Piano

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When I was about 12, I briefly studied piano with a creepy, bearded guy (not that the beard made him creepy, but it’s the one thing I remember about him, other than his bizarrely long, nicotine-stained fingers and the fact that he had this absolutely awful pedophile vibe). That did not last long, because we moved to another part of town where cheap piano lessons were not to be found (mostly because I was busy doing other things, like speech team and band, but possibly also because I didn’t want to deal with another weirdo trying to look down my shirt while I poked out a scale on the keyboard). I loved the piano, though, and kept playing throughout the years. But I am mostly self-taught, which is not always a good thing. In some instances – piano perhaps being one of them – it is advisable to have a teacher to critique and guide and encourage you.

S9 started taking lessons from a wonderful, non-creepy teacher last March.  Shortly after she began, I happened to mention my own small experience with piano, and the teacher happened to mention that she had another adult student, and it just became obvious that I should become her student, too.  Aside from a desire to improve my meager skills, it seemed like a good example to set for the kids, who are being forced to endure their own music lessons.  I am such a horrible, mean mom, making them do something so awful as playing music.

So the teacher and I started last June.  We began with some easier classical pieces that, after several months of work, I can say are no longer being absolutely butchered at the keyboard but are now, instead, only slightly maimed at each playing. The first pieces were Bach’s Gavotte from the Third English Suite and Beethoven’s Fuër Elise.  At our teacher’s Christmas party I played a version of Peter, Paul & Mary’s Gone The Rainbow.  In late December, I started working on Mozart’s Fantasy In D Minor.  I even accompanied O8 at her violin recitals the last two weekends.  Nevermind that my hands shake uncontrollably when I play in front of people.  If we are never uncomfortable, we are not learning or growing, right?

I still have my childhood piano.  It is a modest spinet, not a super-high-quality instrument, but she’s served her purpose without complaint over the years, and it’s hard to part with her.

Nancy Hart
My childhood piano, a Nancy Hart spinet by the Grand Piano Co. We just call her Nancy.

But on Christmas Eve, my husband took us out to choose a beautiful, marvelous new piano, which was delivered two days later.  So now we have not one, but two pianos in our living room.

George Steck
Our new piano, a George Steck. We call him… wait for it… George.

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I love that, at any given moment of the day, someone is usually playing something on one of the keyboards.   Even O8, who is not interested in piano lessons at all, plays daily.

There’s no moral to this story, other than perhaps you’re never too old to learn something all over again.

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And that music is for everyone, even cats.

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A Caffeinated Apron

I just finished sewing an apron and am hugely tickled at how it turned out.

The fabric, which I found at JoAnn’s of all places, has been sitting in my stash for almost a year. It is tossed coffee cups, with some coffee-related words surrounding each cup. Right up my alley.  All my favorite colors are here, too.

Circle Coffee Fabric

Glad I bought some when I did, because it’s no longer available.  😦

The pattern comes from Sew4Home, which is one of the most fabulous fabric-porn websites in all the galaxy. I used the French Country Apron design (sans matching headscarf), which is very well done and easy to follow.

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For the blue binding and ties, I used an old tablecloth that had belonged to my parents when they lived up north. The lining fabric (since I will probaly only wear it one way, even though the pattern is technically reversible) is some plain-ish tan cotton that had been in my stash from who-knows-when-or-where.  I like how the two layers make a nice, substantial apron.

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There are some small glitchy things, like a spot where the binding went a little wonky and another spot where I had to run a second (third) line of stitching to get things to line up, etc. But overall, you would never know those things unless you looked very, very closely. And since I am unlikely to be taking this apron off any time soon, you would have to totally violate my personal space to see them, anyway. And if you totally violated my personal space, I would probably not talk to you again, in which case I really don’t care if you have a low opinion of my apron since you will no longer be in my field of consciousness. So don’t even bother.

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The pocket was my first real attempt at fussy-cutting, and I am pretty happy with how the pattern lined up.

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That light bit of tan you see at the bottom and right edge of the pocket is actually some lining fabric that was not pressed well before I sewed the pocket on. I lined the pocket to give it just a little more stability, though it really didn’t need it.

I am so happy about this apron that I am going to do something I have probably never done before: post a picture of myself modeling something.

Caffeinated Apron

I now have TWO aprons to choose from: this one, and a very lovely one made by the very lovely Embejo (yes, I am still using the Pohutukawa Blossom apron she sent me years ago!)

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I am in love with the full apron, but now that I have two, I’d like to try a half (hostess-style) design. Maybe something with side pockets, instead of the one large one at the bib. Just another excuse to drool over browse some more of the projects at Sew4Home.

More Sewing: Nephews’ Fabric Baskets

O7 and I were recently in JoAnn’s, picking out some Easter craft supplies, when we spied this fabulous Marvel Comics fabric in the remnant bin.

Marvel breakout fabric

My nephews are moving into a new house (next door, but that’s another story) and seeing this fabric, which was basically Avengers fabric without calling itself as such, made us think that it would be fun to make something for their new bedrooms. The Avengers motif was perfect for J6, and then we spied Star Wars fabric which was spot-on for D9. We grabbed the remnant, then bought a half-yard each of three other prints: one Marvel, and two Star Wars. That was plenty to make one fabric basket for each of them.

I used the structured fabric baskets tutorial from Sew 4 Home, which is a really great website: lovely fabric porn and detailed tutorials, all rolled into one.

I followed the tute almost exactly, but substituted piping for the rickrack and omitted the handles. They came out nice, and the boys seemed to really like them.

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The lining fabrics are the same themes as the exteriors, but a different print.

Fabric Baskets for nephews

Star Wars basket (with Clone Wars lining, as O7 chose):

Star Wars basket

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Avengers basket:

Avengers basket

While the baskets came out pretty well, I was very disappointed with my sewing machine.  Not only did it grumble about the layers of fabric and batting, but the topstitching came out terrible.  And I can attest that the problem is not between the seat and the pedal, at least not this time.    I just had the machine tuned, so sadly  it may be time to shop for a new machine.

Who am I kidding?  I have already shopped for a new machine.  It should be here in a few days.

Valentine Pie

How do you (a) wish your sweetheart a happy Valentine’s day, (b) celebrate in a really unique way and (c) overachieve at the same time?

You bake a heart-shaped apple pie.

Valentine Pie

Here’s how it happened:

Last night I stopped at the grocery store to get milk and bread.

Many dollars and several grocery bags later, I came home with milk, bread, and a slew of other things too good to pass up. Like heart-shaped baking pans for a buck.  (You see how this would be irresistable on Valentine’s Eve, right?)

Sadly, I had to resign myself to waxy grocery-store Granny Smith apples instead of the delicious, local Jonagolds, Ida Reds, Braeburns and Melroses I normally bake pies with.  But that’s the trouble with adult ADD  doing things on a whim  being spontaneous: you sometimes have to  settle for what’s available.

I used my new favoritest-ever pie crust recipe for this pie.  It ended up making a bit too much pastry for the pan, but I’m sure we will suffer through a few hand-pies tomorrow once I whip up some more filling.  Or maybe we’ll just have a little baked sugared dough.  There are far worse problems to have.

Happy Valentine’s Day.

Bluebells

Bluebells are blooming! The girls and I took a quick hike through the woods and enjoyed the brilliant display.

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They are beautiful, dainty flowers, but en masse they are stunning.

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They’re so pretty we had a spring in our step as we followed the Bluebell Trail.

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And then we stopped to play Poohsticks at the bridge.

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The End.