Summertime… and the living is…

FRUITY!!! It seems I just can’t get enough fruit this summer. We’re going through nectarines, strawberries, blueberries, plums, and cherries (OH MY GOSH, THE CHERRIES!) as fast as we can get them into the house! This is actual good news, as fruits and veges are an oft-neglected part of my diet. I just hope to ride the wave through the autumn and into winter! I know all the good food is good for my immune system, and that’s important for those of us with chronic illness.

We joined Weight Watchers a couple of months ago and it has been working great! DH and I have lost almost 15 pounds each! He’s walking a lot more and I’m feeling better, so I’m glad we’re doing that. I also ordered a new cook book recently. (I received this book for free from Blogging for Books for this review.) It’s called GO FRESH by the American Heart Association. Although I don’t use cook books often (I’m more of a by-the-seat-of-my-pants cook) this one looks really interesting! It’s well organized, with color pictures in the middle. The recipes sound really yummy. I like that it covers a lot of different cultures – Mexican, Greek, Southern, etc. That way we don’t get bored with what we’re eating. I mean, you can only eat steamed broccoli and grilled chicken breast so often, you know?

The book has a lot of tips in it for how to buy your food and how to store it so that you get the maximum nutrition. Too often, we wind up wasting food because we forget it in the back of the ridge, so it’s good to be reminded about how to store it properly. One of the things I like the best about the book is that it uses common ingredients. Sometimes, when I look at cook books, the authors seem to think that everyone lives in a major metropolitan area with access to specialty grocery stores. For those of us in small town America, it’s refreshing to find ingredients that I can pick up at the local store and still have so much variety! I’m sure we’ll be trying out some of the recipes soon. I’ll keep you posted!

I’ve also been creating a lot lately. I had a treatment at the first of the month, adn it knocked me flat for a couple of weeks, but I’m bouncing back now. I’ve made several bags, a couple of shirts, most of an afghan, and have started working on items for the local Haunted House.

The bags are really fun! They’re called “Mondo Bags” and the’re made out of patchwork squares. A quick internet search should turn up directions if you’re interested. Here are a couple of the ones I have made:

elephant bag for me

purple bag for a friend

The afghan is not going as well as I had hoped. It’s a challenge from “The Crochet Crowd” called “Stitch-Cation.” It’s coming together, but it has driven me nuts! Apparently, I am no longer able to count to 35 or to do basic addition. This has caused much ripping out and swearing. But I’m finally working on the borders and the end is in sight. And the fact that it’s not really square is just going to have to be OK. These are the blocks before I started joining them together:

Stitch-cation afghan

As for the Haunted House… It’s really a Haunted Mill. The local community theatre works with a local mill to create a spectacular haunted mill as a fund-raiser for both entities. The mill is an old mill with much of the work being done by hand. They teach classes in woodworking, ceramics, weaving… all sorts of things. And the local theatre is an organization I have been involved with for quite some time. So we like to support both organiaztions! This year, I’ll be setting up a room of my own in the Haunted Mill. I’ve got lots of work ahead of me, but I’m starting early so that I don’t get too tired. Here’s a pic of the sewing room in its current state! LOL!

haunted mill items

It looks like I’m doing a lot more than I actually am. I’m still not back to 100%, and I still spend quite a bit of time on the couch, but things are looking up. I have hopes that I will continue to improve and continue to be able to create!

Now, let’s go create something!


Summer breeze…

“… blowing through the jasmine in my mind…”

And apparently taking my mind with it. June went by so quickly I didn’t write a single post! So here it is July…

This month I want to let you know about a book I was sent for review. It’s called:

Super Stitch Sewing by Nicole Vasbinder

This is an interesting book for sewers with some experience. It doesn’t cover the basics of sewing, but it does tell you what all those “extra” stitches on your machine can be used for — from the basic straight stitch all the way through to the decorative stitches. There are diagrams for each stitch and written explanations of how they work. I found it especially helpful for stretch stitches used on knits. I sew a LOT, but I don’t sew on knits very often, so a reference book for those stitches could come in handy.

That’s what this is. A reference book. It is not an instructional book.

What’s the difference? Well, to me, an instructional book is meant to be read (and used) from front to back with each lesson building on the one before. A reference book is meant to be opened up to a specific section when that info is needed. Nitpicky, I know, but it caused me a bit of confusion. This book tells you all the machine stitches first, followed by the hand stitches, followed by the presser foot and needle information. As a reader, I think it might have been less confusing if the sections had been reversed — presser foot and needle info followed by hand stitches followed by machine stitches. That makes more sense in my head – starting with the basics and moving towards the more complex. As it is, when you are reading about a machine stitch, it will refer to a presser foot that you haven’t heard of before because the presser feet are in the back of the book and you haven’t read that far yet. Perhaps my error was in sitting down to read the book rather than just pick it up and use it for reference.

There IS a decent index and table of contents, so using the book in future for a specific task should be simplified.

The book’s descriptions are accurate with helpful expert tips included along the way. The diagrams are clear and easy to read. There is a photograph of each stitch so you can see what it will look like when you’re done. On a few stitches, more photographs would have been helpful. I don’t process spatial images in my head very well and being able to see the actual blind hem process (for instance) would have made it clearer for me. Also, the diagrams and graphics are mostly red and a green-ish gold. This may cause problems for folk with red/green color-blind issues.

The book discusses stitches found on sewing machine since the 1950s. If you are interested in stitches available on older machines, this book might not be what you’re looking for. Of course, every sewing machine brand is different, and your best resource is often the manual that came with your machine. But if you have misplaced it or need further information on a specific stitch, and have a more modern machine, this book might come in handy.

I received this book for free from Blogging for Books for this review.

Now, blow the dust off that sewing machine and go create something!