Saturday, December 28, 2013

Where Have I Been? And What Am I Up To?

I apologize for the long gap between postings. As soon as my husband and I returned from our Poland adventure we turned our energy towards finding a small farm we can retire to. I have been retired for 3 years and he is set to join me in another 2. With house prices and interest rates still low it seems like the perfect time to find our little slice of heaven.

WHAT the property is was more important than WHERE it is. At least that was our philosophy at the outset of this process. Of course we had a laundry list of things our new property should have. The most important thing was that it had enough room for some critters and be outside the  city limits. I wish to raise chickens (definitely), goats (maybe), sheep (another maybe).....and expand my apiary (most definitely). To accomplish this I need at least an acre. It could be a bit more, but not more than I can handle on my own. My husband does not share my "farmer" genes.

To date we have looked at hundreds of properties, thanks to the internet (Zillow,, Google Earth,, etc....). And we have toured at least 20. Of these, we found 4 that we were interested in enough to take a second look and perhaps make an offer.

The first was a cute 1920's two story set on a hill in Kelso, WA. That hill turned out to be a deal breaker. On our second tour of the property we realized that the back left corner of the home was perilously close to the edge....and the ground was settling. It was a lovely home but I would always be in fear of it sliding down the steep hill, with me inside. No thank you.

The second was an adorable 1930's farmhouse in Chehalis, WA. Tiny, but cute. It sat on an acre of flat land, with a creek passing through the front. Anyone familiar with Chehalis knows about its infamous flooding. This particular house was located outside the flood plain but that creek was worrisome. Still, the property had an awesome multiuse outbuilding (garage, shops, barn) and we made what we felt was a "more than generous" offer. This one was a For Sale By Owner and the owner had an unrealistic idea of what the property was  worth. We said no thank you and moved on.

Property number 3 was located right on highway 101 in Central Park which is located just up the hill from Aberdeen, WA. When I say it was right on the highway, that's what I mean. But it was fully fenced to keep my animals safe and the home was well insulated. The road noise was not excessive. The house was a 1930's rambler that had been added on to. It had over 1500 SF. The property was just shy of an acre. It had some cute outbuildings but the biggest attraction was the 1000 SF garage. This property had storage galore. We got very far along in the purchasing process but had to back out when we discovered that the septic system needed over $10,000 worth of repairs. Again, no thank you.

That sale failed right before Christmas. I was very disappointed which made for a rather dismal holiday. I could hardly wait for December 26th to arrive so I could resume the house hunt. This time we were touring 3 properties in Winlock, WA. A bit of backstory, we had been looking in Winlock, on and off, for at least 3 years. We absolutely LOVE this little town. Even though it is on the I-5 corridor, it is situated off the freeway. You depart the freeway, travel through some farmland, THEN arrive in town. There is absolutely no reason for anyone to stumble into Winlock unless they, or someone they know, lives there. It has one grocery store, an IGA. A couple of hardware stores, a feed store, etc...but not much that a tourist would be interested in.

So we arrived in town. We toured a small mish mashed house on 2 acres. The ad stated it had a barn...but the "barn" was dilapidated and un salvageable. Yuck. The second place was actually one we had toured a couple years back, when it was occupied and for sale. Now it is a repo. The house is a shotgun style. Incredibly boring and fugly. It's on a couple of flat acres and in a nice quiet area but that house was too ugly. Nope. Not gonna happen.

And then....we found it. We had actually been watching this property online for a while. But the ad and pictures didn't do it justice. The Google Earth view was confusing, and it was a repo. In this area that generally equates to "unlivable". Those properties either have flood damage, have been trashed by the previous owner, been vacant and unheated so long they are filled with black mold, have been broken into and vandalized.....or all of the above.

This property is a 1930 schoolhouse that has been converted to a home. It retains much of the original features and charm. There is a vestibule in front, built in closets and bookshelves, bead board, and even the original coat hooks the students used. It has fir floors throughout that need refinishing. The building was neglected by the previous owner and needs some serious cleaning, painting, updating....but the building is rock solid and oozes charm and potential.

It sits on a full acre that has 2 pastures and at least 6 fruit trees. Since it is a repo we wont know what the trees are until they bear fruit next year but the trees look to be in good shape. It last sold in March of  '07 for $175,000. The property was repossessed and first listed back in July at $128,900. The price has been steadily coming down since then. Why has no one bought it? Well, it's out in the middle of nowhere, surrounded by farmland. And the listing was not accurate. It doesn't have 2760 SF. You never figure the unfinished basement into the SF, but this listing did. And it doesn't have a fireplace. Granted there is an old, rusty woodstove sitting down in the basement, but it isn't hooked up.

So it has been languishing, unsold. On Christmas Eve they dropped the price a final time, to $86,900. This would be the last chance to buy it before the bank gives up and sells it to an auction company. Once that happens it is sold, for cash, to investors and "flippers". This was perfect timing for us. We have submitted our offer and should know by next Tuesday whether it is accepted. I have my fingers crossed. This will make an awesome farm.

Friday, October 11, 2013

Greetings From Poznan, Poland

My husband and I are currently visiting Poznan to attend an international pipe smoking competition. I will have lots of pictures to share once we return but here are a few for now.

Aboard the train, getting ready to travel from Berlin to Poznan.

The train station in Poznan.

A cool, old building across from the station.

I will post more about our adventures later.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

First Foray Into Lacto-Fermenting

Now that I am (once again) trying to eat healthier I have a desire to try lacto-fermenting. I have been hearing about this for a while, especially when I was hanging out on a kombucha board. I admit that I thought it was pickling with milk....and that didn't sound tasty. Come to find out it is pickling the old fashioned way, using natural lactic acids and yeasts, which are present in our environment. You've heard of "probiotics" and how healthy they are for our guts? That is the benefit of lacto-fermented foods. Unfortunately I got this desire at the very tail end of the pickling season. The only pickling cukes to be had were well past their prime and verging on spoiling. I also couldn't find any dill seed heads. Still, I forged ahead. Nothing will dissuade me from my desire to produce my own delicious, natural dill pickles. Will I achieve this dream? Time will tell. For now let me share with you my first fumbling baby steps on this journey.

First I picked out 6 of the least rotten feeling pickles at the produce stand. I gave them a good scrubbing and  trimmed off any soft spots. I also trimmed both ends of each cuke. Then I soaked them for about an hour in an ice water bath to firm them up. Next I located one of the pickle jars I'd saved. It was just big enough to do the job. Now to add my flavorings. Lacking a proper head of dill I opted to use a tsp. of dried dill. I also added a tsp. of pickling spices and 2 peeled cloves of garlic to the bottom of the jar. Next I added the cucumbers, standing them on their ends. After I had all the goodies loaded into the jar I mixed up a pickling brine using some kosher salt and water. Now to rig up some way to keep the cukes below the surface. I put some water into a Ziploc bag and stuffed that into the jar top. Oh, I forgot to mention the oak leaf. I had read somewhere that if you add a tannin rich leaf (or leaves) to the jar it will make your pickles crisper. The leaves can be oak, grape, horseradish, or cherry. I had access to none of the above. I finally located an oak tree in the Walgreen's parking lot. Later on I read that the oak leaves need to be the rounded, not pointy, variety. Apparently pointy oak leaves have too much tannin and will make your pickles too astringent.

I added a cloth to the top of my makeshift pickle crock and left it alone for 3 days. On day 3 I removed the cloth to take a peek. I was looking for bubbles which would signal that fermentation was underway. Success!

Fermentation is an inexact science. There are lots of variables. My pickles should be done in 7 to 10 days. Our days are getting colder now so I am thinking it will be more like 10 days before they are ready to go into the fridge. The cold will then inhibit fermentation and allow the pickles to mellow. There is just one hitch in my plan. I will be out of town on day 10. I am going to set the jar against a cold outer wall and hope for the best. Here is a picture of the pickles showing the oak leaf I had found.

As you can see, it is the pointy leaf variety (figures). I have removed it today and am hoping the tannin levels in the brine aren't too high. I do have some powdered tannin that I use in wine making. I wonder if I couldn't add a bit of that to my pickles in the future? Check back in about a week to see how these pickles turned out.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

GF Blueberry Muffins

I have not found time to mix up my own GF baking mix but I found this Arrowhead Mills All Purpose Baking Mix on my last visit to Fred Meyers (Krogers). Yesterday I decided to fix the husbeast some blueberry muffins using blueberries I picked at our local Blueberry Park in the summer of 2012. I sealed them in one cup batches in vacuum sealed bags and stored them in my freezer. Yes, the berry are still good.

I followed the Blueberry Crumb Muffin recipe on the back of the box, but omitted the crumb topping. Other changes I made were to use regular whole milk and use 1/2 cup of honey in place of the 3/4 cup of sugar. I used salted butter, as that was all I had. The muffins were not too salty. The recipe did not tell you when to add the blueberries, which I found amusing since they are blueberry muffins. I added a Tbs. of the baking mix to the blueberries and coated them thoroughly then folded them into the batter before spooning the batter into the lined muffin tins. The recipe says to pour the batter in, but it is far too thick for that to happen.

The muffins turned out nice and moist and very, VERY buttery. I think I will try decreasing the amount of butter next time. It seemed like overkill. Otherwise I am very happy with them and the husbeast declared them "delicious".

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Homemade Corn Tortillas. Yum!

One thing that I've discovered since going gluten free? You have to cook a LOT of things from scratch. This has been a challenge, but also a lot of fun. Yesterday I decided to try making some corn tortillas. There are only 3 ingredients, so how hard can they be? I started with the recipe from the back of the Maseca bag. Turns out there is a bit of a learning curve. The first dough was too dry and I didn't know how to properly cook them. They were also a bit bland for my liking. Today I tried again and I am happy to report that I have been successful. Here is my recipe. I added a bit more water and salt to that first, original recipe off the bag.

Corn Tortillas
2 cups masa flour
 3/4 tsp. salt
1 1/2 cups warm water
(plus more if needed)
In a bowl, wisk the salt into the flour, mixing it in thoroughly. Add the warm water and mix it in using your hands and fingers, until all the flour is incorporated. You want the dough to be the consistency of Play-Doh. If the dough feels too stiff, add some more warm water, a tablespoon at a time. If the dough is too moist add a bit of masa flour. Once your dough feels right, cover it with some plastic wrap. It dries out really fast. Get out your tortilla press and start heating your pan. Start with your pan on medium high heat. You may have to adjust the heat up or down. All stoves vary and it will also depend on the type of pan used. I use a cast iron frying pan and a medium heat. Anything hotter and it burns off the seasoning from my pan. Cover your press with some plastic wrap.  
Take a small amount of dough (about walnut size) and roll it into a ball, then slightly flatten the ball and place it on the press.
Top the ball of dough with another piece of plastic wrap and close the press, pressing down hard on the lever.
Open it up and "ta da"! You've made a tortilla. I like to rotate the tortilla 180 degrees, then press again, to make sure it is flattened evenly.
Carefully lift the tortilla and remove the plastic, one side at a time. Brush the tortilla lightly with oil (depending on the type of pan you are using. Mine needs oil) and lay the tortilla in the pan. Cook it for approx. 50 seconds per side. You want it to get cooked and slightly browned, but not burnt. Flip it once the first side is done.
Don't worry if your tortilla feels a bit stiff. You may be wondering, as I did, "how is this thing going to roll up or fold around a filling without breaking"? Here is the secret to soft, moist tortillas. Once they are cooked you place them into a tortilla warmer (or steamer). These can be made of cloth, pottery or plastic. Mine is blow molded plastic. You close the lid and the tortillas steam each other, making them soft and pliable. Like magic.
Once you get the hang of it, making fresh tortillas from scratch is incredibly easy. You will never want to eat those rubbery tortillas from the grocery store, ever again. Enjoy!

Fall Varroa Mite Treatment

Fall is the most crucial time to treat for varroa. The mite population is increasing as the bee population begins to decline. The bees go into the winter with  much fewer numbers and the winter bees are the ones who will be hatching in the fall. Those winter bees will be cooped up inside the hive until the weather warms up in late winter/early spring. If there is a large mite population in the hive during the winter it can really weaken the bees. Even if you don't see any mites in your hive, they are there. By the time I noticed them in my hives, which was after their 2nd winter, they were heavily infested. One of the hives was weakened enough that they developed nosema and dysentery. I was able to rectify the situation using HopGuard but the bees took all summer to recover. This seriously effected my honey harvest.

This year I am going to treat both fall AND spring. I use HopGuard, 3 applications, 7 to 10 days apart. I put solid boards, smeared with Vaseline, under the screened bottom boards to catch the dead mites. These are the mites that were on the board after 24 hours.

Close up of mites. They are the blood red ovals.

I will treat twice more this month. Meanwhile I am feeding them 2:1 syrup and giving them pollen patties. I want to make sure they have plenty of food to get them through the winter and raise their winter brood.

Friday, September 6, 2013

Visit To GFJoe's

This is my honest review of GF Joe's which is a Gluten Free Market in Tacoma, WA.

"From the outside it looks huge, which adds to the shock when you actually enter the store. I agree with others that the ambience of the store is too sparse and quiet. It feels as though they have too large a space for their actual needs. There is what appears to be a deli area but it is empty. I asked how long they'd been open (thinking it must have been a very short period of time) and was surprised to hear it has been an entire year.

There is a good variety of GF foods offered but prices are high.

One of the things I miss most about being GF is beer. Finding Omission beer was well worth the visit. $2 per bottle and delicious. Udi's  bread was also worth the visit.

Things that I would like to see:
Deli/bakery area, more bulk offerings.

I will continue to shop here for things like bread, beer, pasta."

Here are my purchases:
Omission IPA $1.99
Van's crackers $3.99
Udi's bread $5.89 (for 13 slices)
Veggie bouillon $3.19
Quinoa pasta $1.32 (it's $6.29per lb.)
tax $.57 (not sure why I was charged tax on the crackers????)
TOTAL: $16.95

I don't eat a lot of bread but I do like a piece of toast with my morning egg. The Udi's was very much like traditional bread. Here it is shown toasted, with butter and honey.

My favorite find was the Omission IPA. I savored it. Yummy! If only my husband, the brewmaster, could figure a way to brew GF beer.

I'm sure I will be a regular customer at GF Joe's although I am a little concerned that Tacoma may not have a large enough GF community to keep them afloat. If you are GF and in the area, please pay them a visit.

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Honey Extraction 2013

I harvested my honey rather late this year. My bees had a rough time this season and I wanted to give them every opportunity to get some honey capped for me. I finally pulled all my honey frames last week and was waiting for another 80 degree day so I could extract. Today proved to be just such a day.

My uncapping tank is a sink I bought off Craigslist which I set on top of 3 shallow honey supers, stacked one on top of the other. There is a bucket lined with a straining bag placed directly beneath the drain opening.

I set the frame in the sink and use my uncapping knife to uncap the cells. Then I go over the ones I missed with the capping scratcher. You need to make sure all the cells are uncapped in order to extract the honey from the frame. Once the frame is uncapped, on both sides, you place it into the extractor. The wax and honey that remains in the uncapping tank gets pushed through the drain opening and falls into the bucket.
Once all of the frames have been extracted I place another bucket, lined with a filter, under the opening on the front of the extractor and open the "honey gate".
The honey flows out, along with chunks of wax and any other debris. The honey is then filtered by passing through a very fine strainer. This large bucket also features a honey gate. The nicely filtered honey is now ready to be placed into smaller storage buckets, or jars, for long term storage.

After the frames have been extracted I place them, and the rest of the extracting equipment, out into my bee yard for the bees to clean.
That way there is no waste. The bees are only too happy to take the leftover honey back to their hives. Today the air in my backyard was full of happy, excited bees. It was a challenge to get these videos and pictures as the bees were careening past me, full throttle.
In the end I extracted 16 pounds of honey this year, which is twice the amount of last year's harvest.

Friday, August 30, 2013

Vintage Dress, 1967

Now that the weather is cooling, and the garden and bees are wrapping up for the season, I am starting to think about my next sewing project. I have been itching to sew a vintage style dress. I recently bartered for 2.5 yards of a navy blue crepe suiting which led me to dig out this dress pattern.

The fabric is a poly crepe. Nothing fancy or expensive. This will be an experiment to see if I can resize this vintage pattern to fit me. I'll need to size it up a bit. The zipper and self-cover buttons were already in my stash. I picked up the contrasting crepe for the yoke, and the white lining, at Jo-Ann fabrics, along with some matching thread.
I'll need to do some adjustments to the pattern, and sew up a muslin or two, before I cut into the fashion fabric.

Nasty Wax Moths

Earlier this summer I had pulled some un-needed frames from my hives. I wrapped them in plastic sheeting and stored them in my garage. I hoped the plastic would keep the wax moths at bay. Sadly, it did not. A few days ago I went to retrieve them and was dismayed to find wax moth larva cavorting all over 5 of them.

The way you kill the larva and eggs is to place them in a freezer overnight. This is not an easy task if all you have is a side by side freezer/fridge. I removed a couple of shelves from the freezer, placed the 5 frames into a tall kitchen garbage bag and stood it upright in the freezer. The next day I removed the frames from the freezer, shook off as many of the dead larva as I could, and placed the yucky frames back into my strongest hive. The bees are supposed to be able to clean the frames and save the wax. We'll see.

Potato Chips & Newly Gluten Free

There have been some minor changes here at the urban homestead. First, I have made the decision to make some dietary changes. I have a chronic autoimmune disorder since I was 20. Well over 30 years. It's not life threatening but it is a nuisance. It's one of those maladies that doctors can't cure.

Recently I stumbled upon some forums and read posts from others with my same illness that had benefited from going gluten free. On August 16th I cut out all wheat, rye and barley and immediately began feeling better. On August 26th I decided to eliminate processed sugar from my diet. It is also a trigger for my autoimmune disorder. I understand it takes a month to see most results and a full 6 months to get it completely out of your system. However I have already seen these changes:

*As of today I have lost 1.5" from my hips and a full 2" from my waist. No, I am not exercising.
*My skin is clearing up. Even the skin on my face has improved.
*My joints feel much better. My knees no longer hurt.
*My gums are in much better shape.
*I have more energy.
*Food tastes better.

The only real hardship? I miss beer. Yes, I know there if GF beer out there but I am used to drinking my husband's delicious home brew.

I also need to find a good salad dressing without added sugar. Or learn to make my own. I am a beekeeper so I am going to use raw, unpasteurized honey, from my bees, as my only sweetener.

The immediate weight loss was a happy revelation. I wasn't expecting it. I always wondered why I kept gaining so much weight when I really don't overeat. Apparently my body couldn't process the gluten. I look forward to getting my skinny body back. Stay tuned as I chronicle my GF/SF journey. Meanwhile, here is a nice snack you can whip up if you find yourself with an abundance of potatoes. I used sweet potatoes for this batch.
Baked Potato Chips 
Potatoes, any kind.
Olive oil
Slice the potatoes thin. I used a mandoline. Soak the potato slices in an ice bath for 10 minutes. Drain well and blot dry. Place in a bowl, drizzle with some olive oil (just enough to coat them) and mix them with your hands. Spread them out in a single layer on a baking sheet, sprinkle lightly with salt and bake for 20 minutes at 300 degrees. Watch them the last few minutes to make sure they don't burn. You want them crispy and slightly golden. You may have to adjust the temperature as all ovens vary. Enjoy!
NOTE: I can't report on how well these store since they didn't last that long. ;-P

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Honey Harvest 2013....Thus Far

I harvested these 3 medium frames on Monday of this week. I estimate that will give me approx. 12 jars. I anticipate getting at least this much, again, in a week. The bees aren't quite finished capping all the honey in the super. I am going to hold these 3 frames aside (probably sealed in an Igloo cooler) until I have more. I'd rather only extract once.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Vintage Linens Found Today

These are the vintage hand embroidered items I found at a yard sale this morning. Some also feature crochet or applique. I appreciate these because I know how much work went into them.

A pair of pillowcases with embroidered roses.
These have lace hand sewn to the edges.

A single pillowcase with embroidered calla lilies.
This has a green crocheted edging.

An embroidered dresser scarf with a crocheted edging.

A dish towel with appliqued dress and embroidered details.

I paid $4 for the lot.  

Late Season Yard Sales

I haven't been going to many yard sales this summer. I am trying to downsize and pack for my upcoming move to a homestead property. I really need to concentrate on giving things away, not dragging more home. Today my love of garage sales won out over common sense and I ventured out to a few sales in the near by neighborhoods. This was my haul. Or most of it. I also picked up some nice pinking shears and some vintage linens but those didn't make it into the photos.

MAD MEN style vintage red patent leather purse. Probably from the 50's. It's in very good condition, structurally, but it does have some black dye transfer....mostly on the back. Heck, it was only $1. I still love it and plan to actually carry it out in public. I want to collect more vintage purses.

A pristine harvest gold Grind O Mat from the 70's. With all the pieces. It clamps down onto the counter with suction. I have a fancy motorized grinder/sausage stuffer but this will come in handy for grinding something quickly. I have a recipe for Italian sausage I want to try out. This grinder was $2.

Set of 3 nesting baskets with lids. $1 for the set. These will be great for using in my sewing room.

And a few books on self sufficiency, gardening and upholstering. $.50 each. These will be useful on the homestead.

All that for under $5.50! You gotta love yard sales.  

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Thundercloud Wine?

Our street is lined with Thundercloud plum trees. Some of them even bear fruit. My next door neighbor's tree is a heavy fruit bearer. Each year the neighborhood kids congregate to pick most of the low hanging plums....usually long before they are ripe. However this year they missed one large area.

I asked my neighbor if it would be OK if I pick them and attempt to make some wine. He doesn't do anything with them so was happy to oblige. I have a huge container of generic honey that I need to use up. I prefer my bees' honey for eating but this generic stuff is fine for mead making. For those who don't know mead is wine made from honey instead of sugar. And melomel is a fruit mead. Here is the recipe I am using, in case anyone else has access to Thundercloud plums. I can't promise the wine will be any good, though, as this is my first attempt at this wine flavor.

Thundercloud Plum Melomel

· 4# pitted plums (about 5# unpitted)
· 2 # honey
· 1/2 tsp. acid blend
· 1/2 tsp. pectic enzyme
· 1 tsp. nutrient
· 1 campden tablet, crushed
· package wine yeast (or 1/4 tsp in starter)

Wine begun 7-30-13.

Step 1: Pick and wash plums. Break them open with your fingers. Don't remove pits yet. Place into a must bag. Squeeze out as much juice as you can into the primary fermenter. This will also free up the pits. Remove pits from must bag.

Step 2: Add all remaining ingredients except the yeast. Add enough water to make one gallon. Make sure to allow for the weight of the must bag.

Step 3: Take the specific gravity. You are aiming for a beginning SG of 1.090. Mine was spot on.
Step 4: Top with a kitchen towel or cotton cloth and secure with a rubber band. Let sit for 24 hours. This gives the campden tablet time to kill off any wild yeasts that were present on the plum skins, and then gas off. You don't want it to kill your wine yeast.

Meanwhile prepare a yeast starter.
Yeast starter: 1/4 cup warm water, 1 tsp. sugar, 1/4 tsp. wine yeast, 1/4 tsp. yeast nutrient. Cover loosely and let sit until ready to pitch. This will give your yeast a big head start.

Step 5: After 24 hours pitch the yeast into the juice mixture and replace the cloth cover.
Step 6: Stir daily and squeeze juice from the bag. On the 3rd day check the SG. if it is 1.040 or above, rack to the secondary fermenter and attach airlock. While in the secondary it is important to keep the wine out of the light. Cover it with a thick towel or store it in a dark cupboard or closet.
Step 7: Rack again in 3 to 4 weeks. Then rack every 2 months, as needed, until there is no more sediment.

If you don't rack this often, nothing bad will happen. It's best not to have the wine sit on the lees (sediment) for too long but wine does OK if you ignore it. Just check the airlock often and replace the liquid (water or sanitizer) if it gets low.

Step 8: Bottle. I usually keep my wine in the secondary for 9 to 12 months before bottling.

I like to back sweeten my fruit wines at bottling. I add a cup of sugar (or honey) per gallon of wine, give or take. Dissolve the honey or sugar in water before adding. If you sweeten your wine you will also need to add a stabilizer or it might begin fermenting again and you'll have a mess when the corks pop or the bottles explode. Add 1/2 tsp. of stabilizer when you sweeten, then bottle. 

Monday, July 22, 2013

It Fits!

And it is very comfortable. This picture is for you, Pearl.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

A Couple of Last Minute Details

I thought I was done but not quite. Today I added some French tacks to the inside, to anchor the lining to the shirt bottom. Now it won't end up bunched under my arm pits.

I also added one of my exclusive labels. LOL!

Today I also returned to Jo-Ann's to pick up more of the metallic embroidery thread. While there I couldn't resist grabbing one of the Jo-Ann's 70th Anniversary Bags. How cute is this!?!! I'm a sucker for vintage sewing machines and fashions.

All Finished With My Crazy HIppie Shirt

Ta Da!

That was a fun distraction. And it fits! I plan to wear it to breakfast at Shakabrah tomorrow. They have the best breakfast in Tacoma. We go there at least once a week.

Yesterday I knuckled under, ignored everything else, and finished the top. The sleeves have the same seam as the tunic sides, as well as matching decorative hem.

This shows what the reverse side of the decorative stitching looks like. I used a white polyester thread in the bobbin.

A close ip of the Kenmore 1914 sewing the decorative stitches.

The baby seam I used on the lining.

That seam is only 1/8" wide. It is a bit bulky, though, which I found out while hemming (see below). I learned this technique in a book I found at Half Price Books when they sent me some coupons.

Baby seams are found on page 18 & 19. The technique comes from designer Bill Travilla who is probably most famous for designing Marilyn Monroe's iconic halter dress for that scene in the 'Seven Year Itch'. For the narrow hem I used the model 1914 and a hem stitch foot.

 I started practising with a 3/8" foot but switched to a 1/4".There is a bit of a learning curve. I still haven't quite mastered it but I know that "in theory" it makes hemming easier. I had to spend extra time fixing my hemming boo-boos. And I learned that the baby seams are too fat to fit through the hemmer. But all in all I liked the result.

I basted the lining to the top, wrong sides together, and treated them like one faric from the armholes up.

The sleeves took a bit of easing. The sleeve caps were way too big for the holes and the notches didn't match up. Not even close. But I made it work. Here is a close up of the neckline featuring my home made bias tape.

It was a fun project and I learned a lot. The top is very comfortable and I know I'll be making many more of this design.