Earlier this year we had some beautiful frosts, with white-edged leaves...
...and shimmery spider webs.
But it's been in the 70s lately, and the forecast shows a string of 65 degree days, so now we're seeing more signs of spring...yes, in January! Bulbs are sprouting all over.
Birds are out and about.
It's the perfect temperature for dog walks...
...or to curl up with a book beside the water.
It's been busy here, though - a little too busy for relaxed afternoons by the pond - so I've had to be content to photograph our pets enjoying the sun.
I have been amazingly productive so far in 2017, thanks to my plan of being ultra organized and also of moving out of my comfort zone a bit. Fitting these things into my life means that I'm constantly moving and working in order to fit in workouts, my regular job, keeping the house clean, and everything else. I will admit to being a little frazzled last week, and I made two mistakes with orders, which I almost never do. But I'm slowly getting used to the new schedule.
Behold, fancy baking for January! I finally made Sweetapolita's four-layer sweet potato and ginger layer cake with torched marshmallow filling and Swiss meringue buttercream. It made for a frantically busy Tuesday and I didn't get the cake finished until after supper, but what a cake! So rich and moist. Lessons learned: Swiss meringue buttercream should be beaten for 8 - 10 minutes, not 5. Also, I don't like it. Torched marshmallow filling is amazing. Sweet potato cake is delightfully different than the usual pumpkin. Pay attention to the instructions when the amount of filling per layer is specified.
Here it is, day 2, sliced up for Todd's work.
Behold, new craft skill for January! Crewel work, or working with both embroidery floss and wool yarn. When in Germany years ago I bought some beautiful indigo-colored linen. I never used it, and it became dust-stained after about a decade (dust can discolor fabric just like the sun can). Last week I unrolled the fabric and cut out the pieces that were unaffected. The largest piece was big enough for a medium-sized pillow, so I started working on it.
That white fabric square is Silky Sulky and it's amazing! You can run it through your printer or hand-trace a design on it, then peel off the backing. It will adhere to your fabric, but dissolves in water when you're finished. I hope to have the pillow done by next week!
Another cool accessory I've discovered this year is fusible web. I used it this week on my quilt applique project. Basically you trace your design on the paper side...
and iron it onto the back side of the fabric.
Then you can cut out the shape and have it exactly match the intended piece.
Now how to fuse these pieces to my quilt face before finally being secured by a blanket stitch? I guess I have a little more work to do!
Behold, a completed knitting project! Irish guernsey socks.
I knitted them on a size 1 needle, which is quite small. Still, I wish they were a tiny bit more fitted, but they stay up when I walk and I think they'll be fine. I love the pattern!
I have also finished 4 1/2 books so far this year, gotten into a rigorous housecleaning/organizing schedule, started a twice-weekly Bible study and also a twice-weekly mindful living/meditation study, and branched out with healthy food for both myself and Todd (best discovery so far: an amazing cauliflower crust pizza!). I love the feeling that being organized and getting things done has given me, but it's a compromise. There's no more goofing around on Facebook multiple times a day, or getting lost "down the rabbit hole" of various web sites. There's no lingering over lunch or lost afternoons on light work days. No prolonged T.V. evenings. I'm fully dedicated to 2017 being the year of being ORGANIZED and PRODUCTIVE, and that means being more intentional about doing the things I love and less time on being unfocused because I am unprepared, or doing things that aren't really important. So far, so good!