Monday, July 21, 2014

Coming Up for Air

...there are often many things we feel we should do that, 
in fact, we don't really have to do.  
Getting to the point where we can tell the difference is 
a major milestone in the simplification process.  
~ Elaine St. James

I can't believe that the last few weeks are finally over and I survived...  

At least, I think I survived...  ;)

In the space of three weeks I had TWO international trips (in-and-outs), a week-long visit from in-laws, and I needed to finish weaving seven rag rugs and sewing four hawaiian shirts.  That's all on top of a massive work project that had me working evenings and weekends...  

Oh, and I've had this nagging cough that just will NOT go away.  

Have you ever faced one of those times when you are completely overwhelmed - but giving up (or even slowing down) is just not an option and, through sheer force of will you manage to keep yourself upright and moving forward towards a particular deadline?  

Of course, once that date passes, all bets are off.  ;)

That's me right now.  I finished the shirts in time.  I finished the rugs in time.  My in-laws are still speaking to me.  Both trips accomplished the desired objectives (1. accompany a minor child back to the States to reunite her with her family and 2. serve as godmother for a young man graduating from "la secondaria").  

And the major work event went reasonably well...  

...well, at least, the problems weren't my fault.  ;)

And I never want to leave the house again.  

Why do I need to leave the house?  

I can order patterns and fabric online and have it delivered.  

My main take-away from this last month of chaos is that I NEED to learn how to say no - for the sake of my health and my sanity.  I need to re-think my commitments and scale back to something that is sustainable...  I can't keep going on like this...  :(

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Well, I didn't mean for this whole post to be a downer, so how about some pictures from the graduation ceremony?  In Mexico, each child selects an adult of the opposite sex to be his or her "godparent" at each school graduation.  Ana's nephew, Fredi, asked me to be his "madrina" (godmother) for his graduation from "la secondaria" - which roughly corresponds to our grades 7-9.  

Here is his graduating class:  


Here is my (handsome!) godson, Fredi:  


The family picture - Fredi between his father and his mother, his younger sister (with his dad) and younger brother (between me and his mom) and me.  Oh, and his cousin (who graduated from kindergarten and is going to "la primeria" next Fall) decided to join us in the picture.  


Finally, me and Fredi:  



If I hadn't been so stressed and so sick, it would have been an absolutely wonderful trip - the whole one full day that I was there...  I am proud of Fredi and it was definitely an honor to be asked to be his godmother.  His big sister has asked my husband to be her godfather next year, when she graduates from "la prepa" - which is roughly equivalent to our grades 10-12 - so he'll be getting his taste of this experience soon!  

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Celebrating June!

Life is a festival only to the wise.
~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

Sunday was our June pool party - we have these parties once a month every year, starting in May and going through September.  

This month we had 22 people (mostly kids), celebrated two June birthdays (a 9 year old boy, who selected Sonic the Hedgehog as his theme and an 8 year old girl, who selected Hello Kitty as her theme) and, as always, the kids demonstrated their wisdom by thoroughly enjoying every moment of the festival!  


Although, sometimes, there were traffic jams!  ;)


I buy paper plates and cups in the birthday themes - and my husband grills pounds of hamburgers and hot dogs!  


It was this little guy's first time at one of our pool parties - and he was fascinated by the older children and all their activity.  



The day ended with a piñata, and let me just say that you don't want to run into some of these children armed with baseball bats in a dark alley - they have some wicked swings!  ;)


But the Pampers box (disguised in colored tissue paper) withstood an amazing amount of abuse before it crumpled and fell to the ground.  

This has never happened before - when the piñata came down, one of the kids grabbed it and started running!  (I'm not sure where he thought he was going...)  


In the end, there was candy for all.  :)



I believe that next month's theme is supposed to be Hawaii - so you may get to see some grass skirts and belly dancing!  ;)

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Plugging Away on The Shirts...

Don't despise the little steps you know you can take everyday.
There are tiny miracles in each and every one of them.
~ Israelmore Ayivor

Sunday was our June pool party, so I didn't have high expectations for the weekend, but I did get some sewing on the Hawaiian shirts done.  :)

Every time I do a facing on a shirt, I remember another Gwen - the redhead, GwenSews - who gave me this tip:  

Before ironing on the interfacing, I stitch it to the fabric - with the non-stick side of the interfacing against the right side of the fabric.  


Then I open it out...  


... and fold it over so that the sticky side is against the wrong side of the fabric and I can press it with my iron.  


This gives me a beautifully finished edge.  


I've probably posted this approach a dozen times, and I apologize if you're tired of seeing it.  But it brings back memories of that very special woman from our sewing blog community.  I'm miss her...  

Anyways, I was able to get the front facings done on both small shirts and the collar put on one of them.  


I've got four shirts to do before July 10th - hopefully I can get these two done this week, if I do a little bit each night after work.  Fingers crossed!  :)

Monday, June 23, 2014

Gratuitous Kitten Picture

Macavity's a Mystery Cat: he's called the Hidden Paw --
For he's the master criminal who can defy the Law.
He's the bafflement of Scotland Yard, the Flying Squad's despair:
For when they reach the scene of crime -- Macavity's not there.  

~ T. S. Eliot

Popeye, inspired by his hero Macavity, has found a new hiding place!  


Unfortunately, it appears he did not get the memo about how TRANSLUCENT materials don't make good hiding places!!!

P.S. - the photo is courtesy of my husband!  

Thursday, June 19, 2014

I am SUCH a Sucker for Good Marketing...

I recently turned in my official Luddite membership card and purchased a smart phone.  (Although I am still on a pay-as-you-go, prepaid plan.)  This new adventure with technology may periodically spawn posts such as this one:

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The secret of being a top-notch con man is 
being able to know what the mark wants,
and how to make him think he's getting it.  
~ Ken Kesey

I've had an "e-pass" in my car for about 17 years - ever since my route to work included toll roads.  If you aren't familiar with these, they allow me to be identified automatically as I drive through a toll station without stopping, and my account is automatically charged the amount of the toll.  

Sounds awesome, right?  Well, I use it - because I go through 10 toll stations a day and the commute would be intolerable without it - but I have always hated the idea that I am driving around broadcasting my location to...  


And I've been very resistant to GPS and OnStar (and etc.) for the same reason.  I find it unsettling to think about total strangers being able to find out where I am at any given moment, without my knowledge or my permission...  

Even knowing that I could benefit from having those systems in my car isn't enough to overcome my distaste of this "cost."  

Of course, put a different spin on it...  


Hey there, want to join a community of commuters - all helping each other identify and avoid traffic problems?  


And all of a sudden I'm all - Sign me up!  I'm in! 

I know - totally illogical...  In both cases, I am letting others - hundreds, if not thousands, of total strangers - have access to information about me.  

But, apparently, someone knows what I want and how to make me think I'm getting it...  

Because "joining a community" where everyone helps each other sounds so much more appealing than "being spied on by the man" - doesn't it?    

Plus, in Waze, I get to pick my own nickname and icon - I'm a ninja!  

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Miracle Weekend - There was SEWING!!!

Give a man a fish and he has food for a day;
teach him how to fish and 
you can get rid of him for the entire weekend.
~ Zenna Scha

"Sewing" is my "fishing"...  ;)

I know - I can hardly believe it myself!  But not only did I get some weaving done over the weekend, I also got in some sewing!

Oh, happy day!  :)

I made a reversible bubble romper (with this pattern) for a young couple in my ESL class, who are expecting their first child in July.  They are going to name their son Manuel, their color scheme is green (not blue) and they hope he grows up to be a baseball player.

I documented every step with photos, in part because I think it's a very clever design that allows every single seam to be hidden.

There are really only 3 pattern pieces - the front (cut on the fold), the back (cut 2) and the tab (cut 2 and interfacing) that opens and closes between the legs.

Step #1 is to attach the two back pieces to the front piece.  Here is one of the fabrics I selected - green and a sports theme (including, but not limited to, baseball):


My second fabric choice was in the same style - but had a pirate theme:


Once you have shoulder seams complete in both fabrics, you align them, right sides together and stitch the neck and upper back openings - you can see where I stitched by looking at where I trimmed the fabric with pinking shears:


And you stitch the armholes:


Next, pull each side back through its corresponding shoulder seam, to turn the romper right-side-out:


This takes a bit of pushing and tugging and fiddling...  


...and some serious pressing...


...but it turns out beautifully!  :)


After that, you work on the side seams.  You can see here how I have one side seam opened up - when the other side is opened up similarly, they can be aligned and stitched, right sides and matching fabrics together.


Here is a view with one side seam closed up:


Next up is the leg openings:


See how they are opened up here:


This one is a bit different, because you align different fabrics, right sides together:


After stitching them together and turning them right side out, you add a second row of stitching to form the casing for the elastic:


And here is the elastic inserted, courtesy of a safety pin:


The only seams left open are the back and crotch seams.  You do the back seam first - all in one long seam:


Open it up...


...pin it together and stitch - right sides and same fabrics matching - scrunching the rest of the romper in the middle:


The last main step is to hide the only remaining raw edges - along the front and back crotch - inside tabs.  This step is not unlike attaching a collar to a shirt.  Here are the tabs:


Hopefully, in this next picture, you can make out the tab, as it is being attached to the romper:  


After you get one side of the tab attached, you flip it over, tuck everything into it and seal it closed.  


Here's the romper with both tabs attached:  


Add some button holes and buttons, or snap tape, or strips of velcro:  


And you have finished a beautiful, reversible, bubble romper!  





The only thing I've never been able to figure out is where to put my label, since there is no "inside" to this outfit...  ;)

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Gratuitous Kitten (In Big Trouble) Photo

Cats are connoisseurs of comfort.  
~ James Herriot

Popeye isn't the only kitten who has been helping me with this round of weaving - look who I found helping ensure that the warp threads are under tension: