Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Bread Maker Update

While checking reviews on bread makers, I noticed that many reviewers said the first loaf or two smelled funny.  They were right!  My first loaf of bread smelled so badly of machine oil (I think that's what it was) that I couldn't eat it.  Goosey got to eat most of that loaf.  The second loaf smelled much better and was edible.  Now, I'm ready to try other things in it, like quick breads and cakes, but was quite disappointed that all those recipes included in the booklet that came with the bread maker call for commercial box mixes.  Gee, the only reason I bought a bread maker was to get away from processed foods!

I was starting to wonder if the bread maker was worth the $33 I paid for it.  Then I went grocery shopping today and noticed that the price of bread had gone up again.  The cheap, store label brand of breads (that aren't the really cheap "balloon" bread) is now $2.49 a loaf (it was $1.99).  That's one of the brands that now taste bitter to me.  The one brand I found that I can still tolerate is now $4.99 a loaf!  Guess I made a good investment afterall.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Sewing in a Cold Studio

Brrr!  A cold front has moved in, sending nighttime lows below freezing.  Even though the days are sunny and warm up to the mid-40's, on the north side of this shady hill we don't get any of that sunshine.  No sunshine means it's usually 5-10 degrees cooler up here than down at the neighbors who live in the open, sunny fields.  Since moving out here, I've been relocating my sewing paraphanalia to my mom's living room during the winter.  My sewing studio is an uninsulated shed with nothing but electric space heaters for heat.  Even with two heaters going, it doesn't get warmer than 20 degrees above the outside temperature.

I can't do that this year.  We were in the process of rearranging everything in the living room to make room for a pellet stove when Mom had emergency hernia surgery in August.  Without her present to direct where to put things, we packed everything in boxes and stacked them up along the walls until after the pellet stove got installed.  Long story short, the pellet stove installation was finally completed 2 weeks ago.  We still have the furniture to move back in and all those boxes to unpack.

So, I will have to brave the cold and do my best in my shed this winter.  Jodi, another Oregonian, e-mailed a suggestion: fingerless gloves.  I've wondered about them, but being skeptical as to how gloves without fingers could really keep your fingers warm, I was reluctant to spend more than $1 on a pair.  Our local Dollar Tree never seems to have them in stock when I'm there shopping, so I've never tried fingerless gloves. 

But today, I found an extra pair of $1 gloves with fingers and cut the tips off, then tried sewing the rows together on this month's Montana Maze block while wearing them.

Can you tell what color the gloves are?!
Guess what?  They sorta, kinda work!  My fingers weren't toasty warm, but they were warmer than if I hadn't any gloves on at all.  Using scissors with a glove on was difficult but not impossible.  But I'll remove the gloves before doing any rotary cutting.  Sewing felt awkward at first, but I soon got the hang of it.  The biggest problem was the little fuzzies from the cut yarn dropping here and there, so maybe some real fingerless gloves will be worth the investment.

The benefit of cutting my own was tailoring them to my needs.  I'm a lefty and don't use my right hand for much, so I cut less off the fingers on the right glove.  I did the same for the little finger on the left glove, but then discovered that I use that finger more than I thought so I cut more off.

I now have a little pile of tiny snowman hats.  I know some kids who'll have great fun crafting with these!