Wednesday, January 31, 2007


Ever have one of those "Good news, bad news" days? Well, yesterday started out as a very good day! I had sex (a Stash Enhancement Excursion) to Pennsylvania to get some wool for a Civil War era overcoat. Some lace and thread and a yummy yard of 80/20 Cashmere/Wool jumped into my cart too for a wrap, it's just perfect! Then after I got home and after dinner, I was finishing up the bodice for my dress and starting to get ready to pleat the skirt. I measured my waist just to make sure since I hadn't made anything "Civil War" in a long time and found out that all the stress eating these last few months has added some girth to my waistline. Geesh. Not that it was a gigantic surprise as I can see it on the scale too. But the additional inch or so is not good news since all of my reenactment clothes are made for my size prior to the expansion. So this morning I actually went to the mall to walk and boy do I feel it now! How does one get so out of shape so quickly? It's a long way from doing a 5k last fall and running a good portion of it to being so out of shape that 2 miles in the mall makes my muscles sit up and take notice! Of course, I'll be watching everything that I eat too, and quite frankly I'm probably going to be a bit cranky for awhile until my body figures out that it's not going to get it's favorite fatty foods. lol
When I finish my dress, I want to make this piece of silk into something pretty...I have all kinds of thoughts on what it's going to be, a skirt from this pattern and sleeves from that one, maybe the bodice for another. I'm kind of caught up in the design stage...and I have that beautiful black/grey wool I bought yesterday to make up too. Ah...I love creating! :)

Monday, January 29, 2007

Busy Busy Busy

Woohoo, new pajamas for my suitcase! I have been collecting thick quilters flannel with my coupons and on sale, and I finally have not only new nightgowns for the cold house, but since I like to take pj's with me on my trips, I have 3 pairs to alternate in my suitcase! This was a simple pattern and only takes a couple of hours to make.
Yesterday though, I'd had enough of being cooped up in the house and we went on a road trip to Thurmont, to the Fabric Outlet USA for a look. It's mostly upholstery fabric, but I did drool over all the 56-60 inch wide bolts of Dupioni silks. They were way out of my league on price, though, so I ended up leaving empty handed.
Never waste the opportunity to visit a National Park (or collect the stamp for the passport!), we visited nearby Cactoctin Mountain Park which, even for it being winter, was very beautiful. There are plentiful hiking trails and lots of animals and history in this park. If you're not familiar with the National Park passport program, there are two sizes of passports available (I outgrew my small one years ago, but the small ones are fantastic for kids) and I'm working on my "Explorer Edition" now. Each park has at least one stamp with the date of visit and place so you can validate your passport. I've visited parks I didn't even know existed prior to this program, and it's been really fun! There are even websites devoted to finding all the stamps, sometimes a park will have more than one because they have multiple sites or educational centers. I have no idea how many stamps I've gotten yet, but I keep trying to get new ones.
On the way home via Gettysburg, I got a few patterns (a Wool Outercoat, a gathered bodice, and an evening dress) at one of the Lady's sutlers and had a wonderful dinner at the Dobbin House Tavern, one of my very favorite places. Then it was back to work, packing orders and business items, but I did get to start cutting out a new dress out of this great Victorian Fabric. I'm making the piping today and trying to figure out what kind (if any) of trim I want to put on the dress.

Saturday, January 27, 2007

Nick's Graduation Pictures

Thank you to Meghann for sending these great pictures of Nick's graduation from Air Force Basic training! We had an enjoyable time visiting with him and Matthew and Meghann in San Antonio while we were at the Graduation. The graduation ceremony was held outdoors in the misting rain with a cold wind blowing on the spectators and graduates alike. We made lots of friends in the stands as we all huddled together for warmth! Here we are visiting the Alamo on a cold and windy day after the graduation ceremony. The Alamo is right in the middle of downtown San Antonio, and we were able to take Meghann and Nick down into the riverwalk too. We walked around the rivercenter as well and got coffee before proceeding down into the Riverwalk area.
We went back to the hotel and picked up Matthew for a nice dinner together and then had to leave the next morning. Nick is now stationed in Mississippi at a Naval base for Advanced Training. Nick's "flight" or unit was the Honor unit for this cycle. Congratulations, Nick!

Monday, January 22, 2007

The nightgown project is complete

I've hermited myself away the last two days trying to finish up three flannel nightgowns that I cut out before leaving for Texas. I just finished the last one. I actually used two pieces of fabric from a very old stash aquisition, and one that I just bought last fall. I was told in no uncertain terms at my last Genteel Arts Academy class that I was a "mere amatuer" at fabric stashing, and this was from folks that share my love of yarn and fiber, too! I have 3 large pieces of flannel ready to be cut out for pajamas and silk for ball gowns, ribbon for trim too, and some sundress fabric I got from Samoa...forgive me if I'm not knitting and spinning so much, I'm in a very acute sewing stage!

And while I'm on the subject, I was thinking this morning as I finished up the striped nightgown that sewing is kind of a metaphor for life. You know, you can sew for enjoyment as I do, or you can sew because you want something you can't find elsewhere such as nightgowns that are prewashed/preshrunk and long enough for my tastes out of fabric that IS NOT treated with flame retardant chemicals, or you can go to your favorite store and purchase something that takes you no time at all, nor does it take much thought in picking out. Oh, I buy plenty of clothing, but it's not something I can look at and be proud that I made it with my own hands. It's kind of a journey vs. destination thing. I put piping and buttons on the nightclothes, and finished each seam, all the while thinking that it was "just" a nightgown and I didn't have to do all that extra work. But, like so much in life, I enjoy the process and take great pride in having done it "right" and more creatively. That's why I enjoy making my Civil War reenactment clothing and learning how to make them more authenically and more expertly. You can rush through and just do the bare minimum, or you can enjoy each step even if it means a little bit more effort, but you have more experiences to show when you're done if you just slow down. Knitting, spinning, and weaving are that way too. Too bad my work life gets in the way of my hobbies...

And I'll let you know when my fabric stash is "SELE" status...Stash Exceeds Life Expectancy!

Sunday, January 21, 2007

I thought it couldn't be done

But I actually walked into and then out of not one but TWO Chicos stores today without spending a cent. Now I'm not going to say anything about my visits to the two stores I found in San Antonio while I was there, it'll be my little secret. I was looking for two colors of silk/cotton turtle neck sweaters that were on 50% off sale, but since I didn't find them, I decided I had enough things in my closet already. Of course, by the time that we went to both stores to look and had dinner, it was a picture of white outside. We drove carefully home and now I guess it's time to cozy down and work on sewing up the nightgowns and other projects that are already cut out here at home. :) We're not even going to go to the grocery store (in typical Baltimore style) to add to our supplies of Milk, Bread, and Toilet Paper like everyone else in town. We'll just make due. lol Keep warm and safe, everybody!

Friday, January 19, 2007

We're such "Parkies"

Ok, I know one of my good friends is going to remind me that I said that I was going to boycot Texas until the present regime in Washington changes, but our son Nicholas is graduating from Basic training which we absolutely wanted to share with him, so here we are in San Antonio. This is the Alamo, the most famous and remembered mission in the area for it's role in the war for Texas independence and in the martyrdom of Davy Crocket and Jim Bowie and others. I'd seen and even visited the shrine before on layovers but not since I began to really explore the National Parks. I love where it's located with it's proximity with the Rivercenter and Riverwalk which I introduced Mark to on this trip. It was great fun to be able to revisit a very favorite spot from work, as I hadn't been here for years. It was also fun to find a more than 50% off sale at my very favorite store in the Rivercenter and then find out that they ship for free! :)
As you all know, we are never ones to give up the opportunity to visit a National Park and get the stamps for our National Park Passports, and this trip was no exception. We love the new explorer edition because we just take the pages we want with us on trips now and don't have to carry the entire passport anymore. We only had time to visit one park, this park consisted of 4 historic sites along the San Antonio River so it took awhile to explore.
The old and historic missions you see here are the four that are left standing in the San Antonio area which make up the San Antonio Missions National Park. (The Alamo is privately run). We visited all of them yesterday on a cold and windy day after the city had managed to recover a little bit from the ice storms that had shut it down for a couple of days.
All of these missions were built in the 1700's by Spanish Friars. They used Native (Tejano) labor to build them with the help of Spanish craftsmen, and the Indians lived within the walls for protection from bands of Natives such as Apache and Comanche that were constantly raiding their settlements. The friars converted them to Catholicism which is still practiced in these missions to this day.
We really enjoyed our visit and talking with the rangers and learning about the now vanished culture of the Indians that were converted by the Friars. Due to the weather, we nearly had the park sites to ourselves all day. It was in the upper 60's last week, it was in the 30's and 40's this week.

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

It's a good day to be a Gator!!

That's right, Albert is one happy aligator this morning after the Florida Gators won the National Championship last night! Woohoo! And to think they were 2 touchdown underdogs prior to the game, ha! It's Great to be a Florida Gator!

Thursday, January 04, 2007

The Rush is over

I started this scarf from a sample of some Rambouillet I hand dyed and had processed in 2005 while we were driving down to Virginia to pick Jon up for his leave. I thought I'd do stripes of the various sample skeins I had around the house but I liked this so much that I took the final 8 ounces of the roving out of inventory and began to spin it up while we had company in the living room. I made another 2 ounce ball and have more for a hat or mittens. I'm enjoying working with it, it's so soft and I love the subtle colors. The picture is pretty horrible, but it shows the scarf (basketweave pattern) with some of the roving and the ball of yarn.

And I'm going back to work today after being off for 2 weeks with a house full of company, taking along the two spindles and the "Picasso" color way of Northern Lights roving that I've been spindling. I love the effect, and I'm going to ply the two spindle fulls together and see what I end up with. This has been a totebag project for work the last month or so, and notice the lovely brocade bag that a flying partner friend of mine fits the spindles and fiber perfectly! Hopefully this year I can actually partake of my hobbies a little more than I had been able to in 2006. I have sewing projects in mind too, and I just got a rolling tool and supply cabinet for my sewing classes and supplies yesterday. I'm especially excited about one I'm taking weekend after next up in Gettysburg. I just bought some beautiful silk on ebay for a ball gown too so I'm looking forward to getting back to sewing as well as spinning and knitting. :)

And the Family grows again!

Michael, who is Jenn's husband, drove up yesterday from visiting his family in Atlanta. He brought the newest family member, "Milo" the Cocker Spaniel puppy with him, you can see Milo getting acquainted with Nutmeg (who isn't so sure she wants to share her grandparents with him yet). Jenn and Michael left this morning to drive to Ft. Bliss where Michael is stationed, Jenn will be flying back early next week to take care of some issues in Winchester where she lives. We wish them safe travels. :)

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Whew! What a Whirlwind!

Mark and I drove down and picked Jon up at Ft. Eustis on December 20th, then we picked Jenni up in Winchester on December 27th. In that time we've been having a whirlwind of wonderful dinners out with family, get togethers with friends, extended family, and our reenactment Unit. We've all gained weight and enjoyed the friendship with new friends and old and certainly enjoyed spending time with family that we don't get to see nearly enough. One of our events was that we all went to a Birthday Party for two of our "extended Family"/Unit members on New Year's Eve and Jon and Laura ended up adopting a new "Grand pet" for Mark and I to add to our list of "Grands" . He's a little kitten now named "Otto". Otto is Black with white paws, and you can see his cousin, our Granddog Nutmeg checking him out.
These are pictures of Jon heading back into his barracks again today at Ft. Eustis after I took him back, his leave is unfortunately over. As you can see, he decided to bring back a few items from break. He could only make one trip from the car to the door so he became the human pack mule. He is feeling marginally better after eating all the food we've been forcing upon him, but he has still been having his moments of discomfort. He will be making an appointment to see the Doctors in Portsmouth for more tests this week. Notice that my baby boy ended up in the Alpha-GATOR company, this Florida Gator mom is so very proud!