Sunday, December 28, 2008

A New Generation of Hunters

On the last day of the season we went to the farm, rode the 4 wheelers and climbed the deer stands. On the way home we stopped by the processing center to pick up Jim's deer. Someone had just come in with the deer they had shot and it was in the back of their pickup. Grace was very curious and wanted to get a closer look. She said it was, "disgusting" but that it would not stop her from eating deer! Later she announced that she was going hunting next year. While we are at the farm we shot a pumpkin a couple of times so we could show her the power of a gun and what happens when something is shot. We want her to have a healthy respect and understanding of guns in hopes that she would never pick up a gun without supervision.

A Successful Hunt

For two years Jim did not get a deer but this year he got a 9 point buck within 10 minutes of getting in his stand. We always enjoy our vinison and this year I am determined to make some new recipes with cuts that we generally give away. It will be in keeping with our goal of eating foods that are organic and natural.

Upon Seeing Her Dollhouse

Grace and Brother (Aaron)


On December 1st my sister Catherine posted a comment on my blog that simply said, "POST TO YOUR BLOG!" Actually I think that is screaming. So here I go trying to catch up on the past 2 months but don't worry I won't try to fill in every detail-- I've forgotten.

THE JACKET is still not finished but oh so close. I have to sew on 3 pockets and fix one sleeve. Belive me when it is finished I will post it! It has been a labor intensive project - I quit counting at 120 hours- but worth the time and engery I have invested. I will make another one someday, not because I need another one, but being the perfectionist that I am, I want to do the work again and improve on the finished product.

November 14th Grace spent the night while Jim was deer hunting. We went to the mall then came home and made chocolate pancakes and painted pictures for Santa and Mrs Claus. And we decorated the "All About Me Princess Tree. The next day she went with me to our RV Club Christmas party and guess who was there! Santa and Mrs. Claus! She was so excited, she said, "I've never met Mrs. Claus before!"

Thanksgiving was spent with the Arkansas family at Phyllis and Randall's. We stayed for two nights and had a great visit with all. When we got home it was full speed ahead for Christmas. Even though we have intentionally downsized Christmas activities it was a very busy season. The difference is we are really focusing on the special things and really close friends and family. More about the holidays later.

The year is almost over and of course that means it is a time of reflection as well as a time to look forward. I am reviewing the goals I set for this year and trying to evaluate myself. And I'm thinking about the things I want to acomplish in '09. I am interested in what you consider to be important. Let me hear your feedback.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Days 4, 5, 6 and Beyond!

We were now ready to sew the main seams of the jacket by stitching on the basting threads. These large rectangular chunks of fabric looked nothing like a jacket and I could not imagine how a good fit could ever be established with 4 inches of excess fabric in every seam. But leave it to Susan and it was done. After the fitting we began the very tedious job of trimming the excess seam allowances and folding and pressing the lining seam allowances. All the lining seams are done by hand with a fell stitch And then came the sleeves. Oh my gosh, the sleeves. Set by hand and beautiful but definitely labor intensive.

At this point the class was over but the jacket not yet finished. Once at home I decided my sleeves were too tight so I took them out and remade them --twice. As soon as my trim comes I will apply them, yes them, I am using three different trims. (And yes of course they are applied by hand.) Then all I have to do is make 4pockets, sew on 10 buttons and sew in the chain at the hem and I'm done! Yes done,
D O N E! I now have 100 hours of time invested in this project. Should this jacket be the death of me I will wear it finished or not as I lie in my casket.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008


The next step as shown in this picture was to lay the fashion fabric right side up on lining fabric, pin and then cut large chunks around the shape of the jacket pieces. And then the fun started, we stitched the lining to the fabric by stitching lines one inch apart from top to bottom of each piece. Long thread tails were left on the top and bottom of each stitching line and later they would be pulled between the layers and tied.


On our scond day we pinned the muslin pattern to the fashion fabric and cut but not in the usual way. Remember the seam allowances have all been trimmed away from the muslin so we cut around the pattern leaving at least two inches of fabric on every side. This basically ended up being large rectangle of fabric with the muslin pinned on the right side. The next step was to hand baste using contrasting thread all around each pattern piece. This resulted in a basting thread marking all stiching lines on each piece. No piece was recognizable shape. This is thw amazing part-- this took 9 hours and then some. I had to take 3 pieces back to the hotel and finish basting.

Monday, October 13, 2008


I arrived in St Louis Monday morning about 10 am. Our first task was to have Susan check the fit of our muslins which would later become the pattern. I knew I had a slight problem in the back thanks to the previous picture. This was corrected by adding a center back seam. This was the perfect adjustment for my curvy backside and I will use this trick again. Some jackets had center back seams others did not depending on curve or flatness of the back. Susan also thought I needed more shaping to the jacket and really nipped in the waist and made the armsyce smaller and higher for tighter fit in the sleeve. This proved to be a problem and when I got home I ended up taking my sleeves out because they were too tight! There were a few other slight ajustments that ended up making a big difference in the overall fit. It was easy to tell that Susan has done this many times and had a very good eye for all details of the fit. We then marked all the adjustments on the muslin with tracing paper and cut the 1" seam allowances off the muslin. The muslin pattern pieces looked so small now and it was strange to see a pattern piece without a seam allowance. Couture relies on stitching lines instead of cutting lines and I loved this way of doing it. It was much more accurate and of course more labor intensive but worth every minute spent.

Sunday, September 14, 2008


My trip to Paris last November was my third visit to this exciting and wonderful city of lights but in many ways last year was the trip of a lifetime for me. Oh, I'm sure I'll go back to Paris someday but no two things are ever the same- you can't recreate the past and would you want to if you could? Last year's trip will always be special because it focused on my passion for textiles, fashion and shopping and what better place than Paris to indulge this particular passion. One of my purchases was an exquisite piece of authentic Chanel wool boucle for a Chanel style jacket. An added benefit was that everyone else on the trip shared the same interests and I meet new friend, Kate. We have stayed in touch via email and she is the one that inspired me to start blogging and to blog about the culmination of the Paris adventure.

Next month I am going to St Louis for a week to take a class and make my jacket. The teacher is Susan Khalje, author, host of Sew Perfect and the creator and tour guide for the Paris trip. So at Kate's suggestion this is the story of my jacket.

The jacket fabric has a soft pink yarn and a black metallic silver thread running through the black wool. The lining fabric is ia a silk print and the yarns will possibly be the trim.

The first step in the process was to create a muslin according to Susan's very specific instructions. The muslin will become the pattern so it is important that the fit be established and perfect before the fabric is cut. Thanks to the flat pattern class I took with Debra McDowell I was able to draft my own pattern and have a much better fit than it possible with a commercial pattern. The finished muslin looks perfect from the front but the photo of the back reveals a problem I was not aware of until I saw this picture. The wrinkles across the back suggest that I need to straigthen out the lines of the jacket for a boxier cut. So it is back to the sewing room for one more alteration.

Saturday, September 13, 2008


Judging from this picture it won't be long before I have to give her those shoes I promised.


how much she loved to come over and play in my closet, try on my shoes and hats and admire herself in the full length mirror? I hope she will remember, I know I will! One day she asked if she could have a certain pair of shoes when her feet were bigger. I told her yes and that she could probably have it all. She said, "well, you can't give me this house." I told her that I could if I wanted to. And she responded, "then I'll miss you 'cause you'll be dead." Then, the smart girl that she is, she said she'd rather have me!

Wednesday, August 27, 2008


No, I'm not 29 years old but on August 25th Jim and I celebrated our 29th anniversary. We had a quiet evening at home without any big fanfare. I believe two things about special occassions. I may be high maintenance when it comes to facials, pedicures and massages but I am very low maintenance on birthdays and anniversarys. I don't want waste money on cards or flowers. Infact, instead of buying each other cards we often go to Wal Mart and just read the cards there and save the $5.00 That started out as a joke but we thought it was fun so we continue. And secondly, I don't want to celebrate important life events just one day a year but rather celebrate
everyday. Jim was sweet, he said he would marry me all over again. And of course I would marry him again with perhaps a few minor contract changes. Seriously, he is a sweetheart and I did good with this one!

Tuesday, August 19, 2008


a footlong corndog and drank rootbeer from a plastic jug! But I did. That's what you do when you go to the fair. For the last 28 years with only missing a couple of years Jim and I have gone to the Ozarks Empire Fair. This year we took Grace and that meant that the rides were a big part of the evening. She has an adventurous spirit and is not afraid of anything. She was ready for any ride they would let her on. We rode the farris wheel together and then she the others by herself. She decided I was a liability when she realized that every time I rode with her it took more of her ride tickets!


I made Grace a new nightgown from a beautiful old embroidered pillowcase. I originally intended to made her a little summer dress but didn't do it soon enough and now she is too old for that look. It made cute nightgown and she seems to like it especially with my shoes, heels of course!

Saturday, July 26, 2008


Why does "Natalie Portman vegan shoes" sound like a more appealing purchase than a "pvc handbag"?


A few weeks ago on her blog my sister, Catherine asked what everyone was doing to save money with the high gas prices. There were lots of good ideas and as I thought about it from a $ saving standpoint I realized that these changes also provided a means to change my life so that I could start living it instead of just maintaining it. So I wanted to share what I have been doing.

I have always been interested in healthy eating and lately I have become more and more concerned about chemicals and additives in food. So we are now reaping the harvest from our garden. We are eating lots of squash and peppers and our first tomatoes will be ready this week. I made pesto today from my very own basil. And we made a couple of trips to the farmer's market this week for corn and peaches which I put in the freezer. I can't speek for Jim but I only ate out once this week.

I also made a huge sacrifice yesterday in name of conservation. Jim and I went to town together --in the same car to run errands. This meant that I spent the afternoon listening to his commentary on everything from high gas prices, traffic in Springfield, crazy drivers, why the city doesn't do something about ..various topics and the legalities of cameras at traffic lights. There may also have been some important remarks about the Cardinals but by this point I was pretty much tuned out.

Two of our errands also promoted my other goals. I took my espresso machine and my Rowenta iron to a small appliance repair shop instead of trashing them and getting new. Interestingly, there is only one shop in town that does repair. We are definitely a disposable society. ( I also checked prices on a new espresso machine --about $600.00 so I saved!) My new life requires a new thought process too so when I got home last night after buying new red wine glasses I decided to take them back. My current wine glasses can be used for red or white so why do I need more? I answered that question differently at the Coach store. It is not like my friends are going to refuse a nice merlot just because of the glass!

However, I do refuse to share bath water as a means of conservation. We can both pee in the new water saving toilet before flushing but that is as far as I am willing to go.

Sunday, June 22, 2008


On Friday the 13th the golf course behind our house turned into a lake. Normally there is a small dry creek bed that runs through the property to carry drainage from the hills behind but on this day it couldn't do the job and a lake formed. We have been here 15 years and never seen that much water. Our home is quite high overlooking this area and we were not in any danger but so many people have not been so fortunate. I cannot imagine what someone must feel to see water at their roof or to see their home floating down a newly made river.

Monday, June 16, 2008


is the green slogan but they forgot REMAKE. I have always enjoyed my sewing from an artist's perspective but it also a great way to make my clothes continue to work when they have been redesighned. For example, I cut off all my capris and made burmuda shorts and I hem and rehem skirts and dresses constantly to update. Simple. And if you don't sew you probably know someone who does and you can trade out-- clean her toilets - she'll hem your pants! In the storage room there are 3 big plastic tubs filled with clothes. Some are clothes I've made and some have been purchased, the fabric is wonderful and will someday be remade into something new. I also cut out zippers and take off good buttons before something goes to the donation pile. And did you know that if something isn't fit to be worn by anyone it can still be donated. Most organizations will accept those things because they sell it by the pound and the fabric is recycled. Pretty neat, your favorite old stuff can have a new life.

Sunday, June 15, 2008


Jim just came in and said the garden is destroyed. Our latest round of storms today produced quarter sized hale and beat the leaves off everything. I doubt I'll be able to talk him into planting it again since this was the third time. The first two plantings were killed by frost and cold weather even though we had covered everything. I am so disappointed. The squash already had little squash! He is more upset about the pool -- now filled with leaves! Yesterday it was sparkling.


My sister Catherine asked a guestion on her blog about what people were doing to save money for gas and asked them to share their ideas. I thought it was a good question and it made me think about what I do now and what I could do. Maybe the high gas prices will cause us all to rethink how we use or in some cases how we waste our resources. I have always been pretty good about planning my trips to town to be the most efficient time wise. But now I ask myself do I really even need to go to town because going to town means I'm going to go buy something and chances are I don't even need it! To save money and gas don't shop for a hobby! Read a book instead, one you have checked out from the library or borrowed from a friend.

I shop with coupons, coupons for clothes, groceries and restaurants. I am devastated if I have to buy something and don't have a coupon. You don't even have to take the paper to clip coupons-- they are online, just print it. I gave Hobby Lobby my email and they send me one every week. But I caution you, don't buy it just because you have a coupon and don't even go to the store to see if you need something just beacause you have a coupon. You should know if you need it without having to go look and see if you need something!

This year Jim and I planted a garden. Yes, a garden! Not a surprise for Jim but some of you may have trouble envisioning me gardening. Well, actually Jim planted it at my request. We have tomatoes, peppers, squash and strawberries and I planted basil, mint and cilantro. Not only is this a hugh $ savings but you can't even compare the taste and quality. My goal is to eat only whole and natural foods, not processed chemicals. Initially this will be more expensive but our health is priceless and in the long term I believe it will pay off. I am even slowly introducing my friends to this concept. Why have friends over for dinner and feed them things you would not eat otherwise. So far they still come when invited.

More later.

There is free stuff everywhere. On Tuesdays Grace and I are going to Storytime at the library and will either eat peanut butter and jelly sandwiches in the park or on the patio (instead of Chick-fil-a.) We are also going to rride our bikes on the Greenways Trail. not only is this all free but it encourages exercise and outdoor activities.


I don't know if it was despite all the rain or because of it but this year our yard and flowers were the prettiest I think they have ever been. This is only the second year for this rose. It is hard to believe but we have not had the watering system on yet this year.

Grace Grows Up

Grace graduated from Pre-K with in May with excellent remarks from her teacher. She is spelling, writing and recognizes numbers and letters. This summer we are working on spelling and reading. We just started reading The Secret Garden.

She was in a play at school, the only child chosen from her class and was Clara Schumann on History Day and told about Clara's life and music. I made her costume and then donated it to her school. Her dance recital on a Friday was followed by her violin recital on Monday. So Jim and I had a weekend of culture. In dance she takes tap, ballet and hip hop. She has the moves and the rhythm and hip hop is her thing. She and all the other violin students really surprised us, they were all very good for their level. I think it is great tht children have so many opportunites to explore and learn so many things but I do worry that all these activities don't leave alot of time to just be a kid and do kid things. On the days that she is with us we try to relax and play.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008


I can't believe it's been a month since I've shared anything about my incredibly exciting life! And I know you are just dying to know what I've been up to so here's the last month in the condensed version.

Ruth Sonnenberg and I went to a great antique show to benefit the symphony and saw lots of pretty things. The dealers were from 4 states and my favorite dealer was there. She specializes in high quality vintage jewelry, compacts and lucite handbags from the 50's. Despite her fabulous selection I limited myself to one compact.

My sewing machine has gotten a nice little workout and I love the new hat I made. My Paris friend and hat designer, Kate sent me several of her patterns and I made this for summer (assuming it ever comes.) It is raffia straw material on one side and reverses to a Thai silk from my shrinking fabric stash.

Speaking of workout, I started back to Pilates twice a week and am either riding my bike or walking 2-3 times a week. I feel so much better, mentally and physically. It takes so little time to get out of shape. Count your blessing I'm not posting any pictures of me in spandex.

Now calm yourselves and prepare for this next bit of news. My friend Tammy and I went to St. Louis for the weekend to see Clinton. I got an autograph and a picture with him. NO! Not that Clinton! Clinton Kelly of What Not To Wear fame. He's so cute!

And this past weekend we went to Branson for three nights with our RV club. It was great to see so many friends that we have not seen since last fall. On Sat I drove back to Springfield and picked Grace up so she could spend the night with us in the RV. We went to the Butterfly Palace, The Landing and of course did a bit of shopping. We came home on Sunday and Jim went to the farm to turkey hunt and I chilled out with fashion magazines and HGTV. Life is good!

Thursday, March 20, 2008


Well, like the rest of us they get up and go to church, rush to the restaurant and then head home for a little nap. BUT THEN, at 5pm they are very different! They change into their boots, wranglers and 5lb belt buckles and head to The Cotton Club in Granger, TX for a little two-steppin' at their favorite honky tonk! I kid you not, they really do. And I have pictures to prove it. Most people wait until Friday night to hit the hony tonk but not the Harrisons and the Stuarts they like to start their week off right.


Oh! how I wish you had been with me when I stumbled onto this oh so cute tea room in Salado, TX. I immediately thought about you when I saw it. It is decorated in black and white with vintage hats on every table and LBD's and more hats on the wall. I have no idea what the food is like, we didn't eat there, just ooohed and aaahed and took pictures. Thanks to you I now carry my camera everywhere. I fear one day I may get arrested for taking pictures in a resticted area.

Friday, February 29, 2008


Well. it is day four in San Antonio and we finally made our trip to the Riverwalk and the Alamo. We got here on Tuesday and I didn't feel very good and by Wed morning I was really sick so waited until Thur and I still didn't feel very well so we extended our time by a day and went this morning. We rode the city bus from our campground (that's another story) and took a quick walk through Riverwalk and stopped for a nice lunch at one of the little restaurants. Then we headed for the Alamo to test our memory of what we learned in high school. I am sorry to say I would not have gotten a high score if there had been a test. And I was a good student! It made me think of something I heard an educator say the other day. The discussion was about how few facts like dates high school students knew these days. The educator said there was no reason to memorize these kind of facts anymore since the internet gave everyone immediate access to the simple facts. And today's experience highlights this. I used to know all of this but in the past 40 years have not had a need to call it up. Just a thought about our changing world.
On the way to the Alamo the downtown Dillards caught my eye and I was 6 years old again shopping with my mother in downtown Little Rock. It was such a vivid memory-- I could see the floors, the stairs and especially the Charles of the Ritz cosmetic counter in Gus Blass Department store where my mother had her powder customed mixed. Then we would go across the street to Woolworths and eat at the counter. Some change is good, we don't have to memorize dates; some change is just dull -- the food court at the mall is just not the same as Woolworth's counter. And some change is sad-- my mother is no longer here to go shopping.
I really wanted to go in Dillards and the Rivercenter Mall, I wasn't wanting to shop, just browse, but by the time we took in the Alamo Jim was feeling like I was feeling a couple of days before so we headed for our bus stop and came home. We may have to extend our stay in San Antonio even longer, I for sure can't get this rig out of here.
Oh! and before I forget, I have to say I love the architecture here!

Sunday, February 24, 2008


Somebody is feeling better and posing for the camera! How do you like the hair extensions? I think she looks a bit like Paris Hilton in this shot but pray she doesn't act like her.


At last our family made it to Disney. On the first day we went to Epcot and Grace had pictures made and got autographs from all the Disney stars. Day 2 was Hollywood Studios, my least favorite. And day 3 MAGIC KINGDOM, still my favorite! Grace had a makeover at the Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique and the Grace, Allison and I had lunch at Cinderella's castle. While we were doing this Jim, Aaron and Greg took off to the Richard Petty Driving Experience where Aaron took a ride in a real race car at 140 mph. This was a dream come true for him, all the guys are big Nascar fans. Wed Aaron left to go back to Spfld because he didn't want to miss too many classes and I think he regretted this decision and wished he was staying with us. I have to admit we are really proud of him for taking school so seriously. Maybe there will be another Disney adventure in his future. On Wed afternoon we went to Animal Kingdom and had dinner at Rain Forrest Cafe. And we went to Downtown Disney for a little shopping.

The trip had it's magical moments and its disappointments. Poor little Grace was sick for several days and not in a very good mood. We felt so sorry for her and just hope that she will have some good memories of her first trip to Disney with her Papa and Mammy. I promised her we would do it again. Aaron and I rode some rides together and I must admit the rides were like milk toast but it was good to keep company with Aaron since we don't get much time with him.