Tuesday, 31 May 2011

More Conrad

I've got several crafty blog posts *almost* ready to go - waiting on photos, mostly, or in one case, the stitching of seven buttonholes and their attendant buttons, plus whipping down four yards of lace - but in the mean time, let's have some more photos of Conrad!

A long scrap of cotton is the perfect kitten toy.


Sleepy.  (Grape stems are good toys, too!)
I love this kitten so much!  He is a joy and an endless source of amusement (plus a few scratches.)


Now if I could just train him to stay off the computer keyboard.


Sunday, 29 May 2011

A Competition

With myself, that is.

This summer, since I'm in an apartment, and therefore paying for all my utilities myself, I decided to see how long I can go without turning on the air conditioning.  Where I grew up, this would be no problem - we used it maybe three times a summer, and that was usually only because we were having houseguests.  Here, though, in Tennessee, it's already been over 90 several days, and it's still May.  So this could be challenging.  I won't be totally without air conditioning, as I spend my mornings working in conditioned spaces.  But I'm not turning it on at home.

It's not as bad as it sounds though.  Our bedrooms and the living room have ceiling fans, which move the air around, making it feel cooler even though they don't actually cool anything.  We have a big box fan, which we haven't needed to use yet.  And there are all sorts of cooling tips: don't run the oven much - and if you must bake, do everything in one day.  Keep the blinds or curtains (preferably both) closed when the sun is hot.  (I suspect an insulated curtain would be fantastic, but I haven't got one.)  Drink lots of cool - but not ice - water, all day, every day.  And monitor the temperature; if it drops in the evening, wait until outside is the same temperature or cooler than inside, and then open up all those windows and let the cool air in.  Just make sure you are awake early enough in the morning to close them all again before it gets hot!

It also helps to wear natural-fibre clothing - cotton and linen especially - not tight-fitting.  And this may be a personal preference but I tend to eat lots of cool things in the summer - fruit, smoothies, salads, sandwiches.  Anything that doesn't involve heat to prepare, and is cool on your insides when you eat it.

Well, this turned into less a mention of my own private A/C competition, and more a list of tips to beat the heat... but perhaps it will be useful.  I will keep you updated and let you know how long I last!  I am aiming to make it through June at least, but I don't know if that will happen.  We'll see!

Saturday, 28 May 2011

A Quilting Frame

I have been doing a fair amount of quilting and patchwork lately, and have felt the need of a quilting frame.  Last summer I bought a big hoop but it was unweildy and difficult to work with and I almost never used it. So this past week I did some searching online and after some research decided I would make my own out of PVC pipe.


I liked the look of this commercially-offered frame but definitely didn't like the $115.00 price tag.  I found instructions here to make a very similar one.  I did modify the dimensions slightly, making the frame about 30"x40" instead of the 40" square suggested.  I found almost all the materials at Lowes, right down the road, although I did have to order online the Snap Clamps that hold the quilt on the frame.  Even so, the materials cost me only $35.00 (including shipping for the snap clamps), and even if I count the hacksaw and blades which I bought to cut the pipes into the cost of material (and I am sure they will be used again for something else) the total cost of the frame is still under $50.  Less than half of what the commercially-made one costs!

A terrible photo but shows the construction of the frame.

It's not absolutely perfect - I could probably use a few more clamps to hold the fabric in place, and I may end up cutting it down to a slightly smaller size, maybe 25"x40 or so.  But for the time being I'm very pleased with it!


The only drawback is that I have to leave the quilt folded up on top of the frame, instead of decoratively draped, when I'm not working at it, because Conrad thinks hanging layers of fabric are the best toy ever. (Right now he is making great to-do over killing the little calico mouse Shannon made for him, since the quilt is safely out of the way.)

I must get back to work and finish a couple of dresses I'm making on commission.  But it's such a lovely day I don't want to be inside sewing!  The sun is shining, there's a bit of a breeze, and I hung my washing outside on a rack so it will dry quickly and smell sweet.

Have a lovely Saturday!

~Gillian

Tuesday, 24 May 2011

Conrad

I have a new kitten!  He was a graduation present from my best friend and her fiancĂ©, and he is absolutely adorable.  (He does not like to sit still to have his picture made, though).  He's about 10 weeks old - which means he's smaller than my size-eleven shoe, completely unfamiliar with a litter box, and still cries for his mother.  He's also currently a flea-bag, but we're working on that.


His name is Conrad, and I adore him.

Sunday, 22 May 2011

Graduation

Clearly God was listening to the stream of prayers coming from West Tennessee this past week, because the weather was perfect -- mid-eighties and sunny, with a breeze to keep it from being too hot.  My whole immediate family came (including my older brother, who I wasn't expecting - what a lovely surprise!) and we spent a great weekend together.


I now possess a Bachelor of Music degree in Vocal Performance.  Graduated magna cum laude and couldn't be happier!


Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm going to take a nap...

Friday, 20 May 2011

A Makeover

As I am sure you have noticed, I gave my blog an overhaul, redoing the layout and the colours.  Much as I liked the plain, almost spartan colour scheme and layout of the old look, I'm really enjoying the bright, spring green -- and the birds are a subtle reference to the meaning of my blog's title; "glanalaw" is a combination of two Welsh words which means, roughly, "pure melody".  Songbirds are the perfect image to go with that idea!  I'd appreciate feedback, though; is this readable?  Easy on the eye?  Do I need to tweak the colours?

I graduate from college tomorrow and start summer work (babysitting three mornings a week, and organizing my church's music library) on Monday.  It's hard to believe it's been four years since I first came to Union.  Time is funny - in a way it seems that these four years have flown by; in another, they've been the longest years of my life.  But some of the best.

I'll stop philosophizing now ;-)  Blessed weekend to you all!

Thursday, 19 May 2011

Rose


My friend Shannon brought me a rose today.


It is fat and silky, and it smells of ginger and wide-open fields.


Perfection in a blue mug.

Monday, 9 May 2011

A Biscuit Recipe

This afternoon as I was rummaging in the fridge for lunch, I came across a take-home box from Ruby Tuesday's that my roommate had left and said was fair game.  Most of it looked distasteful -- old green beans, weird broccoli soup -- but there was a single garlic-herb-cheese biscuit which looked edible, so I ate it.  It was quite good, but I was immediately seized with a desire to make my own biscuits!  So I did, just going "by feel" without a recipe, and they turned out so well that I thought I'd share what I did.


Garlic Cheese Biscuits

1.5 cups all purpose flour
1 T baking powder (approximately; I didn't measure, and I think I used a little less)
about 2 tsp. salt
garlic powder - about 1/2 tsp?*
a sprinkle of dried onions*
6 T butter, margarine or other solid fat
sprinklings of dried herbs - I used parsley
milk
cheddar cheese

Mix the dry ingredients, cut in the fat, add herbs and cheese, and stir in enough milk to make a wet dough.  (About 3/4 cup, maybe?  Again I didn't measure.)  Drop spoonfuls onto a cookie sheet and bake in a preheated 450-degree oven for about 10 minutes.  Eat them hot!


*You could also probably use fresh garlic and/or onions, finely minced.  But this is what I had on hand (and what I suspect the restaurant used!)

Sunday, 8 May 2011

Honeysuckle

The honeysuckle is blooming outside my apartment this week, in huge fragrant banks of cream and yellow.  The scent is intoxicating, and stronger than I've ever smelled honeysuckle.  I love walking out the door in the morning, or coming back to the apartment after a long day, to be greeted with such a fragrance.

I've spent the weekend sewing in my big chair by the window and enjoying the honeysuckle-scented breeze.  Spring is such a lovely time of year!

Saturday, 7 May 2011

Comfortable

We've got my friend's kittens staying with us again for a while.  Well, they're not so much kittens anymore, but the name stuck!  His sister is still pretty shy, but I think Velcro at least is enjoying his vacation.
Velcro, plus a tiny glimpse of my quilting project!

Wednesday, 4 May 2011

I Might Have Been A Little Tired

Yesterday, after presenting my lecture-recital on the Libby Larsen song cycle I sang on my senior recital, I came home and decided that a nap was in order.  It was 5 PM and I had to be at a band concert at 7:30, so I figured I'd get in an hour and a half of sleep -- a decent nap, enough to get me through the evening.  So I set the alarm for 6:30 and took a book to bed to read myself to sleep.

Next time I was conscious, it was 9:15.  In the morning.


Yes, I slept for sixteen hours.  No, I did not hear any of my alarms -- not the one for 6:30 PM, or the ones for 7:00, 7:40, and 8:12 AM.   Not once.  And I missed the band concert completely.

But I guess I needed sleep?

Monday, 2 May 2011

Polka Dots

I realised recently that though I've done quite a lot of sewing this winter and spring, I haven't posted about very many finished projects.  Partly this is because I've been busy, but mostly it's because I haven't been home, and therefore I haven't been able to talk my dad into photo shoots ;-)  But I've resolved to be better about this, and I've persuaded my roommate to snap some pictures whenever I wear one of my new creations.  We need to come up with some better locations for pictures, but you can't have everything.  So, here's the first one!


This is actually the most recent dress I've made and it's one of my favourites.  I used McCall's 5094.  The only alterations I made were to add two inches to each of the bodice sections.  (In retrospect, 1.5 inches would have been enough for the midriff section - it sits a tiny bit low and wrinkles a little.  Sometime I might go back and shorten it, but it's okay the way it is.)  I think for once I left the skirt the way it was designed!


I've had this fabric since spring semester of my sophomore year.  I even cut it out (except for the skirt lining) and made up half the bodice.  Then I realised I'd forgotten to add length to the bodice, so the "underbust" seam hit me mid-bust.  NOT attractive.  I guess I got frustrated and gave up, and it's been sitting on my shelf ever since.  A few weeks ago I decided I really did want to finish it, so I hauled it out, recut the bodice (I salvaged the straps from the first attempt) and put it together.

Somewhere in the last three years the instructions got lost... but I think I put it together more or less correctly.  Anyway, it fits!  This pattern went together quickly and it feels very "finished".  All the raw edges in the bodice are inside the lining, I did French seams on the skirt and lining, and turned the bodice lining over the waistband seam, so it's completely smooth and finished inside.  I even managed to do a hem on a partially bias-cut skirt that didn't wrinkle and scrunch itself!

I've worn this dress several times already, and I only finished it two weeks ago.  It's easy to dress up - here with my turquoise cardigan and pearls - or down; I wear it with an oatmeal-coloured corduroy jacket sometimes, or by itself if it's really hot.  And I'll definitely use this pattern again!