Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Urinary Diversion Surgery @ Carolinas Medical Center

Previously, in this NPR Story Corps post, I wrote about our daughter, Juliet, who was born with the birth defect of spina bifida and hydrocephalus. I am writing today about her ongoing surgical experience at the Carolinas Medical Center-University.

Julie underwent a day long surgery Tuesday at the Carolinas Medical Center in Charlotte, North Carolina. Generalized information about this type surgery can be found at Surgery Facts. Another website with more stats can be accessed here at More Information. The procedure was a major ordeal, as the websites explain. I talked with the nurse a few hours ago; she was in stable condition.

Further complicating matters was the additional removal of previously undetected extended, large ovarian masses which pushed the surgery to over ten hours in length. She currently has a nasogastric feeding tube and a pic line for intervenous medication delivery.

Julie is being cared for through the McKay Urology Group, "dedicated to the highest standards of clinical care, research and education with the latest urologic technology". Its programs are nationally recognized for quality and were named as one of the Top 50 Urology Programs in the nation by U.S.News & World Report 2008 edition of America's Best Hospitals.

I am told that Julie's surgeon, Michael Kennelly, M.D., a principal in the McKay Group, is known nationally in this urological practice. She was fortunate to get a referral to this physician and practice.

Dr. Kennelly was one of the first physicians in North Carolina to subspecialize in female urology and neurourology; and, he is currently one of only three doctors in the state who concentrates in these highly specialized fields.

We trust that Julie is receiving state of the art medical care from both her physicians and this teaching hospital affiliated with the University of North Carolina. I will be going to visit Julie in the next few days. This blog will be intermittently posted while I am away from Colorado and staying in a hotel nearby the medical center in Charlotte.

More about the birth defect she was born with can be accessed at The Spina_Bifida_Association or at Spina Bifida Facts.

Here is a picture of Julie and her dog Muggsy taken last January:

Prayers for Julie and Jack, her husband, are appreciated.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Colonial Foods and Carrot Puffs as Appetizer

Our daughter gave my husband a cookbook several years ago with recipes dating back to the 1700's. It was fascinating to read about how much work was involved in simply keeping calories available for life sustenance. Reading over the recipes, it was obvious that cooking was not only labor intensive, but also a challenge when refrigeration and preservation of foods was practically non-existent. That book is not in the kitchen, garage, or in any box of stored books, so it must have gone by the wayside. Maybe someone else is using it now and enjoying it as much as we did.

Another handy cookbook entitled The Williamsburg Cookbook (1975 published by The Colonial Williamsburg Foundation and available through Amazon) says:

Visitors return again and again for the delicious dishes served at Colonial Williamsburg’s famed taverns and restaurants—Chowning’s Tavern Brunswick Stew, Christiana Campbell’s Spoon Bread, Shields Tavern Syllabubs. In this best-selling cookbook, 193 traditional and contemporary recipes have been compiled and adapted for the home kitchen. Commentary discusses the cooking and eating habits of our colonial ancestors and describes meals served to VIP visitors to Virginia’s restored colonial capital.

All sorts of recipes can be found in this cookbook stemming from colonial times. I picked up this book on a visit in the autumn season years ago in this historic Virginia town after having dinner at the Shield's Tavern in Williamsburg.

A beautiful slide show of Colonial Williamsburg, VA can be accessed here: Historical Slide show of Williamsburg in the Fall. That will get you into the mood for fall cooking, for sure.

One recipe from this updated treasury of recipes is for The Shield's Tavern Sampler Carrot Puffs (4-6 servings):

1 lb. carrots, peeled and sliced
1 egg and 2 egg yolks
1 cup bread crumbs
1 tsp. nutmeg, freshly grated
1 tsp orange flower water
3 Tbls. sugar
1/4 cup dry sherry
1/4 cup heavy cream

Cook the carrots until very soft. Drain well. Mash to a pulp. Combine and beat the egg and egg yolks. Mix the carrots, eggs and remaining ingredients together thoroughly.

Gently drop by heaping tablespoons into deep, hot shortening and fry until brown. Place on paper towels to drain. Serve immediately.

We have made carrot puffs from these instructions as an appetizer. These tidbits were sweet an tasty. I will make them again soon, but will try frying them in just a skiff of olive oil as a nod to better nutrition.

Cookbooks are always bestsellers. And historical cookbooks are a fun read, as well.

You might want to publish your own favorite recipes. Who knows, in 300 years, they might be republished. Here is one source that will help you put your cookbook together as either a fundraiser or just for posterity: Publish Your Own Cookbook.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Boob Prosthetic Inserts for Mastectomy in Knitted Cotton

For five years, I have not worn any "lingerie" in the form of a bra, other than a camisole. This may be TMI (too much information), but a bilateral mastectomy, radiation treatments and reconstructive surgery did a number on the pain centers in my chest. Consequently, any close contact to my front is a real irritation. (The exception is that knit cotton t-shirts don't hurt my chest area).

Because I had many Google hits on a previous post about lymphodema (see lymphodema and compression sleeves post here), there must be a need for more information of this type for women with complications from breast cancer. So I want to share this new topic with other woman who might have use for this clever invention which Beryl Tsang came up with: a knit prosthetic breast. Crystal Palace Yarns has the pattern for knitting it on their website. It is a FREE pattern and can be found at this site. Thanks, Beryl, for this marvelous pattern!

The whole insert takes only a few hours hour to make, and a beginning knitter could easily make one (or two). Shout out in a comment below, and I'll walk you through the pattern if you have questions. One pattern alteration I found is to ensure a bind off after step #7 in the pattern.

So far, I have completed one insert and put it into a bra. My DH took this picture yesterday so that the blouse front with the insert on the right side could be shown. Now I just need to complete the second insert for my right side.

The advantages of this little cotton number (for me, at least) are:

1. It is 100% cotton, so it is soft next to either skin or scar tissue;
2. Because cotton is a natural fiber, there is not a risk of either allergy or skin irritation which occurs with synthetic products next to skin;
3. It has a knitted topknot that actually looks like a nipple under a bra cup; (yea! I have nipples again!)
4. It is absorbent, and completely machine washable;
5. Cotton is cooler than any synthetic material used as a bra cup filler, so again, it is more comfortable both against the skin and scar tissue;
6. The insert, when placed inside a bra cup, actually looks like an unaltered breast under clothing (see close-up picture below).


Below is a picture of the insert about fifteen minutes into knitting it:

I used a total of 63 stitches on three needles, which is within the pattern guidelines for an "A" cup size.

To the right is a picture of both sides of the completely knitted insert.

The picture below is the insert with both sides sewn together with a running stitch. The insert was filled with cotton fleece.
(Picture of Pink Prosthetic Above is for Size A Cup)

What a wonderful idea. I'm sharing it with Charity Knitting and the Pink Out groups on Ravelry.

And thanks again, Dorothay, for bringing this pattern and concept back to my attention.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Etsy Blog Carnival: Brothers Then and Now

This month's Blog Carnival on Etsy, All Things Handmade requires that all Etsy bloggers submit an article on one of two subjects. The subject I chose to blog on was a childhood memory.

Many of my memories revolve around my brothers, Mac and John. Here they are back in the 1950's and a current picture is on the right.

This is one of the few photos where Mac, on the left in both photos, was pictured with a hint of a smile on his face.

A clear memory was when John buried some coins and a scarce dollar bill (maybe more?) in an empty mayonnaise jar. For years, and even into his adulthood, he tried to dig up those coins, but could never find them again. He even used a metal detector as recently as in the past decade, but alas, no jar ever was re-discovered. As far as I know, he is still on that treasure hunt. Is there a parallel biblical story here about hiding his talents?

If anything, it reinforced the teaching of using one's talents for the good of others. Both brothers are now generous men in many Godly ways, and I am proud to be their sister.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Food, Glorious Food

A couple of my husband's blogging buddies from Grand Junction, CO were dinner guests last evening. They are John Linko and Mike Saccone. Each friend daily writes a thoughtful piece on our community and its place in the world at their respective websites.

We had a delicious supper mainly prepared by DH Gene Kinsey, often wrong but seldom uncertain. Gene cooked a beef brisket that slowly baked in the oven all afternoon.

We also served a version of Emeril LaGasse's Mexican-Cole-Slaw. (Gene and I had lunch at a local Mexican food restaurant recently and both remarked on the delicious Cabbage Salsa. Our waitress gave us the main ingredients, and a Google search for this salsa/cole slaw was on.)

Gene added LOTS of fresh cilantro (maybe a cup) to the basic recipe, and boiled rice vinegar and sugar for a smooth dressing, with additional cumin, onion and diced jalepenos.

Gene also made tasty spuds in the form of Twice Baked Potatoes and garden chives.

My paltry offering to the dinner fare was the dessert, Creeping Crust Peach Cobbler, with a little added brown sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg on top. Peaches are plentiful in our happy valley this time of year, so the time was right to use up some local fruit produce.

Let's do that again!

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Starry, Starry Night - Don McClean

This YouTube is mesmerizing. I must have watched and listened to McClean singing "Starry, Starry Night" several dozen times already. It is powerful in itself, but also could be an entertaining background vocal for surfing the net. It was originally made into a PowerPoint presentation, although not as accessible via email as the YouTube version above. Full screen and speakers tuned up, you can imagine the visual and auditory effects would be spectacular. This video, though, ain't bad!

In 2005, my National Scrabble Association tournament player friends and I made a trip to the British Isles. One of the stops on the cruise was to visit the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam. The above pictures are from the Van Gogh Flckr pool.

I've always been fascinated by Vincent Van Gogh; poor ear, poor dear.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Making Sculpey Beads for Jewelry

Yesterday's post was about making Sculpey (or Fimo) polymer clay beads with an overlay of colors, accented with gold leaf. With an arsenal of close to fifty beads from that batch, I made some up into earrings.

Here are a couple of pairs of earrings that I made from the beads using the Japanese silversmith method of "Makume Gane".

The beads could be a bit more glossy, which means that more intense buffing with wet sandpaper after the baking process would be required.

The earrings were made in the same manner as discussed in a previous post on making earrings. Here is an excellent video explaining how to string, wire and finish off earrings:

Monday, August 18, 2008

Making Beads from Polymer Clay - Makume Gane Technique

This website, Bead Making, gives an excellent tutorial on making beads using the Mokume Gane method of layering clays, alternating with a sheet of gold laminating paper.

If you are interested in the process of Japanese bead making using this silversmithing technique, this video is excellent to review and follow. Just click here: Makume Gane

I used that YouTube video to make about four dozen colorful blue, green, pink, gold and aqua beads. Following the steps in the video tutorial, here are my steps in making Makume Gane clay beads, shown in pictures:

First, I rolled five colors of Sculpey clay (available at craft stores for about $1 per cube, sale price) with my pasta maker machine. This machine saves your hands from a workout, and thoroughly mixes the clay while taking out air bubbles at the same time. (Use any of the clay colors to make scrap balls which will be layered with the Makume Gane processed clay slices.)

Next, I layered five colors of clay together. Different colors can be created by mixing the clays from their primary colors originally purchased; this is how I made the aqua and the pink colors from the purchased primary colors of clay.

Translucent clay is necessary to add to the layers of clay, because it gives a nice sheen to the finished bead. The translucent clay looks white, so make sure you purchase the clay clearly marked "translucent".

The gold leaf sheet was added last, then folded over several times (not in the pasta machine during this process) to make a stack of clays about 1/2 inch thick.

Then the stack of clays was shaved off to wrap around balls of clay. This makes the design on the covering of the previously molded bead from scrap clay. I made three differing sizes of beads. After trying to get them into uniform sizes, I learned that the trick is to take one round ball (again, scrap clay) which you have shaped, and cut it into two equal halves...ta da....each ball will then be the same diameter after rolling. This shaping was done by hand, but there are various little machines to purchase if you think you are going to get into this hobby in a big way.

The colors I chose to make are some of my favorites, and will complement some yarn recently received in a yarn swap on Ravelry.

Next, a hole was bored through the bead with a T-pin (used in jewelry making), or a large needle could be used to make the center hole. When the beads looked symetrical after poking the center hole and with a litte more cylindrical or round reshaping, I placed them on foil and baked them on a cookie sheet in the oven for 25 minutes at 265 degrees. After baking and cooling, the beads were buffed with wet sandpaper a few times.
Then I sprayed the beads with acrylic spray several times to make a shiny surface.

I'm in the process of making earrings with these beads and will show more pictures of the finished beads in the next post. There are enough beads to make another watch band with earrings to match, similar to what was posted a few weeks ago in this blog.

If this process sounds like work, I can only say that in my humble opinion (IMHO), it was a lot of fun. And it was rewarding to make beads in the colors I desired, while at a fraction of the cost to purchase ready-made beads. And I ended up with a slew of cool beads.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Emmeline Apron by Meg McElwee

Back in July, I wrote about designer McElwee and The Sew Liberated-Apron. Since it is Friday and a day for finishing up projects, thought I would show how the apron and pocket project turned out. So here is a picture (too bad there is no cute young girl around to model it).

It is reversible, and each side has this a pocket made from a vintage apron, transfers, and embroidery.

A few of the steps on the embroidering of the flapper girl pocket are shown in the photo below and previously written up here.

Coloring with crayons on fabrice is a neat and easy concept. The idea was blatantly copied from giggleface studios for all steps of the Flapper Girl face.

The apron has a flattering fit over both the bodice and hips, and I'm wearing it today over crop pants.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Making Transfer Images for Collages Using Transparencies

In working with collage art, practically anything goes by way of materials and subject.

By definition, collage is an artistic composition of materials and objects pasted over a surface, often with unifying lines and/or color. The origin of the word "collage" comes from the French word "coller," which means to glue. Simply put, anything that is glued or pasted onto something else might be broadly interpreted as collage. Historically, collage has existed for many centuries; and, notably, Pablo Picasso and Georges Braque launched collage into the art world of Paris in the twentieth century and made it a mainstream term with a more widely accepted understanding. But, much earlier, experimentation in collage took place in France (Madison ArtShop).
The first source I researched about the process of making transfers of images was art-e-zine for easy directions for making transfers of images onto fabric or paper by using your chosen art object, an inkjet printer, imaging paper (transparency paper), Golden Brand fluid matte medium, and a rolling pin.

Ensure that you are using the correct transparency type and print onto the textured side of either Great White Photo & Imaging paper (#86010, or Apollo Jet Printer Transparency Film (Not Quick Dry) or JetPrint Inkjet Imagining Photo Paper or JetPrint Multi Purpose Imagining Paper, glossy. Note: I could not find any of the cited transparencies available in stock at local stores, so I ended up with this product: Brand name: 3M, “Transparency Film for Inkjet Printers CG3480”

Here are the basic instructions:

1. Copy your image from your inkjet printer onto the textured side of the transparency paper. All to dry for 15 min. after printing.

2. Paint a thin coat of the Golden fluid (not gel) matte medium atop the image you want to transfer to the paper (or fabric). Easy clean up can be accomplished by using a small foam brush for the application of fluid medium. Also apply some fluid matte medium to the object where it will adhere.

3 Put a sheet of waxed paper over this wet image.

4. Then roll over it with a rolling pin or the back of a spoon for burnishing.

5. Wait one minute and carefully lift off backing paper, and the picture will be transferred.

Reminder: Do NOT USE anything BUT the recommended Photo paper, an inkjet printer, Golden Brand Matte Medium, and heavy paper to transfer an image onto (like heavy watercolor paper) … as your skill level increases, you might add metal or glass under the image transfer.

Any little slubs or wrinkles acquired in the burnishing process just adds to the vintage look.

The person who first originated (or documented) and copyrighted this innovative process was Leslie Riley in 2002 . Riley also administers the inkjet transfer group at the InkJet Yahoo Group, where you can find her original documentation in the "Files Folder".

Some lovely work can be found here: art-e-zine by Donia Nance.

Free vintage art can be found here: Transfers and at art-e-zine. Here are a couple of pictures I plan on using for inkjet transfers from these sources:

Have a go at it. It is fun!

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Making Boxes from Cardboard

If you ever wanted to know how to make a box from cardboard (and created into so many shapes that it will astound you!), here is the website to visit, Box Templates.

Over 50 box shapes that you can craft are given at this site. Here is just one of them:


You never know when you might like a teapot shaped box (it is the last one in the series).

Monday, August 11, 2008

Banana Split Cake and Sheep Cake for Birthday

I'm a big fan of Paula Deen's Home Cooking Show, and saw her make a delicious looking cake on her tv show last week. I thought that this would be just the dessert to serve family and friends on Granny's 80th Birthday.

So yesterday, I made Paula Deen's Banana Split Cake, and it was a hit at the end of our bar-b-que meal outside. It was very tasty, cool for summer, and an easy recipe that will feed up to 20 guests.

Since Betty (Granny) reached eight decades in age, and is a collector of "anything sheep," I decided to also make her a sheep birthday cake. Err, I mean a birthday cake in the shape of a sheep.

I looked at various places on the internet searching for how to make a cake in the form of about any object you can imagine. In this web hunt, I came across a cool video for making a DOG CAKE . Click here if you want to see a spectacular dog cake made over four days, compressed into a four minute video:

This sheep cake was shown at Family Fun with Recipe Finder:

It was cute, but who would eat all those marshmallows?

I came up with a different cake by using a boxed white cake mix, the required ingredients, and then baked the cake in a 9" x 15" jelly roll pan. After the cake cooled and was then frozen overnight, I cut out a sheep cardboard form and cut around the form placed atop the frozen cake. (It helped to freeze the cake thoroughly before cutting it.) The "waste" cake taken from around the edges of the sheep form was frozen for later use with strawberries in a different dessert.

After spreading the cut-out sheep cake with white icing, I sprinkled on colored sugar daisy petals purchased at the craft store. And I added two goofy eyes to the face of the sheep. With a little imagination, you can see the result looks a bit like a sheep:

This cake was a separate dessert for the birthday girl.

Granny's birthday present from Gene and me is this original watercolor by Maggie Ehmann. Matted and framed, it measures 23" x 25." I purchased this several months ago in anticipation of the Big Eight-O:

Maggie did a beautiful job with the sheep, shepherd and dog!

This is Betty blowing out candles on the cake at her birthday party yesterday.

Friday, August 8, 2008

Watercolored Altered Art* Vintage Girl

Thought I would give a quick blog shot of the finished "altered art" for Baby Ella Ann, due in about two weeks. This gift was referenced in yesterday's Blog posting. Shhhhh.... her mom and dad don't know about it yet.

Similar ones (with applicable baby's name) will be for sale at my Etsy Shop.

* Altered Art - Album/Book/Tag/Anything - Collaging, embellishing, enamelling, stamping or doing anything else to a book or other household item to reflect a creative idea, theme or narrative (from ChewingPaper).

Socks for Soldiers Finished

About three weeks ago, I posted about Kim Opperham's Project for Our Soldiers. After two months in progress, my first pair of socks is ready to be mailed off to Major Reyher in Afghanistan. They were knit on size 1 needles (about the size of toothpicks!) and they are relatively error free.

Our thoughts and prayers are with you, Marc. Enjoy your socks.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Watercolor Paints & Pencils- Picture for Baby's Room

A new baby niece will be making her entrance in a few weeks. One of the presents we bought her was from an Etsy Store (all things handmade) called RockaByeBabyRetro. It is a darling Onesie made into a dress. There is a pink bow at the neck and applique on the front, with a full skirt. Carousels and animals are the dress theme in pinks and reds.

Another small gift will be a hand water colored 5" x 7" little girl in an old fashioned dress. It will be drawn, painted and personalized for little "Ella Ann." The original stamp block can be purchased from stampington.

Here is a similar picture of the girl before sketching, sizing and colorization process:I plan on using all my watercolor skills on this little beauty, and will matt and frame it in a girly, pink flowered frame.

Congratulations, Kim and Jeremy, on adding this new life to the world!

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Mutant Mushroom Still Alive Despite Heat

KREX TV yesterday reported

It's been more than a century since Grand Junction hit 90 degrees over 50 days in a row, but it happened again today. At just about 1 o'clock this afternoon... thermometers in Grand Junction pushed past 90 degrees for the 52nd day in a row. With that push, 2008 was officially thrust into the weather record books.

Remember my post yesterday about that spontaneous mushroom among the succulents? It must like hot weather because this morning it is still alive and looks like this:

Tag: You're It!

I was tagged by Giggleface (Tracey) and am passing along the game to six other bloggers.

The rules of the game are:

1. Link back to the person who tagged you
2. Mention the rules on your blog
3. Tell about 6 unspectacular quirks of yours
4. Tag 6 following bloggers by linking them
5. Leave a comment on each of the tagged blogger's blogs letting them know they've been tagged

Here goes with six unspectacular quirky things about me:

1. I like reading favorite authors’ entire works ( i.e., P. Gregory, J. Picoult, C.S. Lewis, etc.)
2. I can only eat corn on-the-cob which has been sliced OFF the cob by a knife
3. Crafting projects go in stages of months or years, then picked up again at a later time (knitting, sewing, painting)
4. If I had to make my living by my art, I would have starved many years ago
5. I hold only one grudge; all else is forgotten because of my bad memory
6. I think my husband and brothers are the greatest things since the invention of fat-free coffee additives and Maxine.
So here are the six bloggers I have tagged:

1. Knitted Gems (Marie)
2. ritazramblez (Rita)
3. Dragonfly Crafts (great background of dragonflies)
4. Apronista
5. SweetWilliam
6. The Felt Mouse

Read their blogs; creative souls writing there!

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Garden Produce and A REAL Mushroom

Neighbor Ronda brings her gorgeous produce around the neighborhood on early weekend mornings.

What colorful, tasty organic vegetables! I went back later and picked up 8 cups (packed!) of basil and arugula leaves and made four more batches of pesto sauce to freeze. Ronda suggested making some arugula pesto with added lemon juice, and it was delicious!

Ronda also inspired me to try painting some purple eggplant with her successful gardening efforts.

This is a picture of our back patio Sunday evening.

Is this some amazing mushroom?

Actually, the one on the left sprung up spontaneously from a potted plant of succulents and petunias. The one on the the right is ceramic and was purchased from a local nursery.

Can anyone tell me the variety of the little brown mushroom?

Monday, August 4, 2008

Stepping Stones Personalized

Family Crafts was the informative internet source I used for a quick tutorial on how to make stepping stones. If you look into making stones for your garden , you will find many resources. Another good tutorial can be found at The How-To Site.

A few summers ago, I made six stones from one bag of quick drying concrete and some dye, and they are still holding up well in our garden. I won't go into specific details of how to make the stepping stones, as the references will give you all that information. However, two quick notes from experience: 1) large plastic planter saucers heavily slathered with Vaseline are excellent for molding concrete; 2) do not use wooden items for embedding. (And remember to date your stones, so that archeologists in later years will know exactly when we Coloradans were busy stone building.)

Middle school friend Cassidy helped make eight more stepping stones from one 60 lb. bag of Quikrete, water, and one bottle of red concrete dye. Each stone is personalized in some unique way with plastic buttons and trinkets, ceramic flat pieces of found art, keyrings picked up from various vacations, foreign coins, pieces of colored glass, Scrabble tiles, glass beads and discarded jewelry embedded into the concrete. We liked the results. Cassidy will further color some of her stones with latex paints after the Quikrete dries completely.

Often, stones have a layer of chicken wire for added strength, although these stones are not likely to break into pieces. Cassidy and I did not bother to put wire reinforcement in the middle of our stones since they are for decoration, not pathways.

Cassidy at work and with completed stones:

For half a morning's time devoted to this project, and with a little help from a young friend, our gardens will soon welcome these new stepping stones.

Now it is time to start collecting objects again to make even MORE garden delights.