Monday, February 25, 2013

Sewing is a Hoot!

My sewing aversion started with a beautifully handmade shirt. My mom had selected the fabric, painstakingly cut from the pattern, masterfully stitched it together, and added gorgeous buttons. She showed it to me, obviously pleased with the beautiful job she'd done and all I could think was "Oh God Mom, please no!"

All of the other kids would be wearing mass produced garments that all looked the same. They'd have logos that showed they were purchased at a store, a good store. The one in the mall where all the "cool kids" shopped. I would be sporting this homemade "monstrosity" which was almost worse than the clothes from "that store" or worse yet...the thrift store. 

Mom would pull out her machine and offer to teach me. I always answered no. I remember a time in high school home economics when my teacher explained that we'd be selecting a pattern to sew. I had aced the class with cooking and here it was....I just knew I'd fail. I went home, selected a pattern with mom's help. A hideous vest made out of some kind of southwestern blanket. It'd be trimmed with conchos or some hideous thing like that. After cutting and pinning and sewing (and no small amount of complaining), I started to sew. Just a few stitches in and I made my mom's machine in a mess. Sorting it out with great patience, my mom set me down to sew again. Just minutes in and the machine was broken. It was a sign.....this girl would never sew!

Fast forward about 20 years and this girl is looking for a new hobby. I now admire people who can sew. On more than one occassion, I've wished my mom would make me a dress...a new shirt. I've wished I knew how to hem my own pants or take in a shirt or even make a simple curtain. 

At Christmas, I decided to dive in and attempt Christmas stockings. Much to my surprise, I didn't break the machine and they actually turned out so nice I bragged about it here for the world to see. 

Confident I could tackle anything, I've been looking for a project that looked easy. On my recent fishing trip, we stumbled into a quilt store and I found a darling pattern for the Hot Who Potholder, a cute little owl pot holder. I purchased it thinking it looked easy. For any of you readers interested, here's a link to purchase the same pattern.

This is the picture shown on the front.....

Easy right?? ha!

So I started with a trip to Joann's for fabric. This pattern said it was "fat quarter friendly" so I bought fat quarters. I brought them home, took off the stickers, and piled them up in a colorful wad of fabric for this picture. 

The instructions said to wash them first but I'm a "let's get going" kind of girl and I figured since no one was wearing it, I could skip that part (I can see all the "sew-ers" of the world rolling their eyes right now).

I pressed the fabric per the instructions.

Then I traced my pattern on to another piece of paper (why you ask? because I didn't want to mess up my original - I wanted to be able to make these again after my first "trial" ones which I was sure would be all messed up). I put the pattern on the fabric and cut.

I cut the main body, the wings, and the base of the eyes. It was right about then I started to remember that sewing always seems so time-consuming. By the time you press, cut, press, cut, press, cut....then if you're lucky it's time to get sewing.

The wings and eye base begin to take shape. I can't cut straight. Or round
Now normally, I'd be getting all frustrated with these steps but I was starting to enjoy the task at hand, especially when it started to sort of look like an owl.

The instructions called for fusible webbing and I nearly skipped this part because I didn't know WHY I needed it. But not knowing what I'm doing, I stuck with the instructions. It helped everything stick together and gave it some 'substance' so it made it easier.

I "fused" the pieces together.

When the actual sewing began, I was so excited to be at that stage, I forgot to take pictures. But here's my inside out pot holder . . . 

Then here I am trying to turn it the "right way." It was hard to get all the layers through the little opening but I did it.

 And here's my first one, finished. Don't judge. Here's my first lesson....the eyes are all screwed up and look like my 9 year old did it. I didn't know which stitch to pick and I wouldn't have picked this one. But I really didn't want to spend my time ripping it out - after all, this was my "practice one."

I also had a problem. In the instructions, you sewed the eye base on and then after you did had everything else together you were supposed to stitch the beak, white part of the eye and the black part of the eye on. I could NOT for the life of me figure out how to do that without making the stitches go through to the back. (is any of this making sense??) So I resorted to a wonderful product I picked up "just in case" at Joann's - liquid stitch. Yes! It's glue for your fabric. I think I'll send this one to my mom and tell her Nate made it for her. muuuuhahahahahah!
But I had another one to make. This time, before I sewed all the layers together, I decided to stitch the eyes and beak on. That way the stitches wouldn't show through, I wouldn't need glue, and I thought it'd look a little better. I also changed the stitch to one I thought would look a little better.

Here I am sewing

And here's my finished second one. Much better I think. Of course, I can see already that sewing a straight line is the least of my worries, apparently circles are much much harder. 

But I'm a little bit impressed with my ability. It was my first project all on my own and it's not too bad. I'll be trying to make a few more and I'm sure they'll get better and better.

The one thing I'll definitely need help with is closing the hole at the top. You know the opening you leave to turn it right side out? I can't figure out how to close that and make it look nice. Help??

So, it took me three hours to make two pot holders (but I made dinner during too so let's call it 2.25 hours). It cost me $21 in fabric, fusible webbing, and liquid stitch. I used some of the Warm and Natural batting I had left from my stockings (ha, I could make 300 potholders and STILL have some of that left). I used ribbon I had in my scrapbooking stuff. And I still have fabric left over. FYI - A fat quarter is enough to make two of the body part of the pot holders.

Yay me! What did you create this weekend?

Monday, February 18, 2013

Fishing Friends

I just had an amazing weekend with some of the best friends a girl could ask for! Fishing, road-tripping, and exploring!

First a little backstory.....four years ago, my friends Laurie, Stacy, and I were invited to compete in the Women with Bait Fishing Tournament in Riggins, Idaho. It's an annual Women's steeelhead fishing tournament that is a TON of fun. We had such a great time that we've now made it an annual tradition. This past weekend was our fourth time competing and we already have our date for next year scheduled! None of us are necessarily big fishing fanatics - in fact, Stacy had never fished in her life. Laurie fishes some. I tend to take the kids fishing but usually don't fish, instead choosing to take photos, read a book, or just enjoy the scenery.  

Our trek starts off in Klamath Falls, Oregon and takes us through mountains, across the high desert, through valleys and canyons and ten hours later, we arrive in the tiny little town of Riggins (population 930). This year, the weather was a balmy 40 degrees most of the way and the roads were clear. Perfect road trip weather. Arriving at around 7:30 p.m., we check into our house, have a bite to eat, usually a cocktail or two, and hit the bed early so we're ready for fishing. 

The next morning, we wake up early and head to the tournament registration where the event organizers have our goodie bags ready and we meet our guide and bait boy. (Right here, I'm sending a big shout out to tournament organizers, they do a fantastic job!) This year, our guide was Eric and our bait boy was Chad. The only men allowed on the boat during the tourney is your guide and bait boy. C'mon, wouldn't you all fish if you had a bait boy?? After brief introductions, we head up the Salmon River to get on our boat. 

This year, we had the best weather we've had in four years. It was warmer (probably a high of 40 degrees) and the sun would peak through and warm us. We scrambled on the boat, anticipating a great day of fishing. Our guide Eric explained mornings had been slow but the afternoon would pick up. Bait boy Chad had all the poles and bait and gear ready for us.
From left: Me, Laurie, Eric, Paula, Stacy, and Chad

 It took maybe 30 minutes for Laurie to prove them wrong....first thing in the morning catching a 34" whopper! It was shaping up to be a fantastic day! Laurie's big catch put her in 2nd place! 

It wasn't too much longer when Stacy had her first fish on. This was a big deal - Stacy has been 'skunked' the last two years, not catching anything. We all dropped our fishing poles to cheer her on as she caught a 24" beauty. 
It was now up to Paula and I to land a fish. We cast, and reeled, and cast, and reeled and still the big fish eluded us. The pressure was on but even without a fish on, it's wonderful to be on the boat, enjoying the scenery. 

Making our way up the river, we discovered the river was blocked with an ice bridge. 

Of course, at first glance to our eyes, it looked like the ice would just part for our big boat. But as Eric and Chad would show us, this ice was nearly 2 feet thick. 
Hard to tell but this ice is THICK!
It was now lunchtime, the sun had broke through this canyon, and we decided a break on the little sandy beach would be perfect. Eric and Chad dropped us off and then proceeded to try and break up the ice bridge - convinced that above the "bridge" was virgin river, unfished during the tournament and thus, perfect for fishing. We sat on the beach, warm enough to take the coats off and watched as they broke the ice, created waves to send it downriver, and did it again, over and over and over. 
Stacy and I smile for the camera as the boat comes back to pick us up.
Me and Bait Boy Chad
Having taken a break for lunch, we were refreshed and ready to fish. Paula and I still needed to catch a fish. Our guide Eric navigated around and through the ice and we began to fish again. It wasn't long before Paula, Stacy, and I all had a fish on. At exactly the same time. Now our poor bait boy Chad is supposed to help us net our fish while Eric guides the boat and helps as needed but having three fish on at once, at the bottom of our drift (which basically means we're headed backwards through rapids) was cause for some panic. Eric and Chad did a great job, with a little help from Laurie who netted two of the three fish. What I'm trying to say her was this group was the A-Team of fishing. We landed three fish in minutes while going backward through the rapids. Thank heavens for a great crew. 

After the excitement, Eric pulled the boat over for some pictures (and I think to catch his breath haha). 
Our three fish - Paula, Stacy, and me!
And here we all are with our fish - look at Laurie's monster! Mine (next to her) is 28.5", her's is 34. WOW!

That would be all the fish we caught for the day (sort of, I keep forgetting I caught a little native fish that had to be released).

Our adventure was not over though. As we headed back downriver to go home, we discovered the ice that the guys had broke up had traveled downriver, creating an ice dam and now prevented us from getting back to the ramp and our vehicles. No worries though - Chad hopped out to try and break the ice free with a large stick, while Eric maneuvered the boat. We were on our way in no time!

As of today, Laurie is still in 2nd place but there's two weeks left in the tournament. Tournament organizers blog on a regular basis so you can bet we'll be watching to see if she finishes in one of the top places.

The next day, we headed out to explore this little part of Idaho. The towns are small and the attractions are somewhat limited depending on your interests and time of year. But Eric had given us a tip about a great museum just outside Grangeville (population maybe 4,000??). We fueled up, grabbed some coffee, and set out to St. Gertrude's Monastery and the museum.

The monastery was built in the 1920's. It's constructed from blue porphryr stone that they quarried from the land. Three sisters from a cloister in Switzerland traveled to the US and eventually expanded their ministry to Cottonwood Idaho. In the 1930's the sisters opened Our Lady of Consolation Hospital, which they replaced in the 60s with St Mary's Hospital. The monastery is absolutely beautiful. Located out of town a bit, on a bit of a hill with the mountains in the backgrounds.

Behind the monastery is a road you can walk up to the cemetery. As we waited for the chapel to open to visitors, we walked the road (I'm a sucker for a cemetery). As you walk up the road, you notice little "houses" with sculptures in them representing the stations of the cross.

You then come to a cemetery with a little chapel (and I mean little, only two pews).

The first person buried here was in 1908. I can't say for sure but I believe it was Sister M. Philomena Schallberger I, born May 16, 1888 in Switzerland.

We walked back down the hill to visit the chapel. Here's a photo of the monastery from the cemetery.

Because the monastery has nuns living there and it's their home, the chapel and gift shop are the only things we could visit. The chapel was breathtaking!

The gift shop was neat with many items handmade by the sisters.

Located at the monastery is also a museum that features exhibits on things around the area, not just the monastery. It's been operating for 80 years and features over 60,000 artifacts.
It was a great day exploring the area. We headed back to the house, enjoyed a few drinks at the local saloon, danced a little, and retired to bed to get up and make the trek home.

Looking forward to next year. Only 360 some-odd days left!!!!

Friday, February 8, 2013

Tuxedos, Dresses, Corsages..Oh My!

Does anything say high school more than a formal dance? For me, winter formal and prom were a couple of the highlights of my days. Of course, I love to dress up and I love a well-dressed date!

So when Marc told me he wanted to go to his first formal....well this momma got happy! And reminiscent! My first formal was winter formal my freshman year. I felt privileged to have been asked by a senior - Benjamin. Mom took me shopping and I found a beautiful royal blue dress. If you went to high school in 1990, you know the dress. We added some black lace gloves that went to my elbow, found some black tights with pretty rhinestones up the calf. Mom took me to get my hair done - a big curly beautiful mess (that I'm pretty sure was held up with a banana clip hahahah). Benjamin picked me up and I swooned at him in a tux. He took me to dinner and I have to say a boy in a tux is just a little different. He seemed so much more grownup. We danced the night away!

Of course, reminiscing on that night made me think of the next winter formal with Rodney, then the next winter formal with Trevit, then prom with Trev, and then prom with Forest. Man, I wish adults could have formal dances.

Anyway, back to Marc! Marcus usually (like most teen boys) wears tshirts, jeans, and sneakers. It was really fun to take him to the tuxedo shop and have him try them on. He settled on a vest, long sleeve shirt, and tie with black wranglers. Yes, we live in the country:) I do have to say it's a lot different for a boy. I spent ALL day nearly getting ready for mine (or atleast that's how it felt), Marc rode 4 wheelers all day then got ready in 30 minutes. And I have to say (even though I'm biased), he cleans up well!
Marcus is on the left, Austin's on the right. They were headed out the door to pick up their dates.

Marcus bought a beautiful corsage (after I explained that it was important, he thought it a waste....the girl was happy and so alas, he realized there are a few things momma knows about dating)

He had a great time. I'm glad he went. I encourage him to take advantage of the experiences high school has. It can be a tough time but when some of the opportunities are gone, they're gone. Go to the football games, go to the dances, dress up during spirit week, yell loudly at the pep rally. Be a teen.

Thanks for reading. I really just wanted to show off my handsome son!