Wednesday, January 22, 2020

field of dreams

One of my New Year's resolutions was to become incredibly organized, and so far, I think it's going pretty well.  It's especially apparent in my crafting.  No more casting about for a project to work on, feeling overwhelmed by the options.  I now have a tidy list of ideas, just waiting to be brought to life.  If I'm sitting, my hands are busy,  I've just finished a poncho that I started over Christmas vacation.  I had several skeins of a very nice worsted-weight yarn (Shelter).  Not quite enough for a sweater, and I didn't want to make yet another hat.  A poncho seemed like a good idea.

I love how it knitted up, and new skill learned:  jogless stripes.


The neck can easily come up over the nose in cold weather, and the poncho itself is about halfway to the elbow, length-wise.  It's very warm and I'm pretty pleased to have finished it in 2 1/2 weeks, a real accomplishment for a slow knitter like me.


I've also started a  new pair of fingerless gloves, having noticed, when unpacking, that my supply has become pretty meager.

Upstairs, I've pulled out my stash of cheerful yellow scraps and fat quarters...


...and am trying to crank out one, maybe two log cabin squares per day.


When I have the space to work, I mean.  Sometimes my workspace is compromised.


It's a good time of year for textile work, because it's finally turned fairly cold.  Skies have been spitting snow, but with no real accumulation...


...but the ponds have stayed frozen.


Claudia was moved to the garage and kept warm with a space heater, while our inside cats...well...they do a pretty good job of conserving heat/energy.


This is my favorite time of year for paperwhites.  I start a new bulb every couple of weeks in any small container that I can find...egg cup, small vase, shallow tea cup.  It always works, and it's nice to see some green during this grey month.


We still have lots of colorful birds at the feeders...


...and poking around beneath, like this white-throated sparrow with a bright splash of yellow - one of my favorite winter colors - on his face.


Of course, this is my favorite face to see in the winter!  💘


We've started making plans for the front field...compost and plowing this spring, adding a small greenhouse or large potting shed, laying out paths, and flowers flowers flowers.  I've ordered my soil, vermiculite, and peat moss for winter sowing, but I sliced my finger pretty badly on a microplane zester yesterday and, having put off my tetanus booster yet again, have to wait for the cut to heal before plunging my hands into the dirt.  I'm hoping to start seeds by next week!

Here is the sun rising last week over the aforementioned field.  It's the view from my home office window and I'm so excited to fill it with flowers soon.


Have a great week!

Tuesday, January 14, 2020

green weeds and kitten feeds

The starlings are still out and about...


...but we haven't gotten to see that beautiful iridescent sheen from their feathers much, because it's been pretty rainy and overcast for the past week.  The back pond filled up pretty quickly and is now between 12 - 15 feet deep!


(That's our red barn on the hill overlooking the pond!)


Borga likes getting out to see the progress...


...but hates the inevitable bath that follows.


Those fields are very muddy, and Todd and I are already talking about laying mulch trails down to the pond this year.  We're also going to be laying down paths from the house to the barn, and from the barn to the future chicken coop area.  I'm excited to see how things will look in just 6 months!

Meanwhile, our outdoor cats are staying relatively dry by hanging out on the front porch.  I'm sure the automatic feeder is a big draw, too!


See how tame Leonidas has become?  He was so skittish, and now he's downright cuddly.  Unfortunately, he occasionally sprays to mark his territory, and I can't figure out where his main marking area is.  Setting up the trail camera will help so we can treat the spot and take preventative action.  But it's hard to stay angry with this face!


One other issue with the warm temperatures and frequent rain...WEEDS.  The garden was nearly completely cleared, and now weeds are growing and spreading like crazy!


I spend DAYS pulling this "false mint" weed up last spring and am seriously annoyed that it's gotten such a foothold in these mild temperatures, but I guess I can pull it  up again this spring.  I may have a problem with the evening primrose I planted last year, too.  It's spreading insanely fast this winter and volunteers are coming up all over.  Oh, well, that's a problem for another day!

I've been working on some sewing projects...with a little bit of help, of course!


I made my first yellow and white log cabin square this week.  It's made with scraps, and I've got a special ruler that allows me to use any piece, as long as it's over 1.25", and still square everything up to the exact same width.


See?


It doesn't look too exciting on its own, but I'm hoping it will make a nice impact when I have a few squares to put together.  I love yellow so I'm really interested to see how this will turn out!

I also made a tiny pincushion for practice.  I still struggle with color choices, so I'm hoping that working out some samples on smaller projects will be helpful.  I'm not too pleased with this one, so I'm going to try some other combinations later (hole in top where I pushed in the stuffing not yet sewn up in this photo!). 


During these sleepy days of mid-winter...


...I'm hoping to get a lot more done.

Have a great week!

Tuesday, January 7, 2020

(log) cabin fever

One of my New Year's resolutions is to start incorporating fun traditions that were conceived earlier, but have fallen by the wayside amidst our constant upheaval over the past 4 years.  I love the idea of celebrating the little things, so I've devised a fairly lengthy list of ways to do that, and tamed it with meticulous scheduling in my day planner.  Here's the first one:  welcoming the weekend with homemade Danish every Saturday morning.  I've made sweet bread before, but not for a long time.  The bread recipe came from Smitten Kitchen, and I modified the Sally's Baking Addiction Iced Raspberry Danish filling recipe to use blackberries (taste preference), a bit more cornstarch (texture preference), and a sweet cream cheese layer.  Made late Friday night and photographed hurriedly with my cell phone (which explains the dough color difference), it came together fairly easily.



The resulting bread was lightly sweetened and very soft, with a to-die-for fruit filling reminiscent of my favorite pie.  I sliced it up and froze the servings.  One braid is enough for a month's worth of Saturday morning treats!


As Todd and I clinked glasses and savored our slices the next morning, I knew that I was on to something.  I can't wait for the rest of our traditions to roll around!

I've been outside quite a bit this week.  We've been having atypical weather for January - temperatures in the 40s/50s and sunny.


It's still frosty in the morning shade, but quite warm by midday.


Everything in my garden is starting to come up - eek!  And it's going to continue this week, with rain and temperatures into the 60s.



Normally I'd be a bit grumpy - I LOVE winter - but these temperatures are definitely good for our outdoor cats.


I love seeing birds like European Starlings in the sunshine, too.  In the shade, they're fairly unremarkable:


But they light up in the sun!


I've been working on several projects indoors, including a new quilt.  I didn't intend to start this particular quilt with this particular fabric.  I just made a test square and kept going.  The pattern is Scrappy Granny from Quilty Love:


I like blues and reds in quilts, but decided to go with something a little more muted (and use up fabric that I already had!), so I tried some squares with Victoria by Moda (photo by Missouri Star Quilt Company).


I put together about 15 squares, or half the quilt, before going back to check the original pattern.  Whoops!  It's constructed incorrectly.  Here are my squares, just sewn in a row:


And here is the proper way to sew them - on the diagonal, and trimmed into a square.  ARGH!!!


If I add strips of white around my squares, I can still salvage the quilt, but I'm a bit grumpy about it.  I just bought a Log Cabin ruler and am dying to get started on this scrappy quilt.  Isn't it cheerful?

(photo by Felicia's World)

I have several other ideas in the works, so it's a bit of a slog to work on something that is not going to end up looking like I'd hoped.  I may end up turning it into a summer 'couch throw' or even a wall hanging instead of a larger quilt and take it as a lesson learned.  Just like all of my elementary school report cards said, "Jaime does not listen or follow directions well."  Sigh - don't I know it! 

I've been distracting myself from my quilting fail with a little knitting and, of course, puzzles.  They're so fun that everyone wants to get in on the act.


Have a great week!

Wednesday, January 1, 2020

all the light we cannot see

Happy New Year!  I've been going through some photos of our recent trip to Oregon.  Normally, I cart along the nice camera with the heavy interchangeable lenses, but since we were trying to pack really light, I just used my iPhone for pictures.  The quality isn't great, but convenience wins out this time. 

We hit our usual spots, like the coast.






We saw beautiful lakes...


...and mountains.


The heavy rainfall and moderate temperatures mean a whole lot of green. 



Huge piles of oyster shells...



...and several paper manufacturing plants, both active...


...and defunct.


Our destinations changed, but one thing that reminded constant was how the frequently overcast skies affected the diffused light.  It was so beautiful!  We had some dramatic threatening skies:



Amazing fog:


(yes, those are brake lights!)


And even some sun!


We had a great trip, but it was good to get home and see our cats.  The only missing face around here is our dear Claudia...our exterior feeder got jammed while we were away and wasn't properly dispensing food.  I embroidered a Claudia ornament for Christmas this year...see the mouse in her mouth?


Hopefully she'll make her way back her soon...and hopefully I can get back on my regular sleep schedule again.  I don't feel like I've cobbled together more than a few hours at a time in quite a while, but I think I'll fall into the normal rhythm of it soon enough.

Have a great week!