Thursday, November 24, 2005

Happy Thanksgiving!

I hope that everyone had a Happy Thanksgiving. I enjoyed the day very much. It was a relaxing time, and I got to see my sister! She moved to California over a year ago, and decided to come and visit this year. She came with her boyfriend and his son and their dog.

Here are some photos:

We had turkey (of course), ham, rice, dressing, gravy, squash casserole, broccoli casserole, sweet potato casserole, cranberry relish and sauce, potato salad, green beans, biscuits, tea and coffee. For dessert, we had fresh coconut cake, pumpkin pie, and apple tart with vanilla ice cream. It was a wonderful meal. My mother prepared it all, the sweet southern woman that she is. My sister and I just came and brought our sweet men to eat it all. Yum! Even the dog had a plate!

The photos were all taken after the meal, and everyone was stuffed and happy. Here's another photo of my sister, my mom, and me:

And another photo of my mom with my step-dad.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Farewell Kenmore, Hello Simplicity!

My poor old Kenmore model 12493 has finally died. It was purchased by my first husband way back in 1984, and I used it to make maternity clothes, baby clothes, little boy clothes, pillows, curtains, dresses, blouses - the list goes on and on. This old Kenmore was there for me through all the repairs of torn jeans, ripped seams, and split pants of many years. After my first marriage ended, I sewed shirts for new boyfriends, pillows for friends, and tote bags for piano students. I even used it to make costumes for my church's Christmas play one year.

My new husband Marvin has watched me sew a few things, smiling at me the entire time. (He's so much sweeter than my first husband.) My old Kenmore has been with me through a lot of life's adventures. I spent the last few weeks making a maternity blouse for Marvin's daughter, and premature baby vests for a hospital charity. While making the last vest, my old Kenmore has screamed and scraped along, crying for mercy. I know it doesn't need oil, because I spent an hour oiling every moving part a few weeks ago. I think it's just the end of a great friendship. Time to say goodbye.

So......I've spent the entire day researching the internet for a new sewing machine. I can't afford to buy one at full retail price, so I've been looking on ebay mostly. We don't have any spare money at all, so we're going to have to cut back somewhere in order to make this purchase. We decided to purchase a new machine for 100 dollars at the most, which has really limited my choices.

My dream is to have a combination sewing/embroidery machine so I can make pretty items for the hospital charity, but I have to let that dream die I guess. Those embroidery machines are WAY expensive. I did find one for 200 dollars on ebay, but after researching it, I realized that the thread alone would have cost a fortune. Good thing I didn't bid on it.

Today, I found a lot of options on ebay that are more in line with our budget. There was one machine I really wanted, but it costs 150 dollars. Marvin wanted me to go ahead and get it, but I just couldn't do it with a clear conscience. Our money is so tight, so it just wouldn't be fair. He told me to choose the machine I want, and then he went to sleep.

As Marvin lay asleep, I continued looking on the internet for more options. I prayed to God, saying, "Lord, help me find a good sewing machine so I can sew more baby clothes for the hospital charity. It would be nice to have a good machine, so any help is greatly appreciated." Then, I kept perusing the internet.
I decided to make a spreadsheet of the different sewing machines I found. I made columns for Brand, Model, Ebay Price (including shipping), Built-In Stitches, Stitch Functions, Buttonhole Capability, Embroidery Stitches, and Retail Price.

The machine I really, really liked was the Brother CS6000T, which is the one I told Marvin about. It costs $150. It has 60 built in stitches, 100 stitch functions, a 1-step buttonhole, quilting capabilities, a large quilting table, and 34 embroidery stitches. It retails for more than $400, so it was a real deal at $150. But, we just can't afford that right now.

My next favorite was the Brother XL3500T. It costs $120, has 35 stitches, 59 stitch functions, a 4-step buttonhole, quilting capabilities, a large quilting table, and 18 embroidery stitches. It retails for $269, so it's a pretty good deal. But I kept thinking that for $30 more, I could have the better model which is a super deal in comparison. I just couldn't live with making that purchase.

Next on my list was the Brother XL 2600. It costs $95, has 25 stitches, 59 stitch functions, and a 4-step buttonhole. It retails for $169. It just didn't really grab me. No embroidery stitches at all.....bummer.

So, then I started looking further on ebay to see what else I could find. I spent many hours looking at several brands and models, reading reviews on and studying specifications on their brand websites.

Eventually, I came across the Simplicity Denim Star SW210. It looked kind of wimpy in comparison to the Brother CS6000T. It doesn't have a large quilting table, and it's not a "computerized" model. But, the price is right - $79.00 including shipping. It has 21 built-in stitches, 45 stitch functions, a 4-step buttonhole, and a few other things that got my attention. The box includes an instruction video, and a pattern to make a denim tote bag. It also has a coupon to get 3 free Simplicity patterns. Cool! It has some embroidery stitches too!

I found a review on the internet that encouraged me as well, so I decided to go for it. I went to the auction and clicked "Buy It Now". It felt good to make my choice and be happy about it.

Tomorrow, I'll go to the post office and mail my money order. It sure will be nice to get a new sewing machine. Yippee!

I still have a few more sleepy vests to make for the premature babies, so I might have to borrow my mom's machine for a few days until my new "Denim Star" gets here. She probably won't mind, since it's for a good cause. If all else fails, I'll use my old serger. Hey, if I wear that one out, maybe I can talk Marvin into letting me get a new serger too! : P

Friday, November 18, 2005

The Organ at My Church

Last night, I took some photos of the organ at my church to show where I spend my Sunday mornings. It's a decent size organ - a 3 manual Gallanti. It doesn't sound too bad for an electronic machine. : ) But, I do dream of playing a pipe organ. That would be awesome. I studied on a pipe organ in college, but I've never been hired by a church that owns one. At least I have experienced the pleasure of sitting at one and making my hair stand on end from the majestic sounds it creates.

I guess my most exciting pipe organ moment was taking a few lessons from Dan Miller on the Calvary Grand Organ. That was amazing. The organ itself was magnificent, and Dan was a real joy to meet. His playing is phenomenal, but he doesn't boast about it. He's a really cool guy.

I am so jealous of his long fingers and feet! He can play the keyboards and pedals so easily because of their reach. My fingers and feet are short, so it really limits my repertoire.

I'll be seeing my organ instructor, Dr. Andre Lash in a couple weeks. I've asked for his help on some pieces our church will be performing for Christmas. The Pergolesi "Magnificat" and "This Child, This King" by Daniel Gawthrop. Wish me luck!

Knitting for Charity

My knitting needles have been clicking every night, and the results are so cute! I've been making hats and booties for premature babies in Charlotte area hospitals. The Christmas sets are adorable!

I make these sets for an organization in Charlotte called "Charlotte Threads of Love". Here's their website:

It has been so much fun to work on these items. I just wish I could be there at the hospital to see them on the little tiny babies. That would be so cool. Those little babies are too small for regular baby clothes, so all their items have to be made for them.

There are so many free patterns on the internet! I have spent as much time looking through all the patterns as I have spent knitting. The pattern surfing is so addictive. All you have to do is go to and search for "free knitting pattern", and you'll find a treasure trove of patterns. Way cool.

Back to knitting....and pattern surfing. : )

Friday, November 11, 2005

My Sewing Memories

I'm changing gears and working on sewing for a while. My knitting is going along just fine. My embroidery is on hold for a little while. But, I have to do some sewing, because my husband's daughter is expecting a baby in February, and she needs some maternity clothes! Maternity clothes are so expensive, and you only wear them for a short time, so it makes sense to save all the money you can and make them yourself.

So, I bought about 4 maternity patterns that she liked, and now I'm working on the first item - a nice pink top with bell sleeves. The pattern is Simplicity 5106.

While working on the stitching, I started remembering all the sewing I've done in my life. I learned to sew in my 4-H club - The Willow Oak club in Union County. I can't remember the name of my leader, but she was very nice. She lived on a farm, and she showed other club members how to work with the animals. I had no interest in those things, but I loved cooking, sewing, and other household pursuits. She taught me how to sew a simple gingham skirt and kerchief, and then showed me how to add cross-stitch on the borders. It turned out so nice, and I really enjoyed wearing it for the annual 4-H fashion show. I was so proud.

My mother used to sew occasionally, but as I recall, she was not a very patient seamstress. She constantly complained about the sewing machine! I used to tell her to "just quit sewing and do something else!" My sister and I learned to hide in our rooms on the days she was sewing. We knew we would get screamed at if we uttered a sound.

My own experience with sewing was much more satisfying. Of course, my mother was always there if the bobbin got stuck or the needle broke. I was lucky that she was cushioning my catastrophes. Over the years, I continued sewing, and I haven't stopped yet. I purchased my own sewing machine, a Sears Kenmore 10 stitch model, right after I got married the first time. I was 20 years old then. When I got pregnant a year later, I took the machine out and started making maternity clothes.

I made several dresses and tops, and only had to buy pants. So it was definitely a cost-worthy endeavor. I was able to use those maternity clothes for all of my pregnancies! Here I am, wearing a simple plaid dress I sewed when I was pregnant with my second son, Noah. My first son, Josh is in my lap.

I occasionally made things for my boys to wear, but boys clothes are so simple and boring. I never made any pictures of them. Now, if I had girls, I would have happily made dresses and taken tons of pictures of those.

And now, for my great surprise - my step-daughter is expecting a girl! Yippee! Now, I can finally look forward to making frilly dresses and hats. I can't wait.

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Cross Stitch Charts for Tired Eyes

I have discovered a way to use my old cross-stitch patterns. I was afraid that I would never be able to do cross-stitch again, because my vision has gotten to the point where I can't see the charts anymore.

Well, I put my brain to work on that problem, and realized one easy solution. Using the scanner with my computer, I scan the design and save it on my hard drive. Then, I open the design and enlarge it on my screen! I can get as close as I want, and I can see every single little detail. It is so cool!

< - - - Actual Size.

So, now I've been scanning all my cross-stitch designs and writing them to a CD so I can use them on any computer. Way cool.

< - - Zoomed In Version