Saturday, March 28, 2015

Photography Challenge

Take one photo each week for a year.  Sounds easy enough or so it seemed when my friend Becky of Rub Some Dirt On It blog fame told me about the My Four Hens Project 52. "You should do it, Laurel".  Each week, Sarah puts out a theme and members (like me) post a fresh image taken that week that relates to the theme. The kicker is that it's supposed to be a new photo, not one of the cool ones you took on your French vacation last year.

I might add that there are over 2500 members, many of them professional photographers.  So there are a lot of stunning photos posted each week, many of them of people. I don't have any cute kids hanging around everyday to capture in mega pixels, so my photos tend to be more about translating what's going on in my life into a single image.

Trust me, it's harder than your think.  Especially when you get the bright idea that you will chronicle your life in photos and publish a coffee table book in December. So I can't just go out and snap any old photo, it has to be relevant to what's happening in my life.

I'm twelve weeks into the challenge and I thought I'd share what I have so far:

Fresh: Last of the oranges off our tree

Storytelling: Sewing this week

Light: Church on Sunday

A Part of Me: My feet (I always photograph them)

Small: I had been playing my piano this week

Happy: Happiness is making a cake for a friend.

Pastel: No relation to my life, but I was desperate for an image. 
And this one was chosen for M4H's weekly "Eye Candy"

Perspective: Eggs were declared good for you and not bad for cholesterol??? I love eggs.

Shapes: My mini-me Colette got a new friend this week - Zanikan.

Nature: Another UTI this week, so lots of fresh, pure water!

Reality: I dreamed of red 6" heels one night, but the reality is that I can't even wear my wedding heels

Shiny: Dave was a little over-zealous while washing my windows - that be a shiny crack!

Not to make too great a point of it, but it's tough trying to be witty and artsy all the time...I considered scrapping the whole thing, but it's a challenge, Laurel!  Oh, did I mention that I'm taking most of my photos with my iPhone, just to make it harder, cuz that's way I roll! 

What would you have photographed for each of these themes?


Thursday, March 12, 2015

Old friend...

Years ago, Mom gave my sister our old family sewing machine - a Singer Centennial that she purchased in the 1950s.  Mom made most of our clothes and taught both my sis and I to sew.  Years later she took up quilting, but gave it up as it was hard for her to see...and after all "how many quilts can you make anyway?"

Recently she ventured into sewing again, making some PJ's with a borrowed machine. It was frustrating as her old machine was so much easier to operate.  At Thanksgiving my sister hauled the old Singer in the back of her truck from Utah to our 90 year old Mom. It needed a little work so I dropped it off at my local Singer repairman to get it rewired and cleaned up.  It took weeks, but they did a great job, carefully cleaning the rust from the motor, replacing the wiring, etc.

Yesterday I hauled it back up to Mom's and we set it back in the cabinet (it weighs a ton!), which she had refinished in a pretty turquoise chalk paint.  I plugged it in, wound a bobbin, threaded it and stitched a few lines on a scrap of cloth.  I had forgotten the sweet hum of this machine that I first learned to sew on when I was 10.   Though the smooth rhythm of needle going up and down reminded me that it once went clean through my index finger (it sews through anything!), we were still old friends.

I remembered a suit I made in high school, back when a field trip to San Francisco required heels and gloves. I remembered my first apron in 4-H and the frustration of learning to gather a skirt without breaking the threads. I remembered my graduation dress from high school with its little embroidered daisy trim.  All that from just listening to the hum of Mom's old Singer.

She told me that I could have it after she was done sewing.  At the rate she's going, it will be quite a while before it comes to Fair Oaks.  Meanwhile, she is as happy as if she just bought a new Bernina and had 5 yards of Duponi silk to sew.

Laurel. Sewing goes on forever!

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Vintage Fabric Stash

A friend of mine lost her mother about one year ago and the family is still trying to go through her belongings to get the family home ready to sell. Weeding through boxes and boxes of memorabilia, kitchen gadgets, old photos and craft supplies is somewhat painful, trying to decide what to keep and what to toss. Everything brings back a memory.

After a couple of estate sales and the piles are still huge, it gets to be too much and you're just ready to junk it all. My friend, knowing that I make little dresses for Dress a Girl Around the World No. CA asked if I wanted any of her Mom's fabric stash. We met yesterday afternoon and I went through each box, looking for cotton fabric for our upcoming Sew Fest. It was amazing to see the variety of fabrics in her stash, many of them from the 50's.

If you are a sewist and are my age, you may remember that many of the huge retailers "used to" sell fabric. The way they prepared remnants isn't that different from the way we see them now, but check out the prices!

Seeing these, I thought of FabricLadyand her Dad. I'll bet he has stories to tell about being an independent fabric store owner going up against the big guys.  I think that Walmart is the only national retailer that still sells fabric by the yard, though I am Stonemountain and Daughter Fabrics girl all the way.

Amy's Mom had a whole box of 9" squares (quilting?) all cut out - they are perfect for trimming into pockets for the DAG dresses.  But as is common with stuff that has been stored in cardboard boxes for 20 years or longer, the fragrance of the fabric was a tad musty.  The squares filled up my entire front loading washer. And naturally, they all raveled and wrinkled coming out of the dryer, so I pressed every one of the squares so the volunteers could easily cut the pockets.

Other pieces of fabric weren't big enough to make a whole dress, but will become pockets or shorts for Dress a Dude, DAG's new "fashion line" for little boys. I'm joking about the fashion thing, but whenever a missionary takes our cute little dresses to the field, the little boys are heartbroken because they didn't get a new outfit...hence Dress a Dude.

Evidently Amy's Mom was a giver as well - I found ready made cotton bags for the Senior Gleaners that she made regularly for that group. There were a few pieces that weren't suitable for our purposes - a lot of older polyesters, knits, etc. But there were some real treasures in Mom's stash...vintage fabric big enough to make a big girl dress for yours truly.

I see a fifties style dress with a full skirt - I think they call them "midi skirts" these days. 
It's a soft cotton.

And this print is a shiny acetate, perfect for a sleeveless lined sheath dress.

And since I'm not a brown person, this cute print had enough yardage to make two DAG dresses!

I washed, cut and ironed everything I brought home, so needless to say I was exhausted by dinner.  And I remembered how much I hated to iron as a teenager and I have to say, it's even harder on your back as an old lady! Today I will serge up the dresses and get them ready to be put into a kit to be sewn by the women volunteers who lovingly give of their time and talents for Dress a Girl every month.

Thank you Amy for your generosity.  Your Mom would be happy.

Laurel. Ready for Saturday's Sew Fest with DAG

Saturday, February 28, 2015

Be Still My Sugared Mind

I woke up in a fog this morning, my head pounding from lack of sugar. I'm trying to stick to my Whole 30 healthy eating, even if it's only for a week...just to prove to myself that I can still go one week without sugar and wine.

Last night Dave and I were talking about how much we think about food. So much of our idyllic life centers around planning the next meal, worrying about our wine stock, and thinking about where our next dinner or lunch out will be. Rather shameful considering the millions of people who go to sleep NOT worrying about their waistlines but how they will survive another day without starving to death.

When I try to be a healthier eater, it's funny how my mind becomes fixated on what I "can't" have. They say that your body tells you what it needs, so I guess since all I can think about is that marble cake from SusieCakes, maybe my body cells actually NEED that sugar? Probably not.

Yesterday, I was bored and I thought about I going downtown to an art gallery to pick up a little ceramic cake slice that was featured on a Facebook page.  It was only $23 and I thought it would be clever sitting on my kitchen counter.  I knew that I didn't need any artwork (we're on a new austere budget around here), so I wrestled with myself about going. When push came to shove, I had to admit that what I REALLY wanted was to get out, walk in the sunshine and get a cappuccino in a favorite coffee shop...and maybe sneak next door and get some marble cake.

Kudos to me, I resisted the strong impulse to waste gas, talked myself out of the artwork and made myself an espresso with my little Peet's drip cone at home. I bought it at Peet's last week when I was having another cappuccino craving, and since I'm trying not to do dairy, those are out too...along with the cube of brown sugar.

I have to admit that I was shocked when I took a hard look at our food and alcohol expenditures in any given month. Hence, the new budget. So is it that I feel deprived all of a sudden, not being able to pop over to the meat market anytime I please that makes me hungry all the time?  Or is it the extra 5 pounds and rebellious innards that brought on this re commitment to healthier eating that makes me feel like I am living in the midst of a famine? Or am I just plain self-absorbed and pouting because I can't have it thinks the latter. It is unfair that we can't put whatever we want into our bodies without it getting cranky, fat and sick. 

So it's Saturday and I should go to the Farmer's market to pick up some fruits and veggies.  My customary routine was to couple it with a trip to Trader Joe's to pick up a few things that the farmers didn't have...AND a trip to Starbucks or Peet's for a mocha. See what I mean?  I am sugar obsessed right now...and I'm off caffeine. Double headache!! But if I give it a few more days, this too shall pass and I will be cured...maybe.

Think I'll go fry an egg or it lovingly on a bed of ham and sweet potato...and get over myself. People are starving out there, Laurel.

P.S. It's good to know that eggs are "okay" to eat I was going to give them up?

Laurel. Everything in moderation.

Sunday, February 15, 2015


This Fall we are traveling to Texas to join Dave's high school friends for their 50th class reunion. As much as I love road trips, we decided to fly this year to spend more time with family and friends.  We have driven to Texas several times in our 30 year marriage...once with the kids when we were first married, another time to celebrate another class reunion.

Road trips are our trip to France this past year, you see a lot more country from the front seat of a car. As well, you can stop whenever and wherever you want. Dave and I laugh with fond memories of a road trip with his mother and aunt, taking them back to their birthplace in Kentucky. 

If you have never been in a car with two aging sisters, you would be in for a treat. One would think that time would settle all old arguments and jealousies, but that is never the case.  Once a sister, always a sister. Whether you were the youngest or the oldest, the perceived injustices of childhood never truly go away, they just mellow.

I in the front seat, beading away on my daughter's wedding dress...Dave driving a mile long Mercury through the rural roads of Kentucky...and Mom and Auntie in the back seat, "mis-remembering" everything. It was all we could do to keep from laughing aloud at some of the conversations between these two sisters. It was like time stood still and they were both taken back to their childhood. 

It reminded me that a sister is for life. Even though I don't keep in touch with mine very often, when we get together, it's like we were never separated.  My mom is celebrating her 90th birthday this coming weekend, and I will get to host my Sis and her hubby for the festivities. Perhaps we will shop, perhaps we will cook, but most of all, we will laugh...and even mis-remember fondly the details of our growing-up years together, whose doll was the prettiest or which side of the bed was "hers"!

I sorely miss my Mother-in-Law and beloved sister, the sweetest little Southern women...the way they used to make them.

Hey sister of you think we can get our daughters to take us on a road trip when we get old?

Laurel.  Sisters are forever.

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Oh Water, where for art thou?

It's warm outside for February and we are wondering if we are ever going to get some rain in the valley. With the ever present threat of DROUGHT ( I'm so sick of hearing about it), I find myself yearning for the evenings on the lake that used to be.  So I thought I'd remind myself of better days...floating around in our boat when the lakes were full...sipping wine and watching the sunsets.

I sure wish Mother Nature would start cooperating!!

Laurel. Nature Girl Wanna-Be.

Friday, January 16, 2015

David, "Phone Home..."

All bloggers understand that when we put ourselves out there on social media, we give up a certain amount of anonymity. All we have to do is Google our own names and we can see ourselves, our photos and our stuff plastered all over cyberspace. It can be somewhat disquieting but it's part of the game in which we have chosen to play.

So, David, on the off chance that you have succumbed to perusing the invasive social media jungle and one day happened upon my blog, today I wanted to invite you home - we're celebrating Mom's 90th birthday next month at Fat's Asian Bistro in Roseville at 6:00pm.

So grab a flight to Sacramento, rent a car, bring your appetite and share some Chinese with us! 

We're saving a place at the table for you. 

Love, Lo

Laurel. Sister Woman.

Sunday, January 11, 2015

The Gentle Art of Writing

Polyvore Art, Laurel Dismukes 2015
I read an article in Victoria Magazine's latest issue about a woman who writes letters as a hobby.  Her recipients may be a family member or a friend, but she also writes to people that she doesn't even know.  The article itself was written in Victoria's serene style, with soft photos and ambient text.  It made me want to settle in with a calligraphy pen, some fine linen paper and a cup of coffee.

I don't write letters. We have a whole bundle of letters that my husband's father wrote to his Mom during the war, and when I read them, it was touching. Letter writing is personal, unselfish. I'm certainly a by-product from that generation, but I must not have gotten the "communication" gene. (I don't remember my Mom writing either.) I text, I blog...I write with a keyboard.  I dream of writing a book. But the whole picture of this woman sitting by her warm fireplace surrounded by her writing tools and pretty papers was mildly appealing. 

I should write more. It sounds calming...and it is. I have at least 4 calligraphy pens in various states of disrepair and dried-up inkwells.  I lost my pretty Cross pen with the rollerball somewhere in my sewing room - now there was an instrument that was a joy to set to paper! I didn't send out holiday cards this year, unlike last year when I hand addressed over 40 cards. I haven't been journaling either, even though there's a certain peace and satisfaction that accompanies writing your deepest thoughts in a pretty little book - it's almost meditative.

I wrote (via keyboard) in my New Year's List post about having more quiet time, being more in the present, but it's difficult when you're running around 90 miles an hour "doing" to stop and rest. To sit and be still and embrace a quiet sport like reading or writing takes perseverance and discipline for those of us who are driven to overachieve. But since I memorialized that desire on my 2015 list, I should at least give it the college try.

All that being said, it's Sunday, and I need to sew. It sound like more "doing" than resting, but there is a beautiful rhythm to making a garment...especially if you are able to share the whole process "writing" in FabricLady's blog to inspire others.

There's that keyboard thing again.  I'll try to be still this evening...maybe I'll read. Oh whoops, the Golden Globes are on tonight - does that count as resting? (I watch it for the fashion.)

By the way, did you know that they don't even teach cursive writing in school today?  What's up with that?

"Catching up on Her Reading" - Polyvore Art, Laurel Dismukes, 2015
Laurel. Show me your pens!

Monday, January 5, 2015

Sewing with Our Hearts

This past weekend, Dress a Girl Around the World - No. CA had our monthly sewfest. Though we had a lower than usual turnout Saturday, everyone who came put their hearts into making little dresses.  There are some blessed little girls someplace in this world who are about to get one of these creations!

 If you're in the Greater Sacramento region, consider joining us - we usually meet on the first Saturday of the month...and though we adore the ladies who come with their machines to turn out these adorable little dresses, we appreciate the ones who can't sew but show up to iron, cut bias tape, make pockets, assemble kits, etc. Everyone is welcome!

And even thought we don't always know what part of the world our dresses will "land", we are just as blessed making it as they will be getting it.

Visit us on Facebook to find out more information!

Laurel. Sew Happy Thoughts!

Saturday, January 3, 2015

"Carpe Diem..."

I'm rather an anti-New Year's resolution kind girl. When January comes along, there is a sense of new beginnings, but most of those feelings just spring from clearing out the Christmas decorations and putting them away.  For me, January is not much different than other months that signal some sort of change. September, for instance, was the month that school started -  a new wardrobe plus anticipation of seeing old friends again and the arrival of Fall, my favorite season. The month of May meant that summer was just around the corner. Each season had a beginning and provided the backdrop for some sort of personal rebirth or change.

Three days into January 2015, the decorations haven't been returned to their storage containers, I'm 5 pounds over my goal, my house is a fright and I haven't "exercised" in 6 months. You didn't get a holiday card or letter from me, as I didn't send any...not one. 

In short, there are a lot of things that come to mind if I were a New Year's resolution kinda girl, but I'm  not.  However, I am the queen of list makers. I'm sure it has a lot to do with advancing age...forget the fact that I've been making to-do lists my whole life. I make lists whenever I'm having a dinner party, whenever I go shopping or whenever my brain goes into overload thinking about all the things I "need" to accomplish.

So leaving the whole New Year's resolution thing behind, I'd rather just "memorialize" my list of things that I want to do this year...things that I want to be better at...things that might make my life more meaningful.

  • I want to be a better friend - the kind that actually makes a lunch date rather than a "hug,hug, kiss kiss, let's do lunch" non-committal kind of friend.  (Hey if you really don't intend to follow through, Laurel,  then don't say it.)

  • I want to "let go" more - I want to stop worrying about things I can't control and creating mountains out of molehills, if only in my overly analytical brain. (Just because you don't say it out loud doesn't mean you should be thinking it, girl!)

  • I want to be more about others and less about me - that doesn't even require an explanation.

  • I want to to procrastinate less - it's not enough to just MAKE a list of things to do, you have to get down and get it done. (Otherwise don't put it on the list, Laurel, if you don't intend to follow through)

  • I want to learn to be still - take time to sit quietly a little more, to perhaps meditate or pray more...or even actually READ during the day, instead of falling asleep with the book still in my hands. (Maybe even finish a chapter, Laurel?) 

  • I want to be stronger - if I don't start walking or something I'm going to fall down and break a hip, go into a nursing home and then die.  Just kidding - I'm not that old...but I am weaker than I should be.

  • I want to need less - less impulsive buying, less comfort food, less spending, less stuff. (Do you even know the meaning of sacrifice, Laurel??)

  • I want to be more present - I have spent the last 30 years of my life perfecting multitasking. Even in retirement, I can't seem to shake the need to be efficient. I want to live more in the moment and focus and ENJOY what's happening around me or what I'm doing at that moment.

  • I want to finish well - we all have a time clock on our lives, and though my genes tell me that I have years to go, I want them to be back, sharing, making a difference in the lives of the people around me.

So, no resolutions. No promises. No commitments.  No accountability. Just a list of "dreams" whilst I sit hit sipping coffee and thinking about how I can repack all that Christmas stuff away this weekend. The morning is chilly, the decaffeinated (a real resolution!) coffee is warming my heart and I am feeling blessed.
Laurel. Carpe diem.

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