Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Barbie Tutu Results

 About a month ago, I finished the Barbie canoe that I crocheted for a friend's grandchild, on this post. I needed to wait for a neighbor to get back in town before we could give it to her - we wanted to present it together.

In the meantime, I played with some other Barbie patterns I found. I fell in love with a leotard and tutu pattern. This little girl happens to be taking ballet lessons, and loves purple. I happened to have some Luster Sheen in purple in my stash. Destined for each other, right?
I made one in purple, one in teal and one in burgundy (or dark fuchsia?). Anyhow here are photos of the purple and teal sets.

They are crocheted around little 1-inch ponytail bands. So the leotard pulls up over the hips and waist and sits above the chest. The tutu is then pulled up over that. I just love making these. I need to play with other yarns, threads and hook sizes.

The leotard, alone, could work also as a one-piece bathing suit. And it could easily be made without the stitches at the bottom for the leg openings. That way, it could also work as a skirt.

I checked Etsy and there are only a handful (less than 5) that are being sold, handmade, finished, crocheted, so competition is very light on these...hmmm....

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

My Faith - My Friend

Short as this may be, it is heartfelt. We all have moments of worry or stress or concern. Maybe it's not even about ourselves but about someone we care deeply about.

The thing is, I am so very grateful for my faith. When such moments arise, and I find myself beginning to devote too much time and effort and thought into the "what if" and "what can I do about this" and so on, that's when faith is the most reliable friend I've got.

That is when I simply turn the concern over to a higher power, as my sis would say back in her AA days. She was absolutely right, though. The simple act of releasing it into God's hands relieves me of that burden. I then say a little prayer to Jesus asking for his help along the way.

This doesn't guarantee me an immediate solution. But it does lighten my load. Eventually, it will work out - it always does. I might not like how it works out, but even those times, in retrospect, are always best.

Sweet Jesus, thank you for spending time on this earth in one of our bodies, for experiencing what we experience, and for understanding. Please help me especially with the types of earthly concerns I know you ran into yourself. You had friends and loved ones and family - you know life here. I only ask that you send blessings my way to always remind me that you are there to share that burden, to help me understand, so that I do not spin my wheels trying to figure it out on my own. I trust in you.

Facts of Etsy Life - Some Marketing is Necessary

I've been neglecting my Etsy shop for a long time. I've made some items, almost a hundred, and listed them, over time. And lately, I've just allowed them to sit there, hoping folks will find them. I never make a lot from the shop - it's just a happy feeling when someone like what I've made and actually pays me for it.

However, I must be honest with myself - I do need some additional income. I usually manage to get things paid each month, and feed the kitty and keep her in litter, but it's a struggle to also deal with food and fuel for the car. That doesn't include anything that comes up, no matter how small - a haircut, for example, or a car battery, whatever.

The thing is, I positively hate marketing. I'm not even good at it.

Thankfully, Etsy encourages the development of "teams" and folks get together and help promote the items made by other team members.

It's time I got back into it, at least to that level. The team has promoted my items off and on. This week, they have been very busy and have promoted my shop at least four different times. So now I should at least do the same. In doing so, the team members who I help promote reciprocate, always, by doing the same for me.

I also went into my shop and updated/revised some descriptions. I noticed that my crocheted Rustic Wall Crosses did not have the size in the title line - it occurred to me that this would be a big help - when folks are searching, they depend on those brief item-titles to help them filter the hundreds, sometimes thousands, of choices, to find the best item for their search.

Yep - I should give myself a certain number of hours a week to maintain the shop. This includes updating text, adding new items, promoting at least in a limited way, and so on. Onward and upward.

Monday, July 18, 2016

Why I Will Pray Sincerely About The Upcoming Election

At 76, I lived through 3 presidents before I was allowed to cast my own vote - my first Presidential vote, in Philly, was cast in the one John F. Kennedy won. Prior to that, I did vote in local elections.

From age 18 forward, I took every election seriously, even the smallest of offices. My Dad always told we three kids: If you don't know who to vote for, try this - if you like how things are going, vote for the current group; if not, vote for the opposite side. I did, however, try to at least read the blurbs that summarized each candidate and each issue as much and as often as possible.

In all those years, almost 60 voting years for me, our country faced many, many issues and often seemingly impossible threats.

This year, I'm even more concerned than ever.

So, I will be praying even harder than ever for guidance regarding my voting choice. 

Yes, I have decided who will get my vote. 

No, I am not against changing my mind. 

The mind is a wondrous thing. It can harbor a decision, an opinion, an assumption. And it can, on a moment's notice, hearing just a few choice words, completely reverse that opinion or decision. There's nothing wrong with that.

But I do need to follow the Father's will as carefully as I see it. And I will pray that others pray about their decisions, as well.

I'm not so set in my ways that I am against hearing one fact that can completely alter my view. Because of this, I always pay close attention to what each side is saying, not just the side I currently favor.

Father in heaven, your son explained to us, and taught us, that we must render to Caesar that which is Caesar's. I take this to mean our loyalty and respect for our leaders as well. However, every voter in our country this year needs your guidance, big time. I pray for that guidance, not just for myself, but for every American of voting age. Let us hear, in our hearts and souls, your choice in this most important election. To paraphrase some old song lyrics, if we ever needed you before, we need you now.

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Blessed are the Poor

A few folks who were milling around a facility I visited this morning reaffirmed what I've always noticed and known: folks with the least in this life are the most grateful and often the most giving. It has always amazed me and also warmed my heart.

Most of these folks were much worse off than I am. We all chatted back and forth, comparing notes, sharing helpful information and even finding things to laugh about.

I heard more "I am so grateful for..." comments here, in the midst of some very sad situations than I do among folks I know who have more than I have ever had, even in my best earning years.

I heard more expressions of simple faith among them than I have at times at church.

And I heard more information shared here than I have at the places where this type of information is normally supposed to be offered.

Sweet Jesus, bless these folks abundantly for their humble and honestly grateful attitudes, and for their faith in you.

Older TV, VCR, etc., Hookups

Ok, I'll try this once. If it doesn't work, I'll just try various combinations until it does.

I need to know, step by step, how to connect the following: an older but never used pre-digital VCR, an older clunky analog TV, an indoor antenna, and an analog-to-digital converter box.

I have always been able to connect, back in the pre-digital days, my VCRs to my TVs. Never had trouble programming them, either.

Nowadays, the older VCRs will still record if you are set to the channel you wish to record; I have no trouble with that. Many things I'd like to record come on after I stop watching TV, or when I am out of the house, so I don't mind not being able to do more than that.

Also, after I got away from contract TV, almost two years ago, I had no trouble connecting the converter, antenna, and TV for my current setup.

Now, however, I'm not sure how to include the VCR.

The TVs are VERY old, by the way.

So, if anyone can tell me, easily, how to do this, I'd be really happy. I need something like: put one end of coax cable into xxx on VCR and one end into xxx on the xxx; then put (you get the idea).
This should be interesting. If this doesn't get me a solution, I'll just fiddle with each conceivable combo until I get it all to work.

No biggie - it's all free and I'm patient - so I've got those two things working for me. I'll let you all know how it works out...

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Passwords, Paper De-Cluttering, and More

After the frantic activity this morning, trying to settle down the mess of having had my FB page hacked, having my friends being asked to "friend" me again, and so on, I did also change my FB password. I'd never given it much thought of late because I'm literally always "signed in." I click on Facebook and zing, I'm on my page.

Yahoo also had notified me within the past few days that someone from Japan and Spain had tried to access my Yahoo account and suggested I change my password there. I did.

There's no way I can go into my zillion (well, not exactly) accounts all in one session and change the passwords. But I figure I've been given an alert and a head's up by the powers that be, about passwords. So, from here on in, any time I am entering a site of any kind, I will make it a point to change that password. 

Some of these I cannot even remember because they remember it for me. How convenient is that? As it turns out, it's not convenient at all in this situation. But it's no biggie. I just have to click that I've forgotten my password, enter my email addy, and they'll send me a temporary one plus a link to the password re-set page.

That settled, I realized today that I've been de-cluttering my stacks of paper (documents, pamphlets, patterns, etc.) almost every day. I seem to have developed a habit within the past two weeks of grabbing any stack of paperwork that I see just sitting out in the open, and bringing it to the couch, and having a "go" at it.

At first, I was annoyed at myself because I wasn't accomplishing anything physical in the house. Even though my house is tolerable, it's not as cool as I'd like it for heavy physical de-cluttering. 

Meanwhile, I've been griping to myself for years about needing to get at this paper clutter. So, gee, isn't this great? My secret wish has been answered. I am actually looking for more loose stacks. Then I must tackle cartons. Maybe I really will carve a hole in this archaeological dig I fondly call home.

All in all, the day has ended on an upbeat note. I've made some decisions to make some changes, and I noticed I have been making some changes without having consciously made the decision to do so.

Monday, July 4, 2016

Thank You, Father, For This Gift

This morning, I woke up and as usual, checked the news on the TV. As usual, in today's world, it was filled with statistics and images of terrorist attacks and other sad and horrifying stories occurring in other countries.

It came to me that I have never, ever thanked the Lord my God for blessing me with the gift of being born here in America. Our land might not be perfect, but I am so glad I am here and nowhere else in the world. 

My paternal grandparents were born overseas, and my maternal great-grandparents were, as well. So I am not very far removed from the terrible ordeals they chose to leave behind when they made their way to this blessed land.

This will be brief and very heartfelt.

Father in heaven, your child (me) thanks you with all her heart and soul for allowing her to be born here. Please watch over all those in other lands who are facing dangers we cannot even imagine. Thank you, thank you, thank you!

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

So Many Friends Suffering So Much

I haven't been posting for a while. My body has gone through the motions of everyday living. I've continued with my charity crafting projects, with my de-cluttering, my crock pot meals for the freezer, kitty care, and so on. But my heart has been troubled because of the burdens faced by many of my friends.

It seems that every week or month, I learn of more and more troubles faced by others. It's not that I'm just beginning to become aware of the troubles of others. This is not new to me. But I suppose as we get older, our friends do, too. This means medical and financial and even emotional issues surface and affect their lives.

One couple is finally getting past a devastating auto accident. It involved physical healing, financial issues, and emotional worries.

Another friend is at the time of the year when she faces a fairly recent memory - the loss of her beloved son one day, and the loss of her beloved mother just two weeks later. It's only been two years, so the memory is still fresh.

Yet another friend, after being 32 years free of cancer, suddenly developed skin cancer and had to have that dealt with - she is having pain from the skin graft they took from her ear to put on her nose. I can't even imagine that.

In one family, one woman who has recently become a friend, has just finished radiation treatments for cancer and was planning a cross country trip as soon as she is strong enough, to see a brother who just had surgery for colon cancer (another friend of mine!) and learned he just passed away this week.

Still another is facing an upcoming regime of treatments, yet to be determined, for breast cancer. She is alone and fears side effects and how they will affect her in her, shall we say, "mature" (I know you are laughing, my friend) years.

I pray, of course, about them all. And I'm in touch with each of them, almost daily.

So many friends; so many problems.

And that doesn't count the others who have ongoing issues.

Lord Jesus, I don't know who to worry about most among my friends. You have lived in one of our bodies here on earth. You had friends who walked the earth with you. You saw them pass on, too. So I understand that you know how we are feeling. Please let your love and healing and strength pour down upon them all, each and every one, in whatever manner and level required. And please, too, heal my own heart which aches for them. We trust in you. 

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Fire in Our Senior Mobile Home Park Today

We had a fire in one of our mobile homes today. I didn't even notice the smoke until it was almost out. I thought that it was in the mobile home park a block away. When I did realize it was here, I drove over to see where it was.

I couldn't go past it. The utility trucks were still there, cleaning up and making sure it was out. I drove behind that street and saw that the one home is totaled, just a charred shell, and that the shed was also totaled, and that there was some damage to the home next to that lot.

A friend tells me that the people got out but 2 dogs did not.

I know nothing more.

Lord Jesus, please pay special attention to our mobile home community and to those people who are now out of their home. I pray they had insurance. Please protect us in our community and elsewhere as well. In the heat of our desert summer, we are prone to many sources of property (and personal) damage. I worry about my friends and neighbors and I'm turning that worry over to you. I know you will do whatever you can while abiding by the Father's will. Bless us all, please?

Saturday, June 18, 2016

Barbie/Ken Crochet Canoe FINISHED!

Back on March 14, 2016, at this post, I mentioned I was beginning a project for a friend/neighbor. Two of us in our senior mobile home community discovered that our friend had a granddaughter (now 10) who loves Barbies, but family folks who bought them for her wanted her to shelter them as "investments" and keep them as collectibles.

Now, I love this woman and I would never say this was cruel, and it isn't, but the little girl that still lurks inside of me yearns to play with Barbies. They weren't alive when I was growing up. The best I had was a Betsy Wetsy (remember them?).

Anyhow, the two of us decided this little girl needed at least one to play with. My conspirator neighbor gets to many places that have great prices and she picked up both a black Ken and a black Barbie. For some odd reason, we decided on the canoe.

This has been an upward battle. It is not the hardest crochet project I've tackled but it is the hardest one for me to work on - I keep finding ways to stall. A few weeks ago, I finished all the pieces.
Yesterday, I finally sawed a 12" 1/4-inch dowel down to 9" for the oar. Today, I sewed the cover around the oar handle and the paddle cover and loop-handles so she or he could hold the oar. 

The part that frightened me was stuffing the seats and attaching them. I had no fiberfill. I tried 2 large pom-poms in each seat but they were too bulky. This morning, Eureka! I must have 50 skillion old wimpy washcloths in here and I grabbed one and cut it in half and then those pieces in half again, length-wise. I folded 3 times and the pieces fit just right inside the seat covers. Not only that, they are nice and firm. Sewing the seats to the inside of the canoe also frightened me. They had to go onto the 5th row down, and 2 inches apart so two sets of legs could fit in there and go under the seats. But - I did it!

Photos here, of course.

NOW, I will never, NEVER make another one of these. Well, I would have to charge a lot for the emotional wear and tear.

Lessons learned on this pattern: 
- crochet more tightly (this one is a bit floppy) 
- pay very strict attention to gauge (this one is just a tad bigger than expected) 
- that's about it.

With all my stalling, it took me about 3 months. It would be a lot quicker next time. Whoa. I didn't just see me type that, did I? Delete - delete...

I truly hope the little girl loves this.

So, when we present it to my friend, the canoe is on me, the Ken and Barbie is on my friend.

I am thinking of making a ballet tutu, leggings and slippers, too - in purple (her current favorite colors) because a little girl who now has a Barbie to play with also needs something to dress her in. This little girl is currently taking ballet classes.

I'm in trouble - I feel a fashion doll crochet obsession developing...

Thursday, June 16, 2016

EBTKS Soup - Scrumptious

That soup taunted me all night long. This morning, I had to run some errands and I was out for a couple hours between 6:30 and 8:30. I had turned off the crock pot before I left; it was already "finished" and had set itself to "warm" and I wanted it ready to be handled when I got home. I did take out the meaty ham bone before I left and I added some water. It was already thick and rich and smelled so, SO good.

When I got home, I grabbed a bunch of little plastic containers (go-packs, for mini-cookies - I end up with a ton of these and they hold about 1 cup liquid measure). I used a 1/3 cup scoop and divvied it up and I ended up with 11 1-cup containers. Two will stay down for today and tomorrow; the rest go into the freezer tonight after I label them.

I did not even put any of the ham back into the soup. I de-boned it and put the pieces into a container in the fridge to use off and on for a week, in this and that. When I tasted it, the barley had made it all velvety and rich and thick; the yellow zucchini slices, very thin from my mandoline, had more or less disintegrated and the slivers of rind sort of look like pasta strings - the whole thing had texture and flavor and eye-appeal.

Oh, and I've named this after my early-1940s years - the EBTKS soup- that's Everything But The Kitchen Sink soup.

I will be making this off and on from here on in, clearing out veggies, leftovers, etc. but I will always include a meat-piece (chicken quarter or two, meaty ham bone, beef soup bone, or even tiny ground turkey meatballs), 1 can diced tomatoes, and 1 cup barley (or maybe brown rice).

When I looked into that pot this morning, it looked great and I had to take a photo. I don't think the photo does it justice but I gave it a good try.

I am in foodie-heaven and the good part is that it is all pretty healthy and comforting and satisfying.

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

My Plans for Today

Let's see. I will be prepping the veggies and defrosting the ham bone (with lots of meat on it) for overnight crock pot cooking - zucchini, lots of other veggies with ham bone and barley soup.

During the day, I will also be pulling out a few things to be picked up by Safe Nest in the morning. They want it outside by 7 a.m. - a former neighbor dropped some of her things off yesterday to add to the pickup. I just need to stuff about two large bags to be ready.

You might remember my talking about that crocheted Barbie/Ken canoe project of mine as a surprised for another neighbor's great granddaughter. Well, believe it or not, I think I have the courage to assemble it today. I need to neatly (the key word is "neatly") attach the two seats inside the canoe, cut the 12" 1/4-inch dowel down to 9", insert that into the oar cover, and attach the oar handle. I really do think it will be finished tonight.
Along the way, I learned that the girl is 10 and loves her ballet lessons and the color purple. I found the cutest little fashion doll ballet outfit - leggings, tutu, and slippers. I'd really be happy if I found the right colors in my crochet thread stash - that part will be fun. The canoe is not (key word is "not") fun but it does look good - so far.

One of my "invisible" charity crafters stopped by yesterday. She and her hubby run into town several times a year from about 70 miles away. They dropped off a ton of wee fresh apricots. I hope to prep 1/3 for the freezer today, 1/3 tomorrow, and keep the others handy for easy grabbing in the fridge.

Stuffing the canoe seats is an issue. I had no fiberfill in the house. I did discover two packs of jumbo white pom poms and found that a pair of them fit inside the seat covers. They might be too fat but I'll see before I sew them in. If they do not look right, maybe I can use some felt, cut and folded to the thickness I need - that might work. I do have a lot of 12" felt squares in here.

Along the way, as I come across things, and I do every day, I put things aside for a drop either this weekend or early next week (before we hit the 1-teens (112 and up), to a family I know - they always have someone among them who can use what I no longer need or want.

So, for now, that is the plan. What about your day??? Any plans?

Breast Cancer Questions

Without disclosing my friend's name, I'd love answers to a few questions about breast cancer treatment in today's world. 
My own cancer (Stage 3 Colon Cancer which had spread to the lymph nodes) was back in '99, and the friends I know who had breast cancer also had it at least a decade ago.

My questions now are about current treatments, side effects, and ability to function if you are a senior at home alone.

We are worried that the treatment might/would debilitate her to the extent she could not get around at home alone. She is, like me, not a spring chicken but she is not an ancient old biddy, either. I don't think she has a pet to worry about during this treatment period.

She doesn't have enough money to bring someone in during that time.

She, like me, doesn't have family who can give her some help.

We are trying not to over-think this too early in the game. Results should come back late this week or next, so we do not even know the extent or type.

I almost hesitate to post this - I don't want to blow her mind with talk of mastectomies and such. So, may I ask you to keep replies as helpful and upbeat as possible?

All that said, and all those questions asked - add this: Please, please keep this dear and generous and loving friend in your prayers while she deals with this matter?

Sweet Lord Jesus, once again, I come to you, asking you to help a friend in need. Nothing is too small for your help (the water into wine) or too large (feeding the thousands with so little), so I know this is something you can handle. Please just take a moment to look in my friend's direction and send her all the love and comfort and wisdom she needs at this time. I trust in you.

Zucchini Question

Ok, my crock pot friends - I want to use up some zucchini and other veggies (fresh from a friend's garden) in a soup but I don't want to puree that zucchini - no problem there, I expect. As for a base, I don't feel like using my chicken pieces and picking chicken off of bones - can I use a ham bone (with lots of meat on it) with the zucchini and veggies? In other words, will the ham blend okay with the zucchini? In my mind, zucchini will happily mix with just about anything, right?