Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Au Revoir, Death Star!

Boo hoo, Christmas is over!  This one was hard to wait for, because I had a couple of gifts for Todd that I was really excited about.

First, I acquired the logo on glass from his grandparents' antique store (Portland, 1970s/80s).  Todd had thought it was long gone - lost or broken.

I was a nervous wreck, waiting on this to ship from the west coast.  Thankfully it arrived in one piece, and Todd was absolutely shocked and thrilled!

The second gift was a homemade one.  I decided to make some 18" x 18" paper-pieced pillow covers for Todd...Star Wars-themed, of course.  I worked on it one weekend (one ENTIRE weekend) when he was out of town.  It was a huge job...some of the pieces were smaller than a half inch!...but I'm really pleased with the result. 

In other crafty news, I knitted a pair of gloves.  I'm on a knitting break right now, but these were made with bulky yarn and didn't take any time at all to do.  I wanted a pair of tight-fitting mittens and these are perfect!

Now I'm officially on break again!

I've been working on my Farm Girl Sampler quilt too.  I made a flying geese border with red gingham fabric.  I'm not a fan of making flying geese...especially 100+ geese.

But I think it adds a nice pop around the quilt edge.

Now all I have to do is order the batting and buy the backing.  I'm excited to get this one done!

I also had the idea, earlier this year, to quilt seasonal wall hangings.  Just small ones to switch out with the seasons, for over the fireplace.  Finding season-appropriate fabric without annoying prints is really hard, but trying to pull together prints/colors that look great on the screen but terrible when they arrive is even worse.  So, although the "autumn" hanging that I've been working on is rather contemporary...

...I like the colors.

These blocks measure 6.5" x 6.5" and obviously haven't been sewn together yet.  I still need to make 4 more and then decide if this is going to be a wall hanging or a wide runner for our table.  I'm not in any hurry so we'll just see what happens!

So although our tree is still up, and our cats are still in "holiday mode" (i.e. allowed to lounge on the forbidden couch ledge)...

...I am moving out of "CHRISTMAS!!!" and into winter.  I wish there was more of a winter here in South Carolina, but I will enjoy what we have.  Beautiful sunsets...


...and because it rarely freezes here, I can enjoy some other things that I like.

Fern spores...

Beautiful fungus...

Interesting seed pods...

...and colorful flowers and leaves.

We don't need more than a zip-up hoodie to stay warm outside, and inside, the cats take advantage of any sunbeam they can get!

Have a great week!

Monday, December 18, 2017

puzzle powers and paperwhite flowers

'Tis the season!  I've been working nonstop on puzzles when not working almost non-stop at my regular job.  I've taken a break from working on my quilt and other crafty things and I'm flying through puzzles.  As a rule, I only do 1000 piece puzzles...

...although I finished a 300 piece puzzle in the time it took Todd to eat supper the other night!  I'm a total addict.  It's so relaxing.  I have done one other short and quick (and equally nerdy) project last weekend...made a quick felt ornament of our new guest!

Clotilde is now officially using her new kitty condo...

...and spends the rest of her time on the back deck, sleeping or waiting for food.

Or just peeking in!

She's so sweet!

We saw another adorable outdoor cat at the goat farm this weekend, curled up in a pile of leaves.

I love going to the goat farm.  I'm continually amazed at the beauty of these rooster feathers!

Of course, we saw lots of goats...

...including babies!

We've been hiking every weekend, so haven't made it out to the goat farm for a while.  Last weekend, or maybe the one before, we squeezed in a quick visit to a building demolition before our hike!  It was an old building on the Clemson campus.  Can I just say that those detonators are loud!?!

Around here, it's just been work, busy with the pre-Christmas rush and getting the yard in shape, now that the fire ants are deep underground.  I haven't done a ton of Christmas baking, but did make some chocolate peppermint biscotti.  These twice-baked cookies are really easy to make!

I'm pleased to report that staggered forcing of paperwhite bulbs is incredibly easy.  I keep the bulbs in the basement, in an open bag.  Every 2 weeks, I pull out a bulb and put the end in water to stimulate root growth.  I leave it in a dark corner for a few days and boom!  Roots!  Then I can put it in the window.

There are so many flowers, and so much green in general, here in South Carolina in the winter, it just doesn't feel as festive as I think it might in the Midwest.  I do enjoy them, though!

Have a great week!

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Kitten house from a handy spouse!

One minute our leaves were a a-blaze and beautiful...

And the next minute, the leaves were suddenly off the trees and we had this:

We actually had snow flurries!  I was hoping for some accumulation, but we mainly got a 'wintry mix' that melted by the next day.  Still, it was nice to see some winter scenes...

The temperature shift was so sudden that a lovely fog emanated from the surface of the pond.

Of course the cats, who are normally so keen to get outside, weren't so tough once they got their paws in the snow!

Speaking of cats, this is Clotilde.

I've seen her around for the past couple of years, but she was so fat and sleek that I was sure she had an owner.  But as the weather has gotten colder, she's spent more and more time on our back deck.  She seemed hungry, so I fed her.  She gobbled it down.  I began to worry as the temperatures dropped at night.  I started feeding her twice a day daily, spending a little time petting and fussing over her (cats love to be loved!), and decided that she must be a stray.

This is a bit of a sore topic for me.  I can't imagine the moral vacuum that must exist in a person who adopts an animal and then, when it becomes inconvenient, tosses them out into the cold to fend for themselves.  I understand that circumstances change and that sometimes, you're just unable to keep your pet.  That's fine, but try to find them a home, or turn them over to a no-kill shelter.  Ugh!!!

Since Todd is allergic to cats and we already have two, we just could not bring her into the house, not even for just overnight.  Tabitha has been terribly offended by Clotilde's occupation of the deck, and Todd was worried that it would be constant yowling and under-the-door fighting if we kept her occupied in a spare room.  So we did the next best thing:  built her a "kitty condo" outside!  I encourage anyone who might have a stray or two hanging around to do this in cold winter months.  It's easy and inexpensive.

We bought a large Rubbermaid container and cut a cat-sized hole in the front of it. 

Next, Todd built a little wooden box with a removable lid (OPTIONAL:  just get a smaller Rubbermaid box to fit inside if you don't want to build one!)...

...and packed the area around and above the smaller box with household insulation to hold in warmth.  If you don't have insulation, pack it with anything that would help hold in heat:  wool strips, straw, Styrofoam, whatever). 

Then put on the lid and you're ready to go!  It took her a couple of days, but Clotilde slept in the cat box for the first time last night and stayed as cozy as a bug in a rug all night!  It confirms my suspicions that she's a stray.  She is so friendly and playful.  I have to walk bow-legged around her, because she rushes to rub against one leg and then the other, as quickly as I can walk, so I have to make room for her or I'd trip.  She is such a sweet girl and I look forward to spending more time with her! 

Meanwhile, our spoiled cats are staying plenty warm inside.

I love this time of year.  It's not really cold in South Carolina.  We're in the 50s during the day.  But nights are chilly, so it's the season of snuggling under quilts, board games by the Christmas tree lights, supper by candlelight, fleece pajamas, hearty soups, and hand-knit gloves and socks.  I love it! 

Have a great week!

Monday, December 4, 2017

It's beginning to look a lot like...

It's December!  Although I've been lackluster and disorganized some years, this year I have been on point with decorations.  This has been kind of a lousy year, so it feels nice to have good things to celebrate. 

Plaid tablecloth and mini "Christmas tree" made out of leftover pine boughs?  Check.

Christmas tree up and decorated?  Oh yeah.

I love our ornaments.  We each only have one or two from our childhoods.  The rest have been cobbled together from thrift stores, are homemade, or bought with intention to signify "an event" in any given year.  I love all the little animals we've bought over the years, the metal bells, the tin stars.  Almost no ornaments match, but the tree just feels like "us."

The mantle is punctuated with red (Todd has a stocking, but it's on the other side!)...

...and if a side table has room for a Christmas display, it's got one.

We have red and white/tan Christmas "banner flags" over all the windows, and golden snowflakes on our kitchen cabinets...

Advent calendar on the fridge!

I even made two Christmas pillows this year.  You saw the quilted one from a few weeks ago, and the other is a badger cross stitch.  Thanks to water soluble fabric, I can now cross-stitch on anything.  Can you see the clear fabric that I've stitched on?  A few minutes in hot water and it disappears.

I decided to make it into a small pillow.  I think I may make it even smaller when time permits.

I've got red balsa wood snowflakes scattered in our bookshelves and red velvet bows tied everywhere.  I love how festive it feels.  In 2018, I'm planning to be much more intentional about celebrating EVERYTHING and changing up the house with the seasons.  But for now, I'll enjoy our Christmas explosion.  Cuddling up in the living room with our hand-made quilts, in the glow of our lights, is so, so wonderful.  Even the cats are getting into the spirit of it!  I think they enjoy using the quilts even more than we do.

It's getting a little cooler here, too.  We've had some beautiful nights...

...and cool, foggy mornings.

Seemingly keeping with the spirit of the season, the Japanese maple outside my office window is a gorgeous vibrant red.

We're not anywhere near what I'm used to with an Indiana winter, but we're going to dip down into the 40s this week!  It's wonderful weather for hiking.  We all love being outside in these kinds of temperatures!

Have a great week!