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Turtleneck stash busting

Yes, there is such a thing as a turtleneck stash.  Mine was becoming ridiculous.  I wear turtlenecks solo, and under everything from dresses, to sweaters, to t-shirts.  After months and years of washings and wearings, some start to fade.  Some shrink vertically, and become too short in the body and sleeves.  Some develop a bulkier, boxy shape, that doesn’t fit well under other garments.

This winter I summoned the courage to start carving them up.  I loved the resulting composite pieces.  I lengthened sleeves and torsos, and converted regular t-shirts into long-sleeved turtlenecks.

IMG_20180402_162739867-aw rsr(All photos taken under the watchful eye of the pupervisor.)

I attend a lot of college basketball and football games, so wearing a color-blocked garment turned out to be a great way to ‘represent’.

Color blocking made layering more fun.  IMG_20180402_164246137-aw rsr

The color blocked garments were versatile. IMG_20180402_175041886-aw rsr

I also tried lengthening the torso by inserting a band in the middle.  This brown and grey one doesn’t look smooth in the picture, but it actually looks fine when worn.

IMG_20180402_170801338-aw rsr

The turtleneck stash had outgrown the drawer, and then the shelve(s) dedicated to their storage.  Even after cutting and combining several of them, I still have a bunch of old turtlenecks that need to be boxed up for donation.  That will happen once turtleneck wearing season is over.

 

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Coco dress and the pup-prentice

After seeing many great examples in the blogosphere, of the Coco dress pattern by Tilly and the Buttons, I finally downloaded the pattern and gave it my own try.  The pattern is wildly popular, and now I know why.  It was fast to make, the fit perfect, and the style cute and comfortable.  There’s no need for me to do a full pattern review.  It’s been done elsewhere, by better reviewers.  You might want to start by checking out the Coco Pinterest gallery.

So, about my version:  I went wild with the print.  This fabric had been sitting on my stash shelf for several years.  It is a spandex swimsuit knit.

dress mannequin - rsr

This fabric is stretchier and lighter weight than the pattern recommends.  But, it worked really well, with the exception of the collar, which drapes like a cowl instead of staying rolled in place.  For lightweight fabric such as this, I suggest using an interfacing in the collar for extra body.

Because the print isn’t crazy enough (hehe), I went through my stash of trims, and added some stripes down the arms.  I’m super happy with the result.

Dress sleeves - rsr

New phone camera doesn’t do so well on mirror selfies. 😡   Not sure if it is the mirror or lighting.  But here is the dress at the end of its first wearing to the office.

dress - rsr

When I originally purchased the fabric, it was to make some quick, wild summer car seat slipcovers.  Those worked out great, too.  But I bought way too much fabric, and the rest sat on the shelf, almost going in the donation box more than once.

The ‘Pup-prentice’

I can’t forget to credit my foster ‘pup-prentice’.  He insisted on helping at every step; even when it meant crawling under my chair and up through the sewing cabinet.

 

dress2 - rsr w pupprentice

 

12 new habits for 2018

It took me an extra month to figure out my goals for 2018.  Then it has taken me another month to tell people about it.  But here it is:  I want to adopt one new habit per month.  I started successfully with a January habit, which inspired me to keep going with a new habit per month.

Monthly Habits:

January:  Get up at a regular time, and do 15 minutes of yoga stretches.

Janathon helped by giving me fun daily reminders to report my effort.

janathon-participant-logo

Our local PBS station has been the other help, by showing Priscilla’s Yoga Stretches each morning from 6-6:30.  They fit two 15-minute sessions in that time slot.  I’ve been doing the 6:15 session.  Perfecto!

February:  90 minutes of ‘Monk Mode’ each morning.

I’ve seen various descriptions of what ‘monk mode’ means, so I’ve tailored my own version to what I need.  I’m trying for a straight 90 minutes of office work, in the morning before I get distracted by other things.  During this 90 minutes, I am trying to refrain from checking online news sources, blogs, and of course, Facebook.  Ideally, the 90 minutes would be with no TV or radio.  But, there are things I listen to in the morning to get my daily current events updates.  So maybe I need an afternoon monk mode session as well, in total silence.  Maybe that is a habit for a later month.

Monk Mode thumbnail

https://www.bbc.com/ideas/videos/monk-mode-and-five-other-tips-for-work-life-balanc/p05t70bk

March:  ‘Spring cleaning’, baby!  One hour, one room, per day

I am focusing on one room per day for cleanup, decluttering, rearranging, reorganizing, etc.  I’m trying for an hour per day on this task.  Do I include the yard and car as ‘rooms’?  Looking at them, the answer is an emphatic yes!  Does it make the goal too broad and undefined?  Maybe.

April:  I haven’t decided on April’s new habit.  I want to decide month by month.  I have ideas for some of the upcoming months.  Potential categories are home management, productivity, conservation, health, fitness, enlightenment, budgeting.

How’s it going so far?

  • The yoga habit has stuck like glue.  I feel great, my posture is better I think, and I love the jump-start it gives to my morning.
  • The monk mode habit, hmmm.  I’m now aghast at how sporadic, sloppy and undisciplined my work concentration has become.  If I had charted my month of devotion to this habit, the chart would look like a roller coaster.  To me, this means I need to keep ‘monk mode’ in my morning routine, and need to make a consistent effort to accomplish it.
  • The room-a-day habit is not a habit yet.  But each day something gets done.  I’m looking forward to what the place looks like on March 31.

The regular activities continue.  Fitness, food prep and nutrition, sewing.  I don’t need to set goals to make these a regular part of my routine.  For that I’m truly thankful.



On 2017 projects:

The puppy/dog fostering has been a wonderful addition to my life:

Cambree5--watermarkJeremy back fence-a--watermarkRufus sitting1--watermark

Jeans waist, not waste

I made an executive decision last week, to ban low-rise jeans from my person.  I despise the old low-rise trend; can’t stand wearing them.  They never feel right.

Low-rise jeans are also bad for the body, I think.  They ruin posture and cause expanding waistlines.  They promote slouching and spreading, because slouching and spreading the hips is what you have to do to keep them in place.

The pair of low-rise skinny jeans that caused this epiphany, still has some wear in them, and I like the color and weight.  When I endured the misery yet again of wearing them last week, I resolved to either fix the waist or be content to ruin them trying.

Result:  Waist is fixed!

The jeans before:

  • Low waistband in front;
  • High enough in back;
  • Tiny zipper.

Jeans before--RSR

Here’s how the process went:

  • Unzip the zipper.
  • Detach the front belt loops from the body of the jeans.  (They can probably stay attached to the top of the waistband.)
  • Cut the waistband off, from the center front to the side seam.

Jeans cut waist--RSR

Important:  Do not zip up the zipper.  With the waistband out of the way, there may not be a stop to keep the zipper pull from coming off at the top.  Instead, keep the zipper pulled down, and use pins to position the fly until the insert is sewn in place.

Pin the pockets and zipper to hold them in place.

Jeans cut waist full--RSR

Put the jeans on and identify where the waistband naturally feels right.

Jeans waistband fit--RSR

Cut two pieces of denim to insert in the open space across the front.  The pieces should be roughly the same shape as the open space, but slightly larger than the space on all sides.

Jeans insert--RSR

With the waistband moved out of the way, sew each insert piece to the body of the jeans, right sides together.

Jeans seam--RSR

Flip the insert piece over, and the seam looks like this.

Jeans seam after--RSR

Put the jeans on again, to identify the waistband placement on the insert, and pin the waistband in place.

Topstitch the waistband onto the insert fabric.  (Make sure the belt loops are out of the way of the stitching)

Jeans waistband placement--RSR

Trim the insert fabric even with the top of the waistband.  Fold the center front excess to the inside and topstitch in place.  Inside out, the insert will look like this:

Jeans finished inside--RSR

You will need something to close the gap where the zipper is too short.  I used velcro.  It was easy to place and stitch, and holds the gap closed.  I first added the long velcro shown next to the zipper.  That wasn’t effective.  The short piece above the zipper worked, and was actually easier to put on.

Jeans velcro--RSR

Finished look:

Jeans modeling after--RSR

The insert has a slight indented look, for some reason that I haven’t tried to figure out.  I don’t care.  The waistband feels great.

Recycle Routine (p.s. it’s easy and awesome!)

Back in early April, I wrote that a change was coming to my household routine.  And now the details:  On April Fools Day, I cancelled my weekly residential curbside garbage service, and replaced it with a DIY recycle routine.  Before the switch, I spent several weeks considering:

  • What I was throwing away each week (i.e., the number and type of items discarded, and the volume);
  • How much I was paying for weekly curbside garbage service ($56 quarterly);
  • How many times I wasn’t home on garbage pickup day, or merely forgot to set the bin at the curb;
  • How much an occasional trip to the landfill would cost in money and inconvenience ($25 per load, apx five miles away, open on weekends).

Then I decided to give the recycle routine a 3-month trial period.  I began taking all of my paper, glass, metal, and most plastics to the local recycle center.  Yard clippings got mulched and/or composted.  I was already composting food waste.

Recycle bins

The Verdict:  This isn’t foolish; it’s awesome!  I never want to go back to curbside garbage service.  I feel good about recycling and being more aware of buying non-recyclable stuff.  Correction:  I feel great about it.  I save a little bit of money, but that’s not even the biggest benefit.  The routine is better and easier.  Honest!

The recycle center is less than a mile from my house, and is open 3 days a week.  Gone is the problem of being away on garbage day, or forgetting to put the bin out at the curb.

The recycle center is like a reverse grocery store.  You park, put your items in the grocery cart, push the cart around to the various labeled disposal bins, and drop off your items.  I’m in and out of the recycle center in 2-5 minutes.

Recycle1

About that curbside garbage bin:  I no longer have the big, ugly, dirty garbage service bin in my yard.  Instead, I have three small baskets under a kitchen cabinet, for paper, plastic and ‘other’.  The ‘other’ basket holds cans, foil and glass.

Recycle bins kitchen--RSR

The biggest volume of my weekly curbside garbage was weeds and bush trimmings.  Those now get mulched and/or composted, thanks in part to the little chipper-shredder I bought with the initial savings from the cancelled garbage service.

chipper shredder-RSR

There are some items the recycle center won’t take, such as Styrofoam and cheese wrappers.  I seldom get styrofoam packaging, and I don’t consume a lot of cheese.  When I do have a cheese wrapper, I take it with me on my next trip to the grocery store, and put it in the garbage can at the store entrance.  In other words, I take it back to the place where I bought it.  Is that ethical?  I’m still contemplating that.  I store other non-recyclables out of the way in my shed, for taking to the landfill.  I’ve only had to make one trip to the landfill so far, and had a free coupon for it.

Has this new recycle routine changed how I shop?  Yes, a little bit.  For instance, recently, I was trying to choose between two brands of whole wheat flour; each the same price.  Then I noticed that one was in a paper package, but the other in non-recyclable, cheese-wrapper-type plastic.  So, aha, I chose the paper package.

How good do I feel about my recycle routine?  The recycle center reminds me at the end of every visit.

Recycling Center sign-RSR

Something new I learned:  Disposable wipes contain plastic.

 

Howling for Vintage Houndstooth

Minutes before closing time at my fave vintage clothing store last Sunday, I was flipping through the skirt rack, and there was this.  Houndstooth. Plain style.  My size.  Low price.  Score!    The skirt

I imagined the skirt with tights and a sweater.  skirt ensemble

The sides of the skirt stuck out a little bit, where my hips are not as curvy as ‘Ms. Average’ (whom I’ve never personally met).  So, inside, I sewed a line of stitching on the side seams, to straighten things out.

Skirt side seam--alteration lineskirt side seam 2--alteration line

Then steam pressed the altered seam.

It only takes a few minutes, to do this alteration, but makes the difference between a skirt fitting me, and a skirt that sticks out awkwardly on the sides.

modeling the skirt

And speaking of hound teeth…  I’ve just started being a volunteer foster mom for the humane society.  Here’s my first little guy, 3 months old, with the cutest biggest ears on any pup ever.  He was with me for a month for ‘socialization’.  At first, he was completely timid and shy.  But by the end of the month, he was a little tyrant, demanding attention, chewing on shoes and belts, digging holes in the yard, and basically running the house.  In other words, being a delightful growing pup.  He has now been adopted by his ‘forever family’.  ❤ ❤ ❤

Another month; another challenge

Purging, refreshing, renewing.  I think they call this ‘Spring Cleaning’.  My inspiration was this blog challenge:   40 Bags in 40 Days.

Confession:  I have not moved out a bag a day, exactly, but I have done this:

  • Made several donation trips.
  • Filled my trash bin each week.
  • Explored the nearby recycle center…and am building a routine for it.

Result:  My house is looking visibly better, with two weeks left to go in the challenge.

These past two months of non-blogging have been full of personal highs and lows.  I have a family member staying with me while he gets back on his feet.  If you ever get the chance to really get to know a sibling again, don’t pass it up.  ❤

JBE bicycling-RSR

About the recycle center.  It is leading to a permanent change in this household.  Stay tuned for more details…

Recycling Center sign-RSR

And now the new challenge is:  April Challenge: 30 days of biking

‘Day 1’ of the bike challenge is in the books, with a bicycle trip to the recycle center.  See what I did there?  I checked off two boxes in one day. *grin*

DIY Touchscreen Gloves–indulging my inner geek

My one coveted pair of touchscreen gloves, that came as swag in last year’s Run in the New Year 5k, were ‘accidentally’ carried off by my nephew at the end of that very cold but exciting night of college football back in November.  I’ve put him on notice that I will be coming to retrieve them.  But in the meantime, because I need to use my phone when bicycling and running in the cold, I experimented this week with diy options.

In searching online for diy touchscreen gloves, I learned about conductive thread, that can be purchased and knitted (or crocheted) onto the fingertips of an existing pair of gloves.  The reviews are mixed.  I have a hunch this is because people don’t make sure the thread goes all the way through to make good contact with both the fingertip and phone screen.  I considered buying a spool of the conductive thread, which would have made a lot of touchscreen gloves.  But then, I was at a Radio Shack store this past weekend, and happened to see this Graphite Conductive Glue.  radio-shack-conductive-glue

I forked over $6 for the tiny tube, and came home to try it out.  The result is, it was super easy and the gloves work great!

Here’s what I did:

First, I protected my fingers with ordinary invisible tape, because the label says the glue can be a skin irritant.

tape-fingers-rsr

Then I put the gloves on and carefully applied the glue in a circle on the forefinger and thumb contact points.  I used a circular motion to embed the glue into the fibers and make sure it would go through to the other side of the knitted fabric.  Conductivity from fingers to screen is the key, so a topical application of glue only on the outside of the glove won’t work.  glue-on-glove-rsr

To further insure that the glue would penetrate to the other side of the fabric, I pressed my fingers together.  I did this carefully, so as not to smudge the neat circles.  (I did smudge them a bit on the first pair.) embedding-glue-rsr

Once I was confident in my technique, I applied the glue to my most favorite old pair of mittens.  I’m happy with the result.  mittens-done-rsrThe glue took about an hour to dry to the touch.  Then I tested them on my tablet.  They work very well!  It’s now a few days later, and they are still working very well.

Here is a quick demo of my ‘new’ diy touchscreen gloves in action.

As you can see, I glued all of the fingers on the glove in the video.  I think this was a waste of glue.  I haven’t needed any fingers other than the thumb and forefinger for operating my phone and tablet.

About that skin irritation warning on the label…I suspect the warning applies only to the glue when wet.  I’ve sensed no irritation from the dried glue whatsoever.  But be careful; heed the warning and watch for signs of possible irritation on your own skin.  And follow the label instructions.  Here is the product MSDS sheet.

Additional notes:

  • The dried glue circles are hard, and not flexible.  I was able to restore enough of the fabric’s flexibility by gently bending and curling the dried glue tips.
  • After doing a total of five gloves so far, I think there is still a lot of glue in the tube.  So one $6 tube is enough to do quite a few gloves.
  • How the glue will hold up in rain, snow or the washing machine is still an open question.  I’ll report back when my gloves have been tested in wet conditions and laundering.

Can I do this?

I have to.  Every so often I need to find a new strategy for moving out the old and unnecessary stuff.  Where does it all come from?  I swear, I accumulate stuff even while on a purging mission.  Figuring out a preventative strategy, that keeps the stuff from entering my house in the first place would be the ultimate accomplishment.  Until then, I’m stuck with regular purging missions.  This looks like the one to try.  [40 Bags in 40 Days]  According to the ’40 Bags’ plan, I have until March 1 to form my strategy of purging a bag of stuff for each day of Lent.  Should I really wait that long?

Clutter is everywhere in my life at the moment.  In every room of my house, in my email inbox(es), in my ‘social media life’, in my office, and in my car.  My yard needs more of a cleanout before spring. And then there is my sewing project pile that is massively out of control.

Even my donation box is out of control.

donation-pile-rsr

It is this book.  Which I realized is just more clutter.  Sigh.  I did read it and get inspired…that year.  Sadly, there are some more ‘decluttering’ books further down in the box from other years.  This year I resolved to purge the decluttering books, rather than adding another one to the stack.  This way, others can benefit from them now, as I no doubt did at the time.

donation-pile-closeup-rsr

Everything in the box will go to Goodwill or the DAV, except for two items that will each go to separate drop off sites.

This knitting machine that I’d wanted my whole life has been the source of several experimenting attempts, but made only one complete garment in the entire two decades I’ve owned it.  *embarrassed*  It is going to the local non-profit creative studio.

knitting-machine-rsr

The warm boots will go straight to the homeless diner.  Someone needs a pair of warm boots.  Today.  boots-donation-rsr

Cleaning out is always a raw, unfiltered trip down memory lane.

“This shirt is the one I lent you,
And when you gave it back
It had a rip inside the sleeve
Where you rolled your cigarettes
It was the place I put my heart
Now look at where you put a tear
I forgave your thoughtlessness
But not the boy who put it there.”

It’s the start of the year, when a lot of purging goes on.  Very best wishes with your own projects.

Train, bus, bike, Uber, bike, Uber, train.

I had to spend several days in Topeka this week.  Normal routine would be to drive my car. It’s only a 2-hour drive.  But Topeka is on the Amtrak route…and has bike share.  And the weather wasn’t supposed to be too bad for January.  So I resolved to make the trip without my car.  Along with business attire, I packed my bike helmet, crushable all-weather jacket, fleece neck gator and good gloves.  In other words, these items again:

bike-cold-weather-gear-wAll went mostly okay.  The run down:

  • The city transit system got me from the train depot to my hotel, because my bag was too much to transport on a bike.  The Amtrak station attendant was great in helping me get to the right bus stop.  The bus drivers were all lovely and helpful.
  • Bike share got me from my hotel to meeting each morning.
  • Uber got me back to my hotel each evening.  (It was dark, the streets are not bike-friendly, and the bike share bikes don’t have lights.)
  • The weather was basically great the first two mornings.  The third morning was bitter cold (14F), but there was no wind, so I was fine biking in my layers, jacket, and fleece accessories.
  • The wait for the 12:29am train home at the end of my stay was several hours of heavy boredom.

Pros of going car-less:

  • Daily exercise and fresh air
  • Doing something fun and different

Cons of going car-less:

  • The time and hassle of adapting to the train schedule
  • The time and hassle of researching and adapting to the city bus schedule
  • The time and hassle of identifying bikable routes, and then finding out they weren’t so bikeable.  Topeka is substantially lacking in sidewalks and bike lanes.
  • Unpredictable weather

Will I do it again?  Certainly, when circumstances allow for it.  Do these alternatives to driving my personal car need to be expanded to be more useful?  Yes.  All of them.  Until then, most of the time I’ll still have to drive my car, alongside the tracks of the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe.

amtrak-topeka-w-rsr