Saturday, January 21, 2017

Addicted to Making Potholders (Could Be Worse!)

What can I say?  I love making them.  They're quick, useful and eat up small scraps of fabric.

I made two sets using bits of the fabric I had left over from the material I used in making the valances for our entry porch.

The fronts.

The backs.

I like this fabric so much!

The birds on bare branches in a wintery scene brighten up our old, gray, melting snow, ice and puddles.  And yes, navigating out there, whether on foot or in a vehicle, is treacherous at the present time.

Hey, Mother Nature!  This is January in northern Minnesota.  What's with this 30+ degree melty, rainy weather??

Thursday, January 19, 2017

How Depressing!

I went into our organic co-op (full-sized grocery store, really) this afternoon to pick up a few things along with a special order that had come in for me.

Strolling up and down the aisles, I saw something on a very bottom shelf that I wanted to check out.  Because I need a new prescription in my "up close" glasses (which I have been very neglectful about obtaining in a timely manner), I knelt down on the floor so I could check out the fine print and pricing of the item in which I was interest.

There I was trying to do some figuring in my head, and I suppose I must have had a concerned look on my face (thinking, you know) when a sweet gal who works in the produce section came scurrying down the aisle and said, "Mama Pea (she used my given name, of course), do you need some help?"

"Huh?" I looked up at her and rather stupidly replied.

"Can I, um--uh, help you . . . do you . . . need some help?" the dear girl asked. 

"Oh!  Did you think I needed help getting up?"

Now I could tell she was a bit embarrassed.  "Well . . . I mean, oh no, I just thought . . . " she mumbled.

For the record, although there are those who may think a portion of my brain cells are no longer firing reliably, I'm still in good shape physically and don't yet have any trouble getting up off the floor.  Or ground.  Or from peering onto the bottom shelf of a grocery store.

This whole little incident has convinced me that, vain though you may label it, I'm immediately starting a GoFundMe website so I can get a face lift.  And perhaps some body shaping in the lift and tuck and rearrangement departments.  Maybe even . . . a new prescription for my glasses.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

It's Hard to Potty Train A Honey Bee

Like everyone else, we've been struggling with our honey bees.  It's been quite difficult to build up strong hives which will consistently survive our rather long, and sometimes frigid, winters let alone simply keep them alive at this time in history when whole apiaries are being decimated.

Going into this winter we had a few strong hives along with two nucs about which Papa Pea was concerned.  Neither of the nucs contained a large population of bees, and he was afraid they might not be able to generate enough warmth to keep them alive over our coldest months.

To help them along through any possible winter time difficulties, he moved them onto our south facing deck and up against the house.

For the last three days, we've been experiencing a fantastic reprieve from the cold with lovely sunshine and temperatures hovering in the low 30s.

A great time for the bees as it's made conditions opportune for them to get out of the hives for cleansing flights and needed housecleaning (hive cleaning?).

And have they ever been taking advantage of the opportunity.

The deck area in front of the two nucs is plastered with . . . well, bee poop.  You would think the least they could do was go into the nearby woods to . . . umm, do what needs to be done.

All in all, it's a very good thing for the health and happiness of the bees.  For the surface of our deck boards, not so much.  Seriously, we're very grateful for this break in the weather and for great indications that these two little nucs are currently alive and well.

Thursday, January 12, 2017

The Porch Has Been Valanced

I can't tell you how many years (yes, years) I've been looking at the windows on our enclosed back entry porch and thinking how much better the whole (small) area would look (softer, cozier, more welcoming) with valances across the top of the windows.

Last time we were in the big city, I went into a Jo-Ann Fabrics store that had recently opened there and found this fabric I couldn't pass up.  Just the thing for the valances.

Here's a Before shot  of the porch windows.
(Taken on a very frosty morning.)

And the After picture.

This little touch makes me happy every time I see it!

This is also the time of year that I put up this sign next to the door into the house proper.  Maybe it's just me, but I get a chuckle every time I imagine someone going across the kitchen floor with snowshoes on.  Ga-lump-shuffle, ga-lump-shuffle, ga-lump-shuffle . . . 

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Where Am I, Who Am I, What's Happening?

Ever have one of those periods when The List is just too long, the days are too short, you go, go, go all day but feel like you never get anything done?  Yep, me too.

I had this silly idea that once the holidays were over, my long, slow winter would begin.  Not happening.

We've been fortunate enough to have our dear daughter and her fella volunteer (okay, we're paying them extremely high wages -- haha) to help us on some projects that have been in the works forever, but have just not gotten done.

They assembled this temporary car port we purchased used years ago, but never got erected.  We needed a place for my new-to-me, little runabout car to live in this winter.  (It's in pristine condition and we decided not to subject it to the damaging salt on the roads during the winter months.)  Turns out putting this thing up was not an easy task.  I think they took it nearly completely apart at least twice to sew on reinforcing strips, put in grommets for tie-downs and in other ways secure it so the wind didn't tear it to shreds.  A simple, easy project it was not.

Daughter's fella is mechanically talented (among other things) and seems we've found several jobs to keep his hands constantly "greased up."  No doubt about it, things are getting done, big time.  But this wonderful help means we have to be on top of it enough to know which projects should be tackled first, second and third plus making sure we have the needed materials, repair parts, etc. on hand so progress flows smoothly.

My freezer stash of "convenience" foods is B.A.R.E.  Oh, I still have all the raw ingredients there or on pantry shelves but I get to feeling very uneasy when I don't have any prepared soups, stews, casseroles, cooked meats, breads, etc., etc. on hand with which to whip up a tasty meal with short notice.  I still haven't made my year's supply of applesauce.  Someone needs to get an experienced cook in here with about three day's worth of time to make hay while the suns shines.  (Or meat balls when it's snowing.)

Wouldn't ya know it, I've recently come across some new-to-me blogs that look just too good not to follow.  Thus far, they're still on my "wanna do" list as I haven't found the time to start reading them regularly.

I haven't managed to get to our organic foods co-op to shop in a couple of weeks.  They're running great after-the-holidays specials on many things I want to stock up on from organically raised turkeys to oats to laundry detergent.  (Dear daughter has for the past several years been making laundry detergent for both of us, but at the present since she's taken on a third -- or is it her fourth or fifth? -- part-time job [that would be helping us] she hasn't had a spare moment to whip up a batch.)

I've taken on a commissioned project (making a crocheted rug from heavy duty rug yarn) for our daughter.  She needs it by a week from this coming Sunday as a birthday present for a good friend.  I started the foundation row (the trickiest) and got two beginning rows done last night but, just before realizing how late it was and that I really should go to bed, did a measurement check and now will have to tear it out and start over as the way it is will be too, too wide.  Just goes to prove I shouldn't wield a crochet hook and try to count at the same time after 10 o'clock in the evening.

The view of the Fowl Compound as I
approached it this morning.

We got about 3-4" of new snow overnight.  We've yet to have a really big snowfall but I guess frequent smaller amounts do add up.

You can see we don't suffer from boredom around here even in the long, slow winter months.  (Say again when they start?)  

Sunday, January 8, 2017

Just Socks

Don't know how much creativeness I used on this project.  It's just socks, and all I did was pick out some jazzy yarn and follow a pattern.

Yes, they are pretty wild with color . . . dark green, brown, orange and even some mauve and white thrown in.

But since I do wear a lot of brown and orange, I'm pretty sure I'll find myself picking them out of my sock drawer often.

I've already got another sock (new, different yarn) cast on my needles.  Other than turning the heel on a sock (when I have to pay attention and think), it's kind of mindless knitting that's handy to have available as I can pick it up and knit when visiting or passing time profitably while I'm sitting for a few minutes.

Friday, January 6, 2017

The Winter Shower Curtain Saga

Back in December of 2014 I decided I simply had to replace the quilted "winter" shower curtain I'd used for several years.  I've mentioned before that the one window in our small bathroom faces south, is at right angles to the shower stall, and because sunlight streams in this window, the shower curtain fades and doesn't look so purdy good after a few years.

So I dug into my stash of (mostly) blue fabrics and proceeded to make this "new" winter shower curtain.

Got it finished and put up in January of 2015.

Didn't like it.  At all.  Our toilet sits directly across from the front of the shower so I had plenty of time to scrutinize it and try to talk myself into liking it.

Never happened.  Matter of fact, in January of last year, 2016, I actually dug out the old faded blue and white curtain and used it instead of the "new" one.

Well, you can guess what was on my mind this past December.  Yep.  Another attempt at a winter shower curtain I was happy with.

I've had this book of quilt patterns by Evelyn Sloppy (I'm sorry, but that is such a bad name for an expert quilt maker!) for a while but never made anything from it.

The idea of the book is that you make one HUGE quilt block . . . and that's your quilt.   Sounded good to me.  Of course, the quilt pattern that I chose finished out at only 48" x 48".  I needed something 61" x 71" for my shower curtain.

After I constructed the big block, I added a border 6" wide of the dark blue fabric all around the perimeter.

Okay, so I then had the width of 60" (or close enough) that I wanted.

Then I played around with triangles and squares to find a pieced border to put on the top and bottom that would give me the 71" length.  (You have no idea how crazy I made myself auditioning different combinations before I settled on this one.)

I never put a "nice" backing on my shower curtains because . . . well, no one ever sees the back.  (The back faces in toward the shower and there is a plain white plastic curtain between that and the inside of the shower.  Or the person in the shower.)

This time I decided to use two good sized pieces of gray-ish fabrics I'd had forever and never used.

If you look closely, you can see where (about 3/4 of the way down the center star) I seamed the two different pieces together.  

The piecing of this quilt top went very fast (big pieces), but the quilting seemed to take for-evah.

This picture gives you a better view of the three fabrics I used.

Whew, so ends the saga of the winter shower curtain.  And ya know what?  I really, really like this one.