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Craft Rage

...Making a mess of things since 1973


My very first "Dogs On Thursday"

The Hotness is SMITTEN.

She who once was nameless, has now been tentatively named "Misty". As a silver-factored lab, apparently there's a possibility that when she grows up, her guard coat will grow some silver hairs.

I'm not sure if naming a dog based on a possibility of what she might look like in a few months is the best idea, but Misty is an easy name to say, and sounds different enough from all of the cat names so as not to cause confusion.

All the animals are getting along surprisingly well; Dinger, the deaf kitten, has been a real ice breaker. He's either not smart enough to be scared, or else nearly being eaten by coyotes starving to death has made him largely immune to regular fear. So, they've pretty much been best buds since Misty walked in the door.

She's hard to photograph, because she doesn't sit still very long.

She spent the day at work with The Hotness yesterday, which is where she is today, and where she'll probably be during the week for the rest of her doggy life, or at least until it gets cold. Apparently his employer has a fairly open "bring your dog to work" policy, which I think is pretty great, since I'm now working ALL OF THE TIME, and can't be home during the day to care for her.

All day with The Hotness. Lucky dog!



We did it on purpose

This wasn't an accident. Or a whim.

The Hotness has talked about it for six and a half years. He's dreamed about it. He's spent countless hours looking at dog breed websites, making lists about what kind of dog he might want to get, what personality traits are important, what kind of activities he might want to do with a dog.

So we didn't just wake up yesterday morning and say "Let's go get a dog." But that's what we did.

Meet She Who Remains Nameless.

She's a registered, purebred, silver-factored black lab. She spent the night snoring peacefully in The Hotness' arms. I spent the night wide awake, nosed and clawed and purred at by four slightly put-out cats who couldn't figure out why this interloper was taking up their spot on the other side of the bed.



A week, gone

This past week has been a bit of a mess; last Tuesday, I flew out to visit my Mom, mostly to see her new place, which is great, but also, to do some exploratory wedding shopping.

I live near a good-sized city, but it has very few wedding shops, and those that are here all carry the same dresses, the same invitations, all that stuff. So I figured that if Mom and I did a surgical strike on the phone book in Edmonton, we'd be able to spend a few days filling out some of the vague ideas floating around in my head.

She has a bunch of extra vacation days she needs to burn off before Jan 1, so she took Wednesday and Thursday off to drive me around and give me her motherly input, which I greatly appreciated. Her taste and mine differ greatly (GREATLY) when it comes to fashion, so a couple years ago, when I showed her a few dresses I liked, she was kind of horrified, and said that she thought they looked like draperies that just fell off the rods.

Apparently two years of mulling it over has given her a slightly different opinion, because at every wedding store we went into, she pointed to that same style of dress and exclaimed how wonderful it looked.

At any rate, in all our searching, we did NOT find anything but garden variety a-line dresses, which I found pretty disappointing. And on top of it, we also found some incredibly poor service, which kind of put us both off.

On the other hand, I found a store in Edmonton that sells the most amazing bridal lace, and in fact, if some other woman hadn't beaten me to it, I probably would have left the store with a bunch of gold re-embroidered lace priced at $139.00 per metre. That would have made it my largest ever impulse-buy, so it's probably for the best that the woman bought the last eight metres for her own dress. At least now I know where to go when the time comes for the real dress.

Before I went on my trip, I bought The Hotness the newest version of Socom, a game for Playstation 3, which I find difficult to explain. Essentially, it's an online babysitting service for adult males. He can entertain himself for hours, and I can clean the house, or sew, or set the house ablaze and dance around it dressed like a clown; he won't notice until the TV starts to burn. The thing is, it's also kind of fun to watch, so I didn't actually get anything done this weekend, but I think I'm over the initial shiny newness of the game, and am ready to start taking advantage of the free time!

I realize that all this wedding talk isn't very entertaining. Hence, I will be piecing together the test skirt tonight, and should be posting pictures tomorrow. Wish me luck!



More vintage patterns

You'd think after all the patterns I've dragged home from garage sales, I'd start to get a bit ho-hum about the whole experience. Apparently, not so much. I had to restrain myself from doing the happy dance on some lady's lawn when I found a box of vintage patterns.

The lady sewed for herself, her three daughters, and all her friends, so there are patterns in a variety of sizes, right from size 10 teen to size 23 1/2 woman. Most are from the 50's and early 60's. There are a few from the '70's, which really isn't my favorite style period, but for the most part, they're still patterns I think are interesting, and a few are actually items I'd sew for myself, which I don't often say about '70's styles.

Here are a few of my favorites;

I'm starting to think it's time to do another giveaway, because once again, my collection has now overflowed the two dressers I bought solely for the purpose of storing it. Stay tuned!



A bit of wedding planning.

I suck at making plans. Especially party plans. This runs in my family; I swear, it's not just me.

For example, my mom was dead set on throwing me a Sweet 16 party. Even though the previous 15 birthday parties had been poorly attended, because my birthday is in August, and there's generally nobody around, my mom really, really wanted to give me this experience.

She rented a hall, did real invitations and sent them out, and organized pizza for 50. 20 people showed up; eight of my friends, and twelve of their PARENTS. Nothing says "party down" like a bunch of parents.

Still, I loved that not-party, because the friends who DID attend were actually great friends, people I totally loved, and all of them saw the humor in sitting in a huge empty hall, eating cold pizza with their parents watching. We still laugh about that night, and I think my mom might still have some of the leftover pizza in the freezer.

Anyway, ever since that day, I've always had an intense fear of party-planning. What if nobody shows up? What if the food arrives cold? What if everyone's parents are there, so everybody is too shy to dance? What if everyone goes home at 8:00pm?

Thus, I resist being a hostess, but apparently, since I can't talk The Hotness into eloping, I have no choice on this one.

In order to help me plan a successful wedding, I've purchased and discarded 5 (FIVE!) different wedding planner organizer thingies. I hate organizers. I hate having to carry one little book with me everywhere I go. I hate my handwriting, mostly because I hate writing by hand - why can't I just beam my thoughts onto a piece of paper? Why has nobody invented a microchip for my brain that will do this?

I hate being touched by strangers, and people in wedding boutiques? They want to hold my hands and stare at my ring, and hug me, and squeal with congratulations. And put their fingers in the bodice of the dress I'm trying on, and muck around with my hair to show me what it would look like with a veil. It makes me jumpy and flinchy and twitchy. Gah! I appreciate their kind wishes and their desire to help, but I also wish they'd keep their dirty paws to themselves.

That said, I love The Hotness to tiny little bits, and can barely wait to get knocked up and start gestating his zygote married.

I've now located one of the organizers I "lost" last year, and have started actually using it, even though it feels awkward to do so. Of the five planners, this is the one with the most manageable checklist; honestly, I don't need a list that gives me a separate place to note whether or not my flower girl has gone to the bathroom right before the ceremony.

Thus far, we haven't finalized our guest list, which we need to know in order to figure out our venue. We wanted to get married at home, in our own backyard, but since we no longer have any sort of grass, or fence, or anything like that, it seems like this might not work, so we'll have to seek another location. There's a lovely little United church in our town; I need to speak with the pastor to see if he'll do the honors, and there's a hall in town that will do nicely, even though it does look just like a school gym. Who cares - it's covered, so if it rains, all will be well.

The food is up in the air; we're not fancy, though, so it's likely to be pretty basic, hearty fare - again, we need to know how many people we need to feed before we can finalize this.

The dresses are in motion, as are all the accessories; my mom's making my veil and headpiece, has given me her pearls, and is making my bridal party's bouquets and boutonnieres.

The decor will depend a little bit on the venue, but again, my mom is the creative director, and will help put together the centerpieces and favors. The Hotness and I still haven't decided on what kind of favors, mostly because we haven't finished our guest list; if it's just close friends and family, which is what we both want, we'll probably spend a bit more on favors than if we end up inviting everyone and their cousin.

The colors for my wedding decor are pretty flexible. The groomsmen will be wearing outfits similar to this, but probably without the jacket, depending on the weather;

We may not end up going with Mossy Oak Breakup, which is what the vest in the picture is made of; we might go with something a little warmer, like Mossy Oak Obsession, or Realtree Hardwood Green.

Please note; my wedding theme is not "Hunting", it is "Whatever Works". The Hotness and his family are avid hunters. I feel the need to add that they're not sport hunters, who hunt from vehicles and/or kill things for the sake of killing them, but rather, subsistence hunters who eat what they kill, and waste as little as possible. I'm not sure why I felt I should add that; I'm assuming it's Sarah Palin's fault - that whole helicopter hunting thing just freaks me out.

Anyway, the vests are something all the groomsmen will feel comfortable in, and instead of ties, they'll be wearing duck calls around their necks. Since the vests have a fairly broad colorway, I figure what the heck - why tie myself down to one or two colors; instead, I'm going wild.

Our regular wedding stuff will be fairly neutral; I plan to try to make the paper for my actual invitations (which I'll post about - I've made paper before with varying degrees of success). If my paper-making fails, we'll be going with plain off-white or cream cardstock for invitations and ribbons and such, but as far as flowers go, well, instead of making arrangements with a florist, I'll be planting a flower garden, focusing on green, gold, russet, and (for variety and for the Minnesota Vikings) shades of purple.

Essentially, my decorating plan is that whatever flowers live until August 15th will be in my centerpieces and decorations. The night before the wedding, we'll be stuffing flowers in whatever vases I have on hand, and that'll be it.

If the worst should happen, and I find myself unable to grow anything, well, we'll make a last-minute trip to the grocery store and buy whatever's there. I just don't care enough about flowers to spend a few thousand dollars on them. I fully support brides who agonize over their decisions and haggle with their husbands-to-be over the flower budget, and cry themselves to sleep when they find out that the flower they have their heart set on isn't in season, and will have to be flown from South Africa and will cost $60.00 a bloom. For me, though - well, meh. As long as they don't appear diseased, I'll be happy.

We don't have anyone to perform the office of flower girl, but The Hotness has a whole slew of nephews, so we'll probably have those trooping down the aisle, ostensibly doing the pee-pee dance all the way down, because I neglected to use the right organizer. If all goes well, they'll make some sort of amusing commotion as we exchange our vows, so that the audience can have a good laugh, and we can end on a high note before heading off to the reception. Please, boys, anything but diarrhea.

There's more, but suddenly, I feel the need to go and work on my guest list. And find that other organizer.



I ate the turkey. All of the turkey.

I didn't get any blogging OR sewing done this Thanksgiving weekend, because my Mom made a surprise visit.

She and her boyfriend live about six hours west of here, but she popped up on Thursday, with the idea of cooking a big turkey dinner on Sunday. Now, since The Hotness loves turkey more than life itself, and the only turkey I make these days generally gets cooked in the microwave, this was great news! We took a trip to the grocery store, picked up what we needed, and headed back home.

As an aside, my Mom is a man-magnet. Wherever we go, whatever we're doing, someone ALWAYS tries to pick up my mom. And not only, like, dirty bums, either, but good-looking, well-dressed, age-appropriate men. Currently, she's attracting Silver Foxes, which is what I call hot old dudes - I personally wouldn't necessarily want to see them with their shirt off, but they have a certain je ne sais quois. Like Richard Gere or Tim Gunn. This has happened for as long as I can remember, and happens pretty much any time we go out in public.

So just like the Days Of Yore (aka my childhood), I stood by, shifting from foot to foot, sighing loudly and rolling my eyes while the Silver Fox asked my Mom's advice on what size turkey a single man should cook, how a single man should cook it, whether a single man should make stuffing, and if so, what kind.

He asked her to help him pick out a turkey, which she did, then asked him where to find ingredients to stuff it with, which she did, before finally seeing where this was going, and excusing herself with a grin and a wave, leaving him perfectly charmed. I know "perfectly charmed" when I see it, because it's the same expression The Hotness gets when he's outside feeding the birds, and manages to entice one of them to land on his finger and look at him sideways for a moment before flitting away.

Where was I? Oh yeah, the turkey. It was awesome, and now it's all gone! Except for the two pounds of turkey I have to package up and freeze. I love my FoodSaver. You know, there's really not a lot to say about a turkey dinner. I didn't realize that before I started this post. Sorry to have taken up your time!

If it helps, while we were waiting for the bird to unthaw, Mom and I also did a bit of wedding planning, which I'll post about tomorrow.

Hey, can I get your opinion?

I was thinking of buying everyone their bridesmaid dress, and taking them for a manicure/spa day, the day before the wedding, instead of doing the traditional bridesmaid gift. I've received such gifts in the past, and honestly, though I love the picture frames and bracelets, and other odds and ends I've personally gotten, I'm 35, and so is my whole group of bridesmaids; none of us needs another picture frame or glittery piece of color-matched wedding jewelery. Is it tacky to replace the traditional bridesmaid gift by paying for the dress and the spa day, or is this a perfectly acceptable replacement?

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No 'Poo Alteration

As I wrote a few weeks ago, in early September, I tried jumping on the no 'poo bandwagon. I've had my ups and downs, and have decided to pause and take a new approach.

Let me be totally clear; I think this no 'poo thing is AWESOME. I'm not quitting altogether.

In the past month, I've saved about, well, only about $20.00 on shampoo and conditioner, since I'm such a cheapskate, but it's more than the money. I'm not exactly the greenest human being in the world, but I really, really liked to pretend that when I washed my hair without shampoo and conditioner, I was saving a fish. Or a dolphin. Yeah, who DOESN'T want to save a dolphin! I'm sure I saved no more than an amoeba or two, but still, it was kind of a nice feeling.

Unfortunately, until we get a water softener, I have to radically adapt my no 'poo methodology. My town has exceptionally hard water. I mean, it's so hard that I have to CLR the shower head once a month. The Hotness has to drain and clean the hot water tank completely every three months or so, or the hot water slows to a tiny trickle.

My water glasses, once a pretty crystal clear, are all covered in a chalky white substance that makes them all look like slightly dirty etched glass. When I boil tapwater, it turns white, and when left to sit, a scum forms and sits on top of the water, and a layer of sediment that sinks to the bottom.

The message boards all said that no 'poo was difficult if you have very hard water, and boy, were they right. Hard water makes rinsing very difficult, and also leaves gunk in your hair so that it never feels completely dry, like you washed it in wax or something. I rinsed a few times with distilled water from our drinking water jug, and had much better results, but honestly, I'm too cheap to buy water to wash my hair with. It just doesn't seem practical.

At this current time, here are the recipes and methods I'm using, and which I'll return to after the water softener installation.

no 'poo mix

This is my shampoo replacement.

1 heaping tablespoon of baking soda (also known as BS)
two cups of water

I mixed the BS and the water in an empty, well-rinsed shampoo bottle, and left it in my shower. When I'm ready to use it, I just give the bottle a good shake to make sure that the BS isn't all sitting on the bottom.

Okay, a few things a person should know before starting. BS is alkaline, which means it has a high Ph. From what I can discern (and I may be wrong) the Ph of BS is a bit over 8. It's a very, very mild caustic agent, but it IS a caustic agent. Even so, unless you're allergic to it, I can't see how baking soda might hurt a person. Still, one of it's properties appears to be that it encourages the removal of water from things. Since your hair is made up of all sorts of things that I'm not chemically advanced enough to tell you about, but also water, I assume that this means that if I'm going to use a BS mix, I'm not going to dilly-dally and fart around while I'm using it. Just because it isn't going to HURT me doesn't mean it's going to be kind to my hair.

Also, BS is meant to be used only on your scalp and roots, not on the rest of your hair. I don't know about you, but my roots are actually ATTACHED to the rest of my hair, and barring the erection of an armed barricade on each individual strand, it's kinda hard to keep the mix out of the rest of your hair. I didn't spend a lot of time worrying about this, since my goal was to keep the BS solution in my hair for the smallest amount of time possible. A lot of folks seems to think that leaving it on longer is a good idea, but given it's water removal properties, that just wasn't the way I personally decided to go.

Now that you know, here's my application method. All I do is put the bottle next to my scalp and tilt my head back, and squirt so that I can feel the room-temperature water run down my scalp. When I feel like I've saturated my scalp, I put the bottle down and use my fingers to really scrub and scritch the stuff through, all over, from the nape of my neck to the top of my head, and down the sides, working quickly but being thorough. It doesn't feel gritty or nasty, so it kind of feels like I'm not accomplishing anything, but like George Michaels says, ya gotta have faith. I'm not sure that quoting George Michaels will encourage any of you, but whatev.

As soon as I'm done, I rinse with the HOTTEST water I can stand - this seems to melt the excess oil at my roots, so while I'm rinsing out the BS, excess oil is going with it. While I'm rinsing, I really use my fingertips to scrub and massage my scalp, to try to speed up the process. This feels really good, and now I know why cats like to have their heads scratched.

From what I've read, tons of folks just stop right here, finish their shower, and continue on with their day and then complain that their scalp is irritated or their tips are dry. Remembering my high school chemistry, (I loved my teacher, he was the ultimate absent-minded professor, and prone to inappropriate tangents) I recall that BS is alkali, and I personally can't see how leaving even trace amounts of an alkali mixture on my scalp will do me any good. The best way to tone down a mild alkali is by neutralizing it with a mild acid. So I continue on with an acid rinse because I don't want to have an irritated scalp or dry tips - I'm just sayin'!

acid rinse

The acid rinse is pretty flexible. Most folks suggest apple cider vinegar (also known as ACV), but I had really bad results with it, probably because the hard water didn't rinse it out well. The texture and shine of my hair was excellent, and it worked shockingly well as a detangler, but the smell was very, very strong.

If I were a superhero, my name would have been SaladHead.

Some other alternatives are lemon juice, lime juice, white vinegar, etc. Some folks use apple or orange juice, and while I can see myself trying apple juice in the future, I personally think that using orange juice would leave you with really sticky hair, because of all the sugar. Have you ever wiped a partially-dried orange juice spill off the counter? Blech.

My current recipe is as follows;

2 tablespoons of lime juice
2 cups of very strongly brewed green tea
1/2 a shooter of vodka. I drank the other half in a Ceasar. It was good.

The lime juice is my acid, the green tea is for fun - you could easily use plain water, and the vodka is for preservation. I probably don't need it, but when I made my mix, I meant to put in some honey, but decided not to.

I have this in an old contact lens solution bottle, which is perfect; the tip is a tiny little pinhole, which makes it easy to direct the flow. When I start using BS again, I'll totally use one of these bottles for both the BS mix AND the acid mix.

My method for applying the acid mix is simple.
I apply this stuff starting at the scalp. Once my scalp is saturated, I kind of squish it down the rest of my hair, and squirt more wherever it's needed. Then I put my bottle down and use both hands to kind of squish my hair around so that the acid mix is everywhere. I strongly advise you NOT to get too jiggy with this rinsing step. Any tangles you put in at this point will just make you want to pull a Britney in an hour, when you try to comb your hair. The acid mix works as a very effective detangler, but don't make extra work for yourself by getting all enthusiastic. Just squeeze it through. To finish, I rinse again, once more with the HOTTEST water I can stand.

My Magic Secret (which actually isn't really a secret, but DOES work like magic) is that when I finish rinsing, I turn down the hot water, and rinse with the COLDEST water I can stand. It doesn't have to be 100% cold, but the colder, the better. This apparently closes the cuticles or punishes you for past sins or something, but whatever the science behind it, rinsing with cold water at the end made my hair shinier.

My Revised No 'Poo Plan until we get the softener is to go with very watered down shampoo and my regular acid mix, less one tablespoon of acid, for a rinse. Since I've been no 'poo for a few days short of a month, my roots aren't greasy at all, though the rest of my hair feels waxy from the hard water. So rather than go back to regular amounts of shampoo and conditioner, I'll use very watered down conditioner about once a week, and use very watered down baby shampoo.

Actually, I'll be using up my no-tears cat shampoo, but don't judge - it's not like it's made OF cats. After that, we'll see.



My Hero

I've mentioned The Hotness before, right? My fiance, my ball and chain, the guy who makes those great handmade birthday cards?

Well, The Hotness is my hero. He's kind of like MacGuyver and Johnny Depp and Homer Simpson, all folded up into a neat little package.

Today, I rediscovered a facet of him that I see all the time, but never really take note of; his ability to communicate with absolutely anyone. Animal, child, adult, he can make himself understood, and he can AMUSE whoever he's communicating with.

We're lucky/unlucky enough to live near a city in western Canada with a very strong economy. Thus, our unemployment rates are very low, and many employers have worked with the federal government to bring short-term contract workers from other countries. Our city has large contingents of Ukrainian, Philippino, and Mexican workers, from all trades and walks of life. The Hotness happens to work for a company that's recently brought in some fellows from Mexico.

There are a large number of restrictions and rules on bringing in workers from out of the country, but the company The Hotness works for takes the position that a worker is a worker, regardless of where he or she is from, so the guys they bring in from Mexico make the same wage as the guys they hire locally. They get the same hourly rate, the same benefits, the same everything, which is pretty great.

What they're NOT required to do is hire guys who speak a lot of English, which you would think would be a problem. Not for The Hotness.

When the Mexicans got here back in May, he knew four words of Spanish. He knew how to say hello, goodbye, nap, and beer. These are the words he learned on our vacation to Mexico this past spring, which is probably obvious just by the words themselves.

He now knows about twenty words of Spanish. To the above repertoire, he's added;
"one" - the number of coffees he must order per man,
"two" - the number of donuts he must order each man,
"bathroom" - where the coffee will take them eventually,
"girl" - so he can point out the hot chick in the next car
"hot mama" - his name for me, like the feminine version of The Hotness

As well, they've taught him the slang terms for male and female genitalia, but he doesn't say those around me.

At any rate, The Hotness took me and two of his crew for lunch this afternoon, and with these few words, and an absolutely stunning ability to make up sign language as he goes along, he communicated effectively enough that he kept me and the two Mexican guys laughing all through the meal.

If they allowed Canadians to participate in The Amazing Race, The Hotness and I would totally win; I can read a map, and he can communicate with anyone.


Help! What needle should I be using?

I've been tacking together the taffeta version of my wedding dress muslin, but have run into a problem that's driving me NUTS.

I bought Microfibre needles and Microtex needles, and have tried both, but no matter what I do, I'm getting some pretty serious railroading in my taffeta. Since The Hotness has the camera at work today, I had to borrow a picture from the internet to explain what I mean, in case "railroaded" isn't the correct term.

See how the stitches have created little pulls in the fabric? I understand WHY this is happening, but I don't know what to do to fix it. I've tried ball-point needles, sharps, skinny ones, fat ones, and nothing is working.

Can anyone tell me what the right kind/size of needle to use to machine-sew taffeta?

It's a medium-weight polyester taffeta, prewashed and with a very soft hand.

I know it's just a muslin, so I'm not terribly worried about fixing the problem on THIS garment, but the fabric for my actual dress may end up being taffeta, so...please save me from a nervous breakdown!

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