Friday, August 30, 2013

Three in a Row!

Today is Friday; it's been 8 days since I left for my little three-day escape from the Farm, and I think I am finally caught up on things around here. I think. Still have beans to pick, but I've been doing that every other day anyway. I was going to attempt canning the beans, but because I need a refresher lesson (the one and only lesson I've had in canning happened three years ago, and we've barely harvested a single bean since then, until now), I've opted for freezing them instead.

On Tuesday, I went grocery shopping. We were spoiled with milder summer temps for the first part of August, but this week the mercury is busting out the top. Keeping as cool as possible is the goal. While my outfit appears cool and breezy, as I mentioned before, this top is surprisingly good at keeping the heat in. It is definitely retiring to the back of the closet for a few more weeks!

Liz Claiborne top - JCP
Merona shorts -
Dansko vegan tennies - eBay

Of course, I'm a sucker for bird print fabrics, so when I saw these shorts go on sale at Target, they were immediately put into my online cart. I should have gotten a size smaller, as the waist gaps badly in the back. Using safety pins, I made temporary tucks in the back, but that created some odd wrinkling in the seat, so I moved the pins to the sides. Better, but a size smaller would be the best solution. I would have exchanged them at the brick-and-mortar Target on Tuesday, but hey, I was WEARING them! How do you make that exchange??? Besides, I didn't have the reciept with me. The shorts came with a cute navy blue with white polka dots cloth belt, but it didn't look right showing thru the white shirt, and I flat out refuse to tuck in this heat, so off went the belt.

Bracelet watch - thrifted
(See the awesome bird print?)

Bird earrings -

As mentioned in yesterday's post, my hair is driving me nutso. Putting it up like that keeps it out of my eyes, sure, but yikes, it's not pretty! Yesterday afternoon, I called my hair dresser, but she must be on vacation this week. Well, drat. I don't really want to wait to get this mop fixed, so I called the salon in town that I've gone to occasionally. I have an appointment later this morning. Here's hoping for a new 'do that I'll like...

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Lost Things, Hot Sheers,a Mop Head and Stirrups

Liz Claiborne shirt - JCP
Dressbarn skirt - Dressbarn
BOC Born sandals - Vanderbuilt's

There is a reason I don't tuck in shirts very often. I'm short-waisted with a poochy tummy...bad combination for tucked-in tops! This shirt is long enough, however, that it looked pretty sloppy untucked. All I can say is that I will be very glad when the weather is cool enough to wear cardigans again!

Earrings - Target
Necklace - Walmart

Sadly, this will be the first and only time these earrings graced my lobes. The one in my right ear fell out every time I leaned over ever so slightly, despite pinching the hook tighter. By the time I got home from church, there were only two of the wavy disks left. Drat. I did like these earrings! Ah well, at least I didn't spend much money on them. They were part of a three-pack that cost less than $4.

Amazingly enough, this shirt is not very cooling to wear. You'd think with the sheer top it would be nice and breezy, but whatever that stuff is, it's sweat-inducing. I've worn it twice this week and both times end up shedding it as soon as possible for a regular t-shirt. It will have to wait for fall to be worn again. Who cares what they say about wearing white after Labor Day?!

It's getting more difficult for me to be patient with my hair growing out. Right now, it looks like an old string mop no matter what I do with it. (I have to say, tho, that I did like how it looked in yesterday's post. If only I could remember what I did differently!) I bought a new boar bristle hair brush and use it faithfully every day; it's helping to reduce the fuzziness, but....still... It is so tempting to call my hair dresser and make an appointment to get it cut. Hmmm...I wonder if she could just do a little transition trimming that would help? I really don't want to go as short as it was at the beginning of summer. With my full face, short hair makes it look that much rounder. And I'm round enough as it is. Something to ponder...

Oh, I did make an appointment of a completely different nature yesterday! It's been nearly two years since my last "yearly" exam; I'll put my feet in the stirrups in about a month. Oh joy. AND -- drum roll, please -- after having health insurance for nearly 9 months, I finally located new general doctors for Some Postman and me! We rarely visit the doctor, being in very good health most of the time, which is probably why I put it off so long. However, Some Postman is in full blown allergies and if it gets worse, I might have to force him to see a I thought it would be pre-emptive to get him one. And, yes, I've had these pain issues for the past several years that really should be dealt with, so I need one, too. I just hope this one won't tell me what the last one did - "I really don't know what it is. Probably just fat." Is it any wonder I stay away from the doctor???

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Comfortably Put Together, a Blurry Quail and a New Friend

Am I the only one with this problem? I go away for three days, and it takes me a full week to catch up on everything. There was a weekend conference in Wichita that I attended, and since Sister B, aka Salty Hausfrau (my newly modified blogger name for her), lives nearby, I went down a day early to get in some quality Sister Time. I brought my camera along for the visit, but the only picture I took was of a classic car to show Some Postman when I got home. Imagine that! ME taking a picture of a CAR! Ha ha ha! B and I had a fabulous time together, drinking coffee, gabbing, thrifting, being goofy. We didn't want our time together to end! But not a single photo of us sad.

This is what I wore the second day of the conference. It is always a fairly casual atmosphere where jeans and tees are perfectly acceptable. However, I wanted to look somewhat put together, yet keep comfort the primary focus. The jacket came off for the drive home; the temperature had gotten close to 100° and even air conditioning couldn't keep me cool enough.

Faded Glory dress - Walmart
ny collection denim jacket - thrifted
Dansko sandals - TradeHome Shoes

Quail necklace - thrifted

I really wish the close-up of the necklace hadn't turned out so blurry. Sadly, this is the only pic I snapped of the necklace, so you'll just have to imagine it's a quail and not just a colorful blob on a chain.

The conference I attended was the annual Kansas Assembly of Leaders for the LWML. I saw many "old" friends from across the state and made a new friend during the Tea Party held Saturday morning. MJ and I discovered that we have MUCH in common; we are kindred spirits! It was not mere chance that we sat next to one another at that particular table - God wanted us to meet and spark up a friendship. That is the best part about these conferences...the lasting "sisterchick" friendships that are hatched and nourished! 

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

A Bit of Progress in the Master Bedroom

It certainly took long enough, but we finally have real curtains on the windows in our master bedroom. No more beach towels! I never did find the fabric that existed in my imagination; one piece came close, but it would have been quite expensive. My goal was to find something simple, affordable, machine washable and at least similar to my imaginary curtains. It would have been nice to make the curtains myself, but store-bought was certainly an option. To keep it affordable, I ended up getting store-bought.

Walmart and Hobby Lobby ultimately had what I was looking for. The side panels in chocolate brown are Walmart's cheapo brand Mainstays; the swirly brown sheers in the center are some generic made-in-China for Hobby Lobby. I bought three pairs of the solid panels (they came with tie-backs) and the last three sheers on the peg. Since there are three windows in the bedroom, I put together three different looks, and Some Postman and I chose the one we liked best. Brown panels only, with tie-backs; swirly sheers only; and brown panels with a sheer in the middle. Thankfully, we both liked the same option...otherwise, we'd have had to ask Pooka Dog to cast her vote.

The winning option:

The rods also came from Walmart; they are Better Homes and Gardens. I like the little leaf accents at the ends.

Eventually, we will get the window frames stained and trimmed. And there will be trim along the bottom of the wall. Those are cool-weather projects. Right now, while it's still warm, Some Postman is building a new side porch. Oh, I can't wait to deck out that room!

Other than new bedroom furniture, which we will get....someday..., the master bedroom needs artwork and accents. I've got fabric chosen for some throw pillows to toss on the bed (next week's project), and I've looked at all kinds of pretty wall art at Hobby Lobby and Target. For now, I placed wall decals above my dresser. I'd originally bought these to put on the sewing room walls, but since those walls are already full, I put them in the bedroom. They may not stay forever, but for now they look nice. There's also some wall art behind the door, above the mirror. My daughter gave it to me for Christmas a couple of years ago. It's been waiting all this time for a wall to hang upon!

Slowly but surely, this room is shaping into the cozy sanctuary that I've always hoped we would have. I'm taking my time because I want to be sure it's just how we want it. No settling for stuff that's just "okay" - it needs to be very close to what we have in mind. After all, Some Postman and I plan to live in this house until we croak, so it needs to be a place we love!

Monday, August 19, 2013

Sunday Morning Fashion with Sister B!

Hi, folks! Sister B here. I had a free second and motivation to snap a quick picture of my outfit this morning for church to share with everyone. A few weeks ago I was able to snag some great items at Cato's on their sale and clearance racks and this dress was one of them! $21! I just love that store! It's probably a good thing that we don't have one in the town we live in. I really thought a sandal with a heel would be the better choice of shoes with this dress instead of my usual ballet flats but I'm not sure these were all that great. What do you think?
After I got home I realized that the strap on the left shoe had come unglued from the sole so I hope I can superglue it back into place! They are my most comfortable wedges and I got them from my big sister! Anyway, the necklace and earrings were from either Walmart or Target (don't remember now). I got several compliments on the dress and how funny that my best friend showed up wearing a dress of the same color! We were twinsies this morning!

Note from FHH: I am so glad that B did a fashion post today. While I *did* get dressed for church, there was no time for photos either before we left or when we got home. Thank you for a lovely post for the ol' blog, George!

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Dress Re-make -- Pass or Fail?

Betsy and I did it. We made a new hemline on that striped dress:

I didn't want the hi-lo hemline to be very drastic, so I kept the front straight across and the curve in the back subtle. I was going to use the rolled hem foot on my sewing machine to make a tiny hem, but it just wouldn't work right with this fabric. Thank goodness I used the trimmed piece on which to practice, because it looked horrible and really messed up the fabric. Jersey knit does not lend itself to a rolled hem, I learned!

Here's how I wore the dress to church this morning:

Unknown brand dress - thrifted
American Eagle bow flats - Payless

An up-close look at the hemline:

I'm not sure that I like it. For one thing, I don't like to wear dresses so short. If I had made a straight hem all the way around, it would have been the length of the tail part all the way around. So, as it is, the dress will probably be worn only around the house from now on. The hi-lo part isn't too bad, in itself, but I think it would look better if it were more of a maxi-dress length.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Meet Betsy!

Here she Betsy, my new sewing friend!

Betsy is wearing a striped dress of unknown brand and size -- I bought the dress at a yard sale for $1 and the tag had been removed. The reason Betsy is showing you a side view is so you can see the hemline. I did not realize that this was a maternity dress until I saw pictures of me wearing it! Betsy is going to help me turn this maternity dress into one with a hi-lo hemline. I've hesitated to buy anything hi-lo, mainly because it reminds me too much of the '80s, but also because it is a trend, and I would rather stick to classics. But...since I paid a mere dollar for this dress, it can't hurt to make it trendy, right?

Unlike me, Betsy had a difficult time adding bulk to her waist and hips. Singer seriously needs to make a dress form that is more sympathetic to the pear-shaped woman! Betsy's bust was adjusted to match mine, but unless I gave her a bigger chest, she couldn't also have a bigger waist and hips. OK, Singer...very few women are actually perfectly proportioned!!! At first I thought I would have to take Betsy back to the store and purchase a Bertha in her place (a size large/extra-large), but I knew that the smallest bust measurement Bertha could have would be at least two inches bigger than mine. Betsy and I put our heads together (ahem...well, my head and her pincushion) to come up with a solution. This is what we did:

Betsy now wears a belt made from the whacked-off bottom of a skirt I shortened last winter. I knew I saved that scrap of velvet for a reason! We decided not to worry about the hips, since I tend to wear things pretty loose over that area anyway. Hopefully she'll be able to take the belt off one of these days, but for now, we're both OK with it.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Two-tone Anonymity and Some Updates

This is a favorite summer outfit of mine. It's cool, comfortable and blends in to the background. It almost makes me invisible!

Christopher & Banks top - thrifted
Old Navy skirt - thrifted
Shell necklace - street vendor in Mexico

Clarks sandals - eBay

My hair has been giving me fits lately. It's growing out and being quite unruly in the process. The summer humidity makes it flip in all kinds of unattractive ways, making me look like a short-haired Medusa. Ugh! It's so tempting to go get it whacked off again, but I am resisting the urge because I really, really don't like it that short. I find that if I don't look in the mirror I can pretend that it looks fine. Sure hope I don't scare anybody that might happen to knock at the door....

In other, happier news, I was able to get my soap out of the mold yesterday! It's still very soft, but at least now it's able to dry out. I think perhaps I did not blenderize it long enough after trace. In a couple of weeks, I plan to make another batch (different recipe) so I'll have another shot at doing it right.

As for getting some window treatments in the master bedroom....oh, dear. It's not looking good, folks. The fabric pictured in my mind does not exist in reality. I truly don't want to settle for anything else, but unless I'm willing to pay a small fortune for custom-made fabric (and I'm NOT!), then I'm going to have to be happy with something else. This is what I found on, but I'm not positive I like stripes:

If I go with this fabric, it will end up costing about $112 plus tax and shipping. Or I could get these ready-made panels for about $60 plus tax (free shipping):

Please share your thoughts and opinions!

Monday, August 5, 2013

Shopping for Curtains

We moved back into our master bedroom a couple of months ago, and I still have beach towels covering the windows. It's time to put some real curtains up! So I went fabric shopping...with absolutely no luck at all. It turns out that the shade of dark brown in my bedding set is a very unusual one. The only fabric that matched it perfectly was a camouflage print! Oh no, there will NOT be camo curtains in my bedroom!

Saturday morning was spent gandering at every window treatment online, searching for an affordable option that comes close to what I had in mind...with absolutely no luck, again. I'm beginning to think we're going to have to stick with beach towels...

At any rate, while at JoAnn's Fabrics, I purchased my new best friend. Well, she will be my new best friend when it comes to sewing!

She's still in the box, sadly. I think she'll be getting out today, however. She needs a name, don't you think? Let's see...she looks like a Betsy to me. Or Bessy? Like Dressy Bessy... No, I like Betsy better. Betsy she is!

This is the comfortable yet not-slobbish outfit I wore while out shopping for Betsy and the non-existent curtain fabric:

Hanes t-shirt - Walmart
Rafaella skirt - thrifted
Born BOC sandals - Vanderbuilt's

I don't wear shirts tucked in very often due to my short waist and poochy tummy, but this skirt has pretty ribbon trim that begged to be allowed to show.

Sunday, August 4, 2013

I Made Soap - Finally!

Waaaay back in February, I purchased oils and lye from my friend RK who buys such things in bulk (she's a semi-professional soap maker and a beekeeper!). Last week, I finally made a batch of soap! We'd used the last bar from my previous soap-making a few weeks ago, so my friend was kind enough to sell me a half dozen of her bars to get us through until my fresh soap is ready to use. I employ the cold-process method of soap making, which means the soap must "cure" for several weeks before using. Hot-process soap can be used right away, but it's much more difficult to get into a mold quickly enough.

The stage is set....ready to make soap!

I have used the same recipe for the past several years for my everyday soap, altering it slightly if one or more of the oils is unavailable. But it's pretty much the same soap each time. It is a moisturizing, mild bar that suds well and smells clean and fresh. The fragrance is a combination of spearmint, jasmine, lavender and vanilla. RK has been after me to name my signature fragrance, but I have yet to think of a good name. 

Wearing my great-grandma's smock - and safety glasses!

As I was out on the porch mixing the lye and water, my neighbor T walked thru the front gate. She didn't know I was in the porch, so when I called out to her and she saw me with these buggy-eyed glasses on my face, she was quite startled! Poor T!  One thing I learned this time: it takes a lot longer for the lye-water to cool down in the summer. It sure goes much quicker in winter!

Looks kind of like vanilla pudding, doesn't it?

After the melted oils and the lye-water have both come to a temp of about 100°, they are combined and mixed with an immersion blender (the MOST used tool in my kitchen! - altho this one is dedicated solely to soap making). The mixture is nearly at "trace" in the photo. Tracing is when saponification occurs - the chemical reaction that turns a dangerous substance into something helpful. It will look like thick pudding at trace. This is the point at which I usually "super-fat" my soap, adding 2 oz of melted shea butter, which makes the soap extra-moisturizing. But....I forgot to melt the shea, so had to leave it out this time. And, if you like, color can be added at this point as well. I prefer to leave my soap the natural color.

(At this point, if I were to hot-process the soap, I would continue to cook it and buzz the blender in it occasionally until it got very thick. I only did hot-process one time, and decided it was not much fun. The soap was too thick to get it all out of the pan and into the mold, so I ended up having to make balls out of what stuck to the pan. And a lot of the mixture got wasted in the process. Cold-process is simpler, easier and more efficient, I think.)

Spreading the soap in the mold.

Once the soap has traced, the fragrance/essential oils are added, then the mixture is quickly poured into the prepared mold. Depending on the recipe, you may not have much time before it becomes too stiff to spread. This recipe stays soft quite a while. 

Cutting the soap into bars.

About 24 hours later, the soap can be cut into bars. In reality, I use a straight-edge to ensure I don't get wiggly lines, so this picture is kind of deceptive. I did not free-hand it! And I wore gloves. At this point, the soap should not be touched with bare hands, as the lye is still somewhat active and can burn the skin. Usually, once the bars are cut, they are removed from the mold and left to "cure" for 3-4 weeks. Due to the combination of oils in my recipe, however, my soap is still too soft - even after four days! - to remove. 

Why go to all this "work" to make soap when you can purchase Lever 2000 or Dial at the store for a considerably lower cost and effort? First of all, playing chemist is quite fun! Especially when you can startle your neighbor with your buggy-eyes! (Sorry, T!) Also, the stuff you buy in the store is NOT real soap. It is detergent. On me, store-bought cleansers make my skin itchy and irritated. Homemade, lye-based soap has cured my dry skin problems. I am so very glad I learned to make my own soap!