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The Grand Challenge

Spent time in Georgia last week with my lovely older daughter. She is starting a new phase in her life and I wanted to be there to cheerlead. We had a great time. The first night we, at my insistence, attacked her closet.

Erica greeted me that day wearing a really nice maxi skirt. She bought it sometime before 1994. The girl takes good care of her stuff—and hasn’t changed sizes. I can change sizes in a week, so this impresses me.

During the process, Libby of likemymamasays came by to check in and stayed to play. See this  blogpost for her review of the evening. She was blown away by the 1994 skirt.

I made piles.

  1. You look phenomenal in this.
  2. This died years ago.
  3. Brown! You can’t wear brown.
  4. To be fixed.
  5. Mom hates this but I’m keeping it anyway.
  6. A bit snug, but will fit soon.
  7. Just plain ugly.
  8. Give to someone else.

I’m sorry I didn’t photograph the closet before we started. It was two rows of a double closet jam packed. No one really knew what was in there.

When we finished, Erica could see what she really had that she wears. I made two rules.

  1. She can only buy skirts that flip and flounce because these make her happy.
  2. No more blouses. Too many fit issues and they are too stiff. Drape is everything.

Well, fit is really everything, but that is another blog.

To make a long story short—too late, I know—-Erica's original jacket

We found an unstructured linen jacket that is never worn. Mama doesn’t ever throw away linen—too great a fabric. It had two major problems: the shoulders drooped down the upper arms and it was a dull plum color. (We had a discussion about color theory and that plum is not purple and has a brown tone to it. At least this one did.)

Then Libby piped up with The Challenge. (I love Libby’s creative mind.) She challenged me to take the jacket and make it a statement piece for Erica. Embellish it and make it unique. I accepted readily. Then I gulped. My taste and Erica’s are so different. We talked and looked at pictures. I shopped and bought fabrics and trims to brighten the piece and bring light and color near her face.

My first thought was turquoise, a color she has become obsessed with since moving into her new home. A color I also love. I bought perle cotton threads and practiced some new stitches. I considered fabric paints. A major consideration is that it should be wearable with different colors, so that problem negated some ideas.

When I tried things, nothing worked. Nothing brightened it. It just refused to look like a happy jacket.

The wonky shoulder seam that I will handstitch later.

The wonky shoulder seam that I will handstitch later.

Fit is my passion so I attacked the shoulder. I didn’t really want to take it apart, and I don’t have her body her with which to work, so I abandoned proper techniques and just went with changing the armhole with the sleeve still attached. I basted the heck out of it and sewed the seam. (I wish it had been as easy as that sounds.) I did not trim and finish the seam. I’ll do that after I see that it fits. I felt pretty clever. A nice treat for me.

Wonky shoulder seam I will hand stitch later.

Wonky shoulder seam I will hand stitch later.

Back to the color problem.

After dyeing--

After dyeing–

I bought some Rit. Purple Rit. A synthrapol bath and Steve’s top loader in the basement (another blog–) and success.

Thread dyed purpleI even dyed some embroidery thread with it.

Now this is a palette I can work with. I may be on a roll.

I’ll keep you posted as it goes along. Feel free to weigh in with opinions. I want this to be special.

More later–

More stuff to make–Prayer Flags


Prayer flagThis is a Prayer Flag.  It is my understanding that prayer flags are a Tibetan thing.  You can Google it; I don’t have time.  I have to make more.  Anyway, the idea is to hang them outside and let the weather deteriorate them as it sends your prayers and good wishes out into the world.  If I am wrong about that, I don’t care.  I like the sentiment. 

Prayer flag UnderstandSome flags have words on them.

Prayer flag (2)Others don’t.

Notice that my flags are not hemmed or “finished” like you might some projects.  They are made with leftovers and found objects.  In a childish fit of pique, I threw away all my embroidery thread, so they are stitched with 4 thicknesses of sewing thread.  That was what I had.  Making them from stuff just lying around was important to me.  But I have truckloads of stuff just lying around waiting to become something.

Prayer flag joyThe best ingredient is the plain background on which my scraps and geegaws sit.  It is very fine cotton.  My friend Katherine came over as soon as my sewing machine was fixed–and she had waited on that longer than she felt was really necessary.  She had bought some lovely pillowcases, but they were larger than she liked and she wanted me to shorten them.  Obviously I did that by seaming across the closed end and cutting off the extra.

Here comes the best part–she tried to throw those pieces in the trash.  No!!! I yelled.  She was stunned that I wanted to save those scraps.  I don’t think she believed me when I said I would use them to make art.  ( A nice friend would not mention that she owns more scrapbook paper and supplies than Creative Memories, but I never claimed to be nice.)

Katherine’s pillow case scraps are the backing and hanging parts of my flags.Prayer flag (3)The flags are for a section on my back deck remodel.  A wonderful man designed what appears to be a doorway with no door.  It is a frame.  It carries a theme to the other side of the deck and it is the small privacy screen I wanted.  At least it will be when the space is filled with something.  He called it “Jane’s Palette” and I was blown away.  It will be a place to hang stuff I make, find, or just love.  It will change with time.  The first exhibit will be prayer flags.

Prayer flag follow blissThese are the first six.  I am working on more that are a bit different.  Just fiddling with things and having fun.  Why don’t you try this?  Or get your kids to make some.  Hang them on their walls or doors or trees.  There are no rules.  You can glue instead of sew.  Maybe you can use a glue gun without burning yourself.  I never have.  Write on them with Sharpies; paint them with leftover housepaint.  Or go buy some pretty cloth that just makes you happy.

Be happy–That’s my prayer for you and yours.

More later–

The Web is getting Meaner

Does this look like a mean person?

Does this look like a mean person?

I am a sweet woman–a grandmother, even. I write a blog to share stuff I know with readers who may not have as much time to research stuff as I do.  I am not important.  I am usually nice.  But if I had a gun and was in the room with whomever hacked my blog, someone would be missing kneecaps and fingers.  Just saying.

This morning I got a message from DD#1 about the email I sent to some folks about the Ice Bucket Challenge video.  She was very upset.  When she clicked on the link for my blog from her cellphone, it rerouted to a porn site.  PORN on my blog.  I investigated from my computer and found all was well.  I called her back and said so.

Long story short, she wasn’t convinced and when she took her computer in for a tuneup, she told the tech about it.  They both tried going to my site –from their respective phones–she got porn and he got a Russian site.  She called.  I tried from my phone.  PORN.

I immediately got in touch with HostDime who host my blog. Sent a repair ticket.  A few minutes later I tried my site from my computer and it was shut down.  They were already working on it.  The email report said malware had somehow gotten the password for my cpanel and had installed mean and vicious stuff in all the php folders.  If you don’t know what that means, well, I got lost myself after cpanel.  They cleaned files, changed passwords, and sent me a list of to-dos.  They also sent a list of trusted sites for programs to scan and remove spyware and malware from your computer.

I’m using a Surface Pro which is only a few months old.  I have already taken it to the Microsoft Store once and it was totally infected with spyware and malware.  (Yes, I am protected, but . . . )Now this!!

I tried to follow Hostdime’s direction to upgrade the WordPress software.  I was a disaster.  I worked on it for 3 hours, then sent them a pitiful note admitting I couldn’t do it, didn’t know how to do it, had downloaded the same update 4 times but had no idea how to launch it or where to put it and I needed to go to a neighborhood party where alcohol would be involved and I was giving up.

And I did.

When I came home, a tech had replied with one simple instruction and an apology for creating so much stress. He said they weren’t allowed to upgrade it for me, but that if I could not do it, he would.  Then he said the magic words.  Go to this place, a place I had been many times today, and look for the blue arrows.  To install updates, you click on the arrows.  It took 30 seconds.  BUT–the instruction to click on the blue arrows was not written anywhere on the screen.  A-r-r-r-r-gh!

Now — How did the malware get into my computer?  I am notoriously non-trusting of any site or message that comes from a source I don’t know.  I don’t install things I don’t know about. How???

It seems that reputable products that we have all used for years to get around the internet comfortably are now being used by hackers–and businesses–to get into our computers.  Java sends a message that you need to update.  This has been going on for years.  But now–it might not be Java calling.  Same for Adobe.  Are you told you don’t have Flash on your computer and you need to download it to view this website?  STOP.  Go to the website of the program to download updates.  Don’t be surprised when it tells you you already have the current version.

Run a scan of your computer to see if you innocently allowed malware to get through.  It’s easy.  Here are the sites Homedime sent me.

HouseCall: http://housecall.trendmicro.com/
MBAM: http://www.malwarebytes.org/mbam.php
Microsoft Security Essentials: http://www.microsoft.com/Security_Essentials/
Spybot S&D: http://www.safer-networking.org/index2.html
SUPERAntiSpyware: http://www.superantispyware.com/superantispyware.html
No one single anti-malware application will catch 100% of all malware on-the-wild, so scans with two or more reputable malware scanners is recommended.

I changed the password for my blog stte.  You know I am not even sure where the other passwords that were changed are.  I’ll look for that another day.  Not tomorrow. Tomorrow I will be changing lots of other passwords.  And putting pins in the hacker doll I just made.

More later–


Here’s some stuff I did that you might want to do, too

Crayola art

Crayola art

My roachie bug copy

Look how fuzzy the black crayon on the legs look

This was just fun.  I did draw the bugs, but it was the coloring I really loved.  Since I started my art journey, several friends have confessed that they love to color.  And they don’t wait til grandkids come over.

Dover Publication has many Adult coloring books–not the x-rated kind.  I love the art deco designs.  They are  available at places like Barnes and Noble and big box craft stores.   Coloring is fun and relaxing and requires no special talent or skill.  You don’t even have to stay inside the lines.  Be a rebel.  Redraw the lines.

Now what I did not know was that there are many Fine Artists who work with crayons–the kind you buy at Michaels.  Well, the Crayola kind.  Don’t buy the cheap ones; they are just cheap.  Yes, my darling daughter, you can tell the difference.

Here are some links for you to see skilled artists at work–

Glen’s Crayon Art

Janet Vanderhoff

more if you Google “crayon fine artists”

For some fun coloring pages for the crafty type person, try


I like this one.mistakes

Tip:  If you would prefer colored pencils, try the Prismacolor ones that are a tad waxy.  Better color.  Watercolor markers are also great for this.  I like Tombow.  Heck, a ballpoint pen or two will also do just fine.

Now, go have some fun.

More later–



The ALS Ice Bucket Challenge at Home

My dear friend Tom, who arranged for me to be invited into his son’s Fantasy Football Leagu (more fun than I ever imagined) challenged me in the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge.  When I watched his son’s video which included his two young daughters, I knew I had to give my younger grandson the chance to get in on this and to challenge his older cousin.

Those of us who have known someone with ALS know how insidious and evil this disease is.  Please consider donating to ALS research.  Even consider that I have also challenged you to the challenge.  If you do accept it (and who wouldn’t in this weather in the South), you can challenge anyone you wish–friend or enemy.  It was fun.  Here’s our video:


The Good News!!!!

I am a knitter.

There is so much power in those words.  A few minutes on ravelry.com, a home to over 4,000,000 knitters worldwide, will convince you of that.

Knitters help other knitters, period.  We just do.

So here is my good news.Janis

Janis, knitter, podcaster, and ARCHITECT, came over for me to help her fit her new wonderful sweater. (See above.)  We were not close friends, just acquaintances who knit together on Wednesday and share a love of Frank Gehry’s buildings. (We are a lot closer now.)

I asked her to look at the construction of the deck just so I could tell Todd Cahill of Southend Painting and Roofing that I had had an architect look at it.  She took one glance and said, “Get pen and paper.  We’re making a list.”  And we did.  That night Janis brought another architect by to see the mess.  He verified all she had said and took pictures.  He wanted to show it to a colleague.  He had never seen cedar shakes four layers thick.  Both of them were truly stunned at the quality of the job.

We also had John come by and look it over, He remodeled my kitchen with Sue Ferguson, an interior designer, and it is perfect.  He said to fire the contractor and start again.  I ran our proposed settlement offer by him which he thought was overly generous.

Then Janis steps in again and says she can put me in touch with a good contractor who can fix things and give me what I want.  I didn’t really want anything but to be weatherproof at this point.  She made me talk about what I had planned and then she drew plans for me.  She told me she would meet with the contractor to make sure he understood what I wanted.  She would also drop by when the work started just to keep an eye on things.  She offered this without fee or conditions or anything.

Janis is a knitter.

This is what knitter’s do when other knitters are in trouble.  They help.  They offer whatever skills or materials or time they have and they help.  I have seen it in person and online.  If a knitter’s house burns down, someone organizes a yarn gifting and before you know it, there is a warehouse full.  That knitter will have to have yarn to knit through the stress.

I was so beaten down by the stress of some family issues and then this abusive man,  I could no longer function.  I needed help.  The comments on my blog are just a few of the offers I received.  Debbie offered massages.  Jennifer, prayers.  Naomi lessons to remember for next time.

Janis and John will need to be paid.  They are professionals and it is the right thing to do.  However, Janis may receive payment in a particularly creative way.  That will be another good news story.

If you are a knitter, check out http://www.carolinafibergirls.com for Janis and Ann’s Podcasts.  Even if you don’t knit, check it out.  They are “good people” as we say in the southern US.  On ravelry the group is Carolina Fiber Girls.

Lots of good info there.

More good news later–

Excellent Quality Work Defined

If you have not read the comment naomi posted on the previous entry, please go back and do so.  She gives us all some excellent advice and information.

Throughout this ordeal with Southend Painting and Roofing, the owner, Todd Cahill, constantly told me that his crew was doing “excellent quality” work.  In truth the crew was a dedicated bunch of guys who were not skilled, but tried very hard and were quick to catch on when given a little instruction.  They simply did not have carpentry skills required by this job.  They finally admitted to me that they had never done some of this work.  And there was no one on site to instruct them.

Excellent quality work?  You be the judge.  And keep in mind that Cahill told me this was finished work, Click on thumbnails for larger photos.

Seams and openings in sashing

Seams and openings in sashing

Outside window sash join

Outside window sash join

Outside window sashing

Outside window sashing

Bottom sash a 90 degree angle so water will drain toward window instead of onto porch.

Bottom sash a 90 degree angle so water will drain toward window instead of onto porch.

Some seams outside are quite wide

Some seams outside are quite wide

One 3/8 " seam is held open by small triangle of wood

One 3/8 ” seam is held open by small triangle of wood

Inside gaps

Inside gaps

Can see Tyvek wrapped into window, but an opening to the outside

Can see Tyvek wrapped into window, but an opening to the outside

No Tyvek wrap into the window frame, open to outside

No Tyvek wrap into the window frame, open to outside




Sorry about the formatting. I need a lesson from Prostiturtle.

Now “excellent quality” cedar shakes.

Some were smooth and some very rough cut

Some were smooth and some very rough cut, varying widths.

Some had stains that should not have been used.

Some had stains that should not have been used.


They were layered four pieces thick instead of two

They were layered four pieces thick instead of two, so they ran out.


You must be getting sick of this and you must think I am the biggest fool you ever saw.

There is lots more, but I will include only one more photo.

Doggie steps

Doggie steps

Aren’t they lovely?  Steve built them Saturday morning from the plans he had drawn.  The dogs had been unable to go out on their own since Monday.  And Jake, age 13.5, needs his middle of  the night sojourn.

Oh, but notice the shakes.  The first two rows were put on without a stagger pattern.  I caught it and stopped them, then we played until they understood the stagger.  I forgot to say remove the incorrect ones.  Never assume.

Construction ended on Thursday.  We began to search out supplies and prices.  We had two contractors look at the work and both were horrified.  Then we had two architects look at it.  More about that tomorrow.

Don’t mess with knitters.  Just saying.

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