue!” “Orange!” Blue!” et cetera. So in French it would be “L’Orange! Le Bleu!” Not exactly rocket science here, but… we’re talking…college football. Then, I added “Allez Gators!” Get it? The standard greeting in Gainesville, if you come across anyone who is dressed in orange and blue, no matter what the occasion, is “Go Gators!”
The stripes in the quilt were made after the manner of Edyta Sitar’s Mix ‘N Match Inspired Scrappy Quilting class from Craftsy. Fabric is cut into strips, then pieced together, then cut into the desired shapes: in this quilt, the shapes were cut from the Rick-rack template on an Accuquilt Go! Big cutting machine. And the green gator was just a freehand sketch.
Sitar has a recommended mix for this type of assembly, with 5 types of fabrics that blend well with colors, including a large print, a small print, a polka dot, a stripe,,,but I used fabrics that match up with the gator licensed collegiate fabric. Florida has a distinctive paprika-colored orange and a royal blue; you wouldn’t want to end up with, say, a Tennessee orange which has more yellow, or the Auburn orange and blue, which is burnt orange and navy blue. Totally different orange and blue. Oh, yes, there’s more to college football rivalry than prowess on the field, you have to get the true colors right. There’s room for some creativity, but one must uphold the standards, as set forth here.
Ah, for the lettering…I could have used one of the cool Rivermill machine embroidery appliqué templates, but the problem there, is getting the individual letters sewn onto the quilt top one by one, with a pleasing amount of space in between each letter. If you’ve ever done calligraphy, using a Speedball pen and ink guidelines book, you’ll recall that every letter has a standard dimension, and the spaces between the letters are not the same. When you are appliquéing letters on a background fabric using machine embroidery, you’d have to know the exact dimensions of each letter and how far apart to space them. I thought it would be easier to just draw out the letters, then attach Wunder-under to the back of the lettering and glue it onto the fabric before satin-stitching around the edges. Easier said than done! Wunder-under consists of a piece of paper that has glue on both sides, one side having an additional backing paper. The idea is to iron it on to a piece of fabric, then peel off the backing, exposing the glue on the other side, then flipping the appliqué over and ironing that side down to another fabric. But to use that “easy” procedure, you’d have to draw the word backwards on to the Wonder-under first, which is something that the left-brained aspect of me, was unable to pull off.
So what I ended up doing, was sketching the word on the back of the Wunder-under, the crinkly, textured side that has the first application of glue to be ironed on, then ironing it onto the wrong side of the fabric, then cutting out around the sketched letters with embroidery scissors and an X-acto knife, then peeling off the backing of the Wunder-under and ironing it down to the quilt top.
After all the appliqué pieces were backed with the adhesive sheets and ironed onto the quilt top, I stitched around them with zig-zag or satin stitching to anchor them down. Then I starched both top and backing (both fabrics being white cotton), and quilted them together in random stipple stitching with orange thread, with a layer of poly-cotton batting in between. I sent off for some pre-wound orange bobbins on Amazon from a dealer who had originally bought them from Superior Threads, and I had no trouble with tension. Then I squared up the edges and applied a binding strip 2 1/4 inches wide, also cut with an Accuquilt die. I bet it would have looked great with rick-rack shaped edges, but I was chasing a deadline at this point, so straight edges it was.
Happy holidays, and though they didn’t even get a bowl game this year, Go Gators!
WARNING!! If you have gluten sensitivity, are vegetarian, pescatarian, vegan, Paleo, or have any other dietary limitations or qualms about eating fattening food, just pass on over this post, nothing to see here…<
I love the idea of having a late breakfast -slash-early lunch during the holidays. As craftspeople, we like the satisfaction of making things when it comes to meals, too, or just basking in the glow of other people’s creations.
We had brunch at the local breakfast house, 43rd Street Deli, Saturday. Take a look at their creative specials menu:
I had to go for the Crabby Patty special, needless to say.
Those curvy-shaped fried things with the green undertones are fried avocado slices. Pretty delicious! And their toaster was on the fritz, so I had to get rye toast that had been grilled in just a thin even layer of butter…savory-crisp on one side…
Skip’s usual: 2 eggs, any style, with sides. Amy went for the creative and exotic.
Noele liked the decked-out Holiday Waffle.
Amy asked for a sample of the blackberry-thyme topping that went with another menu item we passed over, and tasted as good as it sounds.
We got a Swiss Colony breakfast box as a gift from James and Danielle, so we decided to break it out for Christmas morning.
The part we enjoyed included peppered bacon, Canadian bacon, marmalade and strawberry preserves, but there’s much more for another day’s brunch….
I got the recipe for this Olive Shortbread from a recent magazine; it’s a sweet-salty nibble.
We still have a little bit of mini-canolli and cherry-topped cheesecake leftover from the family party, for dessert. Oh, did I mention, breakfast comes with dessert at Christmas?
This was Amy’s Christmas morning brunch.
Is that spiced cider in the lower right? Mmmmm.
John and Amber had biscuits and gravy after opening presents. I didn’t get a picture, but I can picture it in my mind, with hot sausage, big flaky buttermilk biscuits, thick-sliced crispy bacon on the side…
Merry Christmas everyone!
Using current technology to create 19th Century crafts