Category Archives: Halloween


I haven’t written in a while. If you’re a regular reader, you’ve already noticed this. Not that my blog was ever “about” anything, but I’ve felt as though I have even less to add these days. I’m picking up the odd design job here and there, and busying myself with jewelry-making in between. I’ve been experimenting with new materials, since, outside of the pet tags, nothing seems particularly popular with the masses. And the dog tags? I don’t make a dime on them. Even if I kept the “profit” portion of their price for myself, it would be tough to live on $2 a month.

My usual flurry of Halloween activity was tempered this year. Halfway through my second costume, I just gave up. I didn’t care about it. I was relieved that I already had one finished, but to be completely honest, that one wouldn’t have come together without the dedicated assistance of Megan doing my hair at the last minute. (I did have a great time helping Megan and Joe decorate for their party, and while I know they think that I was doing them a favor, it is I who really appreciate spending all of those days with them.)

In August, I finally started sewing Butterick 4790. I bunged up my sewing machine, and spent hours/days trying to figure out how to affordably fix it. Finally, with some ingenuity (and a metal kebab skewer) I was able to clear out enough thread from the innards to start sewing again. My (single) costume dress was back on, and it came out rather well if I may say so myself (very forgiving material) but that Walk-Away dress is still unfinished. And will likely remain so. I love the chrysanthemum fabric I chose for the front panel, but I went too cheap on the wrap-around solid, and I just don’t want to work with it. Even if I liked the fabric, I am faced with stitching on 300 yards of bias tape. Ugh.

Yesterday, things were picking up. I successfully made myself a cup of tea, AND drank it before it got cold. I’ve been typing out, longhand, a 13-chapter story, one chapter at a time, for a friend, and I managed to find an entire chapter already online. Copy-and-paste! I finally got myself started with my Blue Book, so I could be an informed voter AND still vote early. The beads that I had ordered specifically for an exclusive bracelet design being sold at an online shop FINALLY came in. I swapped some good email with a potential client, and worked on a business card design for another. I cleaned up a section of the kitchen, which has become my cluttered food-prep-and-jewelry studio.

And then the tape came loose. Megan called. In and of itself, unusual. The middle of the afternoon only made it more so. It turns out that their oldest, tiniest, sweetest cat was sick. Very sick. Always plagued with respiratory issues, Wheezer’s breathing had been getting more labored. She had just taken him into the vet, and some cells had been swabbed for testing. He was scared, not feeling well, test results weren’t back yet, and Megan and her husband were supposed to be leaving for vacation on Friday morning. Assuring them that staying home wouldn’t help our dear fuzzy friend get any better, I agreed to stay with him in their home so he wouldn’t have to be kenneled while they were gone. I was nervous about the possibility of the prognosis being Not Good on my watch, but I love that little guy like my own and there’s nothing I wouldn’t do for him (and my friends). Besides, the vet have given three possible diagnoses, so statistically, things would probably be okay. I’d pick up some meds and take care of whatever needed caring.

A few hours later, Joe called, and the bottom fell out. He and Megan had gone back to the vet’s to pick up our little pal, but the vet had assessed the situation with more observation and test results, and my friends had a very difficult decision to make. It wasn’t so much a choice as it was a necessary kindness, but that doesn’t make the pain any easier to swallow.

Too soon, I am again left with a hole in my heart that aches for my friends’ loss, knowing that there isn’t a damn thing I can do. This time, that loss feels more personal, because of the relationship that little Wheezer had with everyone who ever walked into his house. Every person he ever met was his best friend, and possessed his most comfortable lap in which to sleep. His only emotion was contentment. I am consoled by the fact that his last weekend was spent in a houseful of hands ready and willing to pet him, an assortment of laps to test, and that so many people, though they didn’t know it, got a chance to say good-bye. I am glad that I stole a few minutes to laugh and play with him on Friday when I should have been setting up more décor, and glad that he slept at my feet, wheezing of course, when the party was all over.

Wheezer brought love with him wherever he went, and no matter how much he gave away, he always had more. His capacity for love was bigger than his physical size. It filled him, spilled out, and if you sat still long enough, it would fill you, too. I hope I can learn from him.


Filed under blogging, cute and fuzzy bunny, friends, Halloween, jewelry, pets, sewing

catching up

It’s been brought to my attention that I haven’t been writing on my regular schedule. My apologies, and thanks for noticing! Here’s a quick rundown:

My cracked tooth was successfully pulled, and did indeed leave a tunnel into my sinus cavity. The surgeon did whatever it was he had to do to fix that (I was sedated and I’m fuzzy on what he explained), and I have spent the last days spending quality time with ice packs, Vicodin, ibuprofen, salt water, and squishy food. I have a follow-up appointment on Tuesday to make sure everything is healing properly, in spite of my sneezing a few days before I was “allowed” to.

I’m back under contract with my ex-employer for another week. Which is great, because I have yet to collect an unemployment check! Colorado makes it hard to actually get that first payout. I have received the paperwork warning me that I have to call and request each payment, and if I call too late, I’ll miss it, but if I call too early, my entire app will be tossed and I’ll have to start over. However, there is no paperwork telling me when it is that I’m supposed to call! Yikes!

I made good progress on Costume One yesterday, and am now done with the sewing portion. I still need to practice hair/makeup, and figure out footwear (the shoes donated by Alison just aren’t what I had in mind), but it’s SO CLOSE. Costume Two got a late start, however, and next weekend will be a flurry of catch-up activity.

Now, back to work!

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Filed under blogging, Halloween, sewing, the office

Wooooo-ie! And that’s not just the Vicodin talking.

Note: Trying to write this before the Vicodin kicks in and makes me loopy. My apologies if I don’t succeed.

My gnarly molar is gone-daddy-gone, and while it turns out that it did indeed reach all the way into my sinus cavity, the surgeon was able to stitch me up without any scare-tactic grafting. I am now home and assigned to pureed food, ice packs, and rest, which is good because I can get lost in my own house when the vicodin is working. And I’m not supposed to SNEEZE for the next week. Um, yeah, okay, I’ll try that.

Side note: I fixed my sewing machine! At least, I got most of the offending thread out of my way, and am ignoring the remaining piece that is wound tight around a screw, but doesn’t seem to be affecting anything. I got the easy parts of Butterick 4790 all done on Sunday afternoon, but am now on painkillers and don’t trust myself to continue. But mostly, hemming that huge skirt and attaching nearly 900* yards of bias tape is the drudgery part. However, this also meanst that, yay, Halloween costuming is back on track! Alison picked up some footwear for me on sale, and while it isn’t what I had in mind; it will do, and it won’t cost me anything. Thanks, Alison! (I hope they fit, or I’m back to basics on that.)

S’anyway, I went to my local Target pharmacy to get my scrip filled this morning, and had a look at the clearance racks while I was waiting. Meh, meh, meh, HEY THERE! For $5.74, it looks like Costume Two is on again! Now that it’s October already, my time is running out. I’s better be getting back to hemming and shirring and creating! Oh my!

*Closer to 9 than 900, but it LOOKS like a lot.


Filed under doctors and dentists, Halloween, sewing

Week In Review

I finally went to my first 2008 Rockies game, which happened to be the last home game of the season. Shout out to Megan and Joe for giving me a ticket. I had a great time, even though the Dbacks spanked us. Opening Day for 2009 is April 10, and I plan to be there after missing the last two years because of Stupid Work Stuff.

After mentioning on Twitter that I’d sold a couple more bracelets before even getting around to posting them in my shop, an acquaintance/follower commissioned me to make a manly-looking mala bracelet for him. Cool beans! Not that malas are generally very girlie-looking, but I chose paint-brush jasper for it’s grey/black tones. The hard part was/is finding an affordable “guru” bead. This is the 3-hole-drilled bead that is used as the counting point on a mala, to mark the beginning and end of the circle. I couldn’t find what I was looking for, so I’m going to attempt to drill my own. As for the other bracelets: Still not photographed and posted.

My last contract day with my prior employer was Tuesday. I slipped out with a complete lack of fanfare, because I’m not very good with good-byes. Also, I was RACING to a FedEx drop box, and didn’t have time for chit-chat. I realize that the reorg put into place by upper management, under pressure from the Board and stockholders, was short-sighted. Heck, it was BLIND. But I don’t work (much) with upper management, the Board, or the stockholders. The folks with whom I worked are my friends, and in some cases feel like family. I will be happy to return to the office for more work whenever I’m needed. At twice my old pay, of course. :)

I took my mom in for a preventative maintenance ’scope, and she gets a clean bill of health. The family genes are pretty good at shielding themselves from everything we throw at them. Yes, yes, mom’s side of the family battles diabetes, and her sweet tooth (which I thankfully did not inherit) keeps me worried, but she has managed to escape that particular complication for YEARS longer than her mom or brother did. Still, I’m keeping my eye on her.

Two former colleagues and I met up for lunch, to discuss the possibility of joining forces into one design company. After speaking to our individual strengths and weaknesses, I’m not sure that we’d be any better off than we are as independent contractors, but I still want to see what the initial business plan looks like before I bow out (or shake hands on the deal).

With my new, limited income, I’m trying to stay close to home and keep as much money in the bank as possible. I went to the thrift store ONLY to do a quick check for a dress that could affordably be used for Costume Two. I didn’t find one, but I did find a vintage, self-belt dress for the ridiculous price of $2.95, so I bought it. It looks to be home-made, but by someone who really knew what she was doing. I considered buying the new-but-retro-styled wedding dress that needed a dry cleaning but was priced somehow at $4.95, but it was a size 4 and there was NO WAY that I was ever going to be able to use that for anything. The sad, sad part of that trek was finding a mid-century-looking buffet-style chest of drawers for $60, and not knowing anyone with a pickup truck to help me get it home. Regardless of provenance, I liked the shape. It doesn’t go with ANYTHING in my house, outside of the kidney coffee table in the basement, so I should just put it out of my head.

I came up with the brilliant plan of using Very Long Tweezers to remove the offending thread from my comatose sewing machine. Except that I didn’t know where to buy Very Long Tweezers. Mandelion came to my rescue, and suggested the local fabric store. Of course! One trip to JoAnn later, and I was holding in my hands tweezers that are specifically advertised for reaching tight spots in sewing machines. Perfect! Alas, they don’t fit into this particular tight spot. Oh, for fuck’s sake. In frustration, with the aid of the tweezers, a metal barbecue skewer, and scissors, I wrestled most of the thread out. I am skipping the last camping trip of the season this weekend, but hope to make good use of my time at home by getting some of these sewing/beading/photographing projects out of the way.


Filed under camping, collections, doctors and dentists, family, friends, Halloween, jewelry, sewing, shopping, vintage

The Ol’ College Try

I refuse to give up.

I sat the Singer down on the dining room table, with the Interrogation Room-bright overhead light on. I got out the manual. I flipped toward the back, where troubleshooting and maintenance can usually be found. The manual did not disappoint in that regard. I troubleshot. I maintained. I officially cannot reach the dealio that controls the thread arm. Is it really time to raise the white flag and call a shop? I hate to do that, to spend good money on such a goofy little issue. But Halloween is rapidly approaching, and my costume* isn’t sewing itself.

Grumble, grumble.

*Yes, my children. Singular. I am disappointed, but the current economic situation has my hands tied. I am going ahead with the one that was further along when my job was “eliminated.” Unfortunately, it is not the one that best fit this year’s theme. Still, in my head, it looks great, and if I can ever get this machine fixed (and remember to get my dressform back from the friend who borrowed it), it is so close to being finished. It still needs shoes, however, and I am torn between $37-but-will-likely-never-wear-again and $13-and-will-definitely-never-wear-again-if-they-even-last-the-night. I am leaning toward the disposable option. Heck, I can probably make my own! I do love a project. :)


Filed under Halloween, sewing

Sew What?


If you’ve been reading my blog for a while, you might recall Butterick 4790. It’s a reprint of a 1952 pattern, 6015, often referred to as the “walk-away” dress, nicknamed because it was claimed that you could start the pattern after breakfast, and walk away in it by lunch.

Unless, after stitching down the first dart, your thread snaps and winds itself around an internal component, bringing the whole enterprise to a halt.

I have had a sewing machine for 15+ years (currently a Singer 5160), and this has never happened before. I mean, sure, thread snaps all the time, but to see it wound around the doohickey that controls the take-up lever; well, that’s new to me. There’s no thread in my way, and I could ignore it and rethread the machine, but when I turn the hand-wheel, the tension feels off. I’m afraid of it either seizing, or snapping the snapped thread further and winding it around even more internal components.

The screws that hold the machine together are recessed. Recessed farther than my screwdrivers will reach. So, in lieu of paying a shop take apart the machine simply to unwind a piece of thread, I went to Home Depot and bought a longer screwdriver. I undid the five screws on the back of the machine. The screw on the right, near the power supply. The screw on the left, near the needle/presser foot. After all that, I was able to remove one small piece of the housing, but still couldn’t reach the offending thread. I don’t want to cause any further damage, so I guess I’ll call around and see if I can find a shop that will cut me a deal on what I know is a quick “repair.” (One local shop has a $95 diagnostic charge!)

In the meantime, I am unable to “walk-away” in my dress. And the sewing portion of my Halloween costuming is on brief hiatus (public thanks to Big Red for offering up her machine while mine is under the weather).


Filed under fashion, Halloween, sewing

Halloween Checkpoint

Costume One
Total spent to date: $81 (!)
Still need to buy: footwear
Remaining work: finish sewing costume; practice makeup; build/practice headwear

Costume Two
Total spent to date: $13
Still need to buy: fabric for costume, fabric for accessories, trim for accessories, spray paint
Remaining work: sew costume, sew accessories, cast/sculpt/paint jewelry


Filed under Halloween, holidays, sewing