Friday, March 28, 2014

Biding My Time (Happily)

While most of the rest of you are tending hundreds of seedlings inside under grow-lights, planting cold weather crops out in your garden and celebrating the new animal births on the homestead, I'm watching the trunks of the apple trees disappear (once again) under new snow cover.

We had a smidge bit of melting (mostly through evaporation, I think) in the last couple of weeks and our snow was looking old and ready (we were only hoping) to pack its bags and totter on out of here.  But in the last week we've gotten new snow.  Many inches of new snow.

At least our temps have been in the 20s during the day so it doesn't feel so much like living in the Arctic anymore.  The snows have been wet and are coating the branches of our many evergreen trees creating a picture postcard scene.  (Funny, though, how it's not quite as beautiful and entrancing at it was back in November and December.)

I've been taking advantage of not being able to be outside doing spring things quite yet.

I'm almost finished doing the hand quilting on a new spring wall hanging for the kitchen.  No pictures until I'm done though.

A couple of days ago I finished this multi-colored rug crocheted with heavy rug yarn. (Yes, I do love color.  Why do you ask?)  I got hold of some cotton/rayon blend yarn that I've used before which wears extremely well, washes in the washing machine beautifully and doesn't take a week and a half to dry.  I'm thinking of making another matching one and using them on either side of our bed to replace the ugly-bugly purchased ones that have seen better days.  This new rug measures 21" x 34".

I've also started an oval one in colors to match my new spring shower curtain which will go in the bathroom in front of the sink.

And here's the rug I made out of that less-than-nice polyester rug yarn I found in a stored away stash a couple of weeks ago.  (That stuff is like trying to crochet with baling twine.  Ish.)  Don't cha think its place in front of the washer in the garage classes up the area tremendously?  It's the little things that make me happy.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

The Winner of the Kite Wall Hanging Is . . .

You'll have to forgive me for being a bit late in posting the winner of the quilted wall hanging I recently offered as a giveaway.  For someone who got up at 5 a.m. (yaaawn) this morning, (yes, I did) and has been go, go, going all day, you'd think I'd be further ahead than I am.

Okay, no more of this terrible, awful, suspenseful waiting.  Let's get on with it.  

The kite wall hanging is going flying off to . . . 


In her comment, she wrote (in part):

Yes!  I love flying kites.  I have a collection
of nylon kites hanging in my basement.
The tri-plane one is so big that it took
my daughter (then 2) right off the
ground when she was holding on to it.  :)

I can just imagine what a colorful display that must be to brighten up a basement.

I'll get the wall hanging packaged up and off to you asap, odiie.

Thanks to all of you who entered your name for the drawing.


Tuesday, March 25, 2014

No More Mrs. Nice Guy

Sigh.  Our forecast is for another big bunch of snow Wednesday night and into Thursday.

When a friend walked through our living room this morning, she pointed to this cross-stitched wall hanging I've had on the wall for the past few months and said, "You know you're not helping by keeping that up."

Can you read it?  It says, "Welcome Winter."

Even though the calendar says it's officially "spring," I've been really hesitant to put up any spring decorations.  There's something about the three feet of snow still on the ground outside our windows that makes spring decorations just seem wrong.  But my friend's comment was the impetus I needed to yank Mr. Snowman and his chirky "Welcome Winter" off the wall.

Down he came and was replaced by something that looks a little less winter, at least a little more spring time.

Last year, we got 40" of snow in the month of April.  Let's hope my ditching of Mr. Snowman and his welcoming of winter will protect us from that happening this year.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Aw, Go Fly A Kite!

Ever wonder where that expression came from?  It's usually used in a derogatory way to tell someone who's annoying you to go away.  To tell a person he/she is being a pest.  Much like the expression, "Go jump in a lake."  Or as my group was fond of saying back in our obnoxious teenage years, "Take a long walk on a short dock."

When I did a little research on the origin of "go fly a kite," I was surprised to learn that it doesn't always have a strictly negative connotation.  It may have also been a referral to Old Ben Franklin and his experimentations with a kite, lightning and electricity.  The phrase could mean a way of telling someone to get a better idea.  Or make a new discovery.

But don't think of it in either of those ways here.  'Cause it's just the name of this wall hanging I'm offering as a giveaway.

This piece, made back in l998 for my husband's elementary school classroom, was inspired by a pattern I saw in a Fons and Porter quilting magazine and a song my daughter learned as a little tyke, "Let's go fly a kite, up to the highest heights . . . "  Anybody remember that one?

I machined quilted the background with wavy lines to try to create the movement of the wind.  The size of this wall hanging is approximately 36" wide and 29" top to bottom.

My question now is are kites a thing of the past?  Do kids still fly kites?

If you're interested in having your name put into the hat for the drawing to win this wall hanging, say so in the comments and tell is if you've ever flown a kite?  If so, when was the last time?  Was it a fun experience?

I'll close entries this coming Tuesday night (March 25th) and post the winner Wednesday morning.

Now go out there and fly a kite!

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Checking In

Just in from shoveling another batch of snow.  We had a temp in the high 20s and snowfall much of the day yesterday.  Then last night around 10 p.m. the snow tapered off and the wind began to blow.  Often with high winds, the snow on our deck drifts up against the door and makes it challenging to get it opened up in order to get out on the deck and shovel it clear.  We can access the deck from going out the back door and around, but I guess it's more fun to pretend we're snowed in and have to "tunnel" our way out.

This morning the temp was down to 8° (cold front blew in) and we have sunshine.  So while out moving snow, Papa Pea and I both got overheated and stripped off a layer, but then a few gusts of wind would come by and just about freeze us solid.  Yep, we're still experiencing the joys of winter up here near the tundra.

Our potatoes are keeping really well and we continue to enjoy the bounty this year.  I'm still taking only the biggest ones (aren't they beauts?) and keeping any smaller ones for seed potatoes.  Hope this coming year's crop is as good as last.  We couldn't ask for more than that.

This was taken yesterday during the snow.  The birds were hitting our feeders like there was no tomorrow.  Sometimes they aren't as active during a snowfall, but they sure were yesterday.  I guess they knew to stoke up for the coming windy, cold night ahead of them.  Smart birds.

Monday, March 17, 2014

I Owe It All To Miss Verla Brown

Dear readers, you have been so kind and complimentary as I've shared the recent posts relating to working on my new spring shower curtain.

Any talent I may have in the field of sewing or quilting, I owe to Miss Brown, my 8th grade sewing teacher.

Back in those (ancient) days, we girls didn't have a choice.  One semester of sewing was mandatory.  Beyond that, we did get to make it an elective.  We could take more sewing classes if we wanted.  I loved sewing and took as much of it as I could.

(Short rant insertion:  I know sewing and/or cooking classes are not even offered in most middle or high schools these days.  My, my, how much our educational system has lost.  The push seems to be single-mindedly toward preparing all students for college.  Never mind teaching common sense, down-home, practical skills that will benefit a person for a lifetime.  Grumpf.)

Miss (this was way before the introduction of the politically correct label of "Ms.") Brown was a regal lady somewhere in her 50s, nicely, although amply, shaped.  Sturdy.  Stout.  Hefty.  (Let's just say she was no lightweight.)  She was an excellent seamstress and made all of her own clothing.  Most often she was dressed in a tailored suit, jacket and skirt, worn with a pretty blouse.  Her dark hair (with the help of a little dye, I'm certain) was elegantly coiffed, her make-up was heavy but tastefully applied and her long fingernails always manicured with polish to match her outfit.

She was a perfectionist . . . which might not have been the best personality trait considering she was attempting to pique young girls' interest in learning how to sew. 

She insisted on checking every single step of our sewing attempts, and if the job we did didn't pass muster, we had to rip it out and do it again.  And again.  

Many of my classmates hated sewing because they could "never get it right" and labeled Miss Brown as "way too picky."  Not that she was ever mean or unpleasant.  She simply wanted us to learn the basics of sewing and the correct way in which to do them.

With all that I absorbed under her two years of instruction, I was able to make all of my own clothes up to and through the years I was out in the working world.  I also made dress shirts for my husband, then clothes for my daughter and various parkas, ponchos, jackets, and even bug screen liners for tents and beds.

When I first tried my hand at quilting, it came easily for me because of my strong sewing background.  To be successful at quilting, you must be accurate whether it is in understanding how to prep fabric, cut it, or sew precise seams and small pieces of fabric together.

I know there are seamstresses who are self-taught, and it's possible to learn to quilt without having had any previous sewing experience.  But I feel sure I wouldn't have had my lifelong interest in sewing and whatever skill I may have if it wasn't for the one-on-one instruction I got from Miss Brown at such an early age.  Because I was fortunate enough to have her as my first sewing teacher, I obtained a thorough and sound foundation in sewing, and it's certainly helped great heaps and bunches in making me as good a quilter as I might be.

Thanks, Miss Brown.  I hope somehow, some way you know you taught me a life-long skill for which I'm very grateful.

Friday, March 14, 2014

Shower Curtain/Shower-y Day

Just finished putting the last buttonholes (for hanging) in the top of my new spring shower curtain.  Gotta admit I'm tired of looking at my "winter" decorations scattered around the house, but because of the mounds of snow gracing our outside environment, I just can't see putting up the spring decorations quite yet.

The finished curtain is about 65-1/2" wide by 71" long.  Big enough to qualify as a small bed quilt, I suppose.

After putting the low-loft batting in it (I just had to try it, don't cha know), I've made the decision that I won't be putting batting in any future shower curtains I make.  Yes, it did give the definition to the quilting lines I wanted, but it also makes it too heavy.  Oh, well.  We have to experiment.  I've used Thermore on one curtain and this cheaper low-loft batting on this one, and now know just a pieced top "quilted" to a muslin backing is best.

This shot looking down on the curtain hanging on my design wall gives a slight (nah, not much) idea of how it will look when hung on the shower rod.

Mother Nature continues to tease giving us a temperature in the mid-30s today along with a bit of rain this morning.  It's stopped now and I can actually see that the rain caused the level of snow to go down.  The air outside is still very gray, very heavy and very damp.  Besides causing some of the snow to melt, the rain on top of the snow cover has also made moving around outside treacherous.  We just got a delivery from our UPS man and he mentioned he's fallen four times recently.  It's dangerous out there for man and beast!


Wednesday, March 12, 2014

I Know It's Spring Somewhere

A quick post to let you all know we're still alive and kickin'.  Still can't get outside to do much except daily chores as we have about three feet of snow cover in any place that hasn't been plowed.  Oh, yeah, and the piles of snow from plowing that are about six feet tall tend to hem us in.

After ending last week with temps quietly creeping up towards 32°, we had a mild (relatively speaking, I suppose, compared to most of the rest of you) weekend and a gorgeous day on Monday that hit 50° (!!) and felt wonderful.  Or maybe it was Sunday.  It was such a shock that I can't rightly remember.

Papa Pea immediately hooked up the outside hose and got a couple of vehicles washed.

But then Tuesday, we started the nosedive toward frigidity again.  This morning we had 2°.  Now a little after noon, we've hit 14°.  The sun is shining brightly and on days like this, even some snow melts through evaporation.

Spring never comes quickly to the north woods so we've learned to be patient and enjoy the couple of "teaser" days Mother Natures chooses to give us.  We still have the rest of March and the whole month of April in which we could get a lot of snow.

All of this is okay with us as we are still finding plenty of things that could/should be done inside and we're even doing some that we want to do.

I'm ready to put the binding around the edge of my spring shower curtain.  I hope to get started on that yet today.

In sorting through some boxes, I found a stash of rug yarn and have a good start on this crocheted throw rug.  Wish there had been a variety of colors to choose from to make it more colorful but there were just these two colors to work with.  It will be fine for a rug in front of the washing machine in the garage.  (Believe me, anything will help that area.  It's on my list to attack.  Unfortunately, it's not very near the top of the list.)

I'm off to check the barley casserole in the oven.  It's a favorite one I usually serve as a side dish but I had some cooked venison in the freezer (which tastes just like roast beef to me) so I put that in the casserole to make it a one-dish meal.

Hope all of you who are further into spring weather than we are have been getting outside and enjoying the fresh air.  Our air may be fresh, but drat and dang, it's still so cold!

Sunday, March 9, 2014

A Great Offer from 5 Acres & A Dream

Giveaways must be in the air right now!  Let me tell you about one being offered by Leigh over at 5 Acres & A Dream.  It's a really good deal.

She is giving away a copy of her book in celebration of having sold 500 copies.  (In a very short time!)

Even if you already have your own copy, enter the drawing anyway because, as Leigh suggests, if you win you can give the book as a gift or do as I will do (if I'm lucky enough to win) and donate the copy to your local library.

5 Acres & A Dream - The Book is a valuable one to have for anyone interested in establishing a self-sufficient homestead.  Whether your homestead is still in the dream stage or whether you've been at it for a long time, you'll benefit from owing a copy.  Leigh has gained the knowledge she shares through personal experience.  She's also an excellent researcher and has pulled together lots and lots of valuable information you will have at your fingertips by holding your own copy of her book.

If you're interested, pop on over to her blog by clicking here and read the particulars of the giveaway.  You'll be glad you did.

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Winner of the Tulip Wall Hanging

Twenty of you threw your name in the hat bowl for the drawing for the quilted wall hanging I offered up for grabs earlier this week.

I wrote down numbers 1-20 on little pieces of paper, each number corresponding to your name as they appeared in the comment section of the post.

Put all of the pieces of paper in a little bowl, mixed them up, trotted up the stairs to my hubby's ivory tower office, asked him to stick his paw in the bowl, give the numbers another mix, and draw out one piece of paper.  (I made the little slips of paper with the numbers on them so darn small he had trouble picking out just one . . . my bad.)

But select one number he did and it was . . . 

Number 1!!!

Congratulations Nancy of Little Homestead in Boise!  I'll get the wall hanging packaged up and off to you this coming week.

Thanks to all of you who showed an interest in this giveaway.  There's another one coming up soon . . . do you remember the little kids' song, Let's Go Fly A Kite?  That's a big hint as to the theme of the one I'm giving away next.

Have a wonderful weekend, everyone!

Friday, March 7, 2014

Is The Thermometer Broken?

And you thought our weather would never get better.  Ha!

I did have a moment this morning when I first looked at our thermometer and thought it was giving a faulty reading.  Twenty-eight degrees!  ABOVE zero.  Wahoo, we haven't seen it that warm since . . . since . . . since I can't remember when.

How-EV-vah, with a forecast for a wintry mix today with freezing rain, snow and sleet, it's hard to get too, too excited.  We may hit 31°, so say the predictors of all things weather-ish.  And Sunday and Monday it could get a couple of degrees above freezing!  (Then back down into the twenties, but anything above a below zero reading now is balmy and time to peel off the long johns.)

See my pumpkin patch?  No?
It's right other side of that 6'+ tall pile of snow,
I promise you it really is.

Only 1/2" of snow so far this month.  March is traditionally our snowiest month, but perhaps that isn't going to be the case this year.  Which would be fine with us.  Truly.

This shot was taken out of one of my
kitchen windows this morning.
That's a snowbank up against the house
with three maple tree branches
sticking out of it.
Watching the temps climbing up toward 32° does give hope all this snow will melt and spring will come to the north woods.  I'm hope, hope, hoping we don't have another cold spring as the last two have been.  If that happens, our snow won't be gone until July.  Or August.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Small Wall Hanging Giveaway

Well, it is small compared to that big, ol' snowman I offered in January!

I needed a break from machine quilting my spring shower curtain (yep, it's comin' along) this afternoon so started the sorting of some quilted pieces and doing some rearranging in my quilt room.

This "spring-ish" wall hanging was found under some bigger quilts, and I'd almost forgotten about it.  I made it way back in 2001 and my tastes have changed since then . . . I'm sure I won't use it again so am wondering if any of you would be interested in giving it a new home.

This size is approximately 27" across and 33" top to bottom and is machine quilted.  The colors, as you can see, are very much spring-themed.  The coloring in this photo is a little wonky and does make the light background pieces look more pinky/peachy.  They are actually an off-white.

Just leave a comment at the end of this post if you'd like your name thrown in the hat for the drawing for this quilted piece.  I'll make the cut-off for the drawing this coming Friday night, March 7th, around 9 p.m. when I turn off my computer for the night.  Winner will be announced Saturday morning.

I'm on a tear getting rid of all kinds of things I haven't used in years and this is one item that has to go.  (So be prepared for more coming up!)  And who knows?  If your name is drawn and you hang this bit of spring time in your house, Mother Nature just might send you some warm weather and green grass.  Wouldn't that be welcomed after this winter!

Sunday, March 2, 2014

A Wandering Mind Equals Memories

When I spend time in my quilt room working on a project, I'm usually either listening to an audio book or enjoying the silence and letting my mind wander.

I scurried around the house this morning doing what had to be done, put a huge pot with about forty-five pounds (okay, maybe a little less than that) of stewing hens in it on the stove to simmer all day, then made it into my quilt room a smidge bit after noon.

It was one of the days when I just wanted to be alone with my thoughts and my mind wandered to thoughts of my maternal grandma.  She was the only grandmother I had and she played a big part in my growing up years.

Way back about six or seven years ago, when I had about three readers of my blog, I wrote a post on my grandma.  I looked it up and felt an urge to reprint it here today.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
 My Grandma Maggie

I almost named my daughter McLean.  That was my grandma's middle name, and I thought seriously of naming our daughter after her great-grandmother.  But I knew it would get shortened to Mac, and I didn't think I wanted to saddle her with that.

Grandma was born in Beith, Scotland, in 1893, and immigrated to the U.S. with her large family when she was fifteen years old.  She remembered whole winters in the Old Country when they had very little to eat but potatoes.  Hearty  stock, but certainly not well-to-do in a financial sense by any means.  She married Grandpa when she was just sixteen years old (he was twenty-five), and they raised seven children, a boy born first and then six girls.  I remember my mom telling me Grandma had had so many miscarriages that she didn't actually remember how many.  Those poor gals of that day and age sure didn't have much in the way of birth control to work with, did they?

I think Grandma was an excellent example of making do with what she had.  Grandpa kept a huge vegetable garden, and Grandma canned and preserved everything.  She cooked anything my grandpa brought home whether it be fur, fowl, or most of the time, fish.  When they were raising their family, what he brought home for the table constituted a large part of their diet.  Since he was such a fisherman, there was nearly always live bait in her refrigerator, sometimes not as contained as she would have liked it to be.

My mom worked a full-time job outside the home, and Grandma took care of me and my brother during the day.  She came to our house each weekday, cooked, cleaned and cared for us.  After that she went home and did her own housework, got a meal for herself and Grandpa, then a couple of nights a week, got "gussied up" (a favorite term of hers) to go out for the evening.  Most often these evenings were spent with lady friends at the local bingo hall.  What fun they had for the price of a dollar or two.  I know because she took me with her many nights, and the socialization involved a lot of chatter and much laughing.

She and Grandpa had a solid but teasing/bickering relationship.  He referred to her as "The Old Battle Axe," and she constantly complained about him spending too much time with his "girlfriends" in the neighborhood.  Grandpa retired from his physical labor job early because of health problems but was constantly on the go, if not working around their house and yard, then off somewhere doing good deeds for anyone who needed help.  Often the women Grandma jokingly referred to as his "girlfriends" were widows, single mothers, or those whose husbands were too lazy to do basic maintenance around their houses or yards.

I can vividly remember sitting in our old family doctor's waiting room when I was probably only six or seven with my mom and Grandma after Grandpa had been brought in there to be checked over after he had fallen out of a neighbor's plum tree he was pruning.  I can still see Grandma sitting there turning the broken parts of his glasses over and over in her hands while muttering words about the stupidity of the old coot, and why couldn't he stay home rather than running all over town (he'd only been next door) risking life and limb falling out of a tree and landing on his head.

Grandma believed you should never go out in public without your spurs on (by this she meant make-up and hair done and in nice clothes) because you never knew when you might need them.  She was a little woman and being short, she liked to wear high heels (she had really nice legs!), and she loved keeping polish on her pretty fingernails.  She had beautiful snow white hair from an early age on, and it always looked nice although I doubt she ever saw the inside of a beauty parlor.

When Grandpa died, Grandma found she didn't like living alone.  Each of her children, to the last one, wanted her to come live with them.  Grandma decided she would just float around for a while, a month here, a couple of months there, but always ended up spending the longest times at the house with the most or smallest children as she adored wee ones, and she wanted to be kept busy and feel helpful.

She died one day shy of exactly two years after Grandpa did.  That was in 1965 when she was 72 years old.  Cause of death was listed as leukemia, but I've often wondered if that was true.  Not that it wouldn't be possible, but no one else in our large family has ever had any form of cancer (for which we can be very, very thankful, needless to say).  Could be she missed Grandpas more than anyone realized.

I have a strong feeling that if I had been blessed with more children, there would have been a boy named McLean or a girl named Maggie.  With hindsight, I can now see that by giving a descendant an ancestor's name, it's not only a way of honoring that person but possibly even carrying on their spirit.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~