Thursday, February 24, 2011

Happy (Snow Day) Dance

Happy Things in My Life Today:

#1: This is the view in my front yard this morning: overcast, about 1 1/2" of snow on the ground, and more in the forecast. Ahhh...a Snow Day!

The alarm went off at 5:30 am this morning, as usual. Checked the road in front of the house--not much snow--would it be a snow day or a 2-hour late start? Mark and I are both school teachers, so we really want to know these things. We decided to sleep until 6:00...and then the phone rang at 5:40 am. Caller ID said it was my department chair...would she say Snow Day or Late Start?? Snow Day!! Yippee!! We turned off the alarm and slept until 8:00, which was heavenly for these two sleep-deprived teachers.

I am thrilled to have a day to catch up on grading, work on my thesis, take a nap...ahhhhh...

Now you have to understand that here in the Portland (OR) metropolitan area, we are true snow wimps. We don't get snow that sticks very often, and when we do, it is a wet slushy snow that is tough to drive on. Then it freezes at night and gets slicker than before. Plus we have lots of hills. Plus we don't have very good snow removal equipment, since we don't get snow very often. So we are wimps. And yes, 1 1/2" can drive us back into our dens to hibernate a little longer.

My hat is off to those hardy Midwestern souls who soldier on, even when the snow is drifting deep. And my commiseration goes to those who have had important events canceled because of today's snow, or who have to be out working in it. I know that lots of folks are still driving to work. All I can say is, I'm me, I work where I do, and today...I get a day off. (I will pay for it though...we will have to make this day up in June.)

#2: Ida Keeling makes me happy. I want to be like her when I grow up. You have to watch this video!

3. If you didn't catch the sweet post Polly did on her Helping Little Hands blog about the birthday gift I sent her, you can see it here. Truly warmed the cockles of my heart.
(Haha - what a strange phrase, no? I looked it up here to see where it originates.)

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Tutorial: Drawstring Jewelry Bag

*Check out more photos of this little bag on Polly's blog. This bag went to my daughter, Polly, for a birthday gift. Her camera takes better photos than mine!

This tutorial will take you through the steps to create a sweet little drawstring jewelry bag. You need less than 1 yard of lightweight fabric. Your finished product cinches up into a compact little bag, perfect for keeping jewelry tidy and safe when you travel...or hanging next to the dresser at home!

The photo below gives you an idea of the scale of this little bag when it's finished. This view shows it open, with the pockets for tucking jewelry into.

So what are we waiting for? Let's get started!

Begin with some pretty fabric. You can make entire bag from the same fabric, but it's so fun to have contrasting fabrics. You'll also need 2 yards of cord.
The pattern is super simple. You already have it in your house! Pull out a dinner-sized plate and a cereal bowl, and trace around them with both fabrics. (I'm cutting out both fabrics at once.)
Now comes the hard part. Decide which fabric is going to be on the outside. I decided to go with the polka-dot red fabric.
Fold it in half and put a pin at each end of the fold marks. Then open it out.

 Now you need to measure and mark at each pin to make the buttonhole for the drawstring. Seriously, after you've gone through choosing which fabric to have on the outside, this step is only a little bit difficult! Here's what you do:
1. Measure in 3/8" from the edge. Put a pin there.
2. Now measure in another 1/2". You will be at 7/8" on the measuring tape. Put a pin there, too.
3. You'll be sewing two buttonholes in just a minute. The buttonholes will go in between the two horizontal pins, along the line indicated by the vertical pin.
Now pull out the sewing machine and remind yourself how you make buttonholes. I did several practice rounds on this little scrap. (You can see the sewing machine instruction book in the background. They always turn out better if I stop at this point and look up the instructions.) It's really worth taking a couple of extra minutes to get it right.
 Once you have the buttonholes finished, pin the circles right sides together. You can pin the two smaller circles together now, too.
 Stitch around the perimeter of the circle, at the outer edge of the buttonholes. I wish I had a clearer photo for you. Can you see the buttonhole right above the pin in this photo? My stitching will go right along the top edge of the buttonhole as I head around the circle.

Now this next step may be a surprise: you do NOT need to leave a couple of inches open to turn the circles right side out. This is true for both circles. Just stitch all the way around. Trust me!
 After you have stitched all the way around, "poof" the two pieces away from each other and make a small slit on the INSIDE fabric. Do NOT cut the outside fabric. Your slit should be no more than 1 1/2" long on the larger circle, and no more than 1" long on the smaller circle. Be sure to make the slit right in the center of the inside circle.
 Be brave. You can make that slit! Now turn the two circles right side out through the slit, and press them nicely flat and open. Don't worry; we'll get rid of those slits in just a minute.
 Go ahead and finish the casing for the cord by sewing another line of stitching 1/2" from the outside of the large circle. This stitching should be right next to the bottom of the buttonhole. See it there in front of my finger? have to look really close. But I think you get the idea.
 Now we're going to make some little jewelry pockets inside the drawstring bag, by doing some work with the smaller circle. First, fold the smaller circle into quarters to find the center of the small circle, and mark it with a pin.

Measure around the sides of it to get it centered over the larger circle.

Note: at this point, those two slits are directly on top of each other. When we sew the small circle down to make the jewelry pockets, the slits will magically disappear...they will just be our little secret.
 You need to stitch a teensy circle into the very center of the smaller fabric circle. I like to make a small circle pattern by tracing around a large spool of thread, or something like that. Then I fold that paper pattern into quarters and center it on the small circle (above).
 Now I have my paper pattern pinned into place, to help me stitch a beautifully even teensy-circle (about 2" in diameter) in the middle of the small fabric circle. This will make our pockets more functional, and it will effectively hide the slashes.
 Here we go, stitching carefully around the paper pattern. You'll be throwing the pattern away after you sew around. Sew through all layers - the large circle and the small circle.
 This next step is hard to show in photographs. Stitch six radiating lines out from the teensy center circle. You just need to stitch until you get to the outer edge of the small circle. Sew through all layers. You can see where I've inserted my hand into the resulting pocket...the perfect size for a pair of earrings, or a necklace, or whatever other lovely baubles you want to store without getting tangled or lost.
Now cut the cord in half and use a safety pin to thread each piece through the casing. The cord will go ALL the way around the circle, and come back out where you started. Then you'll do the same thing through the other buttonhole with the other piece of cord. This will make it a double drawstring bag. It pulls shut really easily, and it opens easily, too.
 Here's the drawstring jewelry bag all closed up tight...keeping those precious goodies safe and sound inside.
Here's the bag when it's pulled open. You can see that my finger is going into one of the pockets. Isn't that floral lining cute? Have fun with your new Drawstring Jewelry Bag!

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Tutorial: How to get photos from Cell Phone to Computer

After I 'fessed up in the blog the other day that my high school students had to teach me how to upload photos of my darling new granddaughter from my cell phone to my computer, several other people (all younger than me!) have admitted that they, too, have no idea how to accomplish the feat.

Well, here you go.

1. Click on the photo (either you just took it, or someone sent it to you and it's a message).

2. Click on "Options."

3. Click on "Forward."

4. Click on "1-2-3."

5. In the "1-2-3" menu, click on "Abc."

6. Type in your email address.

7. Click "OK."

8. Click "Send."

Done. It will show up in the inbox of your email as an attachment. You can download it from the email, and post it on your blog!

Steps 5 and 8 were the ones I had to remind myself about. Why don't you go take a couple of photos right now, and send them to yourself...or to me...just to practice! You'll be glad to have this skill in your bag o' tricks.

And it's not just for cheesy-smile-cell-phone-photos. The other day I was taking some close-up photos of a sewing project, and my not-so-hot camera was giving me photos like this.

I switched to my cell phone, which is designed to take close-ups, and got some great photos. Like this:

I'll post a bunch more of them tomorrow with a new craft tutorial...stay tuned!

Monday, February 14, 2011

With love to you on Valentine's Day

Lilly...4 days old...isn't she beautiful?

I love Paul's words on love and charity. Happy Valentine's Day!

1 Corinthians 13

 1Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal.
 2And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing.
 3And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing.
 4Charity suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up,
 5Doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil;
 6Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth;
 7Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things.
 8Charity never faileth: but whether there be prophecies, they shall fail; whether there be tongues, they shall cease; whether there be knowledge, it shall vanish away.
 9For we know in part, and we prophesy in part.
 10But when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away.
 11When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things.
 12For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.
 13And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

But what do you say?

In the midst of joy today...sadness.

I am acquainted with a woman in my neighborhood, Cindy, who is about my age. I visit her once a month as a church assignment to check in with one another, to make sure that needs are being met. Mark also checks in with this same family every month.

A couple of months ago I wasn't able to make an appointment with Cindy because she was so busy helping her daughter and 3 grandchildren get settled into a new apartment, find a job, helping with babysitting and running errands, etc. Cindy is a wonderful grandma, and she was helping this little family get established and on their feet after some difficulties.

Mark dropped by to visit at noon today, and had a delightful chat with Cindy and her husband.

Then Mark got a phone call from the Clackamas County Fire Dept chaplain about 2:00 pm. There was a fire at the home of Cindy's daughter this morning. Cindy's daughter and her 18-month-old baby survived. Her two older boys did not.

The fire had already happened, and her daughter and grandbaby were already at the burn unit when Mark was visiting with Cindy and her husband, but they didn't know about it yet.

Things can change so fast. We think we have things under control, that we can plan for how things will work out. Sometimes we can. Not always.

Mark and I drove to the burn unit in Portland later in the afternoon to see what we could do to help, and to let the family know they could call on us. We'll go again tomorrow, and more days if we can be of use. When Cindy walked into the waiting room this afternoon, I gave her a long tight hug and told her I was so so so sorry.

But what else do you say? Maybe it doesn't matter so much what we say. Maybe it matters most that we just show up. Christ said to comfort those that stand in need of comfort, and to mourn with those that mourn.

There is a news report about the fire here. I'm feeling sad tonight.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Little Lilly - Take 2

Isn't she a doll? These photos were taken yesterday, when she was just a few hours old.

Brand new! Gorgeous hair, sweet little cheeks.

A little later in the day, settled on Kendra's lap.

One of my students helped me with the photos this morning - taught me how to email them to myself from my phone...DUH! Gotta love technology :)

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Little Lilly

Lillian "Lilly" Kendyl Last was born this morning.

She weighed 7 lb 11 oz...exactly what her mama, Kendra weighed! And they are both the 3rd child in their family.

Lilly's middle name comes from her mother's name, and also my father's name (Kendall), who Kendra was named for almost 30 years ago.

Other stats: 19 3/4" long. She has LOTS of dark hair - so pretty! And a darling double chin.

If I can figure out how to upload photos from my phone, I'll add a photo of her to the blog.

Congratulations, Kendra and Chris! Welcome Lilly!

(Correction: In my last post, I said that Maleena was due to have her son in May.
Nope, I goofed--he's due June 28. Keep growing, little guy!)

Tuesday, February 8, 2011


My 20th grandchild will be born day after tomorrow. Kendra will be welcoming her third child, a girl, on Thursday via Caesarean section. Kendra lives far away in Kansas, and I am feeling useless here in Oregon, but her darling mother-in-law will be flying out to stay for a couple of weeks. Thank goodness for grandmas with flexible schedules.

Maleena shared with us this week that her baby, due in May, is a boy. He may have twenty older cousins, but he will be no less precious to me than every other grandchild in our family.

I don't count sheep when I'm having a hard time falling asleep at night. I count grandchildren. I picture them, each one, one at a time. I think of their warm little bodies snuggled into their beds, or the covers flung off, feet jammies sprawled across the mattress. Most of them live far away, and many of them are so little they don't remember me.

But I remember them, every single one. I'll be waiting here in Oregon for our newest little one. Welcome!

Saturday, February 5, 2011

River Run

I haven't said much about my 2011 health/fitness goals here, because I write about them regularly on The Skinny, the very cool weight-loss blog I co-author with my daughter, Katie, and a few of her very cool friends and relations.

But I will just say that 2011 is:
The Year That Kathy Becomes A Runner.

This morning Mark and I went for a 2-mile jog along the Clackamas River. Most of the people we saw along the way were fishing (Mark wanted to be one of them) or walking their dogs (neither of us wanted to be one of them). We did pass two other couples who were out jogging, like us.

Like US?!

After we had passed the umpteenth pair of dog walkers, I said to Mark, "You know who we are?"

"A hazard on the trail?" he guessed.

"No, silly," I replied. "We are now runner people. Remember when we used to be out walking and we'd see people running, and we'd think, 'we are not those people?' Well, now we ARE those people."

Amazing. I am signed up to run a 5-K race in April. And I'll be running it, not walking.

You can read more about this morning's run here.