Saturday, December 31, 2011

Note to self

In the future, remind V that late afternoon on New Year's Eve is not the most auspicious time to begin non-emergency plumbing repairs... because we KNOW that it never goes as smoothly as you hope.


May it be peaceful, joyous and fulfilling for everyone.

And may you never have leaking bathtub faucets.

Friday, December 30, 2011

Too tired to look back

I was planning a year in review post for tonight.  But I'm too tired to think back about the last year.  It's been a busy, sometimes stressful year.  Many great things have been accomplished and many more wait to be done  Several things have been left unfinished.  But now, I'm too tired to think about it.  I woke up too early this morning and couldn't fall back asleep.  Work has been unusually busy for this time of year and many, many people are in great distress (sadly, a sign of the times, I fear).
I work tomorrow and I've got a great activity planned for my patient groups.  Not quite a traditional goal setting activity but looking at taking action to make life changes.  I think I'll play along.
But, even though I'm tired, I'm so excited!  After tomorrow I've got 8 days off with no definite plans.  Woo Hoo!  I'll be sure to do a post on my goals and dreams for the new year but I also hope to do lots of sewing, some baking and, gasp, maybe even some reading for fun!!
And, of course, I'll announce the winners of the giveaway.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

150 crazy people read this?

Greetings and Thanks to all my bloggy friends out there!  I've been waiting to hit 150 followers.  I hit 148 and just hung out for quite a while.  Thanks to Mandy (Not our cat!!) and SciFiChick I made it!  I have been saving a couple of things for a giveaway to celebrate.  I figured I would host this either at 150 followers or 1000 posts whichever came first.  Since I've got a ways to go to 1000 posts it's a good thing this is happening now since I've got springtime, garden planning things to give away... A garden planning grid and a magnetic garden to-do list.
There will be two, I tell you, TWO lucky winners of this giveaway.  To enter, leave a comment on this post (by New Year's CST) sharing what your favorite garden vegetable is and a tip for helping it grow.  That's it, no tricks or links or anything.  And, yes, I'm open to international entries.
At the new year I'll draw two names at random from the entries.

Let the fun begin!!

Tuesday, December 27, 2011


I spent some time this afternoon comforting my darling daughter.  She received disappointing news in the mail.  She has had her heart set on one college to attend.  Even though V and I have strongly encouraged her to have plan B (and C and D if necessary), she has resisted applying anywhere else. But, today she learned that, while she was accepted into the university itself, she was not accepted into the fiercely competitive art/design program there.
After a few moments of mourning, we embarked on a quest for more programs.  She is looking for an affordable (HA!!) program with a BFA in Graphic Design.   We found a few possibilities this afternoon and the search will continue.   At least she still has time to apply to other places.  Of course, we also told her that it would be OK if she took a year off between high school and college.  We'll see what happens.

Monday, December 26, 2011

On to the next project

Christmas is past.  We had a lovely time.  On Saturday, we went down to my parent's home for Christmas dinner and a gift exchange.  My sister, BIL and two nephews from Colorado were there, as was my brother and SIL from here in town.  My nephew, the chef, also came down. He has recently gotten his own car so it was all very exciting for him to be able to come by himself.  A grand time was had by all. My quilted pot holders were well received. (Joyce, I will get yours in the mail soon-  oops)
Christmas day, we had a quiet day here at home.  The children were up early- amazingly, since I can barely drag them out of bed on weekends usually!  I had prepared some overnight cinnamon rolls the night before so just had to pop them into the oven while we opened gifts.  Truly delightful.  We didn't have an overboard gift giving.  I got my serger, a new pair of slippers and a lovely pair of earrings from J17.  Oh, and an IOU from V.  He had intended to order some soaker hoses for me for the garden next year but time got away from him.  That's OK. My serger was a HUGE gift.
V loves his jacket. He does look really sharp in it.  Of course, he says his beard is too shaggy to look really sophisticated.  I'll get some photos of him posing in it sometime.
Now, I'm onto new things. I do want to play with my serger but I'm kind of waiting until my week off in January so I can really spend some quality time with it.  I did read through the manual yesterday.  But I need a project.  I had thought to maybe work on a wall quilt or two next but I'm not so sure.  I found some white shirting fabric (two pieces of the same fabric that I inherited from someone) that should be enough to make a Victorian shirt for V.  I've got the pattern,  it's another one from Folkwear.  I've even got some subtle white on white stripes that I may use for the bib of the shirt and the cuffs, just to jazz it up a little.  I've also got plans in the works to make him a brocade vest.  It seems that my little side venture is beginning more with menswear than anything else.   Of course,  lots of sites that I've seen selling Victoriana/Steampunk clothing seem to focus more on women's fashion than menswear.  And, honestly, I think menswear is easier to sew... far fewer ruffles!
So, I'll cut out the shirt tomorrow.  The cut and construction are pretty similar to the multitude of US Cavalry shirts I made years ago so I'm not anticipating too much trouble with it.  I've got one more day of my Christmas break left, I work four days (Wed through Saturday) and then....  I've got 8 days off!!  THAT should be glorious!!  I've got to get myself organized for all the projects I want to get done.  And, of course, I need to find time to peruse the seed catalogues.  It is about that time.....

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Merry Christmas!

 From our house to yours... have a wonderful, love filled day.

And now, for the moment you've all been waiting for:
It looks sharp!

Thursday, December 22, 2011

As the sun sets

The sun is setting on this, the shortest day of the year. I look forward to the return of the light as we gradually exit the dark days.
Here is hoping that next year brings health, peace, contentment and good gardening to us all.

Have a Blessed Winter Solstice!!

Monday, December 19, 2011


The end is in sight!!
It still looks pretty rough here.  It isn't hanging straight, it hasn't been hemmed and none of the facings or cuffs have been stitched down.  That is all hand work.  But I think I'll get it done!!

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Finishing up

I wish I was finishing up V's jacket but I haven't had time to work on it recently :-(
I just haven't been able to find a large enough block of time to tackle the next step of padding and lapels. But, I have been finishing up all the rest of the holiday gifts.
This afternoon, V and I completed our holiday shopping.  Except for some candy for stockings, I'm done, done, done with shopping.  Why is it that as the children get older, the packages seem to get smaller and more expensive? ... and fewer this year, I think.  But, we have managed to get what they asked for as well as a few surprises.
A couple of those surprises were what I was finishing up this afternoon.  Since the children have all been getting into role playing games, we decided to get the boys each their own set of dice as a stocking stuffer.  And, of course, if you have a set of dice, you need a dice bag.  Any self-respecting gamer knows that.  So, in seemingly no time at all (maybe half an hour tops) I whipped up a pair of drawstring bags.
Scrap fabric and I had just enough of the gold cording.
Blue for I14 :
 It's from scrap flannel backed satin from J17's nightgown that she is making.
And Green for K11:
This is left over velvet from long ago when I made Christmas stockings for my nieces and nephews.
Sometimes, the scrap box is a wonderful thing.
Some of the gift wrapping is done and I'll probably finish tomorrow. And I really hope for some quality time with V's jacket.  With the shopping done I should have all afternoon to work on sewing since it's my day off.
It's hard to believe that Christmas is only a week away.  The weather certainly doesn't help.  It was 50 today and the grass is still green.  Go figure.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Oh my!

It seems like it has been so long since I have seen the sun!!
It turns out that, yes, indeed, I do need to take vacation time before the end of the month or lose it.  So, this afternoon, since it was a manageable day at work, and I worked really hard to get things done quickly, I left work early.  Oh, My!  The sun was shining brightly and the sky was clear and blue.  It was such a lovely walk to downtown to catch the bus, even though the temperature was barely above freezing.  Being outside when the sun was shining was so wonderful!  Last weekend it was rainy and dismal and we didn't see the sun,  and it is dark when I leave and dark when I get home so it was great to see the sun.
I'm going to try to take some time off afternoons next week as well, assuming that things are manageable at work.  If I can leave a few hours early for a couple of days, I'll have it made.  But, I will HAVE to take two days of vacation every month.  Oh, the hardship!  But, I do feel bad about it.  The reason I have so much vacation built up is because it is so hard for us to take vacation.  My co-workers and I always feel guilty taking vacation because we know the pressure it puts on everyone else.  Working in a hospital, I don't have one of those jobs that will wait until I get back from vacation for it to get done.  Someone always has to cover my patients when I'm not there.  All  four of us have trouble taking time off.  We're really good at looking out for each other, but not so good about looking out for ourselves.  Who knows, maybe I'll just end up taking every Monday off- two as my 90% days and two as my vacation days each month.   Now THAT is a schedule I could live with- never working a full week.  Hmmm.... this has possibilities.  Or, I could try to leave early a few days a month.   Either way, I need to use at least 14 to 15 hours of vacation a month to keep up.

Oh, and no sewing for me tonight either.  V has had a stressful day with some legal stuff that has popped up (maybe I'll tell you about it someday when it's resolved).  We had some wine with dinner tonight to unwind so definitely no detail work for me!!  It doesn't take much for me to be not very functional... It's amazing how many times I've had to correct mis-typings now LOL!!

I work tomorrow, and after work, V and I hope to finish our holiday shopping.  Sunday, J17 and I14 have to acolyte at church and the youth group hosts their annual soup and sandwich lunch before going caroling.  I've got Monday off so I'm really hoping to spend some quality time with the sewing machine then.  I'm excited to get V's jacket finished and get started on other things.  Especially since I got a hit here for someone searching for Steampunk Art quilts.  I'd better get the supply up!!

Thursday, December 15, 2011

An interesting quandry

I made a discovery today.  One that has me wondering.  Hmm, what to do... what to do...
It seems that I have maxed out my vacation accrual at work.  It is kind of hard to keep track of- I have to log in and check my stats and they only have it updated through the end of October- they're just now entering the November payroll stuff for vacations.  Anyway- as of Oct 31, I had 331 hours of vacation time available.  I didn't take any vacation in November and I now (at 90%) accrue 14.4 hours per month. So, theoretically, of December 1, I should have 345 (approximate) hours.  Well, my maximum accrual is 345 hours.  Oops.  I know I will have 4 hours of vacation time coming out at the end of the month, but, in order to not loose time, I think I may have to take 10 hours of vacation before the end of the month.   I need to check with our secretary who does the payroll tomorrow.  Hmm, this could be interesting.  I HAVE to take vacation or I lose the hours.  Good thing I already turned in my request for those two days in January.
No sewing for me tonight.  I'm taking a break from clean-up right now.  V created a huge mess today and there is dust EVERYWHERE! BUT I'm not complaining!!!!!!   We have baseboards and trim in the kitchen and bath!!!!!  So I can stand a little dust.  Things needed dusted anyway ;-)
So, I finally get my finished room!!  The kitchen is DONE!!!  The bathroom still needs the trim around the window but everything else is done.  WOOT!!  Best present ever!!
And now for some random Thursday things.
Chickens are being amazing producers for December.  We got 7 eggs today and  6 each Tuesday and Wednesday.  We need to eat some eggs!!  Maybe I can sell a few at work next week.  Or I need to bake up a storm.  Ooo, springerle uses lots of eggs.  Hmm.....
We've still got a few gifts to pick up for the children but hopefully will do that Saturday when V picks me up from work.  But I do need to get wrapping!!
And, of course, all the cookies I baked last weekend are gone.  I guess I'm just going to have to make a few more for the holidays.
I'm still not really into the holiday spirit.  It seems hard to believe that Christmas is only a few more days away.  I've still got lots to do.  Of course, the weather isn't helping. It was mid 50s yesterday- definitely NOT winter weather.
I may not be ready for Christmas but I can't wait for Solstice.  I absolutely can not wait for the days to start getting longer again.   It is so depressing to leave for work in the dark and return home in the dark.  V was complaining about having to do chicken stuff since these are supposed to be MY chickens.  But, there are things that need to be done in the daylight that I just can't do from work.  I need to remind him to give them some treats of scratch grains when he lets them out because he seems to forget that often.
Enough babbling-  I'm obviously trying to avoid cleaning up.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011


Just maybe I'll be able to finish V's jacket by Christmas.  I had a good two hours of uninterrupted sewing time this evening and got quite a bit done.  So... the pockets are on, the main body is together and I've got the back 'reinforcement facing' in, the under-collar padded and in place and the first layer of interfacing in the lapels basted in.  I'm hoping that tomorrow I can finish the lapels (flannel padding and contrast facing) and maybe move onto the sleeves.  These are more complicated sleeves than I'm used to.  They have an 'over' and 'under' sleeve.
This pattern, being a historical pattern, also has lots of hand work and tailoring techniques that I'm not that familiar with.  But, it's going together well.  No photos yet.  The biggest pain is that it calls for flat feld seams- with only half inch seam allowances.  Have you ever tried to flat feld a half inch seam?!  Especially on slippery fabric- it's not easy.  But still, I'm having fun working on this one.   I can't wait to finish it and be able to move onto something new.
Today was a much calmer day.  Work was much more manageable and things at home went smoothly so I had some time for myself.  It was much needed.
J17 came home early from school not feeling well.  There is some nastiness going around in the schools.  I'm feeling better but am still just tired.  I think it's a combination of being overloaded, not enough sleep and having dreary weather.

It looks like I'm going to be able to have the entire first week of January off.  Woot!  I work on December 31st.  The second is our official holiday but should have been my usual day off.  So, I get the holiday on Monday, my day off is shifted to Thursday and I've got Friday off for working the weekend.  That leaves me only scheduled to work on Tuesday and Wednesday.    So, I'm trying to arrange having those days off as vacation days.  Taking two days of vacation will give me 8 continuous days off.  I can DEFINITELY use that.  The children return to school on the 4th.  I've also got some extended time off over Christmas.  I work this Saturday so I've got Friday the 23rd off.  Monday and Tuesday are the university holidays so I've got 5 days off for Christmas. Pretty sweet.  I'm hoping to have that time in January to figure out my new toy tool.  I'm hoping also to work on a quilt and maybe a little something else.  Some extended down/me time will be much appreciated.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Is it only Tuesday??

It really seems like it should be much later in the week than that.  Ugh.  And I've still got 4 more work days to go.  sigh.  Things have just been so hectic and with unexpected crises throwing wrenches into my plans.
Saturday's furnace fiasco messed up my weekend plans.  Sunday was a day of catching up.  Yesterday work was brutally busy and then my evening plans got thrown off by a car accident right outside the house.
I was sitting on the couch while the soup was simmering- watching a bit of news on PBS when I heard squealing of brakes, crashing and thumping sounds outside.  Definitely NOT the sounds that one normally hears on the highway.  I looked out the door to see headlights nearly in the yard.  NOT good!  I grabbed my coat and ran outside to see if everyone was OK.  Fortunately, everyone was able to walk away from this one but it could have been BAD, BAD, BAD.
A teenage driver wasn't paying attention when pulling out onto the highway from across the road and pulled into oncoming traffic (moving at highway speeds or faster).  The other vehicle (an SUV) swerved to try to avoid the teen in the pickup.  They clipped bumpers and the SUV lost control, leaving the highway and going briefly airborne before hitting a tree just outside our fence.  We could tell he was airborne because the impact mark on the tree was several feet above where his vehicle was resting on the bank of the ditch.  Luckily, the driver of the SUV was wearing his seatbelt and the airbags deployed.  He was dazed and shaken up but eventually decided he was OK.  I even got to call 911.  Oooh, the excitement.  We had two county sheriff patrol cars, an ambulance and a fire truck show up.
The SUV, in my non-expert opinion, is totaled.  The front of the vehicle is rather V shaped  (probably almost foot deep!) where it hit the tree, the passenger door barely opened, the frame looks bent and the front airbags both deployed.  Still, that the driver could walk away is a testament to the safety technology in place.  Truly amazing.  When I first saw that SUV, I imagined the worst!
The whole ordeal ended up taking about 90 minutes of the evening that I really didn't have to spare.  But both V and I felt it was important for us to be out there, helping where we could.  So, I didn't really get anything accomplished.
PLUS!!  I ended up leaving work a little early yesterday because I was having an allergic reaction to something (still not sure what!) and was feeling itchy and wanted some antihistamines.  I've got a line on my left shoulder that looks like a scratch of some sort but is blistered and itchy.  Later, I started breaking out in other places and itching all over.  It's much better today but I didn't sleep well last night, even with drugs on board.  I've still got absolutely no clue what I got into.
Add all of that to another really rough day at work today, and I'm exhausted.  I really, really want to go sew something tonight (I never made it down there last night!) but I'm not sure I've got the energy or concentration.  I hate to sew when I'm really tired- I tend to make stupid mistakes that end up taking more time than if I just left it.  especially when working with brocade and velvet I don't want to mess up.  So, maybe I'll turn in early tonight and see if tomorrow will be a better day.

Monday, December 12, 2011


can be incredibly stupid!  I do think I may have the dumbest flock of chickens on record... really!
I went out this evening to close up the coop.  It has been a lovely day here, a bit overcast but up into the low 40s. It's still 38F at 530 pm.  Not bad for mid December.  So... the chickens had been enjoying the day outside.  But, silly bird brains... they were enjoying it outside so much that they didn't seem to notice that it was getting dark inside. By the time I got out there, they were all huddled in a mass OUTSIDE.  Because, you know- it was DARK in that coop!
To get them in, I had to turn on the light inside.  Silly birds.  Then, of course, I turn off the light and they're all floundering around in the dark.  So, softie that I am, I got a flashlight to give them enough light to find the roost.
Yup, chickens can be dumb.  They've never done this one before so I do hope it's not a new pattern.  I hope they learned their lesson.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Cooking ahead for a busy week

In addition to other things, I spent some time today doing some cooking ahead for the next couple of days.  V announced this morning that he really wanted chicken enchiladas for dinner.  So I cooked up a package of chicken thighs.  Since I only needed some of the meat, I've still got some chicken and broth left over. That will be for Tuesday's chicken and rice.
I also cooked some beef bones/stock for tomorrow's vegetable soup.  So, now my fridge is full of stock for a couple of meals ahead.  I really need to get going on a couple of sewing projects so I'm hoping to streamline things.  I work 6 days in a row this week so I've got to be organized in order to get anything done at home.  The whole furnace going out and subsequent cookie baking threw off my weekend plans.
We got a small tree for the basement and decorated that this afternoon.  The cats have been having fun climbing the big tree upstairs so we haven't put any ornaments on it yet.  They seem less interested today than they did yesterday so maybe the novelty has worn off.  Last year, they got bored with it after a bit and pretty much left it alone.
J17 has been working on my new website- although I don't have any merchandise to show or a place to host it yet.  She has to do a project for her independent study computer graphics/web design class so she is using my new hopeful business.  Two birds with one stone!  She has designed a logo for me:

She also created a banner that will be used at the website and that is up at my new blog where I'll be posting about business and sewing projects.  I can't wait to get through all this holiday stuff to have more time to focus on sewing... at least before gardening season sets in!!
Now, I've got to see how J17 is doing cutting out her next sewing project and get to work on my own!

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Is it just me?

Or is anyone else having issues with any pages Google related.  gmail, blogger and google are taking forever to load and I keep getting messages that "the server where that page is located is not responding'.  Ugh!  I can't even leave a comment on my own blog!!

Brrrrr--- UPDATED

It is a lovely 7*F out there this morning.  And, of course, the furnace stopped working sometime overnight.  Brr..  It was 60 in here when I got up at 7:15 this morning.  I initially thought that maybe the system just hadn't shifted yet.  We've got a programmable thermostat and I'm not sure when V has it set to kick in for the day on the weekends.  But, no, it just isn't working.
I woke V and rolled him out of bed.  We've tried resetting it, we replaced the batteries in the thermostat, he has done all the diagnostics he can do.  We've got a 'low pressure valve fault'  whatever that means.
So, we've got a call in to the local heating place.  V left a message but we haven't heard back. I'm sure that this won't be a cheap visit.
I baked some muffins for breakfast to fire up the oven.  I've been thinking that I need to bake some holiday cookies- maybe today is the day....

It's just noon and we've got heat.  Woo Hoo!!
Originally, the repair guy thought that we would need a new induction motor (think $$$$$$) but it turned out that we didn't.  Whew!  It seems that somehow the condensation outflow pipe had gotten clogged and water had backed up to the valve, triggering the fault that kept the system from firing.  So, no parts needed. But one thing, V found and downloaded the service manual for this furnace model so hopefully we'll be better able to trouble shoot in the future.
Now, back to cookies!!

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Ooo... Shiny

Beautiful, tempting things keep arriving in the mail!!
They're sitting there, in a lovely pile, trying to draw me into their pages.  But, NO!!  I will resist temptation. Seed catalogues are for AFTER the holidays. That's my rule.  They help get me through the dark of winter.  I'll start looking soon after the new year and place my orders in January or February.

But, I may sneak a peek at the Baker Creek catalogue that arrived today.  THAT is the ultimate in Garden Porn!!

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Isn't it pretty??

 V was hard at work at home today!  He put up the chair rail in the kitchen!!
That's a shot of the tall cabinet by the dining room.  I didn't show you the garbage can ;)
Isn't it lovely!!??   He does such nice work.  Here's a close up:
I really, really loved the little leaf motif on this.
Now, I think we need a few bits of baseboard in place and the kitchen will be FINISHED!!  Two rooms in one week- be still my heart!!!
Things will slow down a little in the next few weeks, he does have some contract writing to do for his employer, and, good news, his other employer (who lost her contract a while ago so no more subcontracting to him) has more work for him. Hooray!!  And a writing assignment that's just up his alley.  He needs to write an article on how to cut your energy bill without spending lots of money.  I do think he could almost write that one in his sleep, not only from our own experience but because his other job is for an energy company and he writes about energy all the time.
Work for me was hectic and now, once again we've got a band concert this evening (I14 this time). At least this concert starts a little later so we're not quite so rushed. But still, I've gotta go feed people.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Random babbling

Whew, what a day.  Work was busy and I came home to tend chickens and get everyone fed before we rushed off to K11's winter band concert.  The concert was a combination of the beginner and advanced elementary bands.  The beginner band sounded like, well, a beginner band, with a mercifully short performance.  The advanced band (K11 is in this one) sounded much better.  It's amazing what a year of practice can do.
Tomorrow, we have another concert. I14 and the high school concert band will have their winter concert. Now THOSE guys can play!
I woke to snow this morning.  And it stuck around all day.  Not a lot of snow, maybe only an inch, but it makes things look quite seasonal.  Maybe I'll finally get into a holiday mood.  Of course, the snow took me by surprise this morning and I was confused.   I didn't sleep well last night and was having a weird dream about the chicken coop and shop being on fire when my alarm went off (I think I'm paranoid about having that heat lamp out there on the thermal cube).  Anyway, I went to let the dog out onto the deck and when I saw the snow, not being fully awake, I immediately thought it was ashes from the fire.  I really need to get into the shower first thing to wake up!!
I think we may be putting up the tree on Saturday.  It may actually be a several day affair because Spaz always climbs the tree so we usually give him a day without ornaments to get his jollies out.  Although last year he wasn't too bad.
I ordered V's other gift today. Shhh...  It's a secret...
I also ordered some serger thread.  Not from the same place.
V put up the towel racks in the upstairs bath.  NOW we're really living!  I don't know if I can stand the strain.
Ok, I really am babbling.  I only got a few hours of sleep last night between having a series of coughing fits that made it difficult to get to sleep and then waking up at 2:40 and having difficulty going back to sleep.  I think I'm going to hit the hay.

Monday, December 5, 2011


 It's the little things that mean the most!
This morning, I painted:
 Later this afternoon, V installed the paper holder:
 After two years of having the TP setting on the counter, it will take some getting used to. Next thing you know, we'll have towel racks... unheard of!!
Of course, the room isn't officially finished, we still don't have window or door molding up, or the base trim. But it is SOOOOO much better than when we bought the house.  We went from this:
And that's even with a flash.  It was a dark, wooden cave.  Even the ceiling was the same dark wood color, and with only two little wall lamps to light the entire room.   Ewww...
But now, behold:
Much lighter and brighter.  It even seems bigger.
All in all, a good day's work.

I think today may be the first day this season that it has failed to get above freezing.  Pretty amazing considering it is December.  But it was cloudy and about 28 all day, with a wind that went through you so it was nice to have an inside task to do.

And, BTW, don't you just love paint color names?  This color was called Turtle Dove.  Who gets paid to think up these names?!  I think I want that job.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Happy Christmas to me...

Today, V and I took a trip to Cedar Rapids, 30 miles north, to run some errands.  Our local home store, while they had a particular wood panel (that V uses for backing for bookshelves) in stock, the new shipment was a slightly darker shade and wouldn't match the rest of the wood downstairs.  So, we ventured off to the sister store in CR with a scrap to see if we could do a color match.  Our store was also out of several bath fixtures (towel rods, etc) that we wanted.
Of course, paneling and bathroom stuff acquired, we just had to stop at the Hancock Fabric store nearby.  Our fabric store options here in town are rather limited and I refuse to shop for fabric (or anything else, for that matter) at W**mart.  While we were there, we checked out a sale that I was aware of. And V got my Christmas present early:
I've been doing my research and this model got very good reviews for the price and a couple of people I've talked to who have this machine really, really like it. A bonus is that it comes with an instructional DVD so I can learn how to thread it!  V says I can open it but that kind of seems like cheating.  Christmas is only a few weeks away.  But can I wait that long??  It's sitting there, on the table in my sewing room, just looking at me!
But, I probably won't be doing much sewing tomorrow anyway.  The reason we were anxious to get all the bath bits we wanted is that V finally finished all the drywall work in the upstairs bath.  The primer coat is on and I'll be doing the finish painting tomorrow.  So, then we can install the towel racks and even a TP holder!!  And all this after only two and a half years.  It has been SOOOO, nice  the past few days to be able to shower without having to go to the downstairs bath.  We've got this bad habit of getting projects done to the 'We can live with this' stage and then taking a long time to finish as we work on more pressing things.  I guess that's a problem when you buy a disaster of a house with so many things that need done.  The upstairs bath was gutted and partially finished before we moved in but we were contemplating putting in a different window so V wasn't in a hurry to finish the drywall.  With bare drywall over the shower, we really couldn't use it.  But FINALLY!!!!  WOOT!  Maybe soon I'll have my wish of one room completely finished!! (I'm still waiting on my chair rail in the kitchen so it isn't officially finished)   THAT would also be a fabulous gift!

Saturday, December 3, 2011

This is help??

Spaz was helping me cut out V's smoking jacket this afternoon.
Acting as a weight on the fabric is one thing- but I drew the line when he started pulling out the pins.
4 different fabrics later, the jacket is cut out.  Velvet for the body, black brocade for collar, cuffs and pocket trim, interfacing and flannel for extra padding in the collar and cuffs.

Paged to the ER

Fortunately, it wasn't bad.
Yesterday afternoon, about 3:30, my pager went off at work.  It was a text to call the emergency room.  NEVER a good thing!!  Our friend Sharon was in the ER and wanted me to get in touch with Roger.  She had been at work and had become dizzy and short of breath- bad enough that her employer thought to get her to the hospital.  Fortunately, it was nothing serious- well, not bad- serious.  She was dehydrated, overstressed, overworked and not sleeping.  The poor thing, she has been so stressed, taking on more and more responsibilities since Roger had his amputation.
I did manage to get hold of Roger- he already had gotten her phone message.  V picked me up from work and we went to their house, brought in the mail and walked the dog since Roger doesn't have his prosthesis yet and can't walk their energetic big dog.
Sharon was released and we picked her up at the ER and took her to her car which was still at work.  I did admonish her that "IT IS OK TO ASK FOR HELP!!!"  I'll have to be more diligent about checking in with HER and not just Roger to see how things are going.

Today, I finally got the heat lamp hung in the chicken coop for when the temps get really frigid this winter.  We've got spoiled chickens.  We've already got the heated water base so their water doesn't freeze.  For the heat lamp, we found a 'thermo-cube' with a built in thermostat that will turn the lamp off and on between preset temperatures so it isn't on all the time.

I'm planning to cut out V's smoking jacket this afternoon.  I haven't had time to get to it yet and I wanted to prewash the fabric.  Yes, even the velvet.  I know that this jacket will get thrown in the wash so I want the fabric to be able to stand up to it.
J17 is working to design a logo for me.  For one of her computer graphics classes she is taking, she had to design one anyway so she is using my hopeful business to kill two birds with one stone.  I'll hopefully be unveiling a new blog soon for the crafty stuff.  I have secured a custom domain and may ask our friend Mike if he will host it for me.  I do think J17 is at least as excited about this venture as I am.

Gotta go- I've got too much on my list for the day to spend much time with blogger... as tempting as it is. I've already wasted time researching sergers.  I'm thinking that maybe I'll ask Santa for one of those.  Anyone have any recommendations or warnings??  I've used one before but don't own one.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

A curious thing

In the past two days, I have found two eggs on the floor of the coop.  Yesterday late afternoon, when I went out to check (we got 7 eggs!!) there were no eggs in the end nest box (they don't like that one much- I think it's too exposed) two eggs in the middle box and 4 in farthest box (against the wall).  And there, on the floor next to the wall almost in front of the next box, was an egg.  Hmm...  I wondered if the prime nest boxes were occupied and someone couldn't wait.  Ok, no problem.
Then this evening I went out to check. None in the end again, one in the middle and three in the far box.  Not too bad for the first of December.  But, when I turned to check to make sure they have enough food, there on the floor, right by the feeder, was another brown egg.
Now I'm really confused.  Two consecutive eggs on the floor??  Could I have a new layer who is inexperienced?  I thought all the girls were laying already (although with almost everyone laying brown eggs, it's hard to tell) but I've never had everyone lay on the same day- the max I've ever gotten was 8.  Or could there be something else that is making one of the girls lay on the floor?  Anyone with more chicken expertise, feel free to weigh in!  Until this, I haven't found any eggs on the floor since September when most everyone started laying.  I think most of the girls laid their first on the floor and then figured it out.
Or, maybe, as K11 suggested, someone is just sad because of Buffy and is protesting.  Um, yeah.

Oh, and it's snowing here.  We're not supposed to get more than an inch and it's supposed to get back near 40 tomorrow.  What weird weather we're having.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Been busy

I've been busy the last few days.  Plotting and planning and working to finish quilted pot holders for holiday gifts.  I need to do a recount but I think I finished my last one this evening.  Now, on to other giftiness for V.  Yup, tomorrow evening I'll start laying out the smoking jacket.  Not sure if I'll cut it out or not- I'll see how much time I've got.  I don't know if I'll be able to keep it a total secret but I'll do my best.
Oh, and I've got to tell you a great fabric store story.  While we were in line for the cutting table on Saturday, the woman behind us asked what we were using the velvet for. So I told her I had a historic pattern and was going to make a smoking jacket for my husband.  She gave me this look of disbelief and asked "WHY?"  Of course, I answered "Because I can".  But what was really going through my mind was "I'm so sorry that your spouse is boring." But I've got enough tact to filter that one.

For the 'big project' I still need to register my domain name and then maybe I'll be ready to unveil the new website- I've got something in the works but it's not public yet.  But, oh yeah, I've got to finish some stuff first.  Smoking jacket... smoking jacket...  wall quilt... table runner...

And don't panic... I do have a little experience with sewing. Not only have I been quilting for a while but I've been sewing since I was a child. I've even had the opportunity to sub-contract movie costumes in the past.  I once made 30 blue wool cavalry shirts for the movie The Rough Riders.  I do really love it but haven't had the time or space to really get going.  Now I've finally got my own, dedicated sewing room (Ok, it's also the guest bedroom but I can clean if we have guests) so I can accomplish more.  Using the dining room table for a work space is not conducive to getting anything done.  Now that construction has slowed, let's see what I can do....

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Dreams of Empire

This morning, J17 and I ventured out to the fabric store for their big holiday weekend shopping extravaganza. Whew!  I've had my fill of crowds for the year.  Who would have thought that the fabric store would have been such a hotspot for shopping.  Of course, maybe it's a sign of the times that more people are doing handmade holidays this year.  I saw a LOT of fleece go through the cutting lines.  We stood in line for probably 35 minutes to get to the cutting table.  But we got some awesome deals.  I went today because they had quilting cottons for $1.99.  I wasn't too impressed with the selection but I got a couple for future use.  And they had $.99 patterns again so J17 picked up a few. And I got fabric for a gift for V.  I don't really have hope that I'll be able to get it done in time for the holidays but you never know.
We have had the pattern for years and years (probably 25!) but I've never made it:
 V has wanted one of these smoking jackets for years- not because he smokes- just because it would be fun and a bit pretentious.
We selected fabric:
Red velvet and a silvery/black brocade for the lapels.  The red velvet was one of only two non-sale items we purchased but since we were there in the morning, we got to use a 50% off coupon for it.  The brocade was already 40% off.  On top of the 50% off a single item, we had a coupon for 25% off the entire purchase price- INCLUDING SALE ITEMS!!  So, the brocade was already 40% off plus an additional 25%.
We came home and I spent part of the afternoon organizing the sewing room- well, at least more than it has been, considering that the room isn't even finished!
 The sewing room is also the guest bedroom.  Above, J17 sits on the futon bed by the table that holds the cutting and ironing stations. The table is sitting over the corner of the bed so I don't block access to the room from the other door.   Across the room is my antique library table that doubles as a sewing table.  V installed light under the cabinets for better lighting. And, yes, we still have stuff in boxes!  And, below, the basket you see in the corner of the photo is a market basket I made, stuffed full of patterns.
Below is the whole room from the corner/door:
Sewing table to the right, storage cabinet straight ahead, to the immediate left (barely visible), the antique dresser that holds most of my fabric.  And, yes, broom corn hanging over the bed, a stash of empty shoe boxes by the craft cabinet and quilt batting up near the ceiling.  Whew!  It's cram packed!!
But on to the dreams of empire!!  J17 and V seem to think that this is a viable idea, although I still doubt my skill to pull it off.
J17, and, to some extent, I have been fans of Steampunk- the neo-Victorian fun fashion.  To that end, we have, over time, purchased numerous dress, corset, shirt and jacket patterns.  I hope to open an Etsy shop, starting with wall art/quilts with a steampunk theme.  And a few other things thrown in as well (Maybe some Celtic knotwork pieces).  With the possibility of branching out into custom Steampunk and/or cosplay clothing.  If I can market right, I may have a side job... not that I don't like my job, I'd just like something a little different on the side.
Opinions... ideas... words of warning....?? Am I totally crazy??

Friday, November 25, 2011

RIP Buffy

We had our first death on the farm today.  I went outside to check the sheets I had hanging on the line and, as is my usual routine, went around the corner to talk to the chickens.  Much to my dismay, Buffy, our Buff Orpington hen, was lying dead by the gate.
My theory is that she tried to get at something outside the gate by sticking her head through, got her head stuck, panicked and broke her own neck.  The gate is an old chain-link gate from a dog kennel that we dismantled at our old house.  I hadn't bothered to put any smaller wire over it as I wasn't worried about it.  Now, J17 and I covered the lower portion of the gate with chicken wire, just to be safe.
It was a sad time.  We buried her over by the shrubs we planted as a wind break for the future bee hives.

We will miss Buffy.  She was always friendly and gentle and such a character.  And her feathers were so soft.

RIP Buffy.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Thankful to be home

We had a whirlwind trip to my parents to celebrate Thanksgiving today.  We left earlyish this morning, stopping in Kalona on the way (a short side trip) to pick up my nephew to give him a ride.  He is working at a restaurant there (Tuscan Moon).  The weather was beautiful today and the food wonderful.  I brought dessert.  Cranberry bars, and a 'little bit different for Iowa' pie- a wet bottom shoefly pie from a recipe from my MIL in Pennsylvania.
We took eggs for my parents and Dad had a surprise for us. Half a feedsack of cracked corn that he had ground for the chickens.  Isn't he sweet.  I guess they like the eggs enough to feed the chickens!!
We got home around 6:30 pm and sadly, when we drove by the mall on our way home, there was already a line of people standing at Best Buy.  The store is opening at midnight... sigh...  What can really be worth standing in line that long for.  I value my time much more than that- no matter how good the deal.  The one weekend sale I may go to is at the fabric store.  On Saturday they're having quilting cottons for $1.99 a yard.  Hmm, I may have to go check it out.  Not that I NEED any fabric... but I always need fabric.
I've been giving some more thought to an Etsy shop.  Of course, there are things that would need done first.  Like an Iowa Sales Tax Permit (sigh...) and I would want to have a little inventory of things to put up.  So, there isn't a rush.  And I've got some ideas for wall art/quilts that I want to try that may stand out from the crowd a bit more as I fear the competition is rather fierce.    I've definitely got some ideas to keep me busy this winter as well as revamping the master plan... but more on that later.

I do hope you all had a fabulous day.  For those in the US, celebrated with family and friends, giving thanks- to those elsewhere, just a lovely day.

Happy Thanksgiving.


May your day be filled with joy, laughter and all good things.

This year, I am thankful for many things:
Our Animals
The bounty of the earth and the energy that food provides for me.
The ups and downs of the weather- even when I complain.
My work and the opportunities I see in working less hours now.
The shelter that the world has seen fit to provide for me.
The health I have that allows me to work toward my dreams.

What are you thankful for today??

Monday, November 21, 2011

From the scrap box

I had a lovely day off today.  V and I went out to lunch at the Bluebird Diner in town.  What a nice change of pace.  We also stapled some plastic up over the clean out door of the chicken coop since there was a bit more draft coming in there than I wanted (and it's right under the roost).  I collected 5 eggs today, fed and watered chickens and made some chicken stock.  But mostly, I played in the scrap box working on holiday gifts.
Um... for my sister Joyce- I know you're reading... you can either stop reading here or just tell me what color combination you would like ;-)   I take requests.
Two quilted and completed:
J17 says she wants some like those...
But mostly, some squares were made.  Some with vintage fabrics:
 And one not.
I do with I hadn't used the directional fabric for the white on white.  But, it will be fine. It will look better after it's trimmed up and finished.
I discovered another box of scrap bits, I think from Mom.  Some I recognize from dresses and shirts from my childhood.  Too much fun.
I've been having fun going through boxes.  Lots of this stuff still hasn't been unpacked since we moved and I need to get myself a bit more organized.
I'm doing some serious thinking about trying to find an outlet for selling some stuff if I can get myself going on making some stuff.  I found my book on Celtic Quilts for doing celtic knot work applique on a quilt.  I've only made one in the past (a table runner) that I gave as a gift (WHY didn't I keep it for myself!!??) but it was kind of fun.  Maybe some more of that will be coming up.  We'll see what happens this winter.
The garden is officially put to bed- I even did a preliminary tilling yesterday since I wanted to eliminate any spots for overwintering nasty bugs.  I'm also rethinking some of the master plan of the future but more on that as it comes together....

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Photos of the day!

Whew!  I'm tired!!  I'll definitely sleep well tonight.  We all worked very, very hard today.  Today, we backfilled behind the new retaining walls.  Last year, when we had the septic replaced, they left us a large pile of dirt- mostly clay from where they excavated for the new tank.  The septic guy offered to spread it around for us, but we knew we had plans for that pile of dirt.  And today was the day!!
I14 and I took turns with the mattock, hacking away at the clay to loosen it up.
 Love the action shots!
 He and I worked on filling the dump wagon attached to the lawn tractor.
 V helped fill and empty the wagon at either end.
 And J17 and K11 filled and smoothed behind the walls.
 All in all, it went pretty quickly.  We filled behind both walls in about three and a half hours total.  And we've still got half a pile of dirt left!  Probably a good thing since I'm sure that the fill will settle when it rains.  And we've also got some filling to do again as the septic continues to settle.  You'd think that after more than a year that it would be finished settling but we still need to add some more dirt over the top- again!
But, lest you think the day was all work and no play.  No such thing! This morning, I went to the fabric store while V was at Kum Do since I needed some batting.  Of course, I lucked out that their fabric remnants were all half price.  Hmm, so I picked up a few for coordinates for my new project.  I've been going through the stash.  The scrap stash.  And it's got some treasures!!
A number of years ago, one of my aunts passed away (Aunt E).  She was a quilter and crafter and since I was the only quilter in the family, I was gifted with her fabric and scrap stash.  In it were some wonderful vintage fabrics that I have never used:
 They will be great for my new project:
I had so much fun making that last little pot holder, I decided to whip up a few for holiday gifts this year.  I must be out of practice (I haven't done any quilting for probably at least 4 years!!).  I noticed that one of my points is a little off. Grr...  But not enough that I'm going to rip it out.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

The Last Tomato

They're all gone.
We ate the last garden tomato this evening.  Of course, having fresh tomatoes into mid November has been an accomplishment but I'll miss them. August seems a long way away but I refuse to buy tomatoes at the store.
Now, the only thing I've got going is a little kale and chard still out in the garden.  We had 20F (about -6C) this morning so I'm not sure how long the chard will last- but I'm hoping to nurse the kale along for a while.  I've got some row covers but they aren't thermal ones so I'm not sure I'll bother.  They would only give me a few degrees of protection.

In other news, our new therapist, the one we just hired in August, is leaving us. It was a tough decision for her.  She is a world class athlete and has the opportunity for a paid sponsorship to train for the Olympics.  It's a chance she couldn't pass up- and I wouldn't want her to.  So, we will be back to being short staffed.  I'm not sure what this means for my work hours.  Management didn't allow me to reduce my hours to 90% until she was hired and trained so I'm hoping they don't try to make me go back.  I'm really enjoying my every-other Monday off, and I'll appreciate it more when next spring's gardening gets going.
Of course, V said that the money would be nice if I went back to 100%.  He isn't bringing in as much these days.  It's a complicated story but one of the people he was writing for lost her main contract due to the bad economy so he no longer is subcontracting from her.  sigh...  He still has his other writing job but it doesn't bring in much.  He's looking again so we'll see what happens.  Although at this point, I'm more inclined to tighten our belts than go back to 100%.  The difference in pay for me isn't that much- only a few hundred dollars a month.  I've been wondering if there is anything I could do in my 'spare' time to bring in a little extra cash.  I've been wondering about learning to make soap, or some sewing projects that I could maybe sell on Etsy- although I don't know how much that would actually bring in.  If the chickens were producing more, I would have a few $ of egg money but we're only getting 4 or so eggs a day- they add up but it wouldn't be much at this point.  At least we've just about finished the big, expensive house projects.  But, most likely next fall, we'll be facing college tuition.  Eek.  We definitely are living in interesting times.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

I need a plan

I've got some planning to do.  We will be going to my parent's next week for Thanksgiving.  I'm in charge of dessert.  ACK!  My Mom is a fabulous cook, and while I'm pretty good, I always worry that I'll somehow disappoint her when I bring something to dinner.  Absurd, I know but I'm always a bit nervous.  I want to bring something (actually probably more than one something) that's yummy and easy to transport.  I'm not too sure about pie.  While it's traditional- it's, well, traditional.
I've been looking through some magazines.  The latest edition of Vegetarian Times has a recipe for Cranberry Bars that looks fabulously yummy so it's probably a go- if only for the neon color.  But I want something else as well.  I saw a recipe for caramel pecan hand pies (I think in Food and Wine) but it uses over a pound of butter and I just don't know if I can do that.  4 entire sticks of butter in just the crust (12 servings).  It seems a bit excessive.  Especially when you add in more butter, caramel and pecans.
I've got cranberry bars but I still need to find something else. Any ideas??

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Done and done...

I've got a confession to make.  I've been home sick for the past day and a half.  My co-workers sent me home on Monday.  Good thing because I was running a fever and had almost no voice.  So, I bundled up at home and worked on quiet things- like sewing.  I had an off and on fever all day yesterday and last night so I was still considered 'toxic' today.  Of course, I was feeling a bit better, especially by this afternoon so I managed to get a few things done.
I folded laundry that had been languishing in laundry baskets and sorted socks while watching Paula Deen use lots and lots of butter.  I finished my apron, hand stitching the facing in place.  And I finished a little something else:
The quilt block was one I had lying around.  It was a practice block for one of the children's baby quilts (I think K11's) so that tells you how old it is!  So I made a potholder.  Nothing fancy but I did use it already.  I discovered a winter squash that had developed a soft spot so decided it needed used quickly.  This lovely potholder worked wonderfully to take the pan of roasted squash out of the oven.  Hoorah.   Hmm, maybe I can whip up a few more quickly for holiday gifts.   They wouldn't take much fabric and I'm sure I've got some great scraps in the scrap bag that would make some fun ones. Ooo... the creative wheels are turning!!
I also managed to get the broom corn stalks out of the garden.  They had such massive root systems that I ended up having to use a shovel to loosen the roots.  Yeesh.  J17 owes me $ for gas money that she begged last week so I've decided to have her pay it back by helping me rake all the remaining plant material out of the garden.  I want to get it all cleared before the snow flies to remove any homes for overwintering nasty bugs.
Tomorrow, it's back to work.  Now, I've gotta go figure out what to do with a pan of roasted squash with rosemary.  Hmm, I see lunch tomorrow... and the next day....

Monday, November 14, 2011

Love the end product

Hated the process.
Ok, I'm almost done with my apron.  I've still got to stitch down the waistband facing but it's essentially finished.  I must say, I love the way it turned out... but if I ever say I'm going to make another apron from this pattern- please shoot me!  It was a huge pain! The directions often seemed to make things more difficult than they had to be.  But, here is the end product:
The inset ruffle on the bottom was annoying to put in (it is a bit wider than it looks in the photo- it's hanging weird).
There is a cross strap in the back to keep the straps from slipping during strenuous cooking sprees:
 And a back view- it has a little ties to make a bow in the back:
 But I do kind of like the bib.
It did take an extraordinary amount of bias tape.  Out of three packages I've got maybe a foot left of one and two feet of another. The third was used up except for an inch!  And to think that the pattern actually called for making your own.  Ack!!  However, with all the edges finished in bias tape it should stand up well in the wash- which is a good thing for an apron.  And, personally, I think the pocket is too small...
But, I am pleased that my fabric choices worked as well as they did.  Not bad for bits from the stash and scrap box.
And OK, the obligatory modeling shot:
Thanks J17 for the photography.
And thanks to Susan for the challenge.  This was a great way to jumpstart my winter sewing plans.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

A Sunny November Sunday

It was a quiet but productive day today.  Everyone slept in a bit. V and I stayed up later than usual last night watching a movie, so this morning I actually slept until 8:30!!  That late is usually unheard of for me.
Sadly, I feel like I'm coming down with something, I've got a cough and was running a low fever this morning.  That being the case, I begged off going to J17's orchestra concert this afternoon since I didn't want to inflict my cough or my germs on an audience.
I didn't feel too bad though, so I spent some time outside continuing to put the garden to bed for the winter.  I tackled the tedious but necessary job of pulling all the dead runner bean vines off my trellis netting.  I planted some scarlet runner beans this year.  Actually, they were the last of old seeds I had. The first time I tried them, bunnies ate off every one.  I didn't have too much seed and the weather wasn't too cooperative for them this year, but I let some dry on the vines for seed for next year.  I shelled those out this afternoon as well.
 They don't produce a lot of beans per pod but they are beautiful!
 I really like this photo- I may have to crop it for use as a header sometime.
While I was out in the garden I also pulled and stored all the tomato cages and noticed that, amazingly enough, the marjoram I had planted out there was still alive.  Good thing, because the one I had in a pot on the porch all summer died as soon as I brought it inside.  So, I did a bit of a swapsie-  I ditched the one in the pot and potted the one from the garden.  Hopefully it makes it.  I do love marjoram (or any fresh herb).  I've put it in a sunnier location than I had the other one.  I think it didn't get enough light.  Our good windows for plants are fairly limited.  But I've now got it on the kitchen counter to the side of the sink.  I've got a pot of lemon thyme on the other side of the sink that is doing well so I'll cross my fingers.  The window faces south so if I can keep the cats from knocking them over, I think they'll be fine.
While I was in the garden and J17 was off to a last rehearsal and then concert, V and the boys were working out back.  Before we backfill behind the new retaining wall, V wanted to lay some drain pipe and also some ethernet cable.  Yes, we will soon have internet access in the shop!
 Above, V and K11 backfill the cable trench, below, I14 starts filling in behind the wall
V wants to eventually set up an office out in the shop- there was an office there before but it was in bad shape.  He's thinking about getting a wood stove for out there sometime to heat not only the office space but also make the rest of the shop more useable in the winter months.
He also spent some time mowing the sledding trails down the hill- priorities, you know...
Afterward the poor thing was so tired, he had to hake a nap with Spaz:
Aren't they cute.  Spaz definitely has a rough life.
One thing we didn't get done was the remaining wire on the chicken run top.  It was warm today (around 60F) but incredibly windy and neither one of us felt like manhandling rolls of chicken wire overhead or being up on ladders in the wind.
And I haven't taken time to work on my apron either.  Maybe tonight after dinner.  I've got a deadline coming up.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Catching up

It's been a busy few days but I've really got not much to say.  Work has been hectic and I'm glad it's the weekend.  Yesterday was another teenage game day here.  9 teenagers were hanging around all day (10 am to 8 pm!!) but it was loads of fun, even though I was at work for most of the day.  We provided lunch and the rest of the kids brought other snacks for the day including 'heavy snacking' that they had for dinner.  We really tried for not so much junk food as last time but I fear multiple bags of tortilla chips and doritos were consumed.
Today, I had some time to go to the holiday craft/farmers market in town.  Amazingly enough, I bumped into the mom of two of the teens who had been at our house all day yesterday.  She was one of the vendors, selling handmade soap and embroidery.  The market wasn't too busy (the Hawkeye football game had just started) so we stood and chatted for probably 20 minutes.  I'm thinking that here is a relationship to cultivate.  She is also into real, sustainable food and evidently her husband was excited to hear that we've got chickens (they can't since they're in town and the chicken ordinance hasn't been passed) and wants to come see them.  Maybe we'll have to have them out for dinner sometime.  I'm kind of hoping that I can talk her into teaching me how to make soap.
This afternoon, V and I finally got the roofing panels up on the chicken run:
 I carried and lifted panels into place and V fastened them:
Now just over half the run has a roof on it.  The panels still let in plenty of light, especially through the two south windows into the coop, but will provide some shelter from the elements.  We still want to put up some chicken wire over the top of the rest of the run to keep out predators-  we have already noticed two of the big Rough-legged Hawks that overwinter here and I spotted an eagle yesterday and a great horned owl again at sunset.
I hope the chickens appreciate all this work done on their behalf.
Here they are, all roosted for the night... Except Magnus is wondering what I'm up to... coming in after dark...
Depending on the weather tomorrow, we'll try to put up the rest of the run covering.  But J17 has an orchestra concert in the afternoon that we want to go to.  And sometime I need to find some time to work on my apron!

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Woke to snow

This morning when I got up there were big clumps of cold, wet white stuff falling from the sky!  It snowed pretty heavily for most of the morning and then cleared off.  The snow didn't stick.  Thank goodness!  Even though it's November and this is Iowa, I'm still not really ready for this.
Otherwise, not much going on with me.  I did stop at the fabric store while we were out and about while K11 was at band to pick up another package of bias tape.  This stupid pattern takes SO much of the stuff that I knew I wasn't going to have enough.  I know it will look great when it's done but, UGH, I feel like I've stitched the same few inches of fabric so many times already!!

Monday, November 7, 2011

Today I realized...

Today I realized that small kitchen appliances, like the food they prepare, have seasons.  Summer is the season of the food processor- making pesto, salsa and salads.  Now, we are entering the season of the immersion blender.  V got me one of these as a holiday gift quite a few years ago.  Honestly, when I opened the package I was thinking- what on earth am I going to do with this...  But I have grown to love it.  This is the season of creamy, hearty soups, blended to perfection with the hand blender.  Mmmm...  Yesterday's lunch was a wonderful blend of sweet potato, broccoli, celery, onion and garlic in a chicken stock base.  All blended together to a creamy goodness.  Fall and winter is my season for thick soups.  Soon we will enter the season of the stand mixer- concocting holiday goodies.  Winter is also my traditional season where I rely more heavily on the crock pot.  So, even appliances have their seasons.
My back was feeling a bit better today.  Still not 100% but better enough that I could do several loads of laundry and get a sewing station set up in the basement.  My apron was cut out and I got a start on sewing it.
 Please, if I ever decide to make another apron- remind me of what a pain in the Bu** this pattern is!
It involves LOTS of bias tape edging,  It looks good but it's a bit tedious.  The pattern actually called for making your own bias edging.  Um, no thanks, even though I have the little tool to fold it.
You can see by the kitty paws below that Spaz helped hold the pieces in place:
 You can always count on cats to help with sewing- especially with the flimsy pattern pieces!!
Even though I had an eye appointment this afternoon. I still had time when I got home for some cooking.  Lasagna for dinner:
 And some bread...
 I tried a new recipe for a whole wheat Italian loaf.  It would have been much better if I hadn't forgotten to put the salt in the recipe.  I was mixing it up as the children were arriving home from school and got distracted.  Oops...  Still, it has promise.  A bit more dense than I think of for Italian bread but that's the whole wheat.
V was also busy today.  He got the last big pier poured for the deck extension.  Isn't he cute with his little cement truck??
 He mixes it up one bag at a time in the shop so he can use his big drill with a special mixing tool attachment and hauls it in the wagon to the house so he doesn't have to carry it so far.  He's saving his back as well.  And, yes, he's wearing a mask to avoid breathing concrete dust.  Too much nastiness in there.
He's making good progress on the back:
 Both retaining walls are now in place and the piers on either side are poured.  If you look at the deck on the south (right) side of the house- the extension will be at the same height wrapping around this end of the house right over the back door. We've got a big pile of dirt that will be used to backfill behind the new wall to even out the slope under the deck.  Because the space between the new walls is wider than the existing sidewalk, V poured an extension last night:
So this will be a little back patio under the deck on the West side of the house.  We spend a lot of time outside in the summer so this will be additional living space.  There is a tree on the northwest corner that will provide shade in summer.  We're doing the retaining wall and concrete footer work this fall and will tackle the deck build next spring or early summer.  It's our last major project except for window replacement (but the windows will be done piecemeal over the next few years).  I'm still waiting for a room to be completely finished but, hey, it's coming along.  And I'm getting used to living in a construction zone!!
I hope you all had a productive start to your week as well.