Thursday, December 13

Fulled Helmet Hat

I bought this pattern over a year ago. Again, it's a fulled (felted) project, and I just thought it was really cute, and would be really warm, too. So a week or two ago, in the non-occupied evenings, I started working on it. Last night I finished it, and this morning I shrank it.

I think it looks Medieval-ish, no??

Right now it is stretched, drying over a balloon. Hopefully the balloon's shape doesn't get any funkier, or this hat will be a laugh and a half!

Considering how large it was before shrinking, I thought my husband might land the hat instead of my son. Amazingly, though, it shrank down very nicely. -- Almost too nicely??

Dear Son is fascinated with balloons. I am drying this over one of my heat vents, so it is at Dear Son's level. A while after leaving it on the vent, I caught Dear Son red-handed, tugging on the hat with one hand while desperately trying to release the balloon out of the hat with the other. It didn't matter that I had blown up five other balloons, which were lying all over the house; he wanted this one!

This hat, obviously, is not a surprise gift for Dear Son. I have tried it on him numerous times as it has been drying, and each time I am pleased with the results. Since I have gotten the ties on it, Dear Son is even more pleased, too. He loves a hat!

Wednesday, December 5


I've been working on more Christmas gifts, these for some girls whose names are obvious. Last time I did this, it took me HOURS to complete, as I wrapped each letter with wrapping paper and glue. This time, I got smart. My neighbor and I both like to use Stampin' Up! stamps, so I called on her to see what she has. She loaned me several sets, plus gave me more ideas, and this is what I came up with.

First, I stole my daughter's spare toothbrush. (It has since been relegated to my craft bin.) I flicked acrylic paint onto the bare white letters.

Next I stamped on the blue dots for Isabella and the flower designs for Olivia.

Then I took a sponge, dabbed it on the stamp pad, stamped it several times on scrap paper, and then lightly brushed all around the edges of the letters, giving them an 'antique' look.

I had to let it dry at this point for a VERY long time (most of the night), as that blue stamp pad for the dots was worse than paint.

About 4:00 a.m. I awoke thinking about it, so came to check on it, and it was finally dry!

'Isabella' was just too plain; the dots too bold. So I took another stamp set, and, after stamping the first bit of ink off onto scrap paper so my real stamping would be lighter in color, I randomly stamped the flowers and berries on top of the blue dots. It toned it down significantly, and I was very pleased with the results.

Finally, I sprayed it with a clear coat finish to protect all my hard work.

They're now wrapped up, ready to gift the recipients with.

Monday, November 26

Shared Meals

While perusing another's blog one day, I happened to learn about shared meals. Basically, it's where you get several households to join you in creating one large meal each and then each household gives their meal to all other households in the group. It majorly cuts down on cooking, and is supposed to help with the budget. (So far I've had too many other things happening to know if it really does save money.)

We have four households in our group, and are trading meals once a week. So it ends up that we have four different cooked meals per week, and only have to heat them up. It's wonderful!

I confess, I hate to cook. So this is my answer to staying out of the kitchen.

Only, last week didn't go too well. I failed my other households and didn't get the meal ready on time. I promised it a few days later, and something else happened. So today I've spent the entire morning in the kitchen. I finished the meal that didn't seem to want to happen last week. I made the meal for this week. And I'm getting ahead of the game and made the meal for next week. Thankfully some of this can go in the freezer, otherwise I'd have to buy a new fridge to house all this till 'delivery day'.

The meals:

Cuban Black Beans and Rice; "Chicken" (vegetarian) and Lentil Soup; "Beef" (vegetarian) Stroganoff (with noodles still to come); more Chicken and Lentil Soup for the Christmas party.

Bathroom Paint-Job

We are soon hosting Dear Husband's office staff Christmas party at our house. This has been great impetus for completing a few more "renovations" around the house, one of which is the main bathroom.

The bathroom was gross. Purple in color, and a VERY bad paint job at that; caulking around the sink that looked like it was carelessly smeared in place -- if you can call down on the counter 'in place'; baseboards not even fully laid. There was also an old wall heater under the window that we are afraid to use.

So Dear Husband handled the electrical end of things and took out the heater, and then replaced the hole with new wallboard. From there, I took over mudding -- yes, again -- the patch, and various other major discrepancies all over the walls. Then, on Friday, David rolled the ceiling for me, and I rolled the walls to this new color.

I am not as thrilled with the color as I had hoped to be; it's too . . . something. It swears with the natural wood color of the cabinet and door frame. Oh, well. What it is, it is. -- For now.

We then installed some new towel bars, and did a couple other little things. I have yet to make a new shower curtain, a curtain to cover the linen cupboard, and a curtain for the window. I'm hopeful that I'll like it much better once these things are completed, which I'm hoping to finish this week. We'll see . . .


A few weeks ago, as the weather was turning cooler, I told Dear Daughter to get her slippers on. (I had knitted and fulled her a pair a couple years ago.) She put them on, and came to me saying, "Mommy, they're too little. Will you make me a new pair? A pink pair, exactly like these?"

So a trip to our local craft store produced the yarn (although not the exact yarn) for the new slippers. A few days later, voila:

These were intended to be a Christmas gift for Dear Daughter, but how do you discreetly leave slippers out to dry in a house that Dear Daughter has full roam of? They're still a Christmas gift, but they won't be a surprise, I guess. They're already wrapped and under the Christmas tree, so you'll have to wait till later to see the finished results (after fulling). We all think they turned out very cute.

Applesaucing Again

I now have 4 bushels of applesauce in my freezer, less what Dear Husband has heartily consumed. One bushel is for an unnamed person, the rest will be gone within a few months by Dear Husband, no doubt.

This photo is from the last saucing time with Dear Sister. The apples were worse than seconds, and we paid the full price for them. That was maddening! So, as you can imagine, we did a lot of carving on them. After two bushels of carving, I was DONE. So Dear Sister took over the last bushel of carving while I processed apples into sauce. We were very glad to be done!

Play-Dough Creations

Dear Daughter shows her creative side with these guys she cut out of play-dough and arranged herself. She then insisted that I take pictures of it. So of course I had to blog about it, too!

Birthday Present

Niece recently had a birthday. Of course I needed to come up with a present for the event, and Niece gave me the idea when she mentioned she really wanted a sleeping bag for her doll. When I checked out the price of the one she wanted, I about had a cow! I told her I'd make her one. So this is it:

Dear Sister made Niece the night-gown, after Niece picked out the fabric.

Sunday, November 11

Fulled Knitted Slippers

Another Christmas project, these slippers were knitted from a Fiber Trends pattern. Knitted and fulled projects are by far my preferred knitted projects. (How's that for redundancy?) I am not one to sit, nightly, knitting the same project for a year. -- I am all about instant gratification, with an element of surprise added. Fulling provides both, since I knit double-strand with large needles (I completed one slipper in about 3 hours.), and then throw the project in the washing machine in hot water and wait to see the results. This one was quite the surprise, as no project has shrunk this quickly on me before!

Here are the slippers, before fulling:

At about 12 1/2 inches in length, the slippers make my feet look like they're swimming!

After one wash cycle (It usually takes at least three cycles.), they were nearly too small, so I dried them over a hard-soled slipper to stretch them back out a bit. Now they'll fit about perfectly.

They shrank a full two inches, down to 10 1/2 inches!

And now my daughter has informed me that the slippers I knitted and fulled for her two years ago are much too small, and she wants me to make her a new pair just like the last.

My local craft store is going out of business, so my daughter and I went and bought yarn for her new slippers. They're slightly different, but I think she'll be pleased with the results, as they're her favorite color.

Thursday, November 8

Years ago, David and I bought a bunch of unfinished furniture. Of course, we fully intended to paint or stain it, but that didn't happen and didn't happen. We've moved location multiple times since buying it, and always vow we WILL finish the furniture. However, it still gets put into the house and loaded up with goods in its unfinished state.

This time, though, we decided it wouldn't even find its way into our house till it truly WAS finished. We panned off our bedroom furniture to someone else and paid to get it done. It looks beautiful! But the other pieces, I decided I would do myself. So it has waited and waited in the garage.

Finally, a little over a year after we moved into our house, the china cabinet is finished and filled up with dishes. I am very happy with the results:

I love how our wedding china stands out inside.

I love it so much, that taking pictures of it was a lot of fun, thus more focus on the dishes than the cabinet. Oh, well. The cabinet's sole function is to show off the wedding ware, right?

When I was about to deliver our son, I saw a figurine of a father holding his newborn. I melted into tears at the tenderness of the sight. I bought it and tenderly presented it to David. I'm not sure he felt the same emotion that I did, but I placed it on his dresser. Since the move, I think it has become mine. It was joined by a mother holding a baby, and then, most recently, by two sistes sitting face-to-face talking, given to me by my sister for my birthday. Since we have a ball-throwing son, I decided the safest place for all of them was in the china cabinet. And I think they go so nicely here.

Thursday, November 1


On Monday, I got together with Sister to make applesauce. We did two bushels in about four hours. -- Froze it, which is so much faster (AND neater) than canning! Now, here's hoping my freezer doesn't break down or lose electricity!

When we tallied up how many bags of sauce we had, we stupidly got to thinking how much each bag cost us, and compared it to the price at our local grocery store. BAD idea! It actually was a little cheaper, but with the labor involved (and we worked fast) and the distractions of four kids, we got to wondering if it was worth it.

But then we ate it. One spoonful, and then another, and another, and another. And then a bowl full. It was absolutely delicious! -- Sweet, without sugar being added, thick, and so full of flavor!

Definitely worth it!

We're going to do four more bushels. (I'll take pictures next time.)

FYI, we did Golden Delicious. Always my favorite.

We've opened Bag #2. My husband has demanded that I NOT hold him back in consuming it!

Saturday, October 27

Baby Shower Gift

A friend had her baby boy recently, and along came a shower invitation. I am the kind of person who likes to give original gifts, but I have a hard time coming up with the ideas for these gifts. Recently, though, I found my inspiration while at my local craft store: plain white letters to hang on the wall!

But they were too plain for something as special as a shower gift. (Although the first ones I gave as a shower gift, I gave plain because I liked them that way then. -- Inspiration struck later!) So, along came toille-patterned wrapping paper, decopage glue, and clear-coat finish spray.

And HOURS later, here are the letters:

"JONATHAN" is a very long name!

Zinnia Pillow

We've had too much going on at our house, thus the lengthy pause in blogging.

My husband and I had a fabulous 10-year anniversary celebration at the bottom of the Grand Canyon. (We backpacked in, and spent three nights in the canyon.) Awesome experience, and a 10-year dream fulfilled for both of us.

The weather has been dry, dry, dry. My poor garden! I've hardly touched it in over a month, as it's been too discouraging to put the effort into something that might not make it, anyway. Amazingly, some things have kept on blooming even though the ground is cracked wide open with fissures of drought. Other plants definitely need to go!

Since the outdoor garden isn't doing much, I've been working inside. My family decided to go "homemade" with gifts for Christmas this year. Awhile back, I found the cutest pattern for a decorative pillow at my local quilt shop, and upon showing my mom, she squealed in delight and begged to borrow it, whereupon I plied her brain till I found out what she would make when she got the pattern, and I made it for her myself. The pattern is by Amy Butler. (See her blog under my Favorite Links, to the left.) Anyway, I thought it turned out really cute. I'd love one for my own bed, but my husband balked at that. "Too girly foo-foo." So maybe I'll make it for my daughter's bed. -- Like she doesn't have enough pillows! Anyway, here it is:

And a close-up:

Thanks, Amy, for the inspiration! You've made a happy customer.

Tuesday, September 25

Poison Ivy

I should have known better when I pulled out all those weedy things along the edge of our lawn. -- I saw the poison ivy! I don't know why I thought I'd be exempt from getting it this time.

It is in little patches all over my body. Tonight I can't sleep on account of the intense itching. So I got up and scratched the blebs open, then bathed them in alcohol. (I much prefer pain to itching.) And now I am trying out some charcoal poltices to the worst areas. We'll see how it works. I don't care if I have some natural "tattoos" at present. I should think it will grow out in time. ???


Friday, September 21

Sandbox and Other Things

We finally completed the sandbox, dug up the clay ground for the box to sit down in, and filled it with sand (with "help" from the kiddos). The kiddos, of course, are thrilled with it.

We've spent a lot of energy collecting rocks to go around our flowerbeds, and I am not so pleased with the results of this fieldstone:

as I am with these rocks.

We've hauled these rocks, a few at a time, out of a dry creekbed while hiking a local trail. The finished look with these rocks is so much more "neat" and it's definitely easier to mow around! So, one by one, we'll complete the bed and the irregularly-shaped fieldstones will be moved to a different location, probably around the shed in the back yard. (That's a future project. The shed is dark brown metal and UGLY. I want to camoflage it with some sunflowers -- anything to distract the eye from the shed!)

Yesterday I trimmed the boxwoods in front of our porch, and when done, I decided I still felt like trimming. (Odd, I know.) So I stretched the power cord across the yard, and "went to" the underbrush that is encroaching our lawn. I have hated how claustrophobic all this underbrush makes me feel, but aside from using a machete, wasn't sure what to do about it. But I found an electric bush trimmer does a fabulous job! The only thing it couldn't cut was the thicker branches, of course, so I'll have to break out the machete for those. So many thorny vines (that gave no benefit like the berry bushes I thought they were) and honesuckle were all tangled up. I got pretty torn up getting out what I did, and there is still so much more to pull out. I was amazed with all the garbage I uncovered, too. I think the people who lived here before us did not utilize the garbage facilities, as I found half - half - a kitchen bowl; one yellow rubber shoe; various plastic toys; numerous cement 'things' (don't know what); and some non-describt, twisted-up, extremely rusty pole-type structure. So, in clearing up brush I found a whole lot more work to do. Lucky me!

Wednesday, September 12

Cottage Garden 11

Today was gorgeous! It felt today like the first day of real autumn, and it was wonderful! I never knew I felt so fondly of autumn till after this sweltering, dry summer we've just been through. And hopefully it is "been through", and not just a tease.

I worked at enlarging the garden some more. (And I actually enjoyed it, rather than becoming ornery because I was so hot.) I also pulled out a wickedly large-rooted old rose bush. I find rose bushes to be beautiful, but I don't have the patience to grow them. (I would love to train a climber, but I'll have to wait for Heaven for that. By the way, my house in Heaven will have vines of all different sorts for the walls, with flowers peeking out all over them.) The rose bush was here when we bought the house, and it's plunked in the oddest spot. It was loaded with June bugs this summer, and if I had one bud that wasn't eaten before it opened, it would have been worth writing about. But they all were chewed up. Then today I saw snail shells all over the base of the plant, and that did it for me. So with help from David, we rocked the root ball out of there. It was one tough plant!

Over the next few days, I hope to finish enlarging the bed, lay the border of rocks (as many rocks as we've collected thus far, anyway), and get some poor bedraggled plants in that have been sitting around here awaiting transplanting for ages into the ground. If they survive, I'll know I bought a great specimen!

Sunday, September 2

Cottage Garden 10

The weather is finally giving us a break! When I came in at noon today from working in the garden, it was only 86 degrees! I think that would be a record low for us of late.

So, today I worked in the bed on the right of the house. Pulled out all the tomatoes, some of the zinnias that were just flopping all over the place, and a lot of weeds. I hacked out more grass to grow the bed some more, too. Although what's left is tall and gangly, thus making the bed look lopsided in places, it looks much better than it did!

The tomatoes were again loaded with large, juicy cutworms. Our neighbors recently put in a chicken coop, and the chicks and guinea hens are running around in there like they've lived there forever. I had a hunch they might be interested in the cutworms, so took them down, and I was right: the worms never touched the ground. There sure were a lot of fights in the coop, though! I am just happy to have found some useful end to the worms!

Now that the beds are somewhat cleaned out, I can think about the plants that should be arriving from Bluestone Perennials, and about the few that are still in their pots, struggling on my back porch to stay alive. I'm looking forward to this time next year, when I hope to have a true flowerbed that is worth looking at. Maybe next year it will rain, too? (That would help!)

Thursday, August 30

Cottage Garden 9


That's the only word to describe the gardening experience at present, as well as the weather. We are in an extreme drought, first of all. And secondly, we've had at least one month of weather straight with temperature highs well over 90 degrees (daily), plus a week in there somewhere where we topped 100 degrees daily. It's just been too, too hot to do anything outside. Thus, the garden has suffered greatly.

Yesterday, though, I decided it needed some major help. So, rather early, I was out there at work. But where to start?

First of all I noticed all the tell-tale droppings on the sidewalk: cutworms. After finding at least 20 cutworms of various sizes, and cutting off the stem that was stripped bare and throwing them (one by one) into the woods (I can't stand squashing them), I realized there wasn't much left of my tomatoe plants. I also realized that what was left of my plants was either not producing, or was producing rotten tomatoes. Plus, everything was covered with aphids.

In desparation, I decided it all needed to go. So, one by one, I tore out my ugly tomatoe plants. What's left are a few trampled-looking perennials that were striving to reach the sun through the tomatoes; some gangly basil that's about to go; and some very gangly zinnias that I just didn't have the heart to pull.

So now the flowerbed looks AWFUL.

I've already ordered some plants through Bluestone Perennials, so sometime in September I hope to be beefing things back up a bit. Till then, it's ugly, ugly, ugly.

That was the flowerbed on the left of the house. The one on the right? I was too discouraged to touch. But the tomatoes on that side are in the same state as the ones on the left. -- They've gotta go!

A few encouraging things I've noticed: through all this drought and heat, my clematis has flourished, and actually produced a few flowers. Also, my asters are starting to bloom. And so is my weigela! Just a few flowers on each, but I guess not everything has failed.

I have been noticing a spider making its web on our back porch. Following is a photo of it with its web and a meal. Anybody know what kind it is, if it's poisonous, and if you recommend I leave it or send him elsewhere?

Saturday, August 11


Sorry so long since I posted a blog. Life has been busy, and then I've had trouble with my password so I could even get on my site to blog. Maybe it's figured out now? Anyway, I'm going to try this, and if it works, I'll blog in a couple days, pictures included.

Sunday, July 22

Cottage Garden 8

I just spent a little bit of time in my garden, inspecting the plants for bugs, and I was greatly rewarded. Found a few other things, as well, as noted in the pictures:

My first dahlia in bloom.

The hydrangea that was supposed to be blue that ended up pink and has now faded to green. Hmmm . . . Happily, I still like it.

Ripening Romas.

More tomatoes. I think these are beefsteaks??? They are huge already, and just packed onto the vine. Beautiful!

And this, the dreaded bugs. (Sorry, this is difficult to see due to the blurriness of the photo. My camera limits me too often. I love it, except for real close-up shots.) This is a cutworm loaded with eggs/larvae or something. I feel very fortunate to have found this one when I did, gross as it is! I asked my brave husband to dispose of it. (We both hate killing things.) I'm hoping he stomped on it, but he asked for a can of bug spray. So long as I never see one hundred small cutworms marching toward me, I guess it doesn't matter the manner of disposal. Ugh, ugh, ugh!

Cottage Garden 7

It's been too long since I've posted anything, as life has been too busy. I now have the china cupboard almost done, and already have some of the china in. It looks so nice! I'll take a picture when it's done, and post that. By the way, the bottom portion of the cupboard makes an excellent place to take pictures of the kids. We had a lot of fun with that. On to the gardens, though:

Ageratum in the pot on my back deck. Photo taken July 8.

I bought a bunch of perennials at a "buy 1, get 1" sale. Also, I was happy to find a kiwi vine. I thought they all grew on trees. And I didn't know there were hardy varieties. So this was a great discovery! If I get some kiwi on it, I'll be even happier! I have to figure out where and how to plant it now.

One of the first zinnias. Photo taken July 8.

What remains of the shorn tomato plants: stalk and fruit.

The first tomato ripening. Photo taken July 8.

A strawberry plant I bought for Sophia.

One of three very large cutworms that made quick work of a couple of tomato plants.
(As an aside, I should tell you that my next degree will be in "creatures that kill a garden".)

(And the next degree will be in hardscaping.) I'm already wishing I'd built up the bed with more soil before putting plants in, but it still looks so much better after adding the rock border. I'm learning as I go.

The pot on the back porch. Photo taken July 16. Dahlia buds clearly visible; zinnias in full bloom. Ageratum being eaten by little lime-green inchworms who covered themselves with flower pieces as a disguise. Very crafty, but after all the damage they did to the ageratum, I surely discovered them, and took an insect spray to them. It's starting to recover now. Had I not found this when I did, the ageratum would surely all be eaten by now!

Another zinnia. Photo taken July 16.

A lime-green zinnia with a lime-green bug. I love this color of zinnia! Next year I'll plant more. They don't seem to grow as well as the pink ones or the purple ones, so I'll plant LOTS of seeds in hopes of a few more than the ONE I got this year. About this bug. I thought it was beautiful! It seemed harmless enough, so I left it there. Big mistake. -- Lots of holes in the zinnia a short time later. Aren't there any bugs that are GOOD for a garden???