Thursday, January 30, 2014

Craftopia -or - Why Winter Isn't Long Enough (Sometimes)

What do you do when you are in the middle of a Polar Vortex and are snowed in more often than not?

Put your hands to the spindle, that's what.

Here's a sampling of what I've been up to lately - 

In between tearing the house apart and scrubbing things with a toothbrush....

And celebrating my 52nd birthday...

And keeping the chickens alive during the Vortex...

I've been up to a few things.
Don't hate - but I actually have that panicked feel in my gut that I won't get everything finished I'd hoped to before it's gardening time, and oh - how anxious I am to get back into the garden.

I've gone on a bit of a houseplant frenzy - I have one for every 50sq feet of house now. 

Did you know that Lowe's has a clearance rack for plants?  Some, if not most are goners, but once in a while you can find a good one - like this one - for $3.

A little Epsom salts, a little love, an episode or two of Downton Abbey - it'll be just fine.

I've been trying to get out and get photos of the lovely snow we've had.
And boy, have we had it - over 30" this month so far, and 10 more due Saturday.

I miss photography.  I wish I would take it more seriously again.

Yes, those are extensions!  Aaron's been having fun with my hair.
I've been knitting - knitted myself that hat right up there - I need to find the pattern and post it - it was super easy - it knits flat, and then you sew it up the back.  I posted this picture on Facebook and got a few comments about my skin - this is unretouched and I turned 52 last week.  I swear it's my skin serum (available on Etsy! - look at the bar on the right), the fact that I've never smoked, and some good genetics from my momma.

I knitted a scarf for Glenco - he was woefully unprepared for the Vortex.

And you saw the scarf I made for Aaron...

I've also made a few rag quilts.
I just finished this one yesterday - for my sister Vivian in Missouri.

I made this one for Aaron - 

I made one for my sister too - but didn't get a pic.  : -/

Some miscellaneous things I've made....

My first attempt at wool felting - it was a total fluke that the head turned out so fact, the legs are a nightmare, and that's why it's in bed, covered up.  It's a paraplegic raccoon.
It was a gruesome accident, involving a trap.

This was a lot of fun to make.  I made the bed, a little oval rug to go under it - and found that little shotgun at Hobby Lobby.  My cousin Jim is a coon hunter - and I made this for him.

I made this paper mache sculpture for my friend Gina - it symbolizes her grandson, the apple of her eye.

I made this pillow for my sweet friend Renee, fellow Glamper.

Took a quick photo right before it got wrapped up!

I made this pillow for myself - I'm not entirely sure why I made a pillow that said "go" - but it just seemed like what I needed at the time I made it.

I've whipped up a new batch of serum, and have made a delightful, all natural, organic body butter!
Stay tuned for info on that soon.

And last but not least - just a teaser for now - cause it deserves it's very own blog post - 

My mouse house.

So ya see, winter just isn't long enough at times - and we haven't even started talking about books, and all of those that beg to be read.

I've much to learn about the bees this winter.

So I say - let it snow, let it snow, let it snow!

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Watch Your Step

You know the saying 'back door guests are best'?
I'd agree.
Except for the poo.

The end.

Monday, January 20, 2014

This Old House

I read a quote last night that got me thinking.

Thinking about this old place, and my sentimental attachment to it.
I've always loved the idea of flipping houses - I've never done it - but I like hard work, and I love taking something ramshackly and making it lovely - so I think I'd be a heck of a flipper.

But not this place.
There is no flipping here.
There is coddling, loving, tending, repairing, but no flipping.
This is my soul's resting place.

I tease when I talk about selling it - that there would be a stringent interview process.
"Do you plan on keeping chickens?"
"Will you garden organically?"
"What's that?  You don't plan on gardening?"
"Hmmm...I'm sorry - I don't feel that this is the house for you."

Here's a picture of the back yard when we first bought the place.  

Here's what I wrote about it in a blog post a few years ago:

As I walked around, I envisioned chickens scratching, and quilts on the clothesline. Sweating glasses of iced tea and herb gardens. Laughter and memories. Glen envisioned a lot of trips to Home Depot, power tools, and endless hours of hard labor. Go figure.

Here's that same spot now:

Seems that we were both right with our visions.

This house has been more than a place of shelter for me - it's been a refuge.  It's taught me life lessons that I don't feel that a new house could have taught me.

It taught me that broken things are worth saving, and are worth the time it takes to fix.

It taught me that most things in life - like people - are not 'all bad' or 'all good'.  There are no absolutes. Except maybe for bacon - because bacon is absolutely delicious.  OK, and coffee - but sometimes you can have bad coffee - where, I don't recall ever having bad bacon.

This house has wonderful qualities, charm, vignettes of delight, and yet a basement that would make your hair stand on end.

It's taught me over and over that if something is worth doing, it's worth doing right - even if that's the long way around.

It's taught me that sometimes age and time do indeed make some things better, but at times a can of gas and a match make them even better. 

: -)

Not that I know anything about burning things around here.

But more importantly, it's taught me that life is never finished.  It goes on and on, whether or not we are around to enjoy or endure it - whatever your perspective might be on that subject.
I have already made this place better than when I found it, and it's my hope, dream and goal to leave it as a legacy of love - standing strong against the storms of life, a refuge, a place of serenity to the weary soul.

Please know y'all are more than welcome to visit anytime.
I will put you to work - but there will be bacon and coffee a plenty.

Here's the quote that got me thinking about this wonderful old place, and my love for it.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

My Three Plates

Just so you know - as I'm writing this, in the back of my mind I'm humming the theme song from My Three Sons, and my foot is tapping.
Ya - I'm that old.

I have to say, I feel mighty silly blogging about my three plates.

First off - you must know - I DO own more than three plates.  I had a few comments on my post about streamlining, and it sounded like a few of you thought that's all I owned.

Oh my.

No - I have three plates out in my everyday area.  The reason for the three?  Well - these delicious 1970's vintage plates were purchased at a thrift store, and there were 5 of them.  Two are out in the camper, three in the kitchen.  Luckily my OCD has calmed enough so that I can own odd numbers of things (as long as they match), and given that there are three people living in the household at the moment - it works.  
I change my plates often.  As soon as I tire of these, they'll get donated, and I'll find others that make me happy for a while.

The three plates reside on my shelf in the kitchen near the sink, and they are the everyday plates.
What I love is the ease of getting them, and the ease of putting them back right from the sink.  Nearly everything I use can be put away from standing right in front of my sink.

What I also love is that I'm not opening a cabinet chock full of dishes and items that I'm not using.  For my delicate brain - this is a good thing.  I truly believe, and I betcha there are studies to back it up - clutter stresses.  

these chickens belonged to my dear Aunt Jean, and therefore, one of my most prized possessions

Here's where I keep the company dishes (again, I'm feeling mighty silly)

This is where you'll find me every morning making tea.  Right in front of my tea pot is a reminder of my kitty love, Slinx - she jumped on the hutch when the paint was still wet - I just had to leave it - it was too perfect.

Now, there are six plates to that set, but the other is stashed underneath - I just felt to have all six up there was too visually heavy, and needed breaking up.  

So my odds and ends are under the cupboard.  Please note the vintage butterscotch coffee cups and saucers scored for 25 cents each.  

 I find myself completely satisfied after culling this area out.  A month ago, you could barely open the door without stuff falling out.  My rule?  If I haven't used it in a year - it goes.
And so it went, and I was exceedingly happy - until I saw this on Pornterest, I mean Pinterest -

Then I was all like - 

Oh snap, I got rid of all my dishes!

But then I think of my mantra - 

And I realize - there is nothing wrong with setting a lovely, over the top table, but it's just not in the cards for me - I'm much happier with less stuff in the house - less stuff to manage, less stuff to store, less stuff to clean and move and pack away and take out.  I'm not saying this is the "right" way to live, but it's right for me, and I've felt so much better mentally since I've decluttered.  
The house stays clean, and my time is freed up tremendously!

Simple is my way, and I'm sticking to it.

Monday, January 6, 2014

News from the Tundra

I'd love to be one of those people that could just not care to talk about what's going on out m'door - I wish I could be one of those people that come in after tending the chickens and think 'my goodness,
 it's a wee chilly out'.  
 I'm not.  
Oh no. 
 Everyone and his brother is gonna hear about how cold it is in NW Indiana at the moment.

Out on a walk before the cold hit - the snow was magical.

Let's just get right into it ok?

It's cold.
Like - it will kill you cold.
I believe we have about 20" of snow on the ground from the last couple of storms, and it's blowing around.
We are in a county that has been declared a state of emergency.
Um, it's really - really cold.
Everything has been shut down and only emergency vehicles are supposed to be on the road.
Just that alone makes me want to go somewhere - mmmhmmm....don't tell me I can't go!
Our furnace has run continually for over the last 40 hours - as in, not stopped blowing yet.  
I'm thankful for this and I ask for a reminder of my present state of warmth and gratitude when I get my next utility bill.
There is a small ice patch on my bedroom wall next to the window - and that's a true story.
Again - as in any blizzard conditions - my mind wanders to the Donner Party and the horror of all that.


The next thing we need to mention is the 
If you click on the recipe name, it will take you to it.
Folks - this stuff is the bomb.
But let's get one thing straight, and I'm not just trying to be funny here - this does not, and I repeat NOT serve 16 people.
Unless I made a woeful mistake, which I don't believe I did.

There is no way in heck there were 16 cups of this soup - I'm going to say 8 at best. 
Ergo - it serves four in my mind, if you are eating it as a meal.

Now, I did make some changes - not in ingredients or anything - but just didn't make it in a crockpot.  I also cooked the chicken breasts, cubed in a little of the bacon grease.
I had thought of subbing out the dairy - but for the first time making it, I wanted to taste what it was supposed to taste like.
Glenco and Aaron will just have to deal with my dairy-air.

The third thing we need to mention is my chicken drawrings.
Thank you so much for all the encouragement and support you've given me about them.
I do believe I am going to try to do something with them.
Thank you again.
Stay tuned.

And the final thing we need to mention is this:

It's back.
I'll refrain from talking about it right now, as there could be some of you that haven't seen it yet.
I'm still believing that this is the year we shall see Thomas shine, and that his heart of gold, that I know he has, will begin to shine.

Now...please...for the love -
make the chowder, stay warm, be well and love hard.

Aaron sporting the new scarf I made him.

Sunday, January 5, 2014

A Wonderland

This about sums it up.
We are in for a doozy of a cold snap.
-15 with windchills perhaps historically low - I'm hearing reports of -50.
10 more inches of snow due on top of the 8ish we have now - then the winds start.

So what am I doing?
Knitting a new hat, trying to talk Aaron into staying home from gymnastics tonight,  putting new batteries in my camera to do a 'Tundra Cam' video - and cobbling up this soup:

Right now it's just below freezing out, and it's a perfect opportunity for some photos.

If there's one thing I've learned in my near 52 years of livin' in the Midwest - you can weather most any storm as long as there's plenty of bacon to go 'round.

I'll be back soon with photos and videos.
Perhaps I'll document the stages of hypothermia.

Friday, January 3, 2014

Not Fit For Man Nor Beast

Remember my fun little drawings I used to do!?  I miss doing these.  
I apologize in advance that this post is a bit about the weather.
Alas, I'm not complaining about the weather - on the contrary, I'm loving the snow.  
More please!
I won't even complain about the 10 degree below 0 temps.
It's winter.
I'm not about to wish away a day - Spring will be here soon enough, and with it the delicious
 mania that it brings. 
For now is the time to hunker and bundle, wrap your hands around a hot mug of tea, bake a loaf of bread, check on your neighbors and be extra thankful for the blessings of a roof and furnace.
Now is the time to rest, read and reflect.
It's also the time to knit, sew, create and clean out.
Allow yourself to do that.
(I'm talking to m'self here too)

Is it just the homemaker in me that jumps to the opportunity to make cozy food and pull out extra blankets to nurture the ones I love?  I get kind of excited in weather like this.  It makes me want to make sure everyone and everything is OK.
You OK?
I'm OK.
It makes me want to chop wood even though I don't have a wood burner. 
I want to boil water and stock up on supplies.
I want to wear plaid flannel and look out the window.
A large gluten free loaf of banana bread is in the oven, and the house smells wonderful.

I am quite concerned about the chickens, and I can't even bear to think of the state of the bees.
I told Glenco yesterday that we had no choice but to bring the whole lot of them in the house.

I'm seriously considering making this for Omelette - my rooster - since he doesn't tuck his head in at night.
I just hate to see his proud comb succumb to the bitter cold and turn black, and ultimately fall off - I mean - it's gotta mess with a birds self esteem, to go bald and all - and at such a young age. 

I just think it needs a matching scarf to balance it out.
The BoyChild has requested the now infamous 

It's been quite sometime since I've made it - but days like this just beg for it.

And speaking of the BoyChild - there will be an update soon.  I have a lot of questions about 18 year old boys.  He left at almost 17 and came home at almost 18 - and what a difference a year made.  I have a lot of questions!

  But here's just a bit of a teaser - he was approached by a photographer at a Starbucks in Chicago and asked to model.
Of course I gave him the 'he could have been a serial killer' lecture - but the results were quite stunning.

So my friends - stay warm.  Stay content.  
It's in these lean, cold days that our blessings are most evident.