Saturday, December 2, 2023

Sew Chaotically! ~ Quilt #7!!! A 9 patch for dear Tam-bo!

You probably remember my dear bestie, Tammy!  She is one of the best nurses I have ever known.  She has stuck by me through thick and thin - work and play - sickness and health.  Her generosity and kindness combined with her wit and love are nothing short of amazing.  Her potty pics brought me laughs when struggling through crazy melanoma treatments.  She's wonderful!!!

On top of all of that, she is a self made woman who has seen her own way through all manner of things including home ownership!!!!  Bottom line, she was well overdue for her very own quilt!  Sew....  I quizzed her on fav colors.  Roo helped design several 9-patch options...

Once Tammy made her pick - I got to work, cutting and piecing

Finished quilt top....

Ready for quilting on the rack...

She's DONE!!!!

Decided some pillows would be fun!

And FINALLY!!!  Despite being finished for a bit - she made it to her new home with Tam-bo! Dallas seems to like her, too!

Cheers, dear friend, raising a glass of local cider!  Thanks for being you and all your many kindnesses to me and mine.  May this little quilt keep you (and Dallas) warm and cozy with a big hug from me.

Much love, les

Saturday, November 11, 2023

Sew Chaotically ~ Jam Fits for fall and winter!!!

The Jammer has grown so much and is such a blessing to our lives.  He is such a joyous loving soul.  But the busy lil man needed some new togs for fall and winter, so Les les had to get busy!

I started with these little pants from a bizarre print a neighbor had pawned off and some nice stretchy denim that had unfortunately faded when stored.  Still they worked out well for wearable toils!  The pattern is Simplicity S9023.  While the pattern does not call for elastic at the ankle, I added it to be able to provide extra length without Lil Man tripping over it.

Three knit pairs followed, then two cords and a denim.  Though the knits were purchased with Jam in mind, the others were made from remnants in my stash. 

Next up were some tops.  This Brindille &Twig (19) lap neck tee goes together perfectly!

Little rugby tops made from scraps using the Brindille & Twig (127) henley pattern were next. I've found that the snaps I have used before on his baby clothes that are pressed in place with snap pliers do not hold very well.  So for these, I used buttons for cuteness with sewn-on snaps beneath.

More scrap busting here using McCalls M7827 for a little comfy cozy jacket!

I used the last bits of his knits combined with corduroy used in his pants to create a little jacket and vest using the Brindille & Twig (98) retro cardigan pattern.  I thought they turned out really well and he likes wearing them as they are easy and comfortable getting off and on.

And finally in this set, I had fun making this little sweat shirt, using knits I had left over from some batch sewing of circle skirts using my tried and true pattern, the Veronika Skirt from Megan Neilson, for Roo.  The sweatshirt pattern (along with a little dress) is included in the S9023 pattern.  I thought it was pretty cute with the addition of some embroidery!  So happy with how his little duds turned out and glad to find ways to have them all mix and match!

So much fun!!!  Live, sew and love chaotically!! - love, les

Thursday, November 9, 2023

September/October - Two months blessed with worthy reads!

September ~  

Demon Copperhead - Barbara Kingsolver.  Very well written and brave story telling to show a sad but very real - esp in my neck of the woods - (though likely across this land) and honest telling of the drug abuse that is rampant.  Thanks to the desperation in human's lives, the Sackler family, Big Pharma, and hospitals/medical corporations/providers/JCAH who were all so complicit in accepting the pharmaceutical companies' insistence that we were not following and addressing our patients' pain adequately and appropriately.  The pain scales that were adopted as a requirement in daily patient evaluations were, and continue to be, completely BOGUS!!!  They provide no real information and all reasonable providers were already accessing and treating pain in far better ways and continue to do so with little help from said pain scales though insurance now requires that they be completed.  Back to the story ~  Bit of a tough read to say the least, given the vivid portrait of the down hill spiral created by drug abuse and foster care, especially coming to my reading on the heels of  Young Mungo, but with important characters you care about - even when you want to ring their necks.

Clytemnestra - Costanza Casati.  "Human lives are based on pain.  But to have a few moments of happiness, lightnings tearing the darkness of the sky, that is worth it."  The story of Clytemnestra, sister to Helen and wife of Agamemnon. While it did not reach as high as Circe did for me, it is well written and demonstrates the lives of strong women who faced motherhood, abuse, love, horrible choices, and unfaithful partners/friends with resilience, strength, and grace.

Afterlife - Julia Alverez.  Unlike old me who would read any book I started, or finish any movie - somehow believing it would get better, is not how I roll these days.  The blurbs made this sound like a book I would enjoy.  Was interested in the topic of undocumented immigrants from an author who immigrated to the US from the DR at the age of ten, but I just couldn't get past the start.  Probably my mood at the time, but there you have it.

The Covenant of Water - Abraham Verghese.  I loved Cutting for Stone so very much!  It probably falls among my favorite top ten of all novels I have read!  Sadly, for me, this work did not reach those heights.  Ranging from 1900 to 1977 from Scotland to Kerala.  Topics ranging from medicine (including historical surgical techniques, untreated neonatal hypothyroidism, leprosy, difficult childbirth, deafness, depression, drug addiction) to Indian culture (including marriage practices, caste system, clothing, farming, politics) - WHEW!!!  It was a lot.  Most characters were well drawn and interesting.  I guess my biggest problems with the book were the occasional preachy dissertations regarding Indian life, politics and history, while important, combined with the fact that some important events occurred far too easily and conveniently, while others were too complicated - all conspired to burst your bubble of happily suspended disbelief which I found to be unsettling.  So, while there were characters and stories here that I shall never forget, and therefore a very worthy read, it did not rise to the level of Cutting for Stone for me.  Sorry, Oprah. Yet, with appreciation, Mr. Verghese.

October ~

This Must be the Place - Maggie O'Farrell.  Along the same lines - LOVED Hamnet, so... perhaps unduly high expectations were in place here.  A good read, with well drawn characters.  However, none I particularly connected with.  Kudos for addressing eczema in a well informed way.  Events were often a bit too far fetched for me.  And while I dealt with it - the seemingly excessive and unnecessary jumping back and forth in time and between characters was not particularly appealing.  The hopping from one character, in different times to others in other moments made the story line somewhat needlessly difficult to follow (from one who has never published a book much less several excellent ones!!!) and made the similar presentation utilized in Fried Green Tomatoes and Cloud Atlas a walk in the park!

There There - Tommy Orange.  While the topics (the treatment of American Indians, drug use, alcoholism, gun violence, marginalized communities) are so incredibly sad, relevant, important, in dire need of recognition and redress - I had a hard time loving the way this book was written.  I wanted to get to know and understand the characters better and had trouble doing it in the way they were shared in snippets that came and went.  Still, there was lots to think about within.

The House by the Cerulean Sea - T.J.Klune.  I loved this book, though this sort of fantasy (children with strange/magical/unworldly gifts and abilities) is not my usual jam, the writer made them such real children (who to my mind all possess amazing gifts and abilities - though some have had them beaten out of them, forgotten them, or simply abandoned them as adults) that it was simply a beautiful tale of what love and support can do for all of us.  Definitely recommend!

Happy chaotic reading! - les

Sunday, September 24, 2023

Ocean waves and true love ~

Life is like the ocean's waves.  Beautiful. Dangerous.  Sparkling.  Mysterious.  Far larger and deeper than any part we may play or space we can really comprehend.  As likely to rock you gently in her cerulean arms as to cast you onto rocky shores.  Our joys and sorrows wax and wane much like the tide.  Yet, despite the complicated and meandering currents of life, I have been blessed with a constant beacon.  Love from the kindest, most generous soul has kept me strong when I was weak.  Brought me smiles when I was sad.  Shared my joys and lifted me higher.

Even today, there was this ~

For reference:

The vase:  The most romantic date....EVER!!!!

The red bug:  Driving toward the park

Thanks for loving me, my dear sweet B.  I am forever your girl.  Love, les

Wednesday, September 6, 2023

April/May/June/July and August Reads!


Prodigal Summer - Barbara Kingsolver.  Strong women with personal quirks, environmental preservation, the fleeting nature of love and the unpredictability of ones future are classic Kingsolver themes told in her amazing voice.  Not Poisonwood Bible, but a worthy read with memorable characters.  


Unsheltered - Barbara Kingsolver.  Loved this one!  Two stories running parallel about two women I could admire and identify with.  

The Marriage Portrait - Maggie O'Farrell.  Engaging story of Renaissance Italy in the 1550's and the story of Lucrezia du' Medici as interpreted by the author.  Keeps you thinking but not in the league of Hamnet to me.

Euphoria - Lily King.  The story of three anthropologists caught up in their work and each other in the 1930's as they study the South Pacific tribes of New Guinea.  Drawn to it because of my dear Jonathan and his early work.  But these characters were something else.  Hmmm...

The Thing about Jellyfish - Ali Benjamin.  When 12 year old Suzy losses her best friend in a drowning accident, she struggles to make sense of her last months with her friend and the reason for her death.  A story and character that really touches your soul - in the vein of A Bridge to Terabithia and others.  

The Secret Life of Bees - Sue Monk Kidd.  A re-read.  An affirmation of how women can support one another - no matter their race, position, or beliefs. 


The Song of Achilles -  Madeline Miller.  Oh, Patroclus.  What a dear friend you were.  The story of Achilles and the siege of Troy, perhaps as it should always have been told.  Well done!

Circe - Madeline Miller.  I loved this one so much!!!  My heart ached for her, but I feel blessed to have known her.  Motherhood and true love were described as I have felt them to be.


The Penelopiad - Margaret Atwood.  A re-read.  But, needed to review Atwood's version after the roles Penelope and Odysseus played in Circe!

Young Mungo - Douglas Stewart.  A hard tale to take.  But a vivid and unflinching portrait of life in the tenements, project, public housing, schemes - whatever your town calls it - and all that can be lost there.


Interpreter of Maladies - Jhumpa Lahiri.  The hands down best collection of short stories I have read in some time - perhaps ever! The characters are real and complete with vivid compelling stories you remember long after their brief pages have been read.

The Namesake - Jhumpa Lahiri.  I didn't love it as much as I had hoped, given how much I thought of  Lahiri's short stories. Still, a good read with lots to think about.

Remarkably Bright Creatures - Shelby Van Pelt.  Really liked this one, which surprised me given that one of the main characters (and one of my three favs) is an octopus. 

Read and live chaotically!!! - les

Wednesday, August 30, 2023

Sew Chaotically! More Giraffes for sweet Jam ~

I love doing a bit of handwork and especially enjoyed making this trio for Jam's room!

This pattern is "Giraffe" from Jessica Long.

  This - "George the Giraffe" from Hoop dee doo

Finally, "Safari" by Lynny Lou Crafts.

For all these pieces I used the colors noted on the patterns as inspiration, but used only embroidery floss I had on hand.  Similarly, I used some of the advised stitches and improvised my own when I wished.  I  traced the patterns on water-soluble fabric for embroidery.  It worked really well; remaining stable while working on the pieces and dissolving completely and easily once finished.  The only draw back was the thread used for the 'rose' George holds in his mouth faded onto the fabric when exposed to water!!!  What the????   I got most of it out and afterwards realized that in using my scrap/stash of embroidery floss, that bit had probably come from a kit Roo used to make bracelets with as a kid, picked by me because of the color, and was not DMC brand, while all the others were.  Lesson learned!!!  It was a fun project for me and has provided a lot of smiles and smelling of flowers for the most precious little guy!  

Sew and stitch and love chaotically! ~ les

Saturday, August 26, 2023

For my B ~

I wish I could say all the things, do all the things, that could make you understand just how wonderful my life with you has been.  But, because I fear I shall fall far short in using my own words, I offer these...

"... I have remained in this new world for nearly thirty years [35 years for us, my love!].  I know that my achievement is quite ordinary.  I am not the only man to seek his fortune far from his home, and certainly I am not the first.  Still, there are times I am bewildered by each mile I have traveled, each meal I have eaten, each person I have known, each room in which I have slept.  As ordinary as it all appears, there are times when it is beyond my imagination." 

 ~ From:  The Third and Final Continent included in The Interpreter of Maladies, by Jhumpa Lahiri                       

While not exactly the author's intention, on reading this passage, I immediately thought of you my love; of our life together.  Though in many ways ever so ordinary - getting to know one another completely, sharing meals (my first hummus, fresh asparagus, Greek and Cuban foods), seeing bits of the world through the eyes of the other, helping each other grow, building a family, a home, a life - it has been the most spectacular existence I could ever have imagined for myself.  

Likewise, from the first time I ever heard it, Jewel's song expressed exactly what it feels like to have your love, your physical presence in my life:

Running fast through a fairy tale
Dark woods; starless night
Feel cold air in my lungs
Full moon, you follow me-you say
"Why do hearts so often stray?"
You pierce me like an arrow
Beneath the blanket of night
Longing for flight

When you fall into me
It feels so sweet, like dreaming
Press yourself into me
Let me feel your breathing
There's a voice in your heart
Softly calling
Come to me you will see, just give in
To this sweet temptation

I awake, do a double take to see
Where it is that I lay-it could be
Day or night, I'm not quite sure
Your absence is a thorn
Your flesh, your skin
Is the only flag there is to believe in

I can love you like nobody else

When you fall into me
It feels so sweet, like dreaming
Press yourself into me
Let me feel your breathing
There's a voice in your heart
Softly calling

                                             ~ Sweet Temptation, Jewel

YOU have loved me like nobody else.  YOU have always been my very best friend, my biggest cheerleader, my fearless (and relentless) advocate, my lover, my all.  Even though I am the planner, you have never failed to remember and create amazing moments no matter the crazy we may be struggling through - a hot air balloon ride on my 30th birthday, flowers at my table in our fav Italian restaurant (even if it is in San Francisco!!!), and all that is silly and wonderful today.  Thank you on this most special of our days, and on all the others in between, for being you; my beautiful boy.  For loving me.

I love you with all that I am ~ for always. your les.