Saturday, May 31, 2008


This bag will literally take you one minute to make, although I'm going to give additional steps that will add both time and features or options to your market bag.

The one-minute version takes one tank top. I've grabbed one, basically at random, from my pile of tees and tanks.

The bag starts here

Turn the shirt inside out and stitch the bottom edges together, being careful not to stretch the fabric.

Turn it right side out. You're done! You now have a bag to can take to the store. It's strong, more or less capacious, depending on the size of the shirt you choose, and even has handles like the plastic bags the stores have, so you can hang it on the bag holders to fill it.

Did someone say something about wanting a flat bottom on the bag? In that case, keep the tee-bag inside out. Clip the side seams to your line of stitching across the bottom, so that you can lay your bottom seam flat, like so:

Centered seam

Lay it out carefully, so that the seam is centered on the point of a right triangle at each end. Cut two right triangles from paper (or one that you'll use twice). The hypotenuse (long side) should be as long as the width of the bottom you'd like to create. Pin the triangles to each end of the bottom seam.

Pattern in place

Stitch close to the pattern, and unpin.

No need to cut

Now your bag has a flat bottom, but it isn't very sturdy, so measure it and cut a piece of cardboard to fit.

Isn't this pretty cardboard? Almost hated to use it!

Drop the cardboard into the bag, fitting the points of the corners into the points of the bag bottom.


Hmmm. When I look at that photo, I see a tank top on a hanger! Better show the bag with something in it, huh? In this case, it's holding three pounds of coffee beans, a large can of baked beans, and a bottle of spray cleaner, with, I might add, plenty of room to spare.

Holding plenty, and still room for more

I promised options, with an "s". No pictures, but here are more:

  • Use a tee-shirt, rather than a tank top. Cut the sleeves off, and also the ribbing at the neck. Proceed as though you'd started with a tank. If you like, you can turn the edges of the "handles" under, to meet in the middle, and tack in place. No need to hem the edges though, as the jersey won't ravel.

  • OR use a tee, cut the sleeves off and sew the sides up all the way to the shoulders. Leave the ribbing for the neck, slitting it at one shoulder and thread a cord through for a drawstring. You can also slit it twice, at each shoulder seam, and make a double drawstring.

The extra large tees make great laundry bags. We always pack one to hang on a doorknob when we visit Mom or go traveling in the RV. They'd be really good for a student's dorm room, too.

Friday, May 30, 2008


DH is on his way home from the coast. I need, want, to have as much of the rental cleaned up as I can before he gets here, including getting most of the assorted furniture, kitchen wares, junk, and garbage cleared out.

But in between working on that house, and various other chores yesterday, I took sixty, count 'em, sixty photos of flowers around the yard, and I can't resist posting a few of them here. Now. It won't take but a minute, right?

Rosebud Flame

Budding Masterwort

Masterwort Pair

Layered Clematis

Reaching for the sun

Saturday, May 24, 2008


Been working on this for several weeks, but it's been so busy around here I only just now finished it. I'm pleased with the outcome, even if it did take weeks longer than the one afternoon it should have.

Some few people may remember I had a whole lot of fabric to sort a few weeks ago, and that the reward for the task was to keep what I loved. I fell in love with a sheer panel of fabric that had embroidered lily-of-the-valley on it. I mean, really fell in love with. It was (brace yourself) sheer inspiration. Lots of ideas, but which to use? This is what I chose:

First, the fabric itself:

Turned the way I'd use it

So 3-dimensional!

Cut out carefully

Position and tack in place

An added note: Be sure when you use fabric glue to read and follow the directions. I ended up using Liquid Thread, which must be ironed to be permanent. Until you apply heat, it can be washed out. The motifs I cut out frayed very easily, so I coated the entire piece on the back, just to be safe.

Cut away excess fabric

Follow the line of your appliqué piece, leaving enough for a narrow hem.

Turn edge under

You'll probably need to clip all the curves to relieve any tightness or straining. Miter excess fabric as needed, too. I used invisible thread, which is rather like very thin fishing line. It's transparent, so even using a whipstitch and going from color to color, it doesn't show at all.

Turn a narrow hem along the back. It's a good idea to stay stitch across the back first, to keep the fabric from stretching. I used a rolled stitch there, but a straight stitch would have done, I think. T-shirt jersey doesn't fray, so I didn't finish off the raw edge.

All Done!

I thought of covering the back neckline with bias tape or ribbon, but opted not to do that.

Can't wait to wear my altered tee!

Wednesday, May 21, 2008


The iris are blooming. Oh, I do love iris. There are so many varieties, it gets hard to choose between them, and every year I seem to add a few. These shots are from the new bed I put in last fall.

And a Columbine...

Tuesday, May 20, 2008


Once upon a time, a long time ago, there were three brothers and two sisters. They were not only siblings, though, they were the greatest of friends, and when, in due time, they married, their spouses also became close.

When there are ten of you, it's easy to stay in touch and keep up with all the news and events. When there are twenty, it gets a little harder, and when you start edging up on a hundred, it's practically impossible. Family reunions are one way to keep close, but they're problematic for the women, who tend to wind up taking care of the kids and putting together the meals. They're great in many respects, but I think for the women they can be almost more work than pleasure.

Years ago, my family came up a solution: We have a Parker Ladies' Night Out every year, toward the end of spring. There are no men allowed. There are no children, except for babies too young to be without their mothers for a weekend.

Weekend. I don't know why we call it a Night Out. It's always a weekend. We start gathering late on a Friday afternoon, and break up the party on Sunday. There's a kind of traditional schedule: Friday dinner is potluck, breakfasts are provided by whichever branch of the family has put the Night Out together (we take turns), lunch is wherever and whatever, dinner Saturday is a pre-selected restaurant, or sometimes, catered.

Between the meals, we play. We sit around and swap stories, take walks, go shopping, play games, and do crafts.

These are some of the things we've done:

One year, everyone was supposed to bring a story, a memory, about family. We all sat in Aunt Charlotte's living room, laughing and talking, while the recorder ran. I heard stories I'd never heard before, and laughed until my sides ached.

One year, we went for a walk on the beach and gathered bits of shell and flotsam, which we brought back to the beach house we'd rented, and placed in Mason jars half filled with sand, creating little arrangements. A small candle was placed in the center, so we ended up with a kind of lantern. In the evening, we put all the jars in a row on the mantel, and lit the candles, and then each woman, in turn, stood by her light and told a story about a family member who wasn't there, either because they couldn't come, or because they were deceased.

Another year, our hostessing group brought stacks of magazines. All our names were put into a bag, and we each drew one. Then we sat down with the magazines, scissors, and glue, and cut out pictures that seemed to us to describe the person whose name we'd drawn. When we were finished, we spread all the collages out on the table, and tried to guess who each page represented. There was a prize for the one guessed correctly most often. Then each women held her sheet up, said whose name she'd drawn, and told why she'd picked the pictures she had.

This year, of course, it was "our" turn, my Aunt Charlotte's, Mom's, my cousins, and myself, and we did the Generations Photo Coasters as our project. My cousins found a wonderful beach house to rent, which slept twenty-four, and had a hot tub, pool table, ping pong table, foos ball, and air hockey. It was beautiful, and horribly expensive, by my lights, but by the time we divided the roughly $600 a night by twenty two women, we each paid only about $70, plus dinner out, for the entire weekend. Not bad, really. In five years, when it's our turn again, I think my daughter(s) will get involved with the planning. In fact, my eldest already has the next spot picked out, a conference center near Silver Creek Falls, which is a beautiful area, with hiking, antique shops, and a well-known iris garden all close by.

Our Ladies' Nights Out are something we look forward to all year, starting, I think, as we drive away. The only complaints we get are that we don't have enough time! (In fact, our little branch of the family will do our own get-together this fall, and take five or six days. That oughta do it. Maybe.)

It's truly, to me, something the women in every family should get to do.
(No pictures tonight. It's nearly 1am, and I'm tired, but I'll insert some tomorrow.)

Sunday, May 18, 2008


We're still at the coast for our annual Parker Ladies' Night Out. It's a quarter to nine in the evening, and we're home from dinner. Now there's a group of women lounging in arm chairs and on the sofa, talking and laughing about relationships, kids, sons-in-law, babies--all those sorts of perennial favorite woman subjects. We'll probably start up a Bunko game soon, with a concurrent pool tournament and maybe some ping pong going on downstairs.

We always have a craft to do. This year's was a simple one, but lots of fun, and a lot more time-consuming than I'd envisioned. I should have known better, given what I came up with.

Here's the finished product, and I'll explain what to do below the picture.

Generations Coasters

To make your coasters, you'll need:

  • Non-functional Cd's

  • Family photographs

  • Felt

  • Clear self-stick plastic

  • Glue

If you have the clear plastic disk they put on the top of a spindle of new Cd's, that makes a great pattern for marking your photographs. Otherwise, use one of the Cd's as a pattern. Cut your photos to fit the Cd. Glue the photo to one side of the Cd. From the felt, cut a circle the same size as the Cd and glue to the other side. Cover the photo with a piece of the self-adhesive vinyl that is slightly larger than the Cd, and trim it to fit.

That's the gist of this craft. With a photo editing program, you can refine your pictures, and also expand or shrink them for a better fit.

We had albums and boxes of family photos to work with, and spend hours pouring through them. Picking just a few was not easy, and I think a number of us made copies of the pictures for later use. There were so many stories, and more questions than I'd have credited--"Who is this adorable kid?" "Mom, I know that's you, but who is that?" "Why did they call Jennifer Polly, if her name was Cordie?"

The Cd coasters I've shown above are specially sweet for me. The one farthest left is my maternal grandfather as a young man, then comes my Mom and Dad, posing joyfully the day they got engaged. Then there's a photo of my beautiful Mama, holding her newborn baby, my older brother. The last photo coaster shows Mama with one of her granddaughters, a grandson-in-law, and her great-granddaughter. I love the obvious fun and love of it.

Mama is planning a set of all of her siblings' photos, and another of her children. I'd like to do more of the very old photographs. There was even a picture I don't think I'd ever seen of my great-great-great-great grandfather, a wonderful picture of him standing beside his horse, two dogs at his feet. He's dressed in typical cowboy garb. It's a treasure. I'm sure there would be many more themes you could use for these coasters, even beyond family.

We spent time after we were finished comparing and sharing. It was a treat to see the different pictures my aunts and cousins selected, and hear the additional stories and memories come out.

Saturday, May 17, 2008


I started to write "Easy as pie" up there in the title, but you know what? I've baked a lot of pies, and pies just aren't that easy. This recipe is for a casserole that's considerably easier than pie, and yummy, too.


1 cup uncooked rice
2 cups sour cream
1 pound diced Monterey Jack cheese
4 oz chopped green chiles (1 small can)

Mix the four ingredients together, right in the casserole dish. Cover and bake at 350 degrees F until the rice is tender, about forty minutes.

That's it. No water, no precooking of the rice. You can substitute plain yogurt for at least half the sour cream, which would be healthier, and still tastes great. I haven't tried it, but probably you could use all yogurt, and skip the sour cream altogether.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Mme GUILLAUME Le COIN (Mrs Bill the Quack)

New Tea Kettle Character, or more precisely, a little lady made from an old china cream pitcher.

I've named her Mme Guillaume Le Coin, French for Mrs William the Quack. (Pronunciation: In French, the "oi" combination sounds like "wa", so "coin" comes out "qwa", their way of spelling and saying the sound a duck makes.)

Mrs. Quack's friends call her The Duckess, a rudely affectionate referral to both her name and the shape of her rather flat nose.

Here she is:

I'm leaving this morning for the coast. It's the annual Parker Ladies' Night Out, and I'm so looking forward to it.

This is a tradition in our family, an annual get-together of as many of the women on my mom's side of the family as can make it. No husbands, and no kids, except for nursing babies. The weekend is ours, and we love it. This year it's being taken care of by my mom and her sister and their daughters. Other years, the children of my Grandpa Parker's siblings do the hosting, so each branch of the family gets a turn.

I'll be taking pictures and writing about this later. I think every family should have a weekend for the women! Bond over Bunk-o! Laugh over lunch! Dish over dessert! It's more than good--it's wonderful.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008


I was trolling through Etsy today, and came across Siansbury's shop. I was, and am, completely smitten with her sock chicken. What a total hoot! It set me clucking and chuckling, let me tell you. I just wanted to share it, so here are photos:

I had a flash of happy memory as I was putting this together. When I was a little girl, maybe from the time I was four until I was five or so, when I colored in my coloring books, I colored in stripes. I wanted to use every crayon in the box,and not leave any of those lovely hues out.

Everything was a rainbow of color, just like Siansburys' chicken. All these years later, and I still don't want to leave out any colors. Guess there's just no growing me up, huh?

(Be sure to visit her shop and see the other animals in her menagerie!)

Monday, May 12, 2008


I was sleeping so hard this morning that when the phone rang I sat bolt upright, threw back the blankets, scattering my book, glasses, pencil, and a couple of hair curlers to the floor, and lunged. I must have sounded punch drunk when I answered.

"Sorry to call you so early," my tenant said. (Early? I'd just overslept by an hour and a half! My poor doggie would be dieing of an overstretched bladder by now.) "My toilet is stopped up, and I've plunged it and plunged it, and I just can't get it."

"No worries. I'll get it taken care of."

She said she'd be leaving for the dentist in half an hour, and to just walk in, so after a cup of coffee, or two, I trudged to the back house, plunger in hand.

There are tricks to unstopping a toilet.

  • Wear gloves. That's number one for me.

  • Use a plunger that actually fits the hole at the bottom of the toilet bowl. I had one, Connie had two, and I still ended up borrowing one from another tenant, which did the trick.

  • Put the plunger down in, and try to get a good seal going, then use multiple little shoves down-down-down-down and UP! Pull the plunger out of the hole quickly, which should do the trick. You might have to do that more than once.

  • Test it, to see. Don't flush the toilet! What if you didn't get it unstopped? (I have been there, done that, and bought the t-shirt.) You can lift the top off the tank, and pull up a little on the lever that lets water flow. That will show you. Or pour some water into the bowl. If the level goes down, you got it.

Well, I did all those things, several times, and no luck.

Here's where the new trick comes in, one that Mister Bruce came up with. Maybe plumbers do this, but I'd never heard of it. Get the dish soap, and pour several ounces into the toilet bowl. It does two things: First, it helps you get a tighter seal between the plunger and the bowl, and second, it lubricates whatever is causing the stoppage.

Presto! No more stopped toilet!

Goodness. It's nearly eleven. I've unstopped that toilet, talked to DH on the phone twice, glued a couple of Mega Blossoms and a Tea Kettle Character, and started to unload the van from Saturday's show.

But I forgot to eat breakfast. Maybe I'll do that next.

Thursday, May 8, 2008


I have two new Tea Kettle Characters! I especially love the one with bare feet, who is only the second little person I've made that had feet at all. Those mugs are hard to find! (The first one I found wore cowboy boots.)

I plan on listing them in my Etsy shop tonight. Here they are:

On the subject of new experiences, I had two today:

First, I got to sit in on a garden club meeting. I've wondered for years about garden clubs, and what it would be like to be a member. Just the words "garden club" conjure up visions of ladies in flowered hats, holding tea cups, and chatting in Latin.

"You should see the pelagoriums this year! Stunning, simply marvelous."

"My euphorbia griffiti is so bright, simply the perfect foil for that delightful Aconitum x cammarum Bicolor I put in last week."

And frankly, that would be bliss for me, although I'd forgo the hat. I do look awful in a hat. Once every five or six years maybe, I find one that looks good.

It wasn't like that, much. There were a lot of people there, many more than I'd expected. I'm guessing at least fifty, and everybody looked perfectly normal, and not the least bit stuffy, even if a number of Latin terms were tossed about. I loved the Pledge of Conservation they recited at the beginning, and there was an inspiring reading about butterflies, or more precisely, metamorphosis, as a metaphor for life and its transitions.

There were also two guest speakers, of which I was one. That was the other new experience. I've never been invited to talk to a group about my art before. It was so much fun! I'd been concerned I might be nervous, even though I spend a fair amount of time on stage singing. Talking, having to speak freestyle, as you might put it, seemed so much different than having lyrics memorized. But I wasn't nervous, and everyone seemed to enjoy my little talk.

One of the meeting's activities this day was a sale of garden art. I had a table, naturally enough. (As I recall, that's how Robin coaxed me into being a speaker.) People were enthusiastic about what I had, and I do believe it had something to do with talking about my art, letting people inside my head, as it were.

I'd do it again in a New York minute. (That's quick, right? No one ever seems to define that term....)

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