Sunday, December 25, 2016

Merry Christmas

Hal and I, my younger sister (YS) and her significant other (SO) had a pretty great day today. We started with some Pillsbury danish for breakfast, orange and cinnamon, coffee and tea. Then YS and I brought out the stockings and mine was quite the surprise as SO had his mom knit me a new stocking to replace the one that one of my aunts made me when I was a baby. I now have a stocking bigger than Hal's which is very large indeed as it was the first one I ever knitted modelling it on my old one. All I have made since are 20 stitches narrower.

Then we opened the presents under the tree. The tree with presents photos are still in my camera, for now here are the empty tree photos.
No flash

with flash
YS mostly decorated it for me. I usually leave it till she arrives. Call me lazy but I thought it looked great with just the lights and garland.

Dinner was made by SO, a venison tenderloin experiment using bitter chocolate whisked into the au jus. Mashed potatoes mashed with leeks and my green beans made with garlic and oyster sauce.  And dang it! I just remembered we forgot to cook the rolls!

Now we are watching a DVD of Led Zeppelin, Celebration Day. Then we will have chocolate cream pie for dessert.

Yes, a pretty good time. And so did the dogs. Lots of goodies for them, too.

Saturday, December 24, 2016

A Few Dogs

I have been ignoring my blog, so here's a photo of dogs taken with my "new" used Panasonic ZS50. Ziggy is the little black one, Luna is the yellow one on the left, and Lyra, visiting from Massachusetts is the creamy one in the back. I think they are enjoying the snow.

Saturday, November 5, 2016

My Dripping Diamonds Shawl

I figured as I finished it in record time for me, a couple weeks ago, in fact, I ought to post the photos.

Here it is unblocked.

Here it is on the blocking boards using my new blocking wires purchased from Knit Picks through Amazon.
And here it is out in the swamp on my shawl tree.
I think it came out rather well. 

Friday, October 21, 2016

Been Making Shawl

And I finished last night. Haven't taken a new photo, of course, but here is what it looked like shortly after I started last month, which was about halfway through. The pattern is called Dripping Diamonds.
I used just over 2 skeins of Patons Lace in the Bonfire colorway. So it's more than 1000 yards of yarn. I also beaded the last row with small orange beads. Probably should have used larger ones. Now I just have to block it.

Monday, October 17, 2016

A Quilt for my First Grand Niece

I gave it to her and her dad Saturday after a little birthday party when they stopped at Hal's parent
s home on their way through town. I couldn't mention it till now on my blog the very, very slim chance someone from Hal's family actually read my blog, saw it and spilled the beans. But now it's safe. I used 99% new fabrics, a few I had laying around used in other quilts. Only 2 squares have fabrics used in clothing I made, two aprons last year.

This is one of the many variations of a star square. I used the quilt as you go method, in other words I made each square separately with the batting and backing (in this case flannel) which I then quilted and then stitched together with narrow strips. This is the second time I tried this method, it went a little better than the first time.

I did not do the traditional method of quilt making, i.e. make the whole top in one piece, then the sandwich and then the quilting because I discovered flannel is very stretchy and would bunch and pinch and roll and do horrid things because I just couldn't pin it tight enough so it would not move. It didn't help that I used a fluffier batting than I usually use which made the bunching even worse.

Here it is, very colorful because I have read babies like primary colors. There are twenty 10.5" squares total.

I found 2 coordinating flannel prints that I thought would be great from the back as the family has a golden retriever called Henry who is very much a part of the family. Here is a closeup of the back.

I like it so much I'd like to make a colorful quilt for myself someday.

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

A Few More Photos from Tower Hill

Henna coleus
I wouldn't mind getting some of this coleus for my garden
 They call this area the Court. That is my older sister way back there on the left.
garter snake
 A denizen of the gardens
young pine cone
 Lots of pines out there.
 I think this is part of the Lawn Garden
 This was definitely out in the Lawn Garden, I love that yellow green tree in the back
 The turtle fountain as seen through some of the fox tails
The turtle fountain in the rain. This is part of the Winter Garden.

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

2016 Alcona County Fair Results

I entered 8 items in the county fair this year, 2 quilted items, 3 sewn garments and 3 crocheted items.

For quilts I made a table runner to go with some place-mats I made for my friend. It took 2nd in "Other Quilted Items". I entered a small quilt (a future gift). I wasn't planning to enter any quilt. I know neither this one nor the other one I made so far this year could take first, and indeed, it came in 3rd.

In the garment section I entered the denim skirt I made last summer and did not enter last year because I entered a different skirt. It took first. (last year, too)
Then I entered the gingham flannel shirt I made at the end of winter this year and the green seersucker top I started 2 summers ago and got stuck on because I gained weight since I bought the pattern and forgot to take that into account. It only took 2 years to try again, I added gussets. The same kind I added to the flannel shirt because that too, was too small a pattern. The green seersucker took 2nd and the flannel shirt 1st. They were in competition with each other.

My hat took first in crocheted hats.
My little market bag only took 3rd in the category "Other Crocheted Items".
My shawl took first in crochet shawls AND Best in Category for all crocheted items. I have never won a ribbon like that before.

I never got to the fair during the week after I dropped my items off, but one of the women working there said they had a good turnout of entries so I wasn't only competing with myself. Makes taking first place a little more special.

Presenting my haul.

 Not bad I'd say.

Tower Hill Botanic Garden

In June I went back to Massachusetts with both dogs. Stayed with younger sister again and visited with her and my older sister for 2 weeks. One of the things the 3 of us did together was visit Tower Hill Botanic Garden in Boylston just a hop, skip and a jump from where we grew up in Worcester. I'd never been there before because it didn't exist till 1986 and I had left in 1981.

It was a warm day with a short fast storm in the middle but I managed to take a lot of photos. Unfortunately my photo taking techniques were very rusty so for some bizarre reason I upped the aperture 1/3 instead of down 1/3 so I have a lot of photos with blown hgh lights. Still, here are some of the better ones. It was a nice day.
courtyard entrance
near parking lot
 I would love some of these poppies.
grape poppy
I wish the turtle fountain was turned on. Don't know why it wasn't unless there were some sort of water restrictions, there might have been. Oddly, there was a cloud burst in the middle of our visit.
Turtle fountain
large succulent near the turtle fountain pool
another pool
tall water fountain
cool unknown flower. a lot of plants seemed to be missing tags
Hope to go there again someday.

We Did Move that Table

Back in April I showed pictures of the plan to move the dining table into the kitchen assuming the temporary table sized obstacle did not prove to be annoying. After a week or so, we did it. Moved it with help from one of Hal's brothers.

It's been in the kitchen since May 8th and I have not regretted it. That is a very good thing as Hal is not interested in moving it again. It's heavy.

Sunday, August 28, 2016

Disaster Averted!

Met this guy on the morning walk in the woods today. The dogs were behind me poking about another area. I tried to snap a few shots with the FZ40 camera I had borrowed from a neighbor, not knowing it's idiosyncrasies quite yet and only managed to get a couple half decent shots.
When the dogs trotted out on the opposite side and saw the porcupine my stomach plummeted but I yelled "STOP, leave it," and other similar commands and they LEFT IT ALONE. Can't believe Ziggy listened when it counted, for once. Good dogs!

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Skunked Again!

Barely 1/3 of a mile into our morning walk Ziggy come barreling past me, leaping a downed tree and within 30 seconds the pungent smell of skunk wafted to my nostrils. Yes, Ziggy has for the second time in his life attempted to play with a skunk. At least he didn't take if full force into his mouth, it seemed to be a glancing blow. I cut the walk short there and we went home with Ziggy rolling in leaves, dirt, weeds, every few seconds trying to get rid of the smell.

I gathered the bucket, hydrogen peroxide, baking soda, Dawn dish-washing liquid and a little lemon juice which isn't in the traditional recipe but I think it helps. So Ziggy is freshly washed, unhappy though that made him. And now he is drying outside, also unhappy that I won't let him back into the house yet.

At least this time I remembered to wear rubber gloves.

And Luna, smart girl, stayed out of trouble.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

It's a Hat!

I've been very busy all summer. And it's been a hell of a hot one up here. Many days in the 90's, high humidity, and then a weeks long drought that took it's toll on the farmers in the whole state as well as many of my plants. Then there was the deer in the vegetable garden that has essentially killed any chance at decent home grown vegetables this year. Not that I've had many bumper crops in the past, but this has been the worst. But that's for another post assuming I get back to making them. In the meantime:

It's a hat!

This hat is a gift for a SIL and since very few people check my blog at all, I am sure it will be a total surprise when I give it to her. I also took it and 7 other items, both crochet and sewn, to the county fair this week. This shawl is one of them, it's called Leafing Out by designer, Vicki Mikulak at ravelry,com. It's made with Red Heart Unforgettable in the Springtime colorway. This shows it unblocked and with the ends still hanging off of it. I don't expect to win with it as it's pretty simple and the judges don't seem to be fond of variegated yarn, but we'll see when I pick them back up this weekend.

But for now, back to work.

Thursday, July 7, 2016

Deer Ate My Garden

Living here 16 years I have had very little damage to my gardens by deer. Even with only a 30" high fence around the one next to the driveway, it wasn't bothered. But last month I decided to take my 2 dogs on a 2 week trip to Massachusetts to visit my sisters and my best friend. In that time I was away, approximately 18 days, at least one deer decided veggies are tasty.

Since I have been home I fertilized the remnants and have been watering every day as it is extremely hot and dry here. Hal did water a couple times while I was gone which allowed things to survive, but he is not as good a deer deterrent as my dogs apparently are.

There will be no snow peas this year. What should have been 4-6 foot high plants are now about 6 inches tall, all the leaves and even vines eaten. The green beans, which were eaten down to stems are regrowing leaves. So are the zucchini, the 3 hills that I have left out of 6 anyway. Forget about the cucumbers, there is one that must have sprouted late and made it through the devastation but it is barely a week old.
Green beans with a week's new growth
Zucchini plants with new leaves and many stems
And apparently my veggie garden which is outside the dogs' electric fence and not visible from the house was not the only place the deer visited. Yesterday I discovered the deer came into the front yard and ate all the leaves off the nicest hosta in the yard. This plant is only about 20 feet from my front door. I don't think there is anything I can do for it.
But I will not be totally thwarted. I have a plan!

Monday, May 30, 2016

Photos from Christmas 2015 and Early 2016

I have been so busy I haven't been posting. I know I play too many Facebook games and am trying to wean myself off those. I get so much more done not wasting time doing stupid things!

While looking at my photos I and past blog posts I realized I haven't posted any of the dogs during the holidays or really any other time. So, here are a few from then and later in January.
The Christmas tree
I had bought Luna a nice Serta dog bed from Sam's Club because it was a great deal, it has great cushioning for the arthritic older dog, and also cooling gel. I should have bought 2 because Ziggy decided he wanted it for himself.

My wonderful sister-in-law, Hal's sister, went and got me another at a different SC, when the first store no longer had any. Now they are content.
 Although, occasionally, Ziggy still wants to be wherever Luna is. Especially if she is eating something.

 Lyra came to visit at Christmas, of course.
  Ziggy snoozing happily on his bed.
For some reason I can't remember, Luna panicked Christmas morning and just had to climb onto my lap to be rescued. Poor thing is such a nervous Nellie!
Luna in my lap

Monday, May 16, 2016

Was Cold Again, but No Longer

The weekend turned cold. One night it dropped to 32.5, no idea about last night, but cold, I had to turn the heat up in the house this morning, it had dropped to 66, haven't had to do that in a couple of weeks. But spring is here for the most part though things are behind the schedule by a couple of weeks. Even the trees are late leafing out. Usually by the 15th the maples have leaves about half the final size, not this year. This year they are barely a half inch across. I keep thinking perhaps the Earth has shifted on its axis a bit, but it's probably only the fault of El Nino.

But now it's almost 1 pm, the rain showers have stopped and it's a lovely 61 F outside. The pups will want their second walk soon, so I'd better sign off for now.

Monday, April 18, 2016

It's Suddenly Summer!

Saturday the temperature outside reached 70.5, a nice change from all those 30s at the beginning of April with all that snow. Sunday it reached 80.9. Now that is not too unusual, there is often a spike this early in spring. Today it's currently 83.3. It's too dang hot, we're not used to it yet, even the poor dogs still have their winter coats. But as it's too hot to cook indoors I'm smoking some Atlantic salmon on the back deck. Salmon in the cold oven and smoke in the other, wafting over through duct work. Looking forward to having it tonight with a nice bottle of white wine. Perhaps I'll even take a picture. It's our first smoking session this year.

Friday, April 15, 2016

Yet Another Furniture Re-Arrangement

Now this unseasonably cold, snowy spring weather had been getting me down and as it's been very gloomy outside and my house is not well lit, I was antsy to do something to make me happier. So I started re-arranging the contents of my kitchen cabinets yet again. Then I had what became a brilliant idea after a little discussion with Hal.

I once thought about taking out the kitchen island but and putting the table there but we use it every fall for deer processing, that tile top is pretty easy to clean. Plus it held a lot of my kitchen supplies inside: oversize pans, extra slow cookers, etc. I'd hate to lose that storage.

But because it was so big, the 7 foot long cherry dining table did not fit in the dining area where it was stuffed into a corner between the massive fireplace, kitchen island and living room furniture. So a few years earlier we moved the table into the loft.

But what if we swapped the two?

So we moved the kitchen island into the dining area. It has now become a "bar" and the small table that was against the wall and being used as my sewing table until I moved back into the loft a few months ago has been moved into the kitchen in the island's place.

During cabinet re-arrangement and prior to moving furniture
Island placed where dining table used to be
Now I have no intention of leaving this small table in the kitchen. I placed 2 of my dining room chairs in a position that simulates the length of my 7 foot long dining table so we could get a feel of what it would be like to walk around such a large object. So far so good. When we first built the island the dining table used to be in the dining area but everything felt too big, the table just didn't fit the dining space. The location of the glass doors and fireplace just made walking around it awkward, plus we didn't really use it. As a farm table in the kitchen it just makes more sense. For instance, rolling out pie crust dough is easier on a lower surface. Also, because it's a table and not a big block of wood you can't see through, it's more pleasing visually and makes the room feel larger. The island in the corner isn't really blocking your view of the surrounding space.
new position
One other thing I am doing which you can't see in these photos is replacing some of the curly bulbs, those compact florescents, with LED daylight bulbs. Even the 60 watt equivalents blast out more light. The difference is incredible, and those CF bulbs blow out a lot more often than they advertise. The "60"s are putting out 815 lumens and a nice white light and have become fairly cheap, down to $4.97 at Home Depot. The 100 watt equivalents are still very pricey, around $18. I bought one 75 which cost $12 and because the actual wattage is much less than a 60 watt, somewhere around 10 or so, I was able to put it in my old goose-neck desk lamp up in my sewing room. Now I just need to figure out what to replace the overhead T12 florescent tube fixtures in the kitchen with.

In the meantime, Luna seems to be enjoying the new arrangement.
Luna seems to approve
Edited for clarity.

The Snow Storm Fizzled and Spring Came Back

So that 3-5 inch storm sort of moved around us. Alpena got a couple of inches, Detroit got more than they were expecting while we got a mere half inch, with a little ice. Color me happy! And finally in the last couple of days temperatures have come back to normal for mid April. Fifty three yesterday, should be a little higher today and high 60s by the weekend with 70s possibly which is higher than normal but hey, I'm not complaining.
The snow that did get dumped on us happened right as my crocuses were about to bloom and I figured they were toast. But they are stronger than they appear and have emerged triumphant!
Stay tuned for daffodils!