Friday, November 21, 2014

Too Much HGTV

On Tuesday, after lunch together, my friend Sharon and I popped in to Winners. How is it that in the past I could never find anything in that store that I liked and now suddenly I like "everything"? It's a lot like shopping at a thrift store. You have to go frequently to find the diamonds.

Who knew they had pet products? Not me but apparently they've had them forever. I guess if you don't have a pet you don't notice but now that I do, I did, especially this Baxter & Belle pillow. How crazy is it that I'm now recognizing designer dog labels and what's worse... a good deal on a designer dog label. At the pet store, this would have been at least fifty dollars more. It's 24" x 36" and at $29.98, I couldn't sew it for that price. I know. I calculated it out PLUS... where would I find that fabric? It's FABULOUS. In fact...

... I love it so much that it has sparked redecorating thoughts. Or perhaps I've been watching too much HGTV. After my trip to Oregon in September, we added the cooking channel to our cable package only I didn't like all those cook-offs - they weren't teaching me what I wanted to know or inspiring cooking - so we changed our choice to HGTV. That may have been a bad move. This channel is right up my alley. My son came home the other day and I was knitting and watching and he stopped, looked at me, and said this is all wrong. This apparently was me watching TV because I "never" watch TV. Guess I just needed the right channel. It's perfect while knitting.

SO.... HGTV plus the pillow inspiration had me thinking about shades of grey for the walls. I've been painting samples and pinning them to the walls to decide what I want. Right now, it's a blend between the lightest and the middle grey. One is too light; the other is too dark, and the middle seems like it might be just perfect. I'll get a sample of that today to see.

From the moment we moved into this home, I've been wanting to change the counter-top and back-splash tile only they were new and in good condition but definitely NOT my color.When I visited my friend Francine's new house a few months back, she had painted the multicolored tile in the kitchen a gloss white and not only did it look fabulous, it was standing up well even with the heat and steam from the stove. When I went into Benjamin Moore to inquire about the paint, Mandy told me that not only was it great on tile, it was fabulous on countertops too. We have two cutting boards in the same material as our counter so I painted one yesterday and I love the color, the feel, and the way the previous texture still shows up. If it looks more grey than black in your monitor, it's onyx, very black, the first paint I've used that dries darker.

The tiles and countertop will be primed first with a product called Aqua Lock and then painted with a water based oil enamel called Advance. Both are fabulous products. I'm a huge Benjamin Moore fan. I've never had a problem with their products and when I take the time to paint, I don't want to have a problem afterward.

Originally, I thought I wanted grey tile and then decided that was too much grey and that I'd really like to add turquoise and lime to the color scheme. Our home is open concept and right now the entrance and the feature wall in the living room are lime and I'd like to keep them that way. The dining room wall is turquoise which I wanted to change without totally eliminating the color since lime and turquoise go well together and both go well with grey. PERFECT. When I showed him these samples, Howard liked the turquoise with the lime stripe and so do I so that worked out great.

This was the view from my bedroom door this morning. I'm going to paint the island the same onyx black with a colorful counter-top, probably lime with a black edging. I'm not sure yet. I need to paint more samples and lay them out and see what I think first. Painting posterboard takes a bit more time but it saves a lot of frustration.

Doing the kitchen was somewhat spurred on by Christmas. When Howard and I discussed what we each wanted, I wanted something to enjoy all year round and suggested a new sink since the white porcelain one that came with the house drives me crazy. We decided something small under the tree to unwrap and a sink was a good idea so we're going shopping for one on Saturday - which led to the thought that if we're pulling out the sink, why not figure out if the counter-top is actually paintable - which led to sampling - and the countertop is paintable - and that's exciting. It opens up endless possibilities.

A new look for the kitchen is a fabulous Chrismas present. It'll be way more Myrna for not a lot of money and every morning when I wake up and come out of my room, I'll definitely enjoy the change. Along with the sink, we'll - finally - install the garburator I bought Howard back in September when I came home from Oregon. I know, who buys their husband a garburator as a gift, but he's been missing the one from our other house a lot and had mentioned it several times so while practical, it's also something he wants and will enjoy and having a garburator means a lot less trips to the garbage. YES YES

SO... there's no need to run an intervention. I am well aware that I'm shopping too much but I also know that I'm buying things I really like and mostly need when I find them on sale. I've returned items that didn't work out and I'm not bankrupting us at this point and several friends have let me know they are on alert. This is good. In the past when I've wanted to run away from whatever was going on, my drug of choice was to move so a few cans of paint and a designer dog bed are a come down and a relief to many. At this rate, by the time we finally know what's up with Howard's health, I may have all those chores around the house done

AND... Miss Chloe LOVES her new pillow.

Talk soon - Myrna

Grateful - paint

When you're safe at home, you wish you were having an adventure; when you're having an adventure you wish you were safe at home. 
- Thornton Wilder

Thursday, November 20, 2014

A Skirt For Millicent

It's snowing. Very gently. As in hardly noticeable. I had to look right at the street light to see the flakes falling but they are definitely there. It's quite light. Something to be thankful for with what Buffalo is experiencing. It'll be interesting to see how deep it is when it's time to walk Ms. Chloe.

A couple weeks ago - when I went to Fabricland looking for buckles for the purse - I found this black with white curlicues, very stable, knit fabric on the bargain table. There was just two meters which was enough to make another...

... Marcy Tilton Vogue 9060 skirt. This is the third time this month that I've sewn this pattern and it's a fabulous lesson in the fabric factor.

This paisley version is a medium. After I sewed it, I realized that my hips would have to be near to invisible for this to sit smoothly over them so I gave the skirt to my teeny tiny friend even though I absolutely LOVE this fabric. Note the drape. The fabric is stable but has a lot more stretch than the curlicue knit and it falls nicely with shape and definition.

This black rib knit version is much Much MUCH softer. It's pretty but doesn't have the same definition as the earlier fabric. With this skirt, I sewed a larger size and it fits me better through the upper hip but it's almost too drapey - droopy and dragging - although it's a comfortable piece to wear - which is why I tried again.

Right now, this is a skirt for Millicent. It'll go in the when I get there box of clothes to look forward to as I lose weight. With the elastic waist, it's not super fitted which provides a wider wearing range. This time, I cut the waistband the finished width of 4" plus the 5/8" seam allowance for joining to the main body of the skirt plus 1 1/4" for a casing for 3/4" elastic and rounded that measurement up 6". The seam is pressed toward the waistband and away from the bulk of other seams. After seeing these pictures, I'm going to top-stitch this seam to keep the bulk sitting flat and in the right direction.

I committed with the elastic. I finished both it and the casing to what my waist will be when my hips fit this skirt so now, the waistband is what it is and I need to be what it is if I want to wear this skirt - VBG.

What I found really interesting is how visible the fabric factor is. The first skirt and this white curlicue one are the exact same size, sewn in an identical manner, and the pictures look like this last one is smaller and closer fitted. If I sew this pattern again, I'd think about going down a size for a fabric with more stretch and about either sewing smaller seam allowances or going up a size for a very stable knit.

Talk soon - Myrna

Grateful - a dialed down dress form

Before you put on clothes, slide into heels, spray perfume, or accessorize to step into the world; there is a wardrobe that every woman must first put on. bathe in forgiveness, dress in self-esteem, adorn yourself with praise and slip into joy. When you are fully clothed in self love, you are always in fashion. 
- Sharon Rainey

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

The F Words

 It's only Tuesday and it already seems like we've had a slew of back-to-back ugly days that are making the start of this week rather tough slugging. At Friday's doctor's appointment, it was decided that Howard does not have what they thought he had and he's now doing another round of specialists and tests while they make a new diagnosis. The current consensus is that this level of pain - and all that goes with it - may be his life, that it may be associated with a genetic condition. You can imagine that neither of us received that too well - and then - yesterday, when he went to the GP for something minor, she sent him for an X-ray on his lungs. It seems like the blows just keep coming which makes me very thankful for the F words - faith, family, friends, and fabric.

Yesterday, I played with the challenge fabric. The brown is along the lines of milk chocolate, neither light nor dark. Since brown is a color I rarely use, there were only three thread possibilities and of those, the two best choices were the upper and the lower ones. I experimented with the lower one because it's available in town and the other would have to be ordered.

I wasn't sure if I wanted matching or contrast. In the end, I decided to try to find a better match in town. Above is a basic seam. The thread is quite visible against the fabric making it a potential design element only it doesn't go-with as well as I'd like.If I decide on visible thread, I'll look for something else, perhaps purple Below are the variations I played with.

- top stitched seam

- exposed seam with edge stitching

- exposed seam with zig-zag edge stitching

- wide serged seam with four spools of darker brown serger thread

 - wide serged seam pressed to one side and zigzagged
 in place with the lighter brown thread

- narrow serged seam with three spools of thread

- narrow serged seam held in place with wide zigzag stitching

- curved and straight tucks with a wide double needle
 and tight bobbin tension

 - curved and straight tucks with a narrow double needle
and tight bobbin tension

With all the different pieces and many seams in this design - Vogue 1408 - there's room to utilize more than one option. I'm not going to cut out all the pieces first. I'll do them invidivudally  and embellish and build to size creating the garment as I go.... which means I really have no idea what the finished dress will look like but... LOL... gorgeous I'm sure. I plan to start soon but may sew a skirt today while I debate how, what, and where just a little bit longer.

Talk soon - Myrna

Grateful - family, friends, faith & fabric

Answered prayers are scary. They imply responsibility. You asked for it. Now that you've got it, what are you going to do?
 - Julia Cameron

 ... as in now that you've discovered a way of eating that resonates with you, are you going to stay the course. This and other things. The quote made me laugh. 

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Sewing For Millicent

For quite a few years, I worked with Pattern Master Boutique software which requires you to input a list of measurements including upper bust, full bust, under bust, waist, hip, thigh, and bicep along with your weight. Typically, I printed out my measurement chart and tucked it in the PMB file which means I know within a reasonable doubt that X weight = Y measurements which is why...

... I'm sewing for Millicent who is currently dialed down to a size between where I am now and where I'd like to be- forty-six pounds away. It's safe to assume that I'll need clothes in different sizes on the way down and - right now - I'd rather not have more clothes in this size. It's not fun sewing. Forty-six pounds sounds like a HUGE amount of weight especially for someone like myself who has put on fifteen pounds since August and has a history of an inability to lose weight. I'm done with that, more than ready for change. I am either certifiably crazy or completely committed. Let's go with committed.

PLUS... there's something really freeing and very creative about sewing a size other than your own. This is not such a bad thing. I fell asleep last night dreaming of seam samples probably because yesterday I went looking for inspirational images for the challenge I'm doing with my friend Sheri and found the Marta Alpaca Tunic Dress - $199.00 - above at Peruvian Connection.

It reminded me of one of my favourite patterns - Katherine Tilton's Vogue 8691. This is my most sewn pattern and I have it in all sorts of variations including lengthened into a dress. The PC tunic gives me some more ideas... not for the challenge... for a different dress. I love how we can be exploring one thing and find the answer to another.

The base pattern that I'm using for the challenge is Vogue 1408. What I particularly love about it is the fitted bodice, slim waist, and flared skirt and the multiple seam lines that provide play room. My on-line exploration was about ways to highlight the seams. The stitched patch on the Whipstitched Cashmere Pullover - $198.00 - from Anthropologie is an interesting option and...

... I liked the way the seams on the Zipped Ponte Pencil Skirt - $118.00 - also from Anthropoligie - stand out. It looks as if binding has been placed over the seams to create the raised, thicker look. It's not top stitching because the seam allowance are much narrower than this band and the look is raised. I don't see raw edges but that's one option - cut narrow strips, center them over the seam, and adhere in some way. The zippered front made me think about ways to close my dress as did...

... this detail of the Cassia Scoop Neck top - $68.00 - Anthopologie. With this challenge, we are only using one fabric so I'd need to come up with a way to define the edge without using lace but I love Love LOVE those little buttons and the pleat and then again...

... there are completely different possibilities tickling my creativity with the back of the Cutwork Tee - $48.00 - Anthropolgie. I like the gracefulness of the lines and the way the binding creates an added detail.

Above is the technical drawing of the pattern I'm using. With all those seams at the back there would be ways to create a similar but not identical kind of openness to the Cutwork Tee... or... LOL... to the buttoned look.

This detail from the Anthropolgie Lace Ways Pullover - $98.00 - had my mind bubbling. I might be able to create texture with a double needle and/or thread. After my search, I have plenty of ideas and today, I want to experiment with texture and different seaming and applique possibilities.

The fabric is a fabulous quality ponte knit that I picked up ten meters of in the bargain center for $2.00 a meter. GREAT buy and lots of fabric to explore with. I'll be showing bits and pieces of my work but not the final reveal until Sheri and I are both done.... since she reads my blog... and loves surprises... and that's good.

Talk soon - Myrna

Grateful - that along with creativity coaching, Diane is willing to help me with my healthy living goals. I'm grateful to have accountability along the journey.

The pro stands at one remove from her instrument - meaning her person, her body, her voice, her talent; the physical, mental, emotional, and psychological being she uses in her work. She does not identify with this instrument. It is simply what God gave her, what she has to work with. 
- Steven Pressfield, The War of Art

Monday, November 17, 2014

The Pick Your Own Diet Plan

It's not 100% true 100% of the time - and even so - one of the things I've learned as I've aged is to look before leaping, to take the time to really figure it out, whatever it may be. For the last several months, I've been researching different approaches to holistic living. It's a diet as in a diet is what we eat but not necessarily a diet as in losing weight although that is one of the desired outcomes. I wanted a plan that made sense to me, one that worked with what I knew about myself and one that could - in fact, rather than fancy packing - become a lifestyle. What I've discovered makes sense for me.

5-HPT is a natural amino acid that regulates low serotonin levels. Low serotonin levels are linked to anxiety, depression, obesity, insomnia, migraines, and many other issues such as PMS, Fibromyalgia and Chronic Fatigue. All of these issues run in my family and many of these I have experienced myself so it made sense to explore the potential of this product especially as the effectiveness of the prescription anti-anxiety drug I was taking was wearing off. I'm not one for taking prescription drugs and now that I've stopped crying and can think straight and make the choice myself, I much prefer to utilize a natural choice that is safe, effective, and has minimal and minor side affects.

Since 5-HTP can NOT be taken with other anti-anxiety drugs, I have spent the last month gradually weaning myself off what I was taking so I could start taking 5-HTP. I started last Thursday and it's effectiveness was not as fast as when I started on the prescription drug however, after the initial 3-5 days, I'm feeling good and very hopeful that this is the product for me because...

... one of the side affects I was experiencing from the prescription drug was weight gain. I was exercising an hour a day and eating less and wisely and still gaining weight - and it wasn't muscle - because both the scale and the inches were going up. I have struggled with my weight for over twenty years. Before that, I was naturally slim but twenty years ago life got incredibly stressful and has - mostly - stayed that way. High stress depletes serotonin and as I said earlier, serotonin is a huge factor in obesity. By all the scales of measurement, I am obese and that's not a place I'm willing to stay.

90% of serotonin is found in the gastrointestinal tract as is 80% of our immune function. If the gastrointestinal track is not healthy, neither are we. One thing I found interesting is that a predominance of bad bacteria in your GI tract is something you can inherit which corresponds with obesity and other issues that run in families. A higher level of bad bacteria is also associated with many of the health conditions I listed earlier.

This "diet" plan is built on the H.O.P.E formula. H is for high fiber which helps to suppress appetite, eliminate extra calories, slow the conversion of carbohydrate to sugar, stabilize blood sugar, support good bacteria and lose weight. O is for Omega-3 which helps to prevent and reverse silent inflammation, heal leaky gut (associated with food allergies which I have) and improve cardiovascular, brain, joint, and digestive health to name a few. P is for probiotics which are the friendly gut bacteria that neutralize harmful bacteria, protect the intestinal lining from damage that causes leaky gut, improves the balance of good to bad bacteria, and improves the immune system. E is for enzymes - digestive enzymes - that break down food so the nutrients can be absorbed. Leaky gut, digestive upset, and food allergies are a result of food that isn't broken down and nutrients that can't absorbed.

The H.O.P.E formula makes sense to me based on what I know about myself and my family history.  The Skinny Gut Diet is similar to what we would think of as a healthy lifestyle. There are two levels - the get lean phase and the stay lean phase. The four supplements - fiber, Omega-3, probiotics, and digestive enzymes - produce the optimal environment for utilizing a healthy way of eating AND - for me - the 5-HTP supplement will enhance that even further.

The plan has you eat at certain times, calculate hidden sugars, and eat six small meals a day. I don't intend to track myself that closely. The two most successful diets I've been on were Herbal Magic (called Nutri Magic in the US) and the Weigh Down Workshop, a faith based diet plan. The first has you eat a similar diet to the Skinny Gut Diet and take supplements. The second encourages you to eat when you're hungry, stop when you're full, and eat what you're craving. I actually craved foods similar to the Skinny Gut Diet so I'm combining those and not weighing and measuring or watching the clock but following that general sense of direction and fine tuning as I go. Let's call it a pick your own diet plan.

I believe our bodies are designed to work efficiently when we give them what they need. With my previous experiences, with what I know about myself, and with my own issues and  family history, I think this is the best way forward and will be not only a maintainable but an enjoyable and soon completely natural way of eating. AND... I believe it's an answer to prayer. 5-HTP is new in terms of its availability and The Skinny Gut Diet was only published in October. YES YES - I started today.

Talk soon - Myrna

Grateful - answered prayer regarding health and healing

The food you eat can be either the safest and most powerful form of medicine or the slowest form of poison.
- Ann Wigmore