Best Simple Tools

I do a lot of stitching. I needlepoint, I use a sewing machine, I hand stitch. I started when I was a little girl. At fifty-six years old I estimate that I have stitched hundreds of billions of stitches in my lifetime. I must confess that it was not until today that I ever used a thimble. Why has no one ever told me about this thing?

On Tuesday I picked up the king sized quilt I made for my mother from my long arm quilter? The only thing left to complete this project was to hand stitch the binding on the edge of the quilt. Hand stitching the 415 inches of binding is my least favorite part of making a quilt.

On my way home I stopped by a quilting store to pick up some fabric for my next project. Whole I was waiting in line to pay I saw a bucket of colorful rubber thimble on the counter. Over the last few quilts I have made I noticed that my finger got very raw and irritated trying to push the needle through the quilt sandwich of top, batting, back and binding.

So I chose a thimble that fit one of my fingers, not actually sure which finger I was supposed to wear it on. Today, after Mah Jongg, I got the quilt out to start the binding process. I dug the thimble out of the pocket in my purse. I put it on the middle finger of my dominant hand and started stitching. The thimble protected the side of my finger that I used to push the needle through the thick middle of the quilt. At first it felt a little odd, but eventually I was stitching faster and more pain free than I ever had before.

Why had no one ever told me about thimbles before. Although I watch plenty of you tube quilting videos I guess I have never watched anyone doing the final hand sewing. Now I am in love this simple old fashioned sewing tool that has been around for hundreds of years.

I guess that the old tools are still the best. I wish they made you tube videos a hundred years ago so I could go back and learn more tricks from the best tailors.


I’m A Lunch Kind Of Person

There is a general question people get asked, “Are you a morning person or a night owl?” I understand that there are those people who generally get up very early and those who stay up very late, but what about the rest of us? If you ask me that question I say “I am a lunch person.” If pushed to pick between early morning and late night I will take morning, but if you want me at my best, let’s do lunch.

Today is a perfect example. Since Russ was away I got to sleep until I naturally woke up. It was after seven. I drove to Raleigh to pick up my latest quilt from my long arm quilter (I’ll post photos after I give it to the recipient.). Then I went to meet my friend Karen for lunch. I was at my peak performance right then. Sitting, eating and talking, what I do best. I returned home, did some house keeping, sewing went to a meeting at five, came home and am going to another meeting at seven.

At the five o’clock meeting I was invited to a nine PM basketball game. Such a nice invitation, but do you know how far nine is from my peak performance time of 12:30? It is nice to be of the age that I don’t feel compelled to do things morning, noon and night. Pick two times of the day as long as one of them is noon and I’m good, but not three.

So here’s to lunch! And my friends that are happy to have it with me. I will stay your friend much longer that way.


Once A Basketball Mom, Always A Basketball Mom

When Carter played basketball at DA we used to have team dinners at our house. I love the team and the parents and have missed sitting in the bleachers with them.

A few weeks ago one of the team Moms called and asked if I would cook the food for the team year end dinner since she was not much of a cook. I gladly agreed.

Today I made butternut squash lasagnas, two with sausage and two without. I made salad dressing, and prepped the salad. I made Carter’s favorite Texas sheet cake that she always requested for team dinners. Just as I finished cooking everything I got a text from the Mom who was hosting the dinner.

“I’m stuck in Florida, and my flight is not getting in until late tonight so we are going to have to postpone the dinner. Can you just donate the food somewhere?”

I wanted to see the team so I texted back. “Let’s just have the dinner at my house.”

So we did.

The team had only one new player this year so most everyone was used to coming here. It was great to have them all back around my table. Carter FaceTimed once everyone was here. It made my heart happy to see their smiling faces. I guess once you are a basketball Mom, you always are one.


Some Dreams Never Should Come True

I’m not talking about that dream you are going to become a ballerina or a surgeon. I’m talking about those crazy dreams you have when you haven’t slept well all night.

Last night I hardly slept. I moved from my regular bed where Russ and Shay slept soundly to the guest room where my tossing and turning would not bother them. Once there I could not fall asleep despite my exhaustion. I rearranged every pillow over and over. I changed positions. I tried everything. Eventually I fell into a fitful on again and off again light sleep.

Just as I thought I was about to fall asleep at three in the morning Russ opened the guest room door and that fully woke me up. After another hour or so tossing and turning I finally fell into a crazy dream.

I dreamt my friends Lynn and Logan had a little baby and some kidnapping robbers come to a party at their house and cleaned out Lynn’s closet of a dozen designer handbags and the baby. Some unidentified friend and I went and snatched the baby back from the robbers’ car as well as one cork Prada bag. Then I woke up.

It was the worst night’s sleep and craziest dream. As if not getting any satisfying sleep wasn’t bad enough, I don’t have a satisfactory ending to the crazy dream. There are just times when I wish that I could stay asleep and rectify what is going on in crazy dreams. Waking up in the middle of a story with no meaning ruins my whole day.

I have basically been a zombie all day, but am afraid to fall asleep because in my subconscious I feel like those kidnappers are still around and I don’t know how to protect Lynn’s baby. The only thing I know is that Ellis, Lynn’s real baby was not this one because the one in the dream had black curly hair.

Please god, let me sleep well tonight and not have these crazy dreams and fitful sleep.


Namu-WooHoo

I had to check my watch twice to see that it really is February 24 and we were planning on eating dinner outside and it was lovely. Our friends Lane and Jon were coming over from Raleigh to have dinner with us. Russ is the keeper of the “what’s new and hip in the dining” list. There are always more places on the list than available meals we are eating out. Usually because Russ also has a “foods I want Dana to cook me” list.

Lane asked Russ to pick a dining spot. Since Jon likes casual (he just had to buy pair of nice pants to wear in NYC because the last time he bought pants they had pleats) Russ picked a Korean place that evolved from a food truck. I also think that watching all these Olympics had gotten us craving Korean.

The place is called Namu and it is in the Straw Valley Center where the Black House restaurant used to be. It is huge. It is a little like food truck met a beautiful garden and decided to stay put.

You come in and order your food at a counter and they give you a number to put on your table. There is an inside section which looks mostly like a coffee house. The real treat is the rambling gardens where there are tables throughout the property. You would never worry that there are people eavesdropping on your conversation there.

Despite the size and the ordering at a counter, the food comes amazingly quickly by one of the friendly servers. But true to food truck land it is served in little cardboard boats. Ignore the boat and just enjoy the yummy Korean. I had a spicy chicken bibimbap, which is a rice bowl with lots of veggies and delicious chicken. We had some homemade dumplings and spicy edamame for the table which was a great.

The miracle was that we spent two and half hours sitting our doors on a February night enjoying our friends with good food. I know I should hate climate change, but this one was lovely.


Lakewood Renewal

When Carter was an itty bitty we used to spend lots of time at a children’s museum called Busy Street in Lakewood. The shopping area had seen better days and thus the rent was cheep for the non-profit that was set up as a miniature town, with a fire station, restaurant, doctors office and other fun stations for toddlers. It was a sad day when Busy Street closed when Carter was about four. It was the last time I had any reason to go to Lakewood until recently.

The neighborhood is in such close proximity to Duke and downtown it seems like a no brainer that it was due for renewal. Last year Phoebe Lawless opened the Lakewood and mini Scratch bakery in the old Davis Baking building. Coco Cinnamon opened another branch of its highly popular coffee shop across the street.

The big shopping center with practically an unlimited amount of parking is now ripe for improvement. The Dollar General and the Food Lion on one end are fine tenants, but not special. At the other end of the big center is the new home of the Scrap Exchange which was priced out of downtown. It’s end of the shopping center has been renamed as the reuse arts center. The inexpensive rents attracted a small business called Freeman’s Creative a crafts supply business. It is just the kind of small business that the area needs.

A young woman opened the fabric, yarn and arts store with the idea to have classes in fabric and fiber arts. There are a group of sewing machines in the back where a fiber artist was working when I visited the store yesterday. I purchased some fabric to add to my quilting stash. I am ever hopeful that people will find these kinds of businesses early enough for them to take hold and stay in business.

If you are a knitter, quilter, seamstress or someone who wants to learn to be any of these stop by and visit the Freeman’s Creative. They have a little section of artist made crafts for sale, which make unique gifts. It takes us supporting these local businesses to help turn areas around. If this business can succeed it will attract others and you might just learn to make something cute.


Not Always Correct, But Never In Doubt

Years ago my friend Carol described herself to me this way and I knew in an instant we were kindred spirits. Being sure of myself is a trait that I have carried since grade school, that more often than not it hid what I did not know, but had people follow me when they should have known better. Another trait we share is a hearty sense of humor and the ability to laugh at ourselves.

Today a group of friends gathered to celebrate Carol’s birthday. Carol generously brought gifts for all her guests. As she handed out the small terry cloth colorful bundles we asked her what in the world they might be. Carol wasted no time demonstrating the magic hair drying towel she loved. She stood up and put it on, awkwardly trying to attach the twisted top through a loop. Voila! We all understood her cute gift, even if we thought it seemed difficult to put on after watch Carol struggle.

After a yummy lunch we agreed to all put our head wraps on for a group photo. Only Carol did not have one since she had given them all to us. Denise put hers on first and Carol said she was doing it backwards. Denise knew better. It was Carol, who had been putting it on backwards forever. Not always correct, but never in doubt. Her motto holds up.

Either way you wear it, it works and that is the great thing about old friends. None of us are perfect and we just accept each other the way we are. Carol is my friend and in that I am correct and am not in doubt. Happy Birthday!