Monday, June 18, 2018

Our short VW ownership adventure

We bought a 1985 VW Vanagon from a friend. He originally told us he wanted to sell it for $2100...which I understand is a good price. But we really didn't need the van so paying that much for something we didn't need was not going to happen. Than 6 months later he offered us the van again for $1000, then it went down to $500. He didn't want to sell it on Craigslist and have a ton of people come over to his house to dicker with him. It was in some disrepair and  he knew that people would give him a hard time and try to get him to lower the price. So we ended up buying the van.

Once we got it home we needed to get a new battery, it was still having some starting issues so we had a new starter put in...that cost was $575. We knew we needed to put some money into the van so that cost was not out of the question. After the first repair I decided that it was time to commit to this vehicle and redo the it was really rough.

Since the van was blue I decided that jean material was the way to go. Used Jeans are easy to locate (I already had a large bin of used jeans) and the material will stand up as upholstery. We started by pulling out the seats. The seat part of the back seat was shot so we ordered a new piece of foam. I started on the large piece of foam that was part of the bed in the very back. The cover was a zippered slip case and the foam was still in good condition. I decided to reuse some of the least the zipper part of the slip case (I really don't like to install zippers and this was a 6 ft zipper).
The cover came out a little wonky but still worked. I pieced together used jeans for the top of the slipcase, trying to use some of my more interesting old jeans. For the back of the pad I used one large piece of jean material because I had a large bolt of jean material that a friend gave us about 5 years ago. Once the back pad was done I started on seats. I patched together some jean material to and stitched the material to the slipcase for the back seat. The layers of material were quite thick but I was able to make it work.

Then the foam for the seat part of the back seat came in and it was just a matter of stapling the material to the seat.

Now with all the seats and pads covered we turned our focus to the ugly side panels. I started to pull the panels off and discovered that they were made of actual paneling. I patched together some jean material on some of the panels and used large piece of material from the bolt of jean material on others. I spray mounted the panels and then stuck the jean material to the panels. I used metal binding clips to hold the material on as I turned and glued the material on the panels. I really wanted to use some of the more interesting pieces of used jean to show off that I used recycled jeans. I kept a pocket on a a couple of pairs of jeans that can be useful on one of the panels and on one of the pads. I used some jeans that someone did a really nice piece of embroidery on the leg and I used some jeans that were covered in embroidery stars.

After we got it all recovered we took it for a run. Now another problem arose...the clutch was going out and we were not able to get the van up to 50 mph on the freeway. So back to the repair shop for a new clutch...and a couple other minor items like belts and such..that cost $650.

So now we are out about $1700 for the van, less that the $2100 our friend origionally wanted for the van and it's in better shape.

The best out come of this story is we sold the VW for a lot more than we paid, we were done with trips to the mechanic, and it was getting expensive. We decide that we could cut our loses on this one. Oh well there will be other vans for us to fix up and go camping . 

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Puerto Vallarta Mexico


Back in November we took a 2 week trip to Puerto Vallarta. My husband had lost a tooth and we had planned on taking a medical vacation. We found out about 3 days before we left that he was not going to be able to get the tooth easily replaced. So facing 12 days in the sun we brought books to read, crafts to make and an appetite for good Mexican food. We like to stay in the older part of Puerto Vallarta called "Zona Romantica", it's easy to walk around the almost all the hotels have roof top pools. As always we brought our blender and bought some rum & juice at the corner market. Puerto Vallarta still had a lot of Day of the Dead sculptures and trinkets up around the city there were some really colorful displays. We would wake up late in the day, drink coffee, go up to the roof and swim till mid afternoon and have a blended drink. Dinner out and back to the pool. We did this for 4 days then we went to my favorite place Mismaloya about 12 miles south of Puerto Vallarta. We stay at a place called Casa Iguana. It's a really pretty hotel, about 50 rooms and a wonderful pool. The rooms have 2 bedrooms and a small kitchenette. There is a grocery store near the check in of the hotel. The breakfast in the morning is a wonderful buffet with fresh orange juice. The best part was the breakfast lasted till about 11am. So even waking up at 10am we were able to get some coffee and breakfast before it was closed. We also found a lovely place to eat called "My Tony", it was on the expensive side for Mexico but the food was fresh and the view was magnificent. We also met a cat that we had spent time with on our last visit about 6 years ago. She was a pretty calico cat that was very friendly. we we first met her she had a front tooth sticking out and drooled a lot. It looks like the tooth was pulled and she is being well cared for at the hotel. While were were in Mismaloya I painted some post cards to send back home to friends. But locating stamps turned into an epic adventure. I got on a bus to go to the only post office in Puerto Vallarta but ended up passing the place. I got off and asked several people how to get the to Post Office but was met with blank looks. I guess no one uses the mail in Mexico, we were told that it takes about 3 weeks to get across town. On our last day in town we finally saw a mail box, but we didn't have any stamps. This vacation we relaxed and read next to a was a great way spend a couple of weeks in November. 

Monday, December 4, 2017

Sewing with Knits

I took a Craftsy class about 3 years ago called Sewing with Knits by Meg McElwee. I made a pair of yoga pants that were a disaster. The fabric I used was too stretchy and thus fell off me when I put them on. I liked the class, it gave me a lot of information about different types of knit material and how to work with different knits. Meg explained a lot about how to work with different knits, what to look for when choosing knits and how to do stretch tests to make sure your knit material with rebound. 
I was also surprised at all the different patterns that came with the class. There is a fleece hoodie, 2 different t-shirts, yoga pants and a dress. Printing out patterns and taping them together is such a pain in the ass I never printed out any other patterns from this class. A couple weeks ago I finally went back and printed out the pattern for the scoop neck shirt. I was getting tired of the old standard Jalie pattern that I have been using for the last 5 years and wanted something a little different. 

I usually do not add a neck band when I make t-shirts as they are always the first thing I cut off on ready made t-shirts. But this pattern is a bit of a scoop neck so I thought it would be fine to add a neck band...I'm glad I did. If I had not added a neck band I think the neck line would have drooped and looked shabby. 
I made another shirt to make sure I had the pattern down, this one I screen printed and gave to a friend. Actually it's a reverse screen print. When you use Soft Scrub as ink it will bleach out the material leaving an image in the material that is soft and part of the material. There is no ink sitting on top of the material. 
I wore my shirt a couple of times and decided I wanted the shirt a little longer. While watching the class again to get some specifics I saw a part about adding a hem band. I decide to add a band of material around the bottom of the shirt.  

I used a knit sheet that I found at a thrift store to make both of the shirts.  The sheet was an Amazon Basic King size sheet that was 100% cotton. There were a couple of small holes in the middle of the sheet, I have a feeling that is why it was donated to a thrift problem for me as I cut around the holes. I have enough material to make one more shirt. It's an attractive grey color that will go with anything. I may try to make a v-neck or a longer sleeve shirt with the remaining material 

I think this scoop neck shirt is my new favorite. I expect to make more of these shirts and want to try making a dress version. I think this pattern will also work great in repurposing old t-shirts that are too large. 

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Garden Huckleberries...some jam and a dessert

I have a nice plot up in the community garden about a block from my house. Last year someone started growing bushes of Garden Huckleberries. I watched as they grew into a beautiful dark almost black berries. I wanted so much to pick the berries as I have a fascination with berries that you don't see regularly in the stores. I had heard that Wild Huckleberries are delicious but difficult to find. So when I saw that someone was growing Huckleberries in the garden I was envious. 

Well lucky for me...last week I was up covering my small space with leaves for the winter and walked past the plot that had the Huckleberries. The plants had been pulled from the ground and stacked to the side with other discarded shrubbery from the plot. Why would someone spend the summer growing something only to toss it out? The berries were on top and they looked fresh. So I went home and got a large bowl, I went back and picked all the discarded berries I could. 

I was a little afraid of how to use these precious berries. I had bought some local made huckleberry jam this summer to see what it tasted like and though I like was a little tart. So I was not sure what to make with the berries...Did I really need more jam? After some research I found that Garden Huckleberries are a little sweeter than the Wild Huckleberries. 
I looked at a couple of recipes to use the berries in. Everything I found said that Garden Huckleberries have to be cooked before you can eat them and I wanted to make a pie or other dessert of some kind. I found this recipe for Double Ginger Huckleberry Cobbler. It was on a hiking web site and called for one cup of Huckleberries. You put a Bisquick mixture on top and let it cook in the pot with the lid on for about 12 minutes. I of course added some whipping cream and had a wonderful dessert. It was sweet but not too sweet, the flavor had a soft almost floral taste. I fell in love with this dessert.  Since it had a wonderful soft sweet taste I decided to make some jam. 

I was able to get 3-8oz jars and 3-4oz jars of jam. One jar broke when I put it in the water bath. That is only the second time I have had a jar break in the water bath in 30 years I have been canning. Though I was a little upset it had to happen to my Huckleberry Jam. I can't wait to try this on an english muffin or maybe a sauce on some salmon. Either way...I think next year I will try to grow my own Garden Huckleberries in my community garden plot.