Thursday, December 24, 2015

Daily Doin's, Christmas Week, 2015

I start this on Monday, December 21.
Hubs and I attended church on Sunday at the old Methodist church that we belonged to when we were raising our grandsons.  Many of the older members are deceased now, and the pastor so many of the congregation objected to has been replaced by an older man, and his wife is active in the church, as well.  It was nice to be there and it felt like home to me.  There were many people there that came for a hug and an "I'm glad you came".  Hubs and I talked about it later and we agreed that we were glad we'd decided to go. 

I've been trying to get back into the swing of things at home, but I've been a little depressed, what with everything happening in the world around me, the ugly politics around our beginning presidential campaign, and a few recent upsetting events within the boundaries of RockWhisperer Hill.  I find myself feeling lazy and not really wanting to do anything, but I'm making an effort, even if it's only in the planning and internet research stages.  At least it's a start.  I haven't fallen all the way into "The Black Hole", but I feel myself much too close to the edge for comfort.  Been there before, not going back, thank you very much.

I'll be glad to have all this Christmas commercialism over and done with, it is just so much more haranguing to endure, if you know what I mean.  Christmas should be a peaceful time.  A time to reflect upon all the blessings we, as human beings, can be grateful for.  It's also the end of the year with the promise of a new year full of The Unknown, good or bad.  The closer we get in age into the 70's and beyond, the mind wants to be full of dread.  But we can't go there, we can't "borrow trouble".  My parents lived to be 92.  Hubs' mother was in her late 80's when she passed peacefully, while resting after having turned off the fire under a canner full of tomatoes.  His father would've lived much longer had he not had raging high blood pressure that was made worse by his lifestyle (drinking, obesity, poor diet, and chewing tobacco), which went untreated.  So even under the worst of conditions, Hubs and I still have some years left in which we can expect to be alert, active and healthy.  It's not so much that I fear death.  In fact, I know it's the door opening to a new and different life.  What I fear is the part after good health has departed but before death.  I'm sure there are many of you who know exactly what I mean.  But that time is not here yet, and with any luck, we'll be run over by a reindeer or something and go suddenly, unexpectedly.  Please, God.  Beer truck.  Anything.

When I think along the lines of mortality, Alan Atwood comes to mind.  He was a man I knew at work, many years ago.  A man in his prime, well-liked by everyone who knew him.  And then, inoperable cancer in his brain.  We all watched Alan try to continue in his job, 'way past what he should've done, and then he took his own life.  I won't go into the graphics about it, except to say that he was trying to spare his wife and children the pain of seeing him helpless, of racking up medical expenses while he waited to die.  Somebody at work said to me that this was such a shame, because now he couldn't enter The Kingdom Of Heaven, and it hurt to think that.  Alan led his life in such a way that I thought he truly deserved to get to be there.  As the years have passed, I've come to realize that none of us really know for sure what happens after we die to this world, but I know God to be loving, understanding and forgiving.  I think Alan ran, gratefully, into God's outstretched arms. 

I apologize for being morbid on the blog, but don't worry, I'm not planning anything.  Even if I fell deep into "The Black Hole", I don't think I could ever take my own life, or even intentionally put myself in "death wish" situations, as I don't have that kind of courage.  My brand of courage is "Grit-Your-Teeth-And-Work-Your-Way-Through-It.  But yeah, I don't feel like it ought to be against the law for desperately ill and suffering people to be able to make their own decisions like this. 

All that said, I'll be glad to have this year over with and have a fresh one to start over with.  Almost like sharpening a No. 2 yellow pencil for the first time and opening up a brand new Big Chief tablet.  (For those not old enough to remember, they actually sell these tablets on Amazon). 

This is now Tuesday.
I've had an idea for a hood that could be worn with jackets and coats that don't have one.  When I buy a coat, I always look for one that has a hood.  And especially so for children and grandchildren.  Even when taught to stick their cap and mittens down into their coat sleeve when they take their coat off, kids just CAN NOT keep track of them and when my kids were young I just couldn't afford to keep buying hats and mittens all the time.  If they lose their mittens, at least they have pockets to put their hands into.  But I hate to see a kid outside in the cold without a cap.  I actually had to resort to fastening mittens to each other with a cord that would go in the back of the coat and down the sleeves, allowing the mittens to hang out the sleeves, for my son, and even then, I'd drive up to the school yard and there he'd be, with his mittens flapping in the breeze from his coat sleeves and his hands red-knuckled from the cold.  Sheesh.  You can drive a kid to water but you can't keep his hands out of it.  Or something like that.

But anyway, HERE is a tutorial for a hood that can be worn nicely with a dress coat.  A simpler style that I had in mind, for use when working around home, would be easily made by just buying a pull-over hoodie at a garage sale.  Then the sleeves could be cut out and the hoodie could be worn under a coat, like a vest.  Or even all the body of the hoodie could be trimmed away except for the shoulders, sort of like those turtleneck dickies that people sometimes wear.  I've also seen those tube hoods and I realized they must be insanely easy to make when I couldn't find tutorials or patterns anywhere.  So I got an idea, and went upstairs to the sewing room, which is fast becoming more of a storage room since I had my best-working sewing machine brought downstairs to the office, looking for an old pair of sweatpants.  I don't do much sewing anymore, it's just cheaper and easier to buy stuff at garage sales.  But now and then, when you want something out-of-the-ordinary, or you have a clothing article to repurpose, knowing how to sew can be a real asset.  I learned how to sew in Home-Ec in high school, and after that I was kind of on my own.  Mom was probably wise not to get very involved in teaching her children things like this.  The few times that she did, she had so little patience that it never ended very well.  But every fall she'd go where there'd be a fabric sale, four yards for a dollar, and buy a lot of four-yard bundles of cotton print.  She didn't mind allowing me to pick out a bundle of material from her stash whenever I wanted to make something, and she didn't mind buying patterns.  Back then, patterns were not that expensive unless you bought Vogue.  I can't believe how the cost of patterns has sky-rocketed over the years.  But anyway, I made most of my own clothes from that point in the 1960's to about the 1980's when I discovered garage sales.  I made everything we're wearing in this Christmas picture, about 1974.

Sweatpant legs are usually cut on the fold so that the only seam is on the inside of the leg.  So when I have sweatpants that I don't wear, for whatever reason, it's hard for me not to stash them away because there are a lot of things you can make out of the big pieces of uncut cotton fleece material they will yield.  I actually had in mind the making of a bunch of applique-style quilt/comforter blocks, with the appliqued pieces attached with blanket stitch.  Wouldn't even have to turn under the edges because this material does not fray.  And it would make a warm quilt top that wouldn't even have to be lined, and could be made for use as a throw, or as a bed-covering.  But I've never gotten around to putting those plans into action, and I doubt I ever will.  I already have enough quilts and comforters.  I've given quilts to my kids and won't ever do that again.  My daughter left hers behind during one of her many moves.  My son ended up using his as a curtain at a sunny window, and as a pad between things when he moved.  I guess I should be proud that he at least took it with him when he moved.  But a quilt is a lot of hours of your time.  When you give a quilt to someone, you are giving them a part of your life.  Seems like that should be deserving of a little more respect. 

But I digress. 

My idea was that those sweatpant legs are already in a tube shape, the fabric is warm and yet somewhat stretchy.  Might meet the requirements for a tube hood.  That seam down the inside of the legs could be placed directly under the chin.  I found this old pink pair and started tinkering.

I found out right away that straight diagonal doesn't work.  Notice that I had to fold back the "point" on the long side, and trim that part away.  Best to make a curve that flattens out where the forehead will be, similar to the curve that was cut on the other end, or there will be a point that hangs down over the forehead.  This is what it looked like after it was trimmed. 

Remember, that the inside seam, much shorter than the fold on the outside of the sweatpant leg, goes under the chin.   It is put over the head through the end closest to where the waistband was, and the face then pushes out through the narrowest part, closest to the ankle.  Does this make sense?  
Hubs took this picture and it's terrible, I think the lighting there against that wall was too low.  Truly, I'm NOT that wrinkled.  You can see that the wall behind me is that same texture.  That's my story and I'm stickin' to it. 

Could put ribbing around the face opening.  But I think a lock-stitch around the edges and then one fold for the hem would be just fine.  Probably have to stretch the fabric while sewing, so the stitches don't break when it's stretched to fit snugly around the face.  And, because of the angle of the pants leg, I'll probably have to open the seam a little and sew in a little triangle so that the fold-over won't cause a pucker. 

With my coat on over it, it'll keep the cold air from going down the back of my neck.  When my back gets cold, I'm cold all over.  This bottom edge can just be lock-stitched around the edge and that might be all it needs.  Could then be folded over once and sewed down, as well.  I'm not spending much time to make this fancy, because it's just to wear outside here at home, anyway.

Hmmmm.  Not too bad for the first pass.  These sweatpants made me look fat(ter), anyway.  They were a women's size XL but seriously, I have XL pants in other brands that are 'way bigger than these.  So these, being too snug and too bright to wear over thunder thighs, have been laying around in a drawer for at least 25 years.  Since I didn't screw up too bad on the first pass, I can get two of these out of this one pair of sweats, and use the first cut as a pattern for the second.  No more falling-down scarves, or blowing-off caps to deal with while I'm trying to work outside.

Do you ever watch Big Bang Theory and see Sheldon folding his laundry?  He has a T-shirt folding contraption that apparently is popular amongst the Millennium generation.  HERE is a fellow who's made his own.  I think I'll show it to Hubs and ask him if he'd like me to make him one.  And really, when you think about it, there are a lot of cool things you can make with cardboard pieces hinged together with duct-tape.  Heh. 

A new spin on washable panty liners HERE.  I like the round design.  Hubs folds and puts away the laundry.  I'm thinkin' if I make any of these I might end up finding them in the hotpad drawer.  Heh.  Hubs is color blind so already he can be full of surprises when folding the laundry.  Now and then I find a lavender sock and a blue sock folded together.  Or a red with a green.  I've tried to imagine what it must be like to be color-blind, but I just can't wrap my brain around it.  So when Hubs has on a pair of socks that don't match, we just laugh and say, "Yeah, and there's another pair in the drawer JUST LIKE these!"  Heh. 

I was out in the garden the last pretty day we had, trying to decide what to do about those kale plants.  They have gotten very tall and some of them have fallen over.  The summer insects really riddled the leaves so that only the leaves that have come on since the first hard frost are worth harvesting, and though they have gotten to a size that would make harvesting worthwhile, I haven't done so yet.  I kind of hate to tear them out, but I think they might be attracting the rats, rabbits and whatever other wild critters that can get in, being as food sources are getting scarce.  And I can't very well have Hubs till the garden bed if they're still in it.  I found instructions on whether it's possible to propagate kale from cuttings HERE.  Some people I've talked to have said their kale has come back every year.  Maybe I'll just cut the plants 'way back and cover them with leaves, and have Hubs skip tilling where they are.  Allrecipes has a ton of kale recipes HERE.  And HERE is a Huffington Post article about the benefits of eating kale. 

This is now Wednesday. 
Hubs and I went into town for our workout this morning.  I'm just not at my best today.  Maybe because I got up too early, not sure.... 

Yesterday I had my appointment with the dermatologist.  She also said that what I have is perioral dermatitis.  But she said the prescription that the PA at my GP's office (don't we just love how everything's abbreviated these days?) ordered for me, while a dang good first-aid ointment for cuts and bruises, isn't going to do much of anything towards getting rid of this rash on my face.  She ordered up what she said was "very mild" antibiotic pills and some ointment.  I have started the pills but the pharmacy did not have the ointment and had to order it.  They don't get a delivery again till Monday.  In the interim I'll using the Lotrimin Ultra ointment I bought at WMT.  Dr. Hill says this skin condition requires a two-pronged attack and I think the prescribed ointment will be an anti-fungal. 

I went to the garden and gathered some kale.  With some of it, I made kale chips, seasoned with olive oil and soy sauce and baked at 350º for 15 minutes or until crisp but not brown.  Nope.  Not a fan of that.  With another pile of it, I made kale slaw, pretty much like I make cabbage slaw, with craisins, sunflower seeds, mayonnaise with a little honey or sugar in it, and grated carrot.  Would be even better if I'd had a chopped apple instead of the chopped onion, as the onion was a little hotter than I expected it to be and I had to add lemon juice to tone it down.  The secret to making slaw out of kale is that you sprinkle salt on it and "massage" the salt in till the rough-chopped kale is reduced in volume and very dark green.  Kale leaves don't turn limp under the massage like lettuce and cabbage would.  Then you mix in the other stuff.  It'd be good with any kind of chopped nuts or seeds instead of sunflower seeds, and with raisins or blueberries or even chopped dried apricots instead of craisins.  Might also be good with a little shredded cheese, whatever is your favorite kind, and some chopped hard-boiled egg.  Since the onion turned Hubs off and he won't eat any of the slaw, now, (Sheeeeesh!)  I might add some bleu-cheese dressing to it, as well, as I didn't overdo it with the mayonnaise.  This would make a nice lunchtime chef's salad.

I saw where someone mentioned that they froze their kale without blanching first, so I put the last pile in a ziplock bag and stuck it in the freezer.  It's not like it hasn't been frozen several times already, right out there in the garden. 

I cut off the growing tips and planted them in a flower pot.  I think they might take root.  I'll let you know later on.

This is now Thursday and Christmas Eve, and I will try to publish today.
Hubs and I went to Aldi yesterday and bought a ham butt and a few things we were getting low on.  Eggs, yogurt, oatmeal.  Some other things.  I had a coupon from their sales flyer that gave us $3 off the price of our ham.  We were going to buy fruit but none of the prices were very good so we decided to eat canned pears this week.  I'll probably let Hubs have those and I'll have the dried apples he doesn't like.  Oh!  I could cut up some of those dried apple slices with scissors and add them to my salad today! 

Later this afternoon we've been invited to Christmas Eve Service at our old home church mentioned before in this post.  I'm looking forward to it.  I will not cook tomorrow, because we'll go to a local Bartlesville church that serves Christmas Dinner to people who don't have family invitations.  We went last year.  I was really surprised to see how many older couples were there.  Also that some people brought quite a few family members.  The food was good, and we sat with some people we knew.  They do not ask for payment but there is a donations jar.  While I don't like being expected to tip waitresses in restaurants, I don't mind at all leaving a nice donation in the jar.  

I found a You-Tube on how to make kale chips and I think I'll try again in the next few days.  This is a cute presentation, it's very sweet how lovingly this young mother interacts with her three sons and how happy and cooperative they are.  Such a breath of fresh air after seeing all the worst of us on the news every day.  Plus it's an interesting recipe and those little boys sure seem to eat it right up.  It's HERE

Well, my dear friends, that's about all I have for this time, so I will publish this and go out and bring my rugs in.  Hubs ran the vacuum and it's my job to shake out the rugs, pick up shoes, and so on.  I also need to check the burn barrel and see if all my trash burned.  It's 54º out there so I'll probably go out and harvest some more kale.  It's expected to turn significantly colder after tomorrow, possible heavy rains and maybe even some snow by Monday.  We usually have some of our worst winter weather in early January -- mostly ice, but I have to say, the last few Januarys we have seen snow such that we've had to just "hole in" till the dang stuff either melts or blows away.  We don't even have to open any doors or make any forays outside if we don't want to.  Hubs hasn't smoked a cigarette in a year now, though he's still sucking on that E-Cig, but I don't make him go outside with it.  And there's no dog or cat asking to go out.  I'll ask Hubs if he thinks we ought to have a pile of firewood on the patio where we can get to it easily, in case the electricity goes out.  I know there were some bad storms last night where some of you are, and I hope y'all made it through OK.  I haven't heard from anyone yet, but then, it's Christmas Eve day and probably everybody's busy in their kitchens. 

So, Merry Christmas from me to all of you, be safe, stay busy, be healthy and happy.  Hugs, xoxoxo


  1. Keep your back turned on the Black Hole and walk the other way. You know how that works by now ;-) Love your sweatpants hood - I knitted a lot about 18 months ago and have several wide "infinity" scarves which can be worn as a snood. I hadn't thought of sewing one though. I have an 1894 Singer treadle which I am desperate to find time to use to make something rather than practice on and a 1958 electric Singer which is brilliant. It's a time thing... Re your dermatitis - lavender oil is antiseptic and can be used directly on the skin but tea tree is antiseptic AND antifungal but MUST be diluted in a carrier oil. Might be worth a try before your cream arrives on Monday. Merry Christmas to you both - we're not big on Christmas (anti-commercialism stance) so we'll just be doing and eating whatever we want :-D xx

    1. Jo, I have both those oils in my essential oil stash. I tried Tea Tree before but ewwww, the smell.... made my eyes water. Maybe I need to thin it out a little more. Will try. On the other hand, I just love the scent of Lavender. The Lotrimin gives my skin a burning sensation. That's probably not a good sign.

      I have one of those old treadle singers, too, but I don't use it because it needs a new belt. I have a Singer from about the 1960's, while they were still making them in England. Seems like I'm remembering that they quit having them made in England shortly after that time, and I know for sure the quality has gone down. I also have an old industrial-looking Pfaff, I just fell in love with the cabinet. But the owner's manual is so cryptic, I was lucky to be able to figure out how to thread it, and the bobbins are so dang hard to put in. Now the tension is off and the closest Pfaff service center is either Tulsa or Independence KS. So I just don't try to use it.

  2. I love the hood and will be trying to make one of my own. I walk the dog twice a day and can't stand wind hitting my ears. Hope mine turns out as well as yours did.

    I know what you mean when you speak f the black hole. I have to work at it to keep myself from sliding in sometimes.

    1. Jacque, I just really think the secret to staying out of the hole is to keep busy, and try to be grateful every day. The Black Hole is incredibly hard to get out of once in, takes considerable resolve and the forcing of oneself out. Sort of like digging hand-holds on a smooth wall with the fingernails. But if you've ever been there, you know that. Good luck to you on staying up and out. Hugs

  3. Very creative idea for the hood, Ilene. I always like using something we've hauled around for years in a useful way. Have a blessed Christmas and stay away from the black hole. If you're as clumsy as I am, you might fall in. (-: Thank you for sharing your life with us, I always enjoy the read.


    1. Yes, Fern, I do find I can be pretty clumsy at times. Sometimes I have to hold onto Hubs to "keep from falling over", in more ways than one....


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