Saturday, January 31, 2015

Weekly Round-Up

This week I.....

.... did some modeling for art.

Here's me back in 1912:

It was a Downton Abbey Tea/fundraiser for the Lincoln Choral Artists, and I volunteered to model as part of a little fashion show they had amid cucumber sandwiches, scones, and some AMAZING singing.  The outfit came complete with hat, scarf, gloves, cameo necklace---and petticoat.  It had a series of tiny hook-and-eyes in the back that pretty much told the world that madam had a lady's maid.  The dress was from an estate in here in Lincoln in the Sheridan area.

... had tea with Aunt Monica.
... worked on not one but two freelance writing projects.  I actually had to turn one down that sounded interesting, but if I get overbooked I can't do my best work so.....

And now I'm home sick, trying to write, hoping it's not strep throat, and wishing I was hanging out with my friend Elizabeth making art.

Friday, January 30, 2015

Light and Destruction..... Or DIY table lamp from a standing lamp

This past weekend Belovedest and I updated the lighting in the living room.

He is constructive.

He took down the ceiling fan and put up a light fixture.

Next, he turned one of these:

into one of these.
by taking out these sections of the lamp:
This involved cutting and splicing the wire.

(Next up: painting.)

She is destructive:

I took apart the ceiling fan to add to my sell-as-scrap-metal pile, which was a lot of fun.
Note the box on the right full of metal bits.  There was a fair bit of copper in the motor :)
I'll have to post a picture of the new light fixture....

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Herb Garden Medicine

I used aloe on a cut a few weeks ago.

I cut a leaf that looked like it was dying anyway and squeezed some of the goo onto the cut.  It didn't sting and it seemed to kick-start the healing process.

Medicine from the window sill and an easy-to-grow plant = a good deal.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Yesterday's Mail

It was a good mail day yesterday....

We got our seed packets from Seed Savers and I got a packet of Christmas cards from a total stranger in Arizona.  As Shakespeare put it in Merchant of Venice: "So shines a good deed in a naughty world." It really warmed my heart that someone would be so kind just to be kind.

So here's to kindness, art, and gardening!  
Let's go make the world beautiful!

Monday, January 26, 2015

Life Hack #10: How much does _________ cost me a year?

I wanted to find out the cost of contacts versus glasses by figuring out how long one bottle of contact solution lasts, but you could apply this method to everything from cereal to sticky notes.  Just write the date on the item when you start using it, and then note how long you used it when you threw it away.

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Weekly Round Up

This week I....

... joined a book club
.... watched my husband make a YouTube video for Charlemagne Beard Oil.  (The green screen was still drying from being steamed--he didn't use it that way!)  It was a ton of work but he learn a lot.  You can check out the finished result here.

.... set up the desk in the bedroom with stuff for making Alex's book.  I am determined to finish that thing!
...realized that with three freelance writing projects happening at the same time, the blog is going to get neglected....
.... stopped by Out of the Box to check out my friend Evert's glass art.

Hope everyone has a great weekend!

Thursday, January 22, 2015

It begins!

Yesterday we started planning for our 2015 garden!

We are using a lot of left over seeds from last year.  We'd stored them in the fridge, but not in a air-tight container, which I discovered yesterday was what we were supposed to do.  We're starting enough seeds indoors, though, that we will know pretty quickly if we need a Plan B.  I hope.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Candle Quotes

Some quotes from Betty Oppenheimer’s The Candlemaker's Companion: A Complete Guide to Rolling, Pouring, Dipping, and Decorating Your Own Candles.  

Reading the book, it was very clear that the author doesn't just have a hobby, or even a business – she has an obsession.  Ergo, the book is thorough and meticulous.  Since I fall in the category of crafters who don't like to buy things and enjoy the challenge of making do with what we already have on hand, there wasn't much I could use in the book.  But if I ever decid to get into candle hot and heavy, I would head straight for this text.

And now, the quotes:

In the Middle Ages, Church donations could be made in the form of wax, known as wax-shot or wax-scot (p.7)

Formal candle maker guilds were in place by the 13th century, and the candle makers in them were  separated into tallow chandlers (those who made candles from animal fats) and wax chandlers (those who make candles from beeswax). In fact, the Paris tax rolls in 1292 listed some 71 chandlers (p. 8).

In the days of old, beeswax was mixed with a lead compound and used as a base make-up by wealthy women to enhance their beauty.  The women kept this white paste dry in the summer months by shielding the face from the sun with a fan.  This way, the ladies could “save face.”   Of course, they were careful never to express mirth so they would not “crack a smile.”   And women who poked their noses into other peope’s business were told to “mind their own beeswax” (p 26).

“How far that little candle throws his beams!  So shines a good deed in a naughty world!”
~William Shakespeare, Merchant of Venice.

“There are two ways of spreading light; to be the candle of the mirror that reflects it.”
~ Edith Wharton, Vesalius in Zante

Hope, like the gleaming taper’s light,
Adorns and cheers our way;
And still, as darker grows the night,
Emits a brighter ray.
~Oliver Goldsmith, The Captivity: An Oratorio

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Book Bag

The last time I was sick Belovedest picked out library books for me.  He used his Master's in Library Science skills to do some research, I think, and it was really sweet of him to make the effort to find books he thought I would like.

Much Ado About Murder
Short story mysteries with a Shakespearean twist.  I didn't get all the way through these before the book had to go back (and so did I--to school) but I really liked the variety.  They feature a bunch of different authors and many approaches to adding the Shakespeare twist. In some, Shakespeare is a character.  In others, Shakespeare's character take the stage again.  Some actually take place within an actual Shakespeare play.  Very clever!

Murder, She Wrote: Death of a Blue Blood
Thin gruel.  The depth and complexity I'm used to with Agatha Christie or Ngiao March is entirely missing.  I kept thinking--why isn't this working?  What is missing? The plot is clever, the characters interesting, there's description.... it just didn't work.

Queen of Hearts (A Royal Spyness Mystery)
My husband picked this one because it was supposed to be for Downton Abbey fans in the off season.  While I didn't connect it that closely with the PBS series, I liked the lively and engaging characters and the twists and turns of the plot.  And, call me old-fashioned, but I like that while every other character seemed to be sleeping around, at least the main character didn't. I want to read more of these.

Stealing the Mystic Lamb: The True Story of the World's Most Coveted Masterpiece
Look, ma, non-fiction!  This book tells the fascinating history of the world's most stolen piece of art, and in the process, quite a bit about the practice of art theft particularly from conquering armies.  The pacing is uneven, but hey, it's history and sometimes nothing happens for a couple hundred years.  I enjoyed it and would recommend it. The ending is a suspenseful race against time and against incredible odds.  There's quite a bit about the Monument Men in there.  The book really made me think about the incredibly difficult choices people have to make when their country is being occupied and they have no idea how long it will last.

I'm currently slogging through War and Peace.  It may be awhile before I post about books again!

If you pick up any of these, please let me know how you enjoyed them.

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Sunday Thoughts: Listening

“Speak, for your servant is listening.”
-- 1 Samuel 3

I'm not saying I do a very good job of this, but it does seem like an excellent idea!

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Are you blog famous?

Here are some photos I didn't get around to posting because I was still fighting with my Mac.
Whenever I think I've struck a truce with that computer, 
I find something else that I have to work around....


Friday, January 16, 2015

Five Options for Embellishing Fabric

From top to bottom- fabric marker, bleach pen, glue resist, and fabric markers.
From top to bottom - plain, plastic resist, sewing, glue resist
Remember the Golden Rule of Experimentation: Test on Scrap Fabric First!  These examples were all on T-shirt fabric also known as stretchy cotton jersey.

Fabric Markers

I won a $20 Amazon Gift Card from Wise in their Ask the Readers contest so I spent it on something fun: Fabric Markers!

I deliberately picked a project that isn’t going to get subjected to frequent washing and that didn’t require a lot of detail work.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Scarf Upcycled from T-Shirts

Problem: I love both my orange sunglasses and my red coat.  But they don't really match.

Solution: a red and orange scarf, all from recycled materials.

I was originally inspired by the book Sew Wild: Creating With Stitch and Mixed Media, but I didn't follow her instructions or even check out the book again when I started to work on my scarf.  Still, I wanted to give credit where credit is due, and it is a cool book if you like to sew outside the box, so to speak.

TIP: Read the whole tutorial before you start.  Trust me....

First, find a scarf that you like the length of and measure it.  I was aiming for about 60 inches long, roughly, and I decided to make it 12 inches wide, in part because I could use my 12-inch ruler to measure quickly and easily.  

Next, raid your stash old T-shirts, or hit the thrift store.  I decided to include fall colors in mine because I wanted something a little more wild and out there.  

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Don't throw away..... Old Bath Towels

We have a box of old bath towels in the basement.  They've come in handy multiple times, notably during the Great Basement Flood of 2013 and the Unfortunate Washing Machine Event of 2014.

Here's another option: Turn them into hand towels.  

They are great for drying dishes.  What isn't good enough to be on display, so to speak, in the bathroom where every visiting guest will see it can be just fine in the kitchen.  Alternatively, you can discard the one quadrant with the stain or tear in it.

I edged these with the serger, but you could also use double-fold bias-tape, a zig-zag stitch on an ordinary sewing machine, pinking shears that will make a zig-zag edge, or just cut them.  They won't last as long just cut, granted, but you'll get a little more use out of them.

Frugal and easy!

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Gratitude Jar 2014

Some large, some small-- all things to be grateful for.  Here's a sampling...

[A student] survived his surgery.

[My husband's] dad didn't die.

My 1st art show!

That we have nice neighbors.

For full rain barrels

A fun day hanging out with Anne M.

That my husband was able to fix the windows on the bug.

Geocaching on bikes!

Kayaking with Kate

Lovely flowers on the dining room table

This beautiful, warm, breezy, sunny day, reading on the sun porch.

Our seeds have become seedlings!

Monday, January 12, 2015

Board Games: Four Recent Acquisitions

I'm glad we played a lot of boardgames at our house when I was growing up.  They teach a lot of life skills:
gracious winning
gracious losing
planning ahead and general strategizing

I don't recall ever playing games based entirely on luck as a child.  Maybe Candyland.  But as soon as we were old enough, we were playing thinking games like Scrabble, Clue, and cribbage.  (In fact, my parents also did not allow any video-game style computer games at all.  If it wasn't strategic or creative, it wasn't loaded on the computer.  This is something else I'm grateful for.)

My husband and I have continued this tradition.  In fact, my husband has amassed a huge cache of games, some of which we haven't even played.  We are also blessed with game-loving friends and have spent many a fun evening laughing and talking over a gameboard.

Here are some of our recent purchases.

Castle Panic+ The Wizard's Tower expansion – This is a cooperative game, meaning all of the players win or lose together.  You are basically competing against the board.  The premise of the game is that you and the other players are in a castle in the center of the game board and your castle is being besieged by orcs, goblins, and other nasties who come out of the forest moving closer, and closer, and closer to your castle.  To win the game, you need to finish off all the monsters and still have at least one tower standing.  Players work together, planning ahead and swapping cards, to defeat the monsters.

This is a good game for mixed ages.  If you are reasonably clever, you have a good chance of winning, and adults can help the younger children.  The game is for the ages eight and up, although my seven-year-old nephew played and enjoyed it.  If you want more of a challenge, the expansion has more monsters and makes it more likely that you will lose.  The expansion, however, is pretty complicated, so I would start with the basic game before moving on to trying it out.  This game is one of our favorites.

School Starts Today....

Here we go....

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Sunday Thoughts: Generosity

I am touched by people's generosity.  I've received offers of used Christmas cards from total strangers, including a woman who is going to mail me her batch from Arizona.

Today I am grateful!  So, generosity.... how can I pass this on?

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Budget and Amazon Revenue

December Amazon revenue was $2.62.  Thanks for your purchases through the Amazon portal--each one is like a little internet hug because someone remembered us! :)

The December budget was better than the November one, when we bought my new Mac and plane tickets for Europe.  At least this month we didn't spend MORE than we brought in.  (That's what savings are for, right?)  But we didn't put any $ in savings this month, which is rare.

(Note: This blog isn't one of those "Hey, look, we're perfect!" blogs, in case you hadn't guessed!)

January should be better.  And my husband is back from Europe safely which is worth way more than money.

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Currently Reading....

This book was an impulse at the library.  I'd planned to read War and Peace (seriously!), but I saw the title and was curious....

It's about the most-stolen painting in history.  I'll let you know how I like it.

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Does Gardening Save You Money on Groceries?

This is a vexed question.  It's harder to figure out then you might think.

Here's the breakdown by food type, all listed in pounds.
tomatoes = 105
potatoes = 12
strawberries = 11
carrots = 6.7
purple beans = 4.9
chives = .4
basil = 3.4
cucumbers = 1.6
Lettuce = .9
peas = .4
leeks = .4
shallots = .17

Fresh organic tomatoes cost 2.99 a pound, meaning we grew $313.95 worth of tomatoes.
(Except we froze them.  Canned tomatoes, the closest equivalent, cost $1.58 for 16 fluid ounces, so we saved $165.90)

Monday, January 5, 2015

New Year's Resolutions

Some people don't do them.  But I figure I need them.

For one thing, this time next year I can look back and see how I did.

So, what were my resolutions for 2014?
  • Earn at least $200 from crafting/art.  (Ambitious!  I think my yearly record was $55......)
  • Earn at least $300 from freelance writing, editing, proofreading etc. (Very conservative.  I've made over $1,000 a year the last three years, but I don't have any of the big money-making projects on deck right now, and I'm letting myself focus on fun stuff for a while.)
  • Finish Alex's Alphabet Adventures book.
  • Develop a healthier relationship with money.
  • Start working on my voice acting ambitions by volunteering to record books for the blind. 
How did I do?

Sunday, January 4, 2015

Sunday Thoughts: The Magi

Epiphany is this week (January 6), when we celebrate the visit of the Magi.

So... years of travel over lousy roads. sometimes no roads at all, no idea where you are going or when you will arrive, going through foreign countries that might be dangerous or hostile--all for one visit?  Just a brief chance worship the King of Kings, leaving presents, and then never seeing Jesus again?

It makes going to church seem like not that big of a deal, even in the bitter cold and snow!

Friday, January 2, 2015

T-shirt Scarf in Fall Colors!

I just finished this... tutorial coming.... eventually!  (I promise!)

I'm really happy with how it turned out.

Thursday, January 1, 2015