Friday, January 30, 2009

Passing it on.

I posted a couple of days ago about the 56 year old sharkskin fabric that I have and I decided to google it and find out exactly what it is. Here is what I found.

It says that sharkskin normally has a two toned appearance and since mine is cream colored it's very subtle. It also says it can be defined as a smooth wool but that's not how I would describe mine, it feels more like a raw silk. There are probably different weights of sharkskin just like there are different weights of cottons etc.. But, I was glad to read that it's washable and I may actually do this to mine sometime. There is some slight yellowing in the creases which is most likely from age but maybe it will come clean. We'll see. Even if it doesn't I'll do something with it someday.

Angelia and Cindy were both kind enough to nominate me for the Kreativ Blogger Award. Unfortunately that means I can't nominate them! I don't know when I've seen anyone juggle as many projects in so many different mediums as Angelia and pull every one of them off! I do believe she is one of the most creative (and sweet) bloggers around. And you should check out Cindy's May post of last year. That purse is to die for!!!

I will pass this on to 7 other bloggers and if any of you don't like receiving awards or just don't have the time or inclination to acknowledge it, don't worry about it! This is just for fun.

Rules and Responsibilities--

1. Copy the award to your site.

2. Link to the person from whom you received the award.

3. Nominate 7 other bloggers.

4. Link to those on your blog.

5. Leave a message on the blogs you nominated.

This can be a bit time consuming so if you don't want to follow the rules please feel free to add Kreativ Blogger on your side bar and leave it at that.

Here goes:

Ric Rac. You won't believe what this woman does with selvedges! Too original.

The Slapdash Sewist. Way beyond creative. From simple wine bottle covers to making unbelievable outfits out of thrift shop sweaters.... I'm pretty sure most everyone out there reads her posts.

In the Bag. I love making purses and this is one woman whose blog I've stalked for a long time. She also just came out with a really great lunch bag pattern.

Artsy Crafty Babe. Yet one more purse making lady and her blog is soooo colorful.

Because I said sew. Check out the cat house she made. I don't know when I've seen anything like it!

Stop staring and stop sewing. I love this fast apron tutorial. And it's just one of many.

And then there's Katie Alender who's very creative but doesn't post as much sewing stuff as she used to!! Maybe that's because she's busy being a successful and published author, and the mother of Winston, one of the cutest (and he knows it) dogs you'll ever see. My granddog Duncan is also one of the cutest dogs you'll ever see (I wouldn't be a very good grandmother if I didn't add that!).

Tomorrow will be the big 'where the hell do I put my sewing machine in this tiny apartment day'.

Y'all come back now!

Thursday, January 29, 2009

My saga continues

I'm certainly no stranger to snow. For goodness sake I grew up in this Snowbelt and we often refer to it as living in the Tundra. But the snow that we've received this month is kicking my butt! The post office would not deliver my mail this week because my mailbox was unreachable. I've been shoveling since Monday and today during yet another marathon session I felt like I might succeed when I heard something that sent chills up my spine. It started out as a muted rumbling and then got louder and louder. Oh God no!! I almost wept. It was THE SNOWPLOW (or that thing of which nightmares are made) and as it worked it's way up my road, it churned up mountains of icy snow that it quickly deposited at the ends of nicely shoveled driveways, and in front of finally cleared mailboxes.

"You will not plow me in dammit!" I swore to myself, and clutching my dented, worn out shovel, I stood in front of my mailbox and dared him to even come close.

Mr. Plowman and I had a little staredown until he wisely (probably married and has received this same look from his wife at one time or another) veered into the middle of the road steering clear of me until he was way past me and then went on his merry way.

"Bastard" I muttered and continued to shovel.

One of the reasons I'm so pissed is because my mailbox was beheaded by a plow in December and had been hanging on by a thread even after Hans' and my attempt to keep it in place with huge tie wraps (or zip ties or whatever you want to call them) until it can be permanently fixed this spring.

Our feeble efforts lasted until today when my mailbox finally gave up the ghost and toppled into the snow!

An hour later along with two wire coat hangers, wire cutters, string, screw drivers, a hell of a lot of swearing, and completely frozen toes and fingers, I think I secured it (until the next snowplow that is!).

Then another plow came along and I was ready to give him the finger even though he was on the other side of the street. He rolled down his window and told me to get in my driveway.

Since he had the advantage of driving a huge weapon and I only had my trusty shovel, I obeyed.

Then he carefully plowed out the end of my driveway making two very close passes past my mailbox (very important here) without hitting it, and saving my poor back from breaking any further.

I'll throw out my voodoo plow truck later.

This seriously cut into my packing and moving time and after standing on a heating pad to thaw my feet I was ready to go again.

Oh yeah, I had to use a heating pad since I couldn't run hot water in my bathtub. Why? Because I just noticed that my tub has a leak and is leaving a lovely stain on my ceiling tiles in my family room downstairs!!!!!

I'm almost delirious with all the fun I'm having!

This is my mailbox after I tied it back on with string.

It was too wet for Duct tape!

It's difficult to see, but this is my driveway as seen from the road (and from inside the vehicle).

This is the last room that finally got painted. See the border up by the ceiling? I had to tape both the top and bottom because in addition to painting the walls I also painted the ceiling. I don't have a ladder so I used a chair and being all of 5 feet tall I had to stand on my toes to get the tape on the top part!

Not fun.

And I had this same situation in one other bedroom too.

And here again is the before picture. All of this stuff and more got packed up and brought to the Big City tonight.

Here is most of it packed and sitting in my kitchen. It was then carried down a flight of steps, loaded into the SUV, driven to the Big City, and hauled UP even more stairs to Hans' apartment!

This is only the first batch!!!!

And after today it may be the last.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Treading Water...

... is a term I use when I feel that I'm not getting anything done!
I've mentioned in past posts that I'm getting my house ready for sale.
I have a way of picking the right (wrong!) time to make major decisions in my life and this is one of them! I only wish now that I'd have rented these past 12 years instead of having bought my house. But if I had rented, I can guarantee you that housing prices would be going for double what I paid for mine and then I'd be kicking myself for renting.
Today I finally painted the last bedroom which also happened to be my sewing room. I emptied it yesterday and today when I woke up I vowed to hit it hard and not stop until I was done.
That's what I planned.
But since when does anything go as planned.
I had one wall remaining that needed to be taped off when I ran out of painter's tape. It so happens that the previous owners put up wallpaper border sans sizing. Which means that if I try to take down the border, I rip off the cheap textured finish on the walls. So in addition to taping windows and doors, I had to tape the top and the bottom of the border.
Sure, a quick trip to Wal-Mart will fix that.
I hadn't counted on the blizzard that apparently hit while my back was turned.
After I forced my storm door open, I had to shovel my way to Hans' SUV (I borrowed it this week in order to move massive amounts of my junk) and as his vehicle was only about 5 feet from my door this should tell you something.
I had already spent an hour and a half shoveling my driveway out when I arrived home on Monday (it usually takes 45 minutes) but now the end of my drive (where it meets the road) was drifted heavily and no vehicle was getting through that! So about an hour later, after I shoveled some key areas, and cleaned about 8 inches of heavy snow (separated by layers of ice from the freezing rain) off of the SUV, I finally arrived at Wal-Mart.
But my purse was at home.
I kid you not.
After retrieving my damned purse I was back at Wal-Mart and while they did have the lavender 'quick release' painter's tape that I needed, they only had it in the jumbo (read expensive) size and I only needed enough for ONE wall!
Let me also mention that I did not wash my hair this morning as I intended to remain home bound, and an hour of sweaty shoveling with a hat on my head did nothing to improve the situation.
It dawned on my as I was leaving the store that my outfit of oversized, paint covered sweat pants, teamed with my holey, wine stained (red wine spilled all over it last night) long sleeved T-Shirt, and clad in Vet Tech girl's third grade boots (one size too big but perfect for me after all these years) that I have become a typical Wal-Mart shopper.
Heaven help us all!

I found this among my sewing stuff as I was cleaning. It's an old J.C.Penney bag from Sept 30, 1942 (over 56 years old) and it holds 3 1/2 yards of sharkskin fabric at 49 cents a yard! A friend of my great-grandmother passed away several years ago and her daughter gave my mom a lot of old sewing stuff. I ended up with this.

I have no idea what to do with it. It's a creamy off white woven and has such an interesting texture. Someday I'll look up the care etc... of this fabric but since I'm not a very good sewist, I'd hate to ruin it by cutting into it.

Here's the bag with the receipt.

Here's a view of the fabric.

The sewing room before I emptied it.

I've filled 4 big plastic storage bins with sewing junk and since Hans has a one bedroom apartment with minimal closet space I ended up doing this.

These are reusable storage bags that you fill with clothing and bedding and then suck the air out of with your vacuum cleaner.

Here is a bag of my summer clothes before sucking out all of the air.

And after sucking out all the air.
It does flatten them but they are still heavy. But at least I can store them in the basement laundry room for the winter and then I can reverse the process this spring with my winter clothes.

Tomorrow I need to load an amazing amount of heavy tubs into Hans' vehicle for a trip into the Big City and then next week I hope to tackle even more cleaning up, packing, Salvation Army dumping, and all that jazz!

BTW, I was very honored to receive the Kreativ Blogger award from Angelia and Cindy. I plan on acknowledging that tomorrow.
Thanks ladies!

Sunday, January 25, 2009


On our last night in Oxford we went out for dinner at yet another pub and we made friends with this big guy. What a sweetie! He was very polite and moved slowly about the pub and greeted guests as they arrived.

He sat behind us for a time and then moved on.

I'm hoping the Association for the Protection and Care of Paddington Bears doesn't find out what Hans and I did with one of their charges!

We were in London's Heathrow Airport when I suddenly spotted this little fellow. Now I'm not a big fan of souvenirs and I hate buying something for the sake of buying but as soon as I read the 'Please look after this bear, thank you' tag hanging around his little neck, I was hooked.
Since Paddy was very well behaved and slept in his bunk (overhead storage) for the whole 7 hour trip home we felt he should be rewarded.

Paddy, enjoying a beer.

And here is Paddy with a double bourbon and gingerale.

And finally, here he is passed out on Hans' shoulder as we wait to board that last one hour plane trip (that feels like 7 hours because we are now totally sick of flying) to the Big City.

Don't worry, Paddy will be going to live with Vet Tech Girl for a much needed drying out!
It was a crazy two weeks and I was only along for the ride. This was just one of hundreds of trips Hans has made over the years and one of the first for his co-worker who came along. At the end of it the co-worker admitted that it wasn't all it was cracked up to be and that perhaps others in the office needed to go on one of them and see for themselves just how exhausting it really is. From planes to taxis, to buses and subways (and knowing which ones to take and which to avoid) to getting past language barriers, getting to appointments on time and putting out fires back home (because just like children; employees can't wait to tattle on each other and why not text Hans about it right now!), it is a job!
Hans just makes it look easy!

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Still in Oxford

Surprise! Hans got back from his meeting today at 2 PM which is a lot better than the 4 PM that was promised and the 6 PM that I was expecting.

Since Mother nature gave us a nice surprise and made the rain go away (for a while), we took a stroll into town.

It would appear that Oxford has more action than Cambridge (if you're from either place please don't take offense, it's just my observation!) There are a lot more shops, stores, pubs etc...

We were smart enough to take an umbrella on our stroll because it started to rain, and then we were lucky enough to find ourselves in an indoor market which is where we ended up spending most of our time.
Here are some offerings from a butcher shop.

If you look closely you can see poor old Peter Cottontail (right about in the middle) hanging by his heels, between the pheasants.

This is what I found inside a bathroom stall.

I never realized how loud my camera is when I take pictures. And wouldn't you know it, I forgot to turn off the flash so in addition to a very loud CLICK I'm sure everyone wondered why there was a sudden blast of light coming out of my stall!

A close up of the message on the bottom of the canister.

This was a first for me.

Just some ducks hanging around the butcher shop.

Now this is my idea of a purse!

It's a cake.

Just imagine how handy this would be if you had a PMS attack and forgot to pack some chocolate.

All that walking around makes a person hungry so we stopped in a shop for some coffee, apple pie (Hans), and carrot cake (Laura).

We couldn't make the huge 20 minute trek back to our hotel without fortifying ourselves at yet another pub.

I believe I could live on steak pies and I wish someone would explain to me why my pants are so tight these days.

Oxford, England

Yesterday (Wednesday) we were up at 5 AM in order to catch a 6 AM taxi to the airport. We left Italy, landed in London, and arrived in Oxford around 11:30 AM.

The men went straight out on business calls (I don't know how they do it!) and after lunch which consisted of a huge sandwich and a pint of beer, this is where I chose to spend some quality time.

We were supposed to go out to eat at around 5:00 PM but of course we got the inevitable call from the men; traffic was horrible and they probably wouldn't get back until around 7:00, which in reality became 7:30. Luckily our room, unlike the ones in Paris and Italy, had a coffee pot and I don't know when I've drank so much coffee and tea in my life.

This is the Pub we went to first.

Of course it wasn't until our taxi's had left that we found out they weren't serving food that night! Adam, our English connection for the night was very embarrassed and after gulping down our beer and wine (the corked bottle with our remaining wine was shoved into one of Hans' coat pockets!) we zipped of to a different pub.

Up on the wall at the second pub are pictures of Prince Charles and the Queen. Apparently they dined and/or drank here once. It's a little blurry but you can see Charles 'pulling' a pint at the bar and the Queen (minus a glove on her drinking hand) is ever so properly sipping her beer.

Hans had mentioned that the cheddar cheese in England is wonderful and he asked Adam if that's what we should order as an appetizer. Adam said that we could, but that in England cheese is served as dessert and it might cause confusion if we ordered it first.

So after inhaling my steak pie and fries, out came this; two platters of cheddar (white, not yellow like in the states), big wedges of brie, thick slices of bread, and butter!

Adam was footing the bill for the evening and we were horrified! In the states this would have been pretty expensive and we knew we couldn't eat one tenth of it (and don't think I didn't try!). Adam just laughed and said it was only going to cost about 3 pounds and not to worry. We still couldn't stand the waste so we asked if we could take with us. The servers were highly amused and brought us a piece of tin foil, so sitting in our mini fridge is a lot of cheese and bread.

It will not go to waste!

Hans got the steak pie too, and here he is working on it.

So far this has been the prettiest and most comfortable room we've stayed at during these 2 weeks.

This is the view from our room.

And here's where I am as I write this. It's a little sitting room on our floor. I'm waiting for our room to be cleaned and I thought it would be nice to sit here. It's raining and very cold outside so I don't think we'll do a lot of sight seeing this afternoon. Maybe since the men are to arrive back around 4:00 or so we will go out and see some sights with them. And since they are right here in Oxford I don't think they can use traffic as an excuse to be late this time!

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Italy. The End.

I posted earlier about our whirlwind visit to Italy (insert sarcasm here), but we did get to go out to dinner with two of the people Hans had business with.

Oh my!

Just think of it as The Beverly Hillbilly's visit Italy!

The restaurant we ate at requires reservations and you still have to ring the buzzer to get in.

We decided to order fish, so the waiter brought a huge silver bowl full of fish to choose from.

I mean whole fish, like they had just been pulled from the lake or ocean (I can't even imagine what they would have presented to us if we'd requested beef).

Not a problem for me but Stephanie, who is a nurse and views gruesome things on a daily basis, has a huge problem with seeing her food in its original form (and she still doesn't know that the sausage we ate in Barcelona the other night was really dried blood!).

I watched a group of six women walk in and I know I saw at least two Louis Vuitton Bags (which by the way I think are waaaaaay overpriced!) and they wore black sweaters with huge white collars, spiky suede boots, or slouchy sweaters draped over bony shoulders. At another table sat two women and one had platinum blond hair with bangs that were cut severely across her forehead just above her very obvious fake eyelashes.

I wanted to whip my camera out all night long but decided that it would probably be a pretty tacky thing to do.

Tomorrow we have to leave the hotel by 6 AM for our flight back to London.


The front desk has promised coffee.

I only hope that they serve more than the teaspoon full of espresso that seems to be the norm here in Europe.

If I don't get my coffee in the morning, I get mean(er)!!


If someone asks if I've ever been to Italy I will certainly be able to answer in the affirmative. And if they ask me about the sights; I'll be able to give a highly detailed description of my hotel room!

Today (Tuesday) is our only full day here and Stephanie really wanted to see Da Vinci's Last Supper that's in Milan, and I wanted to find one piece of nice fabric to make a purse. I was very well behaved in Paris and didn't even go near the fabric shops as I still have material left from my last visit but I thought a piece from Milan might be nice.

It didn't happen.

The men were supposed to arrive back at our hotel sometime in the late afternoon and we didn't want to leave them hanging while we were out sight-seeing. So we just went out for a quick lunch and then came back to our rooms to wait for them. Finally around 5:00 I started to wonder where they were when Hans called. "We'll be back around a quarter to eight." he said!!!!

A quarter to eight!!!

I hadn't eaten since noon and when I don't eat, I get mean(er)!

Needless to say, Hans' room charge now will include a bag of greasy potato chips and a can of peach tea that came with the mini-bar because it made no sense to go back out and try to find something to eat when we have dinner reservations for eight.

The one good thing about today though is that while we were out for lunch I happened upon a shop that had leather gloves on sale.

19 euros later, these were mine.

So much for my trip to Italy.


So here she is, The Mona Lisa.

Since we didn't get to The Louvre the last time we were here, I told Hans that it was the one place I really did want see while we had the chance. I also can't believe in all the years that Hans has traveled, The Louvre is one place he's never visited!

I got a kick out of this little budding artist. With a very important air, she stomped about, studying the paintings and then proceeded to scribble in her book. I peeked over her shoulder and believe me, 'scribble' is an accurate term.

Hans is intently studying 'David and Goliath'.

Here I am in one of the many wings of the Louvre. I believe I read somewhere that if you viewed each item in the museum for 10 seconds each, it would take four years to see everything. I'll let someone else try it.

The building is also a work of art. Here is a view of just one ceiling. And they're all like this in one way or another. Either beautiful sculptures or huge paintings.

This has nothing to do with art but I saw this purse in Duty Free and I loved it! I think it was something like 250 euros ($375.00 I think). So I took pictures and made notes and I'd like to try to make something similar.

This is a short video of the room where the Mona Lisa is on display and it gives you an idea of what we saw.
We are now done with Paris and landed in Italy late last night and I have to say that I hope to never use the Charles De Gaulle Airport again. In addition to being gloomy and difficult to maneuver around, there was almost no decent food to be had. I ended up eating a mystery sandwich on stale bread and washed it down with Scotch and orange juice!!! Yes Scotch and orange juice.

I don't recommend it.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

The last of Barcelona

Here is Christopher Columbus, pointing to the way to America! Not a very good picture but it will do! Can you imagine such a thing! Even with engines and GPS I wouldn't do it!

We went to the Cathedral, and I mean 'The Cathedral' ; a truly traditional Catholic Cathedral and a huge tourist attraction. Right now it's under huge major construction and I couldn't get an outside photo of it for this reason.
On the cement floor inside, there are many symbols of those buried below (at least I think that's what they are) such as sculls and crossbones and these scissors which may represent a tailor?? We weren't sure, maybe someone else out there knows what this means?

Here is a sclulped figure at The Gaudi Tower. All of the figures look like this. Not life like at all, but more like Tim Burton's Nightmare Before Christmas.
See the scull at Christ's feet? Weird.

Another view of the incomplete Gaudi Cathedral.

Cranes in the background. They could be there for another 200 years!
I kid you not.

Here is a view of a different cathedral at the top of Mount Tibidabo. The restaurant we ate at was about 3 quarters of the way up this mountain. One Sunday, about 15 years ago, when Hans was in Barcelona on business he actually walked up this mountain from bottom to top because he had nothing else to do that day!
You'd have to be here to appreciate this!
Of course I knew exactly what he did when he reached the top.
Had a beer and got a taxi back to the hotel!
We landed at Orly Airport in Paris on Saturday and today is Sunday. We went to the Louvre today and I do have photos but have only just now been able to get online.
We did have a minor problem on the subway when my ticket wouldn't work at the turnstyle and when I motioned to the nasty ticket seller that there was an issue, she waved her hands over her head, stuck out her tongue, and rolled her eyes at me.
She should be incredibly thankful that I don't have PMS!!

Friday, January 16, 2009


We were all invited to dinner last night and even though work was scheduled for 8:30 AM this morning our resevations were for 9:00 PM which while late by American standards is actually very early for Spaniards. They even appologized for the lateness of the dinner but said that nine is the absolute earliest you can eat!

We were the first to be seated and even as late as 10:30 people were still arriving to eat.

This is a view from the top of our restaurant.

Our restaurant from across the street. Absolutely beautiful.

One table situated on a landing. As a waitress I would hate having to take this table. I can just imagine taking a tumble down those stairs.

Here we are outside. That's a chain 'gate' behind us that draws across the opening like a curtain.

Food was brought out on platters throughout the evening. A lot of meats, sausages, lamb, wine, breads, and liquours. Dessert was puff pastry with a vanilla custard center. I ate both mine and Hans'!!

But what to do with that pesky dirty laundry? You can have the hotel clean it for a small fortune; about $10.00 for each shirt and $3.00 per pair of socks!

Sorry, no way!

So I spent my morning in Spain doing laundry in the bathtub!

Once a red neck always a red neck!!

We're hoping to go out with the men this evening and see some of the beautiful sights that Barcelona has to offer, like Gaudi's Cathedral. The word gaudy comes from this artist Gaudi and I can see why.

Tomorrow we head off to Paris and if I remember correctly, internet connections were not free and certainly not cheap so I'm not sure how much I'll get to post.