Wednesday, July 16, 2014

New Sewing Machine

I finally decided to go ahead and buy a new sewing machine. I bought the one I had been looking at at Amazon; I had a bunch of gift card money saved up, so it didn't cost me much. this is the one I got (lists price $349, I had $100 in gift cards, so it only cost me $40!) -- a computerized Brother machine with 70 stitches, most of which I probably won't use. The thing I really wanted in a new machine, besides being able to sew a tight, appropriately-tensioned seam -- was automatic buttonholes, which this one has. There were a lot of machines to choose from, but this one had good reviews. The one feature that made me choose this one was the oversized table. It came yesterday and I read through the manual, threaded it, and sewed a seam, and it worked like a charm.

I may not sit down and do much of anything with it until the weekend, but I wanted to be sure that it worked! It will be fun learning my way around it. I'm looking forward to it.

Friday, June 27, 2014

New Pillow Cases

Sometime last year I found a very cool pattern for making pillow cases (I paid $6 for it, I think, but it looks like it's free now), and thought I might make pillow cases for the people on my Christmas list. Like most things, though, I was too ambitious, and I ended up making a pair for my parents, several little travel pillow-size ones for myself, and a Halloween one for Bob. He's the one who always changes the sheets on the bed, and ever since I made that case, he's been using it on his pillow.

Last week he remarked that I needed to make some more, and with that encouragement, I spent some time on Sunday making three new sets of cases -- one with fish and various sea creatures (these are on our bed now), one set of Independence Day cases with flags, Victorian children, and fireworks, and one set with cowgirls and western boots. Not because either of us have any particular affinity for cowgirls or boots, I just loved the colors, basically.

It's a super easy way to make a pillow case in no time at all. I've seen other patterns on the web called "burrito" or "sausage" pillow case patterns, and they're all basically the same. This one calls for 3/4 yard of the main fabric, 1/4 yard for the cuff, and a small amount (1-1/2" x width of fabric) for the trim. So I bought 1 yard each of two prints to make two coordinating pillow cases, and used fabric that I already had for the trim. You just cut each of the larger pieces into 3/4 yard and 1/4 yard pieces, and cut the thin strip for the trim, then you stack the fabrics and create the "burrito." I used quilt clips instead of pins, but pins work just as well.

It's kind of funny -- it's been awhile since I made them, and it's hard (for me, at least) to grasp how the pattern works. You just have to take it on faith, both in the burrito-making phase, and the seam sewing phase that produces French, or hidden, seams. There are no raw edges at all once you're finished.

My sewing machine is pretty old, I bought it maybe 15 or 20 years ago. I've had a lot of trouble getting the tension right, and I was about to the point of giving up. I was looking at new sewing machines online, and read one review that said a certain machine didn't do very well if you went too fast, so I experimented with mine, and sure enough, it does a LOT better if I go really slowly, but that's not my default speed. I want to just ZIP through a seam, if it's a straight one. So I'm still thinking about getting a new machine; Bob said I should, that if I'm going to be sewing a lot, I should at least have the right tools. Also, my machine doesn't make buttonholes, and that's something I would really like to have.

This is the one I'm leaning toward, because of the wide table. It has a lot of good reviews. I may try to look at one in person somewhere and see what the prices are locally. I'm not going to rush into anything, but I'm still thinking about it.


Monday, June 09, 2014

Getting better, finally

So I think I'm finally getting better. Like the nurse said, I waited another week to see if the antibiotics were going to help, and they didn't. We went to Omaha for a wedding over the weekend, and while the wedding was nice, and it was great seeing good friends, Bob got food poisoning, and I coughed all night, and it was basically pretty awful.

I ended up at Walgreen's at 6:30 in the morning on Sunday buying Gatorade and various over the counter meds, and then was back again a couple of hours later to pick up prescriptions -- fortunately we were traveling with Bob's best friend, who is a doctor (the father of the groom)!

The hotel graciously allowed us to stay a few extra hours until Bob felt better. By around 2:30 we got him stabilized enough to pour him into the car and drive him home. It took him a couple of days to get his strength back, but he felt a lot better once I got him home, let him sleep for a few hours, and fed him some chicken soup.

I called my doctor again, and got another appointment. They took another chest x-ray and said nothing had changed, so gave me a prescription for prednisone and one for a different, stronger, antibiotic. After taking them for two days, I woke up on Sunday morning with a red, puffy face, which I assumed was an allergic reaction to one of the meds. I wasn't sure what to do, since it was the weekend, so I called my insurance company's Ask-a-Nurse, who recommended I call my doctor's office and talk to the doctor on call, which I did. I was advised to stop taking the antibiotic, and they called yet another one out to the pharmacy for me to pick up. Another $40 prescription down the drain. It's bad enough when you actually get to take them . . .

I took Benadry last night both to calm down the allergic reaction and to sleep, and I slept all night, I think for the first time in weeks. So I don't have to sleep on the couch anymore! I'm still coughing a little, intermittently, but the wheezing is gone, and I'm getting my energy back. Every time I exerted myself at all, I was very short of breath, which was awful. The doctor's diagnosis says "reactive airway disease," which I think actually means asthma. So who knows? All I know is, I feel much better.

And then, to round out my week o'fun, I had a mammogram today and visited my ob-gyn for my annual checkup. Just all fun and games around here!

I've spent the last couple of evenings making jewelry and restocking my Etsy shop with new goodies.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

I've been coughing a lot, especially at night, so much so that I end up sleeping on the couch a couple of nights a week, so I don't wake Bob up.

So I went to the doctor last week to see if he could figure out why I keep coughing and wheezing. He took a chest x-ray, and said it looked like I had bronchitis, although he also wouldn't rule out asthma, or even allergies. So he went with the scattershot approach--two different inhalers, an allergy pill, and antibiotics for the bronchitis.

It seemed to get better, I've almost stopped wheezing, but I'm still coughing. I'm getting a headache today from the coughing. So I called the doctor's office and talked to a nurse, who said that even though I finished the antibiotics, they would still continue to work for another five days, so as long as I don't have a fever (I don't know that I ever did), I should just wait a few more days and see how I feel. I feel exhausted.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Reading, reading, reading

I've been reading a lot lately. I inherited a hand-me-down Kindle Fire at work, and I've been loving it. It's another thing to carry around, but it fits in my purse (currently a Vera Bradley backpack), so I can carry it anywhere, and it's a better reading experience than the iPhone, although I still do read on the iPhone in a pinch. I also downloaded some of my favorite jigsaw puzzle apps onto the Kindle, so I can do that as well.

The last few books I've read, I've really loved, and they weren't bestsellers, and I just ran across them by accident, so I wanted to pass the information along.

The first two books I wanted to recommend are by Sarah Painter: The Language of Spells and The Secrets of Ghosts. I was originally interested because of the covers. I really loved them. You can't always judge a book by its cover, and I try not to, but sometimes there are books with covers so beautiful that I really want to love them, and just can't. That wasn't the case here. I really did love both the covers and the books. Both of the books are ebooks only, and they are $.99 each, a huge bargain.

In the first book, The Language of Spells, Gwen Harper inherits a house from a great aunt that she barely knew. Her mother was a fortuneteller, they were constantly moving. The inheritance comes at the perfect time, since she is basically homeless, but it thrusts her back to her hometown and bad memories, and into a world of magic that she had tried to leave behind. Her sister still lives in the old hometown, and there is bad blood between them. Her sister doesn't want magic to touch her family (particularly her daughter Katie), and thus, wants nothing to do with Gwen, but she turns out to need her and her powers when a crisis arises. There is also a love interest in the person of the attorney she meets with to arrange things, who turns out to be an old boyfriend.

The second book, Secrets of Ghosts, is basically Katie's story. Due to events that came to pass in the first book, Katie is super cautious, never taking any kind of risk or chance. She also believes that the family magic has passed her by, but it turns out that she does have a version of the family gift, or as it is more usually referred to, the family curse. It just manifests differently in her.

I just thought both of these books were really lovely, very well written, suspenseful, and delightful overall. Very much worth reading, and definitely worth the $.99 price.