right now

right now

Nov 5, 2010

Sewing Machine - We're going to try and work things out

I had a nice afternoon with my machine! We got to know each other a bit, I told it I would try my hardest to understand it, as long as it would just give me a sign that it still wants to be with me!

We only broke 2 needles!

But together we hemmed a stack of jeans that have been waiting for a year! I know some of you will cringe, but I absolutely love ripped up worn out hems dragging on the ground (how 90's grunge of me!), so I always keep the factory hem at the bottom!

Now here's the cool part: both needles were broken on the first pair. After that first pair, instead of stomping off mad, I pleaded with my machine, put some safety glasses on, and learned how to quickly lift the presser foot up as I hopped over the side seams - woohoo, we rolled right through the other pairs! I know that my machine isn't designed really for so much thick denim, but it's over now! I rarely even do this so I'm looking at least a year into the future before I need to sew jeans again.

After realizing that the feed plate thingy wasn't jammed full of thread this time, the bobbin didn't freak out on me through the whole ordeal, I had an epiphany: I'm going to learn to sew on this machine! When I was so frustrated, I thought "if only I had a better machine"... but then I knew NOTHING about sewing machines. Now that I have been reading about and pricing them I pay attention to things a little more. I dug out the manual, and was surprised to learn my machine actually has plenty of stitches, does embroidery, and I still have a baggie full of the feet, etc that came with it. I also took note that the $99 I spent on it in 1992 (wow, that's 19 years ago!) is probably the same thing I would be buying for $250 now.

It was then that I took a break and checked the blog for comments, and overwhelmingly, y'all are telling me what I already suspected, that I should continue to save my $$ for something better than another entry level machine and I realized I should really try harder with this one, at least then when I do make the purchase I will know better the functions I need/like. This may be futile, but after this afternoon I owe it to the old Monkey Ward Yugo to give it another go! Plus, I really do like that it is STURDY, those plastic new light machines are going to take awhile to grow on me, I don't know why I'm so terrified I'll break them, must be jeans flashbacks!

So, much to the kids' dismay, when they got off the school bus today we headed to the fabric store (I want to add that JoAnn Fabrics here is terrible, understaffed and rude every time I go there - if you are in the local area drive the extra distance to Hancock), and I picked up a few things to get me started - more machine needles, for one! I almost fell over the first time I learned what a cutting mat was and saw the prices, but today they were 40% off on rotary cutters and mats so I bought the largest mat I could afford, along with a rotary cutter. I think I got a pretty basic cutter, but since I don't even know how to use it yet it will do for awhile! I did purchase my first pair of dedicated scissors last month, I used my last pair to cut everything from paper to tomato stems, yep, there I said it! These should really be locked up from myself LOL.

I'm not sure what my first project will be, but you can be sure it won't involve denim! Probably an apron or something of that nature, I have a few patterns and several yards of fabric bought on sale a few weeks ago. I also have picked up a few library books and am learning all kinds of stuff - like what interfacing and bias tape are... now that I know how basic that stuff is that I didn't know what they were, can you tell what a beginner I am?

I rented the kids a movie to keep them occupied this evening, and sitting on makeshift sewing table are screwdrivers, canned air and a lint brush, and I'm going to sit down when I'm done blogging and give my Yugo a spa day and hopefully turn her into a good impression of a Subaru, wish me luck!

Sound like an exciting Friday night? You betcha! And if things take a turn for the worse, I'm going to hit the bottle of bourbon I bought for making pound cake! See, I'm prepared either way!
Beginners' Basic Sewing Notions

P.S. Overheard in the car today on the way to the fabric store-
Finn: "where are we going?"
Loch: "the dumb sewing store"
Finn: "why?"
Loch: "mommy thinks she can fix that thing, but I bet she won't remember to fill up the gas can"
Me: "I'm done mowing the lawn for this year, we don't need gas"
Loch: "dontcha need it for the sewing machine?"

(LOL! I thought to myself that if that thing had a gas engine, I bet men would sew!)

I can't take it anymore!

Yes, you all with the mad skillz that I envy so much - you know who you are!

I am doing some research on which machines I should be looking at! Here is my current jalopy, I call it "the Yugo":

I bought this new from Montgomery Ward (remember them?) back in 1992 brand new for probably about $99.00. I don't know how to sew other than simple hemming, and believe it or not I actually know the "right way" to hem jeans to save the factory hem, didn't think I would, did 'ya? I am hell on wheels with this thing, and the only thing I have ever sewn on this machine on a regular basis, meaning a couple times a year, is jeans and sewing patches on my hubby's heavy canvas type military camo uniforms. To be fair to my old machine, now that I am becoming educated on such things, I am realizing that these starter machines are NOT designed to stand up to this abuse! So no wonder I have crazy tension issues now and am always breaking needles.

I am ready to start contemplating a new machine that will suit those needs as well as learning to sew useful things around the house such as organizers, bags, dog beds, that type of thing. I will say that quilting sounds pretty far fetched to me right now, but then again knitting did just 18 months ago!

Here's the kicker: I have a serious budget! I want a machine that will handle the jeans and uniforms and have a few little conveniences that I may not know that I need right now, but it has to happen for under $300, and preferably under $250!

I have been doing some research, and apparently Singer has gone the way of W@lmart junk in the past couple of years, is that your opinion or am I not reading enough reviews? To the unschooled like me, that was of course the name I gravitated towards at first. Now I am reading that Janome is fantastic. I saw a Bernina beginners machine that I liked simply because of how heavy and sturdy it was, but everything I am reading on reviews say overwhelmingly don't buy it because it has tension problems and is harder to find accessories.

Here's a couple I was looking at, and the sale prices I've found.

Bernette 65 For Bernina (259.99)

I really liked the look and heft of this one, but I've read overwhelming bad reviews on it? It is the only Bernina made at a lower price point, so maybe that's why.

I think this may be the lowest priced Janome out there aside from the mini machine, It does not have a 1-step buttonhole function

Janome 2139N Sewing Machine (179.99)

I think this one is ugly as all get out, but it appears to have all the necessary functions and gets good reviews LOL

Janome 8050 Sewing Machine (279.99)

Next step up is the computerized machine, this one is marked down from 379 so I would definitely need to purchase this on sale, although most of these seem to go on sale every other week or so.

And what are your opinions on Brother machines? I haven't even started looking at them since I heard they have gone the way of Singer at the lower price levels? If your experience differs I will look into them as well!

My questions for you:
1. Do I want/need computerized? Is it better for beginners or a repair nightmare? It seems like more stuff to break, but if it helps me out a lot for recommending settings, feet, etc it might be worth it to a beginner?

2. Do I want the 1-step buttonhole function? (this seems intriguing, although I don't know what that means LOL)

3. What brands are your favorite?

4. Buying: I can get a machine cheaper with the sales at a place like Hancock Fabrics, but what is really the advantage to buying at an actual sewing machine shop if they don't offer free sewing classes? (ours here does NOT)

5. Is there a particular machine you know of that will serve me from beginner through "intermediate" type sewing? I do NOT want to upgrade all the time, especially since my mom sewed on the same old machine since the early 70's and created great stuff!

OMG I just realized how many hits I will probably get on this post from internet searches from newbie sewers - just think of all the spam I'm going to have to delete! Thank you in advance to those that can help me out at all! This is a ton of money to me and I want to make sure I don't go into this purchase without considering the advice of those that are in the know!

By the way, I did already clean and oil my machine hoping a little TLC would fix the issue, but nah... I'm about to finish it off today by hemming 4 pairs of great jeans I scored at the thrift shop!

Maybe I should consider making some dog toys while I'm at it...

Nov 3, 2010

It's National Finnegan Day!

Finnegan was a Citizen of the Month at his school, today was the monthly award ceremony, and he was so proud! This is the first time he has been recognized "publicly" at school so I think he was pretty 'stoked!

Finn with his Vice Principal

Enjoying the ice cream reward! He also received a coupon for a free dinner at Baker's Crust, and the standard license plate frame for me to declare my kid superior to the world.... you know the ones! Haha that means I'll have to take off the one that says my dog is smarter than your kid!

Thought I would share the school hallways...

Tons of murals like the one below decorate the school... can you tell 90% of the students are military? Finn is literally greeted at the front door every day with a reminder of where daddy is!

I am proud to say that our school DOES say the Pledge of Allegiance every day... I think the all the military parents would stage a coup if it wasn't done.

Below is a photo of what happens on a weekly basis at our school, these are coats for kids in need.

I want to take a minute and tell you about some of the great things our elementary school does. Our school is HUGE to me, 10 kindergarten classes alone, very different than the small town I grew up in. It is one of dozens of elementary schools in our district, so I was very nervous about sending my kids to public school when the time came, but I have been so happy with our school! It was designated Title I awhile back, so I was nervous about that, but it can be a wonderful thing - our class sizes average only about 10 kids per class, and there are tons of tutors and extra teachers and labs for the kids. When I walk into this huge school, it somehow feels comfortable and small, and I have never once encountered a staff member who wasn't friendly and helpful, and on occasion I have watched even cafeteria workers and other staff with the students when they "didn't know" they were being watched, and it's probably the most respectful teaching & support staff I've ever seen, my "small town school" included! Our school does all this while meeting a huge challenge, we have the highest homeless population in the district. This is due to our close proximity to the oceanfront and the campgrounds, etc that are frequented and the climate that is a bit more hospitable than places north of here. Instead of ignoring this fact, our school has embraced these students and really taken big steps to help these kids stay in school. One of the things they do is a food program to help out these kids & families. For homeless kids, after they eat their school lunch on Friday, many might not eat again until Monday at school. Every Friday our school takes donated food and places it in school-type backpacks for qualifying children and they are simply able to pick it up discretely at the end of the day to bring home for the weekend. The backpacks are reused from week to week and I think is a huge improvement over the "food bags" done in other places which are often not used because they are easily identifiable and thus a cause for teasing. We don't have periodic food drives, they go all year long! Coats and things for kids can be donated and go directly to needy children based on teacher observations or parent request. I think we have such a large donation participation for the homeless because there are so many military families here, we often think "there but by the grace of God, go I...", we are used to moving often, not being able to form lasting friendships locally, and are completely dependent on the government for our "just adequate" income. One more thought on the homeless issue, we are home to the largest Naval Hospital in the world, so many of the homeless are here because they earned the right as a veteran to health care, and this is where it is located at, but no one ever guarantees a home for our returning injured and disabled veterans.

Another cool thing, our school has weekly deployment "support groups" for kids with a deployed parent, a place for them to talk to a counselor about any behavior issues, anger, sadness that they are feeling, and be with other kids going through the same. They get help with their homework too if they need it.

You think military spouses are strong? See the mom below in her cammies? 8 moms dressed like this in today's gathering, imagine being a mom and having to leave your kids for 7-12 months at a time... now that's strong! I am glad that I got out of the military before I had kids, because I'm not sure I could have juggled all of that stress!

Okay, thanks for letting me rant about our school! I've wanted to write about it for awhile, but it seemed boring to everyone else LOL. I just really feel the need to express thanks for all the school does and since hubby and the grandparents are 1200 miles and half a world away, I want them to know that we really aren't "sacrificing" being stationed here... the school is great!

One more FANTASTIC FIND at the thrift shop today!

I considered myself lucky if I could even find a cheap pair of crummy snowpants here in Virginia, since we have no need for them with no snow... but holy cow look at this for $6.99! Minnesota Christmas, here we come, you better have snow!

Must be another northern family like us that was transplanted here! I want to say "thanks" for donating these, whoever you are! I'll be sure to return the favor for another misplaced northern family once Loch & Finn grow out of them! We usually have them just freeze solid on the trip home and hit Fleet Farm as we roll into town LOL!

Since I was so proud of Finnegan today..... I decided to treat everyone to a round of flu shots! My poor kids, they got a raw deal - I am the polar opposite of a bleeding heart mommy, as I sat there grinning and saying things like "sweet, I can't wait to get a shot", and "shots are awesome!"....

Finn wasn't buying it, this was taken BEFORE the shot LOL

Loch's like me, he didn't care at all!

So there's our day, now we need to eat a rush dinner and head out to a meeting for our squadron's family support group, where we will be rationed information on a need-to-know basis LOL, gotta love being married to the government!

Speaking of the guv'ment, funny thing I wanted to mention the other day, one of our local political candidates' slogans was "NO Means NO"... yeah, I don't get it either, suffice it to say he didn't win!

So raise a glass to National Finnegan Day! Doesn't that sound like a good Irish drinking holiday? If it's not yet, I bet it will be by the time he steps foot into college life!

Nov 2, 2010


Sorry if my 2 posts yesterday showed up twice in your reader - seems to have dropped off and I had to re-publish them! I DO NOT LIKE the updated post editor!


Yeah, I couldn't think of a creative title today - it's a little of this, a little of that! First, a couple of photos from last night...

I liked this one because it could have been taken in another era! That's Finn streaking through the yard.

Below, the kids trick or treated yet another year with their bags made by yours truly! I thought as they get older they would whine for the huge bags with cartoon characters, etc the other kids have, but they surprised me!

I felt a little lazy today because I had a 20 minute nap with the dogs and also finished a sock, but BEFORE I did that, I managed to get quite a bit accomplished in the morning. Beautiful weather for yard work, high was only 53ยบ today and sunny, I was able to wear my favorite outfit of jeans and a quilted flannel! I mowed the lawn for the last time this year (have I mentioned how nice pooper scooping is with frozen poop in the morning? It's the little things that I'm most thankful for LOL). I also got all the Halloween decorations out of the yard, all packed up and back into the attic. When it's over, it's over around here! I must admit I looked longingly at the Christmas decorations while I was up in the attic, but left them alone. I just want to keep moving on to the next holiday because it makes it seem closer to hubby's homecoming. I wasn't going to do any Christmas decorations this year since we will be driving to Minnesota, but who am I kidding? I am a total sucker when it comes to that stuff! Ask hubby, he thinks I'm nuts with my tradition of decorating the tree right after Thanksgiving dinner. He groans about hanging lights so many years it's me on the ladder stringing lights on the house!

Here's a few photos from the garden today:

Above, the "dwarf" (LOL) burning bush behind the garden is really on fire right now!

Below, starting to see broccoli!

Pak Choy, random lettuces

I never really gave marigolds much thought before as fall color, but these I started from seed last spring are just going gangbusters when the mums are starting to get scraggly

I was surprised by these raspberries while mowing the lawn! I know there was probably more if I had been actively checking, but Sprocket eats them - these were up higher than her head!

A few days ago Mama Pea asked her readers to post photos of their kitchens at night, kind of a "what a passer-by might see" kind of photo. I struggled with this one since from ground level you can't really see much (we are on a crawlspace foundation), and from our narrow porch you are smack dab IN the window pretty much. Combine that with a long narrow galley kitchen plantation shutters and this is really all you get!

Below was taken standing on a chair outside my kitchen sink window LOL

I'm thinking now a better shot would be from my living room side window, but since there is no porch over there, I would need a tall ladder and I'm not digging that out of the shed LOL! Go ahead and post yours so we can all be peeping toms! I've seen some really great photos of some of yours already, would love to see more!

The kids are off school tomorrow, election day? Seems silly, but the school is probably a poll location now that I'm thinking about it. Nice, because we get to have dinner at a normal hour tonight instead of super early like usual. We are having a nice hearty winter dinner to match our weather, venison meatloaf, mashed potatoes, gravy & green beans! Basic, but good!

Looking forward to more of the above this evening after the kiddies are in bed!

In case you are wondering, that's a DOG napping at my foot - Sprocket is kind of an odd specimen LOL

Nov 1, 2010

Especially for Grandma, Grandpa & Daddy!

They just started working on these today!

Oct 31, 2010

Happy Halloween!

Happy Halloween!

Here's to costumes that are homemade,
Scary grape eyeballs in pink lemonade-
I'm gonna be so scary, you'll fall to your knees,
Gimme some candy or I'll T.P. your trees!

No husbands around... but we ain't scared -
Navy wives here, approach if you dare!