The Easy Friday List, August 24

Friday should be easy. These are items that have made my life a little easier this past week. Maybe they can make your life easier, too.

HP48GX Calculator: I love my calculator. I don’t want to geek out about my calculator but well. I’m going to geek out about my calculator. So if you don’t want to hear all about how Reverse Polish Notation (RPN) kicks algebra’s butt, you need not read further; just skip ahead to the fun and fluffy discussion on the Knifty Knitter loom below. It’s OK. Calculators aren’t terribly interesting to most people.

I find them most interesting, particularly mine. It makes my life easier in so many ways, I’m not sure I can list them all here without putting at least half of you asleep. (The other half are either already asleep or have moved to the Knifty Knitter paragraph below.)

Before I bought it as an engineering student, I feared that I would never get the hang of RPN; I’d heard so many horror stories about fellow students forking over the $350 for the thing and not being able to use it. I feared that I’d use it for 4+ years of college and never touch it again. I feared that it would be obsolete in a few months and I’d have to replace it. I feared that I wouldn’t really need it.

It took me all of ten minutes before I realized that RPN is a brown paper lunch bag filled with time-saving, easy, wondrous, sweet goodies that won’t make you fat. For my calculus classes, it was a Godsend. When I was an engineer and used it daily, it was necessary. For quilting, it’s a small miracle. The calculator can convert units, so figuring out how many yards of fabric I need to buy when I know how many pieces of a certain size in inches is nothing. And I don’t have to remember area equations, since they’re all already in the calculator. I just have to plug in the number and it solves for unknown variables all by itself.

HP48GX Calculator

Here’s an action shot of my calculator (after it turned itself off… D’oh!). Pretty… the calculator, I mean. The fabric, too.

As for obsolescence… well, they stopped making this calculator in 2003 and people are still giving it 5 star reviews on Amazon. You can buy one used for about $150. Considering that I paid about $200 new for mine in 1996 because of a sale and a student discount (I’ve always been thrifty), I’m feeling pretty smug about that investment. Also, the new HP50G sells for around $100 right now (though I think it’s on sale). Seriously.

I won’t get into the stack; we’d be here all day. (I’m serious. The stack is the thing I love most about it. So don’t get me started. You’ve been warned.)

All in all, this wonderful piece of computing power has been making my life easier for 16 years. I love it. I’d cry lots if anything ever happened to it. Knock on wood.

Knifty Knitter: There are an awful lot of people who hate these looms. I don’t know why. I love them.

I can’t knit. Using the traditional two knitting stick things (needles?), I can’t knit. I’ve tried. And I hate it. Back when the knitting craze first began I wanted to knit so much. For the first time in my life, my normally-able hands just couldn’t pick it up. Frustration? Check. Anger? Check. An unreasonable desire to smash an isle full of pretty knitting stick thingies and assorted knitting accoutrements into toothpicks? CHECK!

Hard feelings? Check. Alas.

I mean, I can crochet. But it doesn’t carry the same panache as knitting these days. It’s not cool. I don’t worry about being cool (obviously) and I never have. But I do like to keep in touch with the latest craft crazes. Crafters are my people. You gotta keep up with your peeps, yes?

Enter the Knifty Knitter!

The Knifty Knitter at fig+fence HQ.

The yarn is “Ocean” by Lion.

I can knit! And I don’t have to tell anyone that I did it on a loom. (Except, you know, I just told all of you.) Everyone can assume that I am using those god-awful pointy knitting stick thingies I still despise and wish into a million little smashed pieces. Ahem.

If you get one of these looms, I highly advise buying a book of patterns to go with it. It will simplify your life. Alternatively, you can watch YouTube videos. There are tons.

 

The Easy Friday List, August 17

Fridays should be easy. Here’s a list of items that have made my life easier this past week. Maybe they can make your life easier, too.

Ball Point Needles: I don’t sew jersey often, but with all of the hemming and taking in of stretchy clothes that I’ve been doing lately, I’ve been using these ball point needles often. I love them. I haven’t had to pick out stitches nearly as often as I usually do when I sew clothes. Also, I haven’t had a pucker in my fabric in some time. So I’m definitely recommending these if you’re sewing jersey.

Daylight Floor Lamp: These things can be hideously expensive. I found one at Big LotsĀ  some time ago cheap. I use it constantly to check fabric selections against each other. I also use it any time I’m hand sewing painting macrame-ing scrapbooking beading anything-ing; the eyes have it easier when there’s enough light to, you know, see. My poor abused eyes need all the help they can get. It also makes a fabulous, if somewhat expensive, booklight.

Vitamin E Stick: Fall is practically here; my skin can prove it. The cheap-o vitamin E stick I get for about a buck at Wal-Mart helps all of the chapped and dried skin that appears about this time of year. Cuticles, lips, knuckles, knees, ankles, ears, whatever. A vitamin E stick can keep all these parts and more from becoming more of a problem than they have to be. If there’s one thing I’ve learned from my difficult skin: if I don’t take care of skin problems when they appear, they’ll only get worse when I ignore them. These sticks are a great way to keep any dry skin from becoming a huge problem (which can be exacerbated by handling fabric, yarn, and thread).

 

 

The Easy Friday List, August 3

The (Mostly) Beauty Edition.

Friday should be easy. Maybe something on this list can make your life a little easier.

Makeup Brush Folder: I have a confession. I love makeup brushes.

Seriously. That’s the confession. What were you expecting? And do I really want to know? If you tell me, remember that this site is rated G. Yes?

As confessions go, I guess it’s not as salacious or as interesting or even as unusual asĀ  it could be. Still. It’s not something that I readily admit.

I don’t know why. I guess that says more about me than my confession.

Anyway. Goodbye Therapist. Hello Topic: I own lots of makeup brushes. And with organization being a particular, well, issue of mine I feel extremely particular about, you know that I have to have some serious makeup brush organization methodology happening in the bathroom.

My Makeup Brush Folder by Janet Millsapps at fig+fence.

The outside.

There’s a reveal…

My Makeup Brush Folder by Janet Millsapps at fig+fence.

Wait for it…

My Makeup Brush Folder by Janet Millsapps at fig+fence.

And… the Beauty Shot!

I made it. The exterior black and white fabric is a light weight cotton (washable!) upholstery fabric I picked up somewhere. The interior is black cotton and scarlet red batik cotton. There is 100% cotton batting in between the layers of fabric. I’m stressing the cotton part here because it’s all completely hand-washable. I am a goofy klutz and makeup stains fabric if you can’t give it a good scrub; wash-ability is important.

There are three levels of pockets. There are so many little dividers that I don’t have enough brushes to fill them all. This is good. I’m fairly certain that the thing wouldn’t close if it were full. Still, there’s plenty of room to move things around, organizing, until I’m happy.

The InStyler Case: I made this case for the trip that didn’t happen due to the most untimely death of my old computer. I dearly love my InStyler and I wanted to make sure it was safe and protected. The case that came with it just didn’t seem sufficient for the job. Enter the fabric hoard!

I dithered about what part of my fabric stash I should use and finally settled on the three lovely fat quarters from Moda’s Salt Air by Cosmo Cricket. I love the collection and I’d been saving it for something special. So into the washer it went!

Out of the dryer it came… with runny red spots all over it. Argh. The red bled. I’ve never had this problem with a Moda fabric before and was a bit steamed. (Read “steamed” as “madder than I’ve been a good long while”. My Etchings Argyle Nine Patch is made of a good bit of red Moda fabric… and I didn’t pre-wash it. I’m afraid of what’s going to happen after I wash it the first time.)

I decided that I’d bravely use it anyway. So I did. It was garbage. Unfortunately, I couldn’t blame the red splotchy fabric for it.

I didn’t use a pattern; I complicated everything unnecessarily; and I was making it up as I went. It showed. I started over using a simple, drawstring bag idea with a pocket on the outside for the cord. Here’s the result.

My InStyler Case by Janet Millsapps at fig+fence.

I love this fabric. I wish it didn’t make me worry.

My InStyler Case by Janet Millsapps at fig+fence.

At least you can’t see the spots in the picture.

I’m really happy with the results, red spots and all. Now, let’s all pray that the quilt top I just finished using Moda red fabric doesn’t bleed, too. I’m lighting a candle.

InStyler: The older I get, the more apparent it becomes that I am cursed blessed with my maternal grandmother’s hair. She was lovely, but her hair was problematic: thin and wiry.

The InStyler saves me from hair nightmares. It smooths out all the kinks and waves.

The InStyler

Love this so much…

Mugs: Not just for coffee! Mugs are wonderful little cups of organization that can fit practically anywhere.

My Les Mis Mug organizes a corner of my desk at fig+fence HQ.

My Les Mis Mug organizes a corner of my desk at fig+fence HQ.

Also, it helps me keep track of all the pens that somehow mysteriously wander off when I’m not around. Must be more house elf action: pens and pin cushions. Ahem. They must love homophones.

College Writing References: I never threw my grammar textbooks/reference books away when I graduated from college. I have the Harbrace College Handbook (11th Edition) and A Writer’s Reference (2nd Edition) by Diana Hacker. I love them both, and I usually reach for the red Harbrace first out of habit (it’s on top) when I get grammatically stuck. Alas, it failed me. Only the Hacker book explained: two words that sound the same but have different spellings are called homophones (like pin and pen).

My tendency to write like Bulwer-Lytton is not the fault of either book.