July 29, 2016

Sewing: Baggy Jeans to Skinny Jeans

I bought these jeans a year ago and have never worn them out in public because they perplex me. Why so tight in the thigh, why so baggy below the knee? These are the questions I ask, because these jeans make no sense. Finally, I decided to fix the manufacturer's mistake, and remove the weird, excess fabric below the knees. This is done the same way as taking in a shirt or dress - find the original seam, disregard it, and sew a new one.

OMG why. Why so baggy.

First, I pinned the legs together evenly, inside out.  

Then, I measured my leg to get an idea of how far up the excess fabric went. Once I had that measurement, I went ahead and sewed a new seam. When I reached the area that fit well and didn't need to be taken in, I just ran the new seam over to the old one and ended it. 

I did this several times. They needed to be taken in a lot further than I originally thought. 

Once I had the fit where I wanted it, I trimmed off the excess fabric behind the new seam, and hemmed the new edge. 

And now they fit better. Maybe I'll even wear them in public now. 

There is still the matter of the extra length around the ankles, but it looks pretty cute when worn with ankle boots, so I'll let it go.

For now. 

Have a good weekend!

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July 27, 2016

This Month's Books - July 2016

On Tuesday I was going to bring you another sewing post, and then I screwed it up. Not in a oh that still looks perfectly fine  type of way. More like a mother of God I have to redo this entire thing  sort of way. So until I pull my head out and work on my sewing hangups, I bring you the books I read this month. 

First up we have Howl's Moving Castle by Dianne Wynne Jones. 

This is one of those books that people of all ages adore. It's a classic. People love it. It's about the Wizard Howl and his castle that moves all over the countryside, and about Sophie. Sophie gets cursed by the Witch of the Waste and turns into an old woman. She begins working in Howl's castle to break the curse, and to find out if it's true that Howl eats the souls of young girls. Howl, also cursed, leads a crazy life inside the castle, always trying to outrun the Witch, and always flirtin' with girls.

All of this sounds amazing, and I think I am one of 12 people on the planet that just didn't like it. I want to like it. I was flabbergasted that I didn't. I thought Howl was annoying, Sophie was not my favorite, and the most interesting character was the demon in the fireplace.

So. You know. Read it and be one of the 99% that loves it. 

Next is The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon. 

This one starts out in Barcelona after the Spanish Civil War. A boy named Daniel receives a book by Julian Carax, and soon finds out that someone has been destroying every copy of every book ever written by Carax. From there on it's supposed to get all suspenseful and whatnot.

Look. I finish damn near every book I start. I can slog through anything, but I could not get through this one. I just couldn't get into it and thought it was boring. The characters all sound the same, and it took FOREVER for anything to happen. When something finally did happen, it was boring. 

I think people that are a lot smarter than me would probably enjoy this. This is another one of those universally-loved books, and you'd think by now I would be smart enough to steer clear of those, seeing as I don't usually like them. 

And finally, we have For Darkness Shows the Stars by Diana Peterfreund. 

This one is slightly confusing to explain and I am bad with the words-into-sentences thing. (I just tried to explain the world in this book and it was a huge paragraph. So forget it.) It's a retelling of Persuasion by Jane Austen. In a dystopian future where most people are Luddites. There. Done. 

The heroine is Elliot North, and she runs her family's estates. Aaaaaand I'm stuck again on trying to explain what happens. THINGS HAPPEN. Her teenage love interest comes back! But he's not what he seems! Her father is a douche! There's a secret in the wheat field! 

It was good, but the ending was what I refer to as a belch. Gassy, and then gone. The big conflict just sort of...resolves itself. It was a letdown. 

But the writing was very good, and the author had me in her corner right up until the end. 

Go forth and read. 

This blog, Black Spruce Hound, is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com.

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July 21, 2016

Brandy Slush

** I originally posted this recipe in 2013. Now it's been updated with better pictures. Also, it's 90 degrees F here today, with 91% humidity. I would bathe in brandy slush if I could.**

Have you ever had brandy slush? It's a citrus-y adult slushy. None of this sounds bad.

There's been a bit of a project going on right now. What started as a 'Let's Rip the Carpeting off the Stairs' has turned into a project of Bob Vila proportions.

- As long as the carpet is off the stairs, we might as well tear the stairs out and rebuild them.
- And hell, as long as the stairs are gone, we might as well redo the closet under the stairs.
- And while that's going on, we might as well take down some of the knotty pine in the living room and replace it with drywall to help brighten up the living room.


So yeah. That's been a bit of a time suck. Hence the brandy slush. 

Lemonade concentrate, orange juice concentrate, sugar, water, and brandy. This is health food, people. At least there's vitamin C, amiright?

Water, the juice concentrates, and sugar are dumped into a soup pot and heated until the sugar melts. When the mixture cools, the brandy is added. Don't add it before then, because I'm pretty sure that The Willful Burning Off of Any Alcohol By Excessive Use of Heat is a cardinal sin.

Then the whole mess is frozen.

Fill a glass 3/4 full of the slush and top it off with lemon lime soda or ginger ale.

And forget all about the stairs you're supposed to be polyurethaning. Of course, you'd need to drink about 47 of these to get a buzz, but still. It's a thought.

Brandy Slush

7 cups water
1 (12 ounce) can frozen lemonade concentrate, thawed
1 (12 ounce) can frozen orange juice concentrate, thawed
Sugar to taste
2 1/4 cups brandy
Ginger ale or lemon lime soda

Place the water and juice concentrates in a large pot. Sugar to taste - most recipes call for 2 cups of sugar, I use 3/4 cup. Heat mixture over medium high heat until sugar is dissolved. Remove from heat and set aside until cool, then add the brandy. Pour into a container and freeze at least 4 hours or until frozen.

To mix a drink, fill a glass about 3/4 full of the slush and top off with lemon-lime soda or ginger ale. Thank me later.

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July 19, 2016

A Car Show, Weird Dreams, and Other Important Topics

It's been awhile since I just sat down and spewed out nonsensical garbage for you, so here I am. Making up for lost time. 

First things first. On the 9th, my husband and I took his younger brother to a big car show that's held every year in central Wisconsin. 

Can we just talk about this car, please? I know the sun is glinting off the roof, but it says General Grant. IT'S THE GENERAL GRANT. With an American flag on the top. OMG. I died. (No shade on the General Lee, but it's overdone.)

I didn't want to be that person lugging around a gigantic camera at a car show, so I thought I'd just snap a few pictures with my phone. Yeah. I took one picture with my phone, and a few hood ornament/emblem pics with my big camera. 

And that was it. I am a doofus.

Aside from that, life has been pretty normal. I bleached more of my hair, once that hives-from-a-mosquito-bite episode on my neck cleared up. I've been reading a lot of books. I've been sewing a lot, but you guys have seen that already.

I had a dream that a muskrat came out of a hole in the ground, grabbed onto my ankle, and would not let go. I was walking around everywhere with a muskrat on my leg. (FYI - I wouldn't know what a muskrat looked like even if one did come out of a hole and grab me.)

While driving one day, I saw someone I'm holding a grudge against and I did not purposely rear-end them. I deserve a cookie for that one. 

There have been a few more people looking at our house, but it usually goes something like this:

Yeah. I'm beginning to think I'm going to live in this house until I'm 60. NOT THAT THAT'S A BAD THING. (That was me, screaming that out to the heavens, trying not to offend the Gods of Karma.)

And that is pretty much that. I will be back here in a few days with a boozy drink. Like you do.

See you later!

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July 15, 2016

How to Sew a Leather Wristlet

Are we tired of these sewing posts yet? Hmm? If the answer is yes, well. Too bad. It's my blog and I'll sew if I want to. I bought a bag of leather remnants at Hobby Lobby a few weeks ago, and knew what I was going to make immediately. A wristlet! (More like a clutch with a wrist strap, but let's not quibble over the details.)

I made a leather bag a few years ago, and pretty much followed the same instructions to make this one. (Except this time I made life easier on myself and sewed in the zipper before sewing up the sides of the bag.)

For this bag, I used these supplies:
- Leather remnants
- 1 (9 inch) metal zipper
- 1 fat quarter, or any other fabric suitable as a lining for the bag
- 1 washer
- Color matching thread (I should hope that one was obvious, but I'm being thorough)

All of this cost about $10 altogether. Big spender over here. 

First, I took two similarly-sized pieces of leather and trimmed them to the same size.

I took a fat quarter and ironed it flat, then cut two pieces from it the same size as the leather. Then I sewed them to the wrong sides of the leather. 

I didn't bother using interfacing for this. Interfacing adds a little stiffness and structure, but the leather I used was stiff enough without it.

Make sure your machine has a heavy-duty needle on it before you begin sewing.

 Zipper time. Sew that bad boy on there.

Then I turned the bag inside out, right sides together. To hold it all together, I used binder clips.

For the little leather tab that holds the wristlet strap, I cut a small piece of leather and put the washer on it. Then I tucked it between the sides of the bag. 

Sew up the sides. Be careful - when you sew over the tab, you're sewing through 4 layers of leather. My machine was having none of that, and I had to use the hand wheel on the side and do it manually. 

Then turn the bag inside out.

Next, I measured my wrist and cut a length of leather just a smidge longer. I threaded it through the washer and sewed it shut. 

And that's that, folks. 

I like this one. A lot. It's 1/64 the size of my everyday purse, and I foresee it saving me much shoulder pain in the future. 

See you later!

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