Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Quill Pen, Anyone?

Quill pens, cut and tapered from the outer feathers of geese, were used in the sixteenth century until the mid-nineteenth -century.  Goose quills retained an almost mystical aura; they were to be taken from the five best wing feathers shed during molting.
-- from Paperie: The Art of Writing and Wrapping with Paper by Kate's Paperie with Bo Niles

What I'm Reading Today

My husband checked out The Backyard Parables: Lessons on Gardening, and Life by Margaret Roach from the library for me, and I am currently enjoying that book.

It seems particularly apropos right now, as gardening is in my thoughts a lot these days.  Yesterday we planted carrots, and today a light rain is hopefully nurturing them.  My beloved says that the peas, lettuce, and potatoes that we planted a few weeks ago have all been sending up little shoots. 

I'm amazed how much joy I get some something so simple.

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Sunday Thoughts

The emptying that detachment brings about prepares us for an infilling of something greater.  The something greater is not only a greater delight in God but a greater and truer delight in all He has created.
-- Ralph Martin, in The Fulfillment of All Desire, page 231

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Weekly Round-Up

We've got "I" and "We" this week.

This week I....
 .... had brunch with Aunty M.  It was sheer culinary bliss.  She remembered that I like strawberries, and we had a strawberry feast, all made from scratch, with these to-die-for crepes covered with real whipped cream that just made me wonder what is left over for heaven.
... got to model.  Aunty M is teaching herself photography and I love to be photographed, so we did a little photo shoot for her to practice lenses, settings, and a whole bunch of other stuff that I don't understand.  Here are a couple of shots.
... had lunch with Ann and Jen S the same day.
... enjoyed the lovely weather with Gen while at a garage sale hosted by my dear friend from work, Mary H.

This week we....
... did LOTS in the garden!  We divided it into neat square a la' Mel Bartholomew and Square Foot Gardening and planted peas, potatoes, and lettuce.
.... tomatoes, shallots, oregano, and thyme have all poked little green shoots up out of the soil on our new plant ledge! 
... finished the compost pile, made entirely with free, recycled concrete block and lots of the Magician's sweat:

... filled the compost pile with leaves that we'd ground up with the mower.  It's amazing how compact they become and hence how much more one can get in a smaller space.
.... are looking forward to having Anne M. over this weekend for a little slumber party.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

The Ultimate in Recycled Material Use

This is an elephant constructed from recycled material that actually moves and sprays water.  It's pretty amazing!  This is part of the "Machines of the Isle of Nantes."

A picture of the elephant:

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Organization Update in 5 Minutes

Ok, we'll see if my husband is reading "our" blog, because he would NOT consider this organized!  But  it's so quick and easy!

See, I was putting away some new boots we had both bought and so...


See--there's the shoe box I used to elevate some of the stuff.


Doesn't it look like there's a lot more stuff in there?  There isn't.  It just looks that way because now we can see more of the stuff.  Easy, fast, cheap.  I still want to organize it better, though.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Results from Two Sketches and a Blank Canvas

It’s only been forever, more or less….

But the votes are in…

We each took turns doodling on a piece of scrap paper.  Then I’d asked my faithful readers to help us pick between two sketches for over our fireplace.

 Exhibit A
 Exhibit B
 Exhibit was the clear winner, with 14 votes, while B only had three.

But after reading the comments (especially the ones from Sam the Hamm and Gen), I decided to modify the original a little.  So here is the revised version:

 I'm not sure we're going to get to it, though, until the garden is in!  But we'll keep you posted.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Virutal Upcycle Art Show

Here are pics from the Upcycling Art Show in Beatrice that closed on Saturday.   Enjoy!

First, some from some of the other artists:
I think this is one of Nancy Hagler-Vujojic's pieces.  She wasn't sure if the toaster would still work.....
 More after the jump....

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Happy Easter!

He is RISEN!  Today our joy has no bounds!

"We are an Easter people, and alleiua is our song."
-- St. Augustine

Wishing you and yours many blessing this Easter.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Weekly Round-Up

This week I....

... took a mini road trip with my Mom, sister, two aunts, my grandmother and some dear friends (Marcia and Elizabeth P.) so I could show them my art show. 
For the first time ever, I have photos from a professional photographer!  (That's because Marcia from Marcia's Musings is a friend of mine.)  :)

On Monday I'll post a Virtual Art Show for those who didn't make the long trek south.  
Thanks very much to Nancy Hagler-Vojovic, art instructor from the community college in Beatrice, who invited me to contribute to the show!
... collected snow!  Rainwater is better for plants than tap water (and water softner softened water can apparently kill seedlings) so I gathered up some snow to melt.

... planted tomato and shallot seeds indoors.
... went with Mom to Mahoney State Park to pick up the THREE items she won from the silent auction

... joined in the solemn and sacred liturgies of Holy Week

~~~~ The Weekly Round-Up feature is a meant as a tribute to one of my all-time favorite blogs: The Non-Consumer Advocate.  Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery!  Do head on over and check out Katy's common sense writing on frugality and other adventures. ~~~~~

Friday, April 18, 2014

The Potato Aliens Have Landed

The Magician is setting potatoes out to scab-over a wee bit before they go in the ground tomorrow.  It's supposed to keep them from rotting, or something.
Here is one particularly lively and ambitious stud auditing to be a Dr. Who alien:
I'd like to think he is gross and weird enough to have a shot at it.
Here are his proud parents.  Aren't they a lovely little family?
"He ended up short, just like you, didn't he, darling?"
"Yes, but he has just your shade of pink."

Saving on Groceries

As I mentioned in this earlier post, I wanted to answer two burning, frugal questions:
Q. Can you save money by comparison shopping for groceries?
A. Yes

Q. Enough to make it worth the time and trouble?
A. See below

Today in Craftland...

... I did some work on my purse.

It's a forgiving-enough project to do whilst my carpool buddy does the driving and I watch the miles roll by.  So I didn't finish it--I'll save that for when I'm riding back to work on Wednesday--I just did some hand-sewing to set me up for what finishing it off..

And I washed jars and lids....

.... so I could make some of these to sell at the May 31st Craft Fair.

Tune in on Monday for the Virtual Art Show of Upcycled Art!  Thanks for stopping by!

Good Friday Wishes

What today means to me:  Yes, there is such a thing as Love without limits.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Health Log Experiment Update

Here are the results of my health log experiment.  As I posted here, on January 28 I started keeping track daily of some basic health items such as my minutes of vigorous exercise, my minutes of low impact exercise, the number of times I ate sweets, when I went to bed, and my weight.

Scientifically speaking, this was a lousy experiment.

There wasn't a control group.  And I was trying to measure too many things at the same time.

But I learned some things anyway.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

DIY Sweater Dress

So warm and comfortable!

The photos after the jump show how to turn this:

into this....

 But first, some tips:
  • Sweaters don’t come unraveled the minute you cut them.  Good news for this project!
  • Unlike more typical fabric like cotton, you cannot gather fabric or fudge mistakes very well.  You can stretch sweater fabric more easily, but then you get bumpy seams.  Ergo your measurements must be careful and you can’t sew one  piece to a slightly bigger or small piece!
  • Design your dress to take advantage of finished edges of your sweaters.  Hemming isn’t possible.  Your only option would be to finish an edge with your serger, which isn’t going to look as nice.
  • Check for stains and tears before you measure and plan.  Problem bits of fabric can be planned around.
  • Choose your serger settings carefully.   This will reduce the bumpiness of your seams.
  • Do NOT tug, pull, or stretch the fabric as you feed it into the machine!  Your seams will not lie flat.  They will resemble hills, or even mountains!
  • Like jersey (T-shirt material), sweaters have some give.  I should have taken more advantage of this and made a narrower waist.
Feel free to ask questions in the comments!  (This isn't a tutorial--although I have some nice, step-by-step tutorials elsewhere on the blog.  Start at the gallery page.)

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Keyboard Update :)

For some reason, my fingers wear away the letters on this keyboard.  Not all keyboards.  Just this ergonomic one.

This drives my husband nuts, and rather than buy a new keyboard, he fixed the problem.  (His monitor gave up the ghost, so when he had to use my computer for a day or so until he got a "new" Craigslist monitor, he promptly called for a silver Sharpie and clear fingernail polish.)

Tomorrow I hope to post more frugal fun--a dress made of sweaters. :)

(And I'm going to dust off my keyboard!)

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Weekly Round-Up

This week I....
... celebrated with many dear friends the occasion of Andy and Ann's darling baby boy, Simon

... marveled as my husband built a plant shelf/book case from start to finish (including design!) in less than a day.  He is AMAZING!

... rejoiced in my husband's skill with the tiller-- in this shot you see two new garden beds in the foreground and my husband tilling the old plots in the background.  (Thanks, Mom, for lending us the tiller!)

.... helped Jen and Mike move into their new house.  Welcome to the neighborhood, friends!  Afterwards a bunch of us sat on the porch and enjoyed the beautiful spring afternoon.

Friday, April 11, 2014

Stripping Is Fun!

 I used Zinsser Magic Strip Citrus-Action Gel, which apparently can actually be used indoors, according to my instructor.  Here’s before, during, and after on the inside of the lid of the piano bench:

I haven’t been writing much about my furniture re-finishing class mostly because I haven’t been snapping photos, but here’s what I’ve learned so far in the two classes I’ve taken:

1. Wear your grubby clothes to class.  (Duh….)  Plus you don’t need a pen and a notebook for taking notes!
2. Working with my hands is fun.
3. The right tools matter way more than I thought.  Even screwdrivers.  If the groove at the top of the screw is too big for the screwdriver you have in hand, getting a bigger screwdriver is much easier than boogering up the screw head with one that is too small.  (Tom, a fellow student, solemnly explained that “boogering up” is the correct technical term. No joke.)
4. Stripping varnish is messy and sticky, and it gets everywhere.
5. Starting with a free piece that isn’t an heirloom was a really good idea.
6. Like sewing, not being careful or picky in the beginning follows you all the way through the project.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

The Font of the Baskervilles...

Fonts are surprisingly controversial.  I’m serious.  Baskerville was once a controversial font…
"Mrs. Baskerville had been married before, and it was not happy tale.  At the age of 16 she wed one Richard Eaves, with whom she bore five children, before he deserted her.  She was then working as John Baskerville's live-in housekeeper -- and later became his lover.  But she was unable to wed Baskerville until Eave's death in 1764 and it may be that some of the society disapproval of Baskerville's work was fired by their unorthodox relationship."  However, in 1996, there is a font named Mrs. Eaves in her honor.  Mrs. Eaves is also the pseudonym of a young woman from Australia who likes to write all over herself with a black marker and post to the resulting videos on YouTube (107-108).

~ From Just My Type:A Book about Fonts by Simon Garfield.

Fun House

This link is to an article on a cool, fun owner-built house in Thailand.   While, yes, it would be more expensive to build it in the U.S., I'm mostly jazzed by how pretty it is.  DIY and frugal doesn't have to be ugly!

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

How Does Your Garden Grow?

To get ready for spring, I....
… snapped this shot of the Magician knocking the excess mortar off of some of the free concrete block I picked up awhile ago.  Re-purposing is often time-consuming…. But as My Beloved told the neighbor who laughingly advised us that bomb shelters are so 1950s, we have probably $300 of concrete that we got for free.  And the manual labor is actually rather satisfying.

… finished planning the garden.  I found a 2014 calendar with big squares and wrote out dates for everything we are going to plant, e.g. “start tomatoes inside,” “plant lettuce batch #1 outside,” “Transplant leeks” etc.  Every little square is planned and plotted. (When I say square, I mean square.  We do square foot gardening, a system designed by an engineer and introduced to me by my engineer-father.  Highly recommended.  Here's a link to the book if you can't find it at your library.)

… started leeks, oregano, and thyme seeds indoors.  (The leeks should have been started in February...)

… my husband weeded the strawberry patch while I worked on stripped varnish off of an old piano bench.  More on that later….
What are you doing to get ready for spring?

Monday, April 7, 2014

DIY Plastic Tray Mirror Tutorial

The first plastic tray mirror I made turned into one of my all time favorite pieces. 

Yes, those tiny beads are pearls.  Presumably not real ones
since they were in a big box of plastic beads at an auction!
Here’s my second one, the subject of this tutorial:
This mirror keeps the party in party tray!
Curious as to how I did it?  The tutorial starts after the jump

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Weekly Round-Up... Mostly Art

This Week I
… discovered when the weather was colder that the draft blockers really made a difference.  More so than I expected, actually.
 ... set up for the art exhibit in Beatrice and was interviewed by journalist  for a piece in the local paper.  I'm taking my mom, sister, and some friends down to see it on April 13, and I'm really excited!

... went to the annual art show at Mahoney State Park with Mom, Rachel, and Rachel's darling mother-in-law Mary, who is just a joy. 
With my sister Rachel
This artist did amazingly intricate work in wood:

I bought Mom a scent-dispenser from this potter.  You put essential oils in it and they gradually disseminate through the air, even with the cork in.  Here's their website.  They were really nice people, and they mentioned some artist co-op galleries in Omaha that I'm going to have to check out.
This artist was my favorite:
She is half a full-time husband and wife artist team from Neola, Iowa.  She had a huge range, everything from realistic woodland paintings to dancing snowmen.  Her website is here.