Thursday, February 22, 2018

Thrifting For Sheets

First of all -- Thanks, Marilyn, for your email about me hearing from IKEA. You could be right -- but it is most likely gonna be a Cease and Desist letter...

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Now -- on to one of my favorite year-round pastimes...LAUNDRY.
To be more specific -- the laundering of SHEETS. There are many levels of joy in this for me...

First of all, finding beautiful cotton (or, hold your breath -- LINEN) sheets at an estate sale or thrift store, with a $2-$3 price tag is, on many days, reason enough, y'know?

IT IS THRILLING!!

Primarily because I know what I'm looking for -- I did write the book, people!!

So -- how can you know if that thrift store sheet is a beautiful quality sheet?

1. They MUST be 100% cotton (look for the required content label)
2. Good sheets are HEAVY...
3. Good sheets have beautiful finishing details.

What details am I talking about? Heavy gauge elastic on the fitted sheet, deep hems on the top sheet. Really expensive sheets will be hemmed on all four sides (as opposed to selvedge edges on the two long sides)

When I bring my thrift-store-treasure home, I immediately put them in my washing machine to soak overnight...
Actually, I have a whole sheet-washing-routine that goes kinda like this:
  1. An overnight soak in plain warm water...
  2. A second overnight soak with hot water and Oxy-Clean.
  3. A complete wash cycle with my usual detergent and hot water.
  4. A final, fourth full cycle, but with no soap -- just plain warm/cold water.
Are we having fun yet?? Really -- it's about to get exciting...!!

I never, N.E.V.E.R....never put my beautiful cotton sheets in the dryer.  The whole point is to hang them outside, on the line, so I get that wonderful, therapeutic, blissful aroma...ahh......

For whatever reason -- THIS is a moment I take great pleasure in.
This particular sheet (linen) had a dingy tone because it had been folded, in a Hope Chest, for probably 50 years. After all the laundering -- I hung it this way so the cotton would get FULL SUNSHINE...Mother Nature's Whitener!! It is a stunning sheet that went right into the rotation...
Of course, it's a lot more trouble to hang my sheets outside in the middle of winter...ugh...
But, since I have A LOT OF BEAUTIFUL SHEETS -- I let them pile up until we get a nice day. Then, if we get a sunny day, I'll wash three or four sets. Even on a cold day, with full sun, I can get them "mostly" dry (its okay if I have to bring them into the house and finish them off on the clothelines in the basement -- they still smell GREAT).
But, at least once or twice a year, I have to shovel a path under the clotheslines (because the snow is so thick, the sheets will drag on the snow.)
That's okay...its a small price to pay for those line-dried bed sheets.
But, always, by this time -- February...the winter has been long and cold and the snow is ugly and gray and hard...and I long for the change of season....

C'MON SPRING...

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Rita's New Job

I got to IKEA in time for lunch...and I told myself I had two hours to shop...

The first thing I did was PICK UP A MAP -- as there really are no employees to help you at IKEA.

I leisurely walked around both gigantic floors of interesting merchandise. (most of which, of course, I have no room for at this point in my life.)

When I found the fabric department, I took my coat off and settled in to choose my fabric. Their fabric is a lovely, home dec weight, and 54 inches wide...and only $4.99/yd!!. Mary had explained that at IKEA, it's all self-service...

NO PROBLEM -- I HAVE LOTS OF EXPERIENCE!!

The fabric is hanging, with the numbers and prices on end tags...

 But the bolts of fabric that you should "cut" are on the racks below the hanging fabric...

WHAT IS IT ABOUT BUYING FABRIC THAT BRINGS SUCH JOY TO A WOMAN'S LIFE??

Once I got behind that cutting table, I took off my coat and made myself comfortable...
I took some time to see how their "system" worked. Mary warned me that if I didn't have the right information on my "tickets" there would be a delay at the register...

As I settled into my task to consider the wonderful fabric options -- a woman came over and asked, "do you know where I can find a match to this bedspread?"

I said, “Sorry -- I’m just a customer”.

She was annoyed...and kind of went off in a huff...

Hummm....since I had a map, and I'd been inside the store for at least 40 minutes -- I decided it would be more helpful if I just answered their questions....

So, with a smile on my face, I embraced this new mission...and, with my map in hand...

”follow the arrows, and you’ll get back to the food court...”

"Go about another 25 feet, and there is a shortcut over to the Rest Rooms."

“The pots and pans are down on the first floor...take the escalator down and go to your right...”

Hummm. I had almost forgotten how much fun it is to work with the public...

Even though I was now acting like a valued IKEA employee (yes -- THERE'S THE SARCASM) -- I didn't lose sight of my task at hand...

This great stripe was ON SALE FOR $2.99/yd.
love it, love it...
This pattern was a real contender...
But then, I saw this new bolt.
Since, right now, I'm having a love affair with circles...
At the end of my time as the manager of the IKEA fabric department, I probably gave about as many wrong answers as right answers...(it's possible I needed more training)...but the most important thing is -- I bought THREE FABULOUS PIECES OF FABRIC...

So now I have to decide who's worthy of a Mary Mulari Criss-Cross apron...??

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

My IKEA mission!!

I LOVE Mary Mulari's new Criss Cross Apron Pattern.

It reminds me of my Grandma Little's favorite apron style.

Mary NAILED IT when she designed this apron. During her recent visit, she showed us a version of her Criss-Cross apron, made out of IKEA fabric...
IKEA fabric is 54" wide, and it's a nice heavy, 100% cotton fabric.
PERFECT for aprons.

Right now, Mary is doing a tour of Minnesota libraries -- presenting her "Vintage Aprons" presentation. 
In this display, Mary has vintage aprons -- AND new Criss-Cross aprons made from IKEA fabrics.
Mary explained that the only way you can buy IKEA fabric is to go to a store IN PERSON. You cannot order it online...and they have a completely self-service system. You have to cut your fabric, and make out a proper ticket, with the right numbers, etc.

Obviously, I could hardly wait to GET TO AN IKEA STORE..!!

SO THIS IS MY MISSION....

Monday, February 19, 2018

Chicago Day Trip!!

I AM SUCH A LUCKY GIRL...!! Because of my job with Schmetz (the #1 most recognized brand in the sewing industry) -- I get to do three of my favorite things.

#1: I get to meet the MOST AMAZING PEOPLE in the sewing industry.
#2:  I  get to write about them, and tell their stories in "Inspired To Sew", the digital Schmetz magazine.
#3:  Often, I get to travel to exotic locations

Like -- last week -- C.H.I.C.A.G.O....

Rhonda Pierce, (the editor of Inspired To Sew)  put together a Designer Showcase, and I WAS SO EXCITED...!!

(Added bonus -- I get to spend a night in a beautiful brand new hotel..!).

But wait -- if I get into town early enough, I can GO SHOPPING AT IKEA..!!

For me, this is something I get to do about once every-other-year..!
This was the IKEA store in Bolingbrook, Illinois.
Chicago was recovering from a foot of snow, closed airports, typical winter blizzard conditions...
It was a 3 1/2 hour drive...and I was STARVING.  So I opted for the IKEA veggie balls and a piece of apple pie. My view out to the parking lot -- can you see the mountains of snow?  Good job, IKEA...
This was the inside view from my table.  I swear, IKEA has the BEST STUFF.
If I was starting over, my house would be FULL OF IKEA furniture. I love the look, and the vibe...it's all so clean and modern. I'd be all about bright pops of color, plastic furniture, and graphic rugs.

But, alas, my house is chock full of perfectly serviceable furniture...upholstered Lazyboy recliners, oak buffets and

And, who are we kidding?  I'll never get rid of the 60" round oak table I found with Kathy Keefer the week before we moved to Pennsylvania... or the "Mediterranean" bedroom set John and I bought when we moved into our first apartment in Virginia...

So, if I'm not going to buy furniture...what does IKEA have that I really, really want...

Saturday, February 17, 2018

Special Waffles

Lilly has recovered from the flu -- and went back to school this week!  (thanks for asking about her..)

My sister Deena is a BIG FAN of her vintage waffle maker. It makes a gigantic square 12" waffle that can be cut into four waffles...

Two years ago, she asked me to be on the lookout for this style of wafflemaker, because she would be LOST if hers ever quit working. (and it is almost 50 years old).

Since then, I found about six of them...I never pay more than $5.00.
I kept this one for myself...
Warren loves helping in the kitchen....
And making waffles is a NEW FAVORITE THING...!!
In the beginning, I wasn't sure how much batter to put in.
This thing makes PERFECT, crispy waffles!!...
The leftover waffles get frozen, and they make the PERFECT quick toaster breakfast.
As an experiment...before I poured the last batter into the wafflemaker -- I added some chopped apples and dried cranberries. I worried the fruit might make the waffles stick...
BUT THEY DIDN'T STICK AT ALL...and they were sooo delicious!!  I may have discovered an entire new food group...
This is Warren, giving waffles the official "thumbs up"...

Friday, February 16, 2018

Soup: Bowls and Spoons

It's just possible I've been a little too focused this winter on the SOUP. But, then again --
For me,a big part of the pleasure of soup comes from having the perfect bowls, the perfect spoons, and a nice cloth napkin.  I love all of that...and WHAT'S THE POINT IN HAVING ALL THAT, IF YOU DON'T USE IT??
My favorite soup bowls are heavy and flat, with a blue sponge background, and a winter log cabin scene.  (microwaveable, of course.)
I was  told there was flatware that matched my soup bowls -- so I am on the lookout!!  But, in the meantime, I found soup bowls, with the same wonderful shape -- but a different picture.  A snowman!!
The shape is identical -- so they stack beautifully...and I love these bowls.  The different scenes make it so much fun...and now I have about 20 of them...
And the spoons, of course, must be in an actual SPOONER..!!  This unusual spooner is  a totem face.
I have a beautiful little collection of  spooners.  This one (a favorite) has a crack in the bottom -- which just makes me love it all the more.
But I have so much flatware, I make spooners out of small vases, or crocks, or giant mugs...anything will do. 

Thursday, February 15, 2018

Warren's Army

I was taking care of the kids for a few days (parents in Florida)...and Lilly got sick. We're talking temperatures of 103.5, bloody nose, rushed to the Emergency Room at 4:00 AM SICK...
The E.R. swabbed her nose...yep....Influenza....there's nothing you can do for the flu...you just have to ride it out...
That was the bad news. The good news was that Warren was NOT sick...
Or...is that good news??
Warren was fine. And he is great at entertaining himself...
He loves to LINE THINGS UP....so he can play by himself for hours.
Before Warren was even born, I purchased a large box of hand-carved wooden soldiers...
Some of the soldiers are blue -- some are red...
There are flags, and cannons...and because these things are 30 or 40 years old...the glue is dry, and many little bits are falling apart...
So, I thought it would be a good project ot RE-GLUE some of these pieces...
Honestly, when you see the detail of this Army, it takes your breath away.  This horse has little chains for the bridle, and actual hair for a tail...the hand-painting is just painstaking and terrific...
All the red soldiers used to be holding these flags...that's how I knew they were painted in 1987...
Warren set up the various Armies in various ways...
Warren was entertained for HOURS by this activity...the fixing, the gluing, the setting-up...he had SUCH A GREAT TIME..!!
So, while Warren took care of his Army -- Sophie took care of Lilly...