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Thursday, January 29, 2009

It's Been A Week...

This is the ride my emotions (and I suspect my hormones) have been on this week. I'll explain in a few days or a week or a month. I need to get off the ride, first.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Warm Sweater Wednesday/trivial thoughts

It was WSW today - did you turn back your thermostat a few degrees? We finally had a high temp today above 32 degrees, and it was the first in the last six days that we had no snow. Yea!
I have a kitty sleeping on my feet right now - they're staying toasty warm!

On a sad note, my herbs are not doing well. They seem to have stopped growing and are just "there". I think this weekend I may try to take them out of the bags and pot them up - we'll see if that helps.

Greg is watching "Ghost Hunters International" and they're in a house in Sweden, speaking to the ghosts in English. Really? Do the Swedish ghosts from hundreds of years ago understand English?

I made homemade rye bread today (yes, using a bread machine) and plan to have yummy patty melts for supper tomorrow night.

I'm helping Randy paint inside at one of the rental houses. Tomorrow we tackle the navy blue bedroom and the Spiderman (blue/red) bedroom walls. The former tenants painted them and I'm afraid I'm going to go blind before we get them covered! What were they thinking? The third bedroom is painted gray with a Harley Davidson border. We're leaving that one alone. :o)

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Herb Update

Remember a few weeks ago when I planted those little bags with herb seeds? Well, after 5 days of sitting on top of the heating pad, covered in a plastic bag, there were sprouts!

Now they seem to grow more by the hour and are almost to the point where I'll need to thin them out. I hate thinning, because it seems such a waste of a potential plant, but if I'm going to get nice herbs, they'll need room to grow.
Supposedly in another 3 1/2 weeks, I'll be able to harvest the basil. The chives will be ready by then, too, I think. Not sure about the dill - we'll see.
I found the crate at Goodwill the other day for 99 cents. Isn't it perfect?


One of my biggest backyard pleasures is feeding and watching the birds all year round. As you can imagine, we don't have many varieties winter-over here in the Heartland, but the ones that do stay provide quite a show!
Let me tell you, when there is snow on the ground, those feeders have to be filled daily. Right now, for food, I'm only using black oil sunflower seeds. I usually have a thistle feeder or two for the finches, but have you seen the price of thistle seed lately?! Ouch. All the birds we have now will eat the sunflower seeds, though. (I do not buy "mixes" since they pick out the sunflower seeds and leave the milo to sprout in my yard in the springtime!)
Tuesday morning we had dozens and dozens of birdies at the two feeders. They were mostly sparrows, house finches, goldfinches, and dark-eyed juncos. That's the usual "menu" of birds in my backyard in the winter, with the exception of the nasty starlings, and the occasional cardinal, bluejay, and nuthatch. I got a few photos through the window - the sky was cloudy early in the day, so the pictures look a little bleak, but we ended up with a beautiful, sunny, warm winter day. tree full of birdies - mostly American Goldfinches

female house finch - blurry photo because the feeder was swinging back and forth in the wind...
The feeders can be seen easily from the south-facing windows of the sunroom, and my kitty-boy Tucker parks himself there every morning to watch and cry. He starts out pawing the window, then resigns himself to the fact that he's only a spectator. Poor boy.

American Goldfinch - one of my favorite birds

What kinds of backyard birds do you have in the winter?

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Warm Sweater Wednesday

Who needs a sweater today? Not me! The sun is shining and it's going to hit 50 this afternoon, so the furnace won't run much, even set at 63 - which is where it is now. Temps will be the same tomorrow. Yea!
Believe me when I say how appreciative I am of this little warm spell, especially when the high on Friday is forecast to be 20. Just in time to make the weekend too cold for comfort.

I was asking Greg last night about when we should schedule a trip to North Dakota to see Jessica and deliver the last of her furniture to her (we've been storing it in our garage). I suggested we go in a couple of weeks. He didn't seem too enthused and I asked if he had a problem going to see his daughter. He said no, but not now, let's wait until it's warm!

Honey, we're talking NORTH DAKOTA - it won't be warm until June!

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Pay It Forward

My sweet friend Susan offered a PIF project on her blog back in November. I signed up to participate, but haven't posted about it until now.
Here's how it works:
I will make you a handmade gift for each of the first 3 people who post comment on this post, but you have to have a blog yourself, and be willing to pass on the 'pay it forward' concept. You then put it on your blog and make three gifts for other people. This is a fun way to get to know other people, and to spread some crafty love around the world!

The rules state that I have 365 days to make a gift and send it to you. I promise, it won't take that long.

C'mon and join the fun! Just leave a quick comment telling me you want to play and we'll be on our way!

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Furniture Re-Do

For part of their Christmas gifts for Grace and Taylor, I refurbished a couple of furniture pieces.
The desk for Taylor was purchased at Goodwill one cold, rainy Autumn afternoon. I already had a small backpack and some drawing paper and markers for part of her gift, so this went perfectly as the main piece. It was in very good shape, though Greg tightened all the screws to make it less wobbly. He says he thinks it was built from a kit.
I sanded it, then remembered to take a photo. Here's the before:
Angela didn't care what color I painted it as long as it wasn't pink. :o) I chose a very bright blue in a satin finish. First I primed using Zinsser Bin 1 2 3. That stuff sticks to anything. Then a couple of coats of the blue.
Instead of painting the seat, I used a thick piece of foam and some lime green fleece. This wasn't my original plan, but it's how it worked out, and the finished look is so bright and fun! Taylor looks like she enjoys it. :o)
The other project was to rehabilitate an old cabinet for Grace. This little cupboard originally belonged to my Aunt Jan. It was a birthday gift to her when she was little, and was built by her uncle (?). I remember this cupboard being in the guest room at Grandma's when I was little. After I had kids, Jan gave the cupboard to me, asking only that I keep it in the family if I ever wanted to get rid of it. I was doing home daycare at the time, so it got lots of use. Once the kids outgrew it, I used it for storage, and a couple of years ago, we took it out to the garage where it continued to store odds and ends I used in gardening and crafting. My estimation is that the cabinet is about 50 years old.
When I was visiting at my brother's house one morning, Grace was playing in their china hutch, claiming one of the drawers as her own. I remembered the little cabinet, and decided that would be her Christmas present, along with a fun little tea set. I talked to Aunt Jan to make sure it was okay to paint and re-do it, first. She was okay with the idea - I hope she's okay with the result! It was passed on to Grace with the understanding that it will stay in the family when they're done with it.
This first photo is the before, though I'd already taken the back panel off. Originally the entire piece had a hard cardboard kind of back on it, but there were holes in it and it was popping off the back, so I got rid of it.
Grace's favorite color is orange, so I picked out five different orange paint chips and had Grace pick her favorite. Her choice was "grated carrot" in a satin finish.
I decided to only replace the back on the bottom part and leave the top open for more of a display cabinet feel. The top doors came off, and the warped shelf was replaced. The replacement is just a white laminated shelf, modge podged with scrapbooking paper.

The drawer handles are original to the piece. The door knobs are what was on the cabinet. I don't remember if I put those on or if they were on it when I got it, but they were gold-ish and tarnished and ugly. They all look great with a couple coats of watermelon-colored spray paint.
We delivered the cabinet a couple of days after Christmas and immediately the kids divided the drawers and shelves between them and started filling it up with the tea set and other toys.
Taylor's desk has a history - somewhere. I don't know who used it, if it was a gift, what their favorite activity was to use it for. We're starting anew with memories for that piece. I hope that it will keep for generations, but whether it does or not, any enjoyment she gets from it now is enough.
Grace's cabinet is full of family history and I hope one day she will appreciate that and be thankful that she and her brothers got to add to the memories made with it. Just seeing how much fun they had filling it up for the first time made me smile.

Warm Sweater Wednesday

It's been a month ago that I first posted here about WSW. We've done just so-so with Warm Sweater Wednesday the past few weeks. It was so cold and windy that we just couldn't turn down the heat. However, I didn't turn it up, either.
Last week was New Year's Eve, and no one was home all day, so the thermostat stayed set at 63 degrees. This is the normal setting for during the day, in case I don't come home right after I get off work at 8 a.m. When I get home, I usually turn it up to 68.
Today I did not. It's pretty chilly outside, in the 30's, and snowing off and on, but I left the thermostat at 63. When I first got home, I cleaned up the kitchen, then went to bed - remnants of a migraine only gave me 3 1/2 hours of sleep last night so a nap was badly needed. The bed was warm and cozy and I didn't even notice the cooler temp in the house.
I've been up for a few hours now, and am baking cookies and wearing layers, so I'm really quite comfortable. I think I'll just leave the setting at 63 until the thermostat changes itself to 68 at 4:00 or so.
You may have surmised that we have a programmable thermostat. This has been the biggest money-saver in the winter! It is programmed for 63 during the day, unless I change it, then 68 for the evening. At 11:00 it goes down to 60 for the night. (We have a dual-control heated mattress pad, so we stay toasty warm, don't worry.) At 3:30 it goes back up to 68 - I get up at 4, so the house is at least beginning to warm up then. Greg leaves for work a little before 7, so that's when it goes back down to 63.
Now I've had people mention to me that letting the house and furniture get cold overnight takes so much more heat to warm it up in the morning, that it cancels out any savings we might have by turning the furnace down at night. I beg to differ. A few years ago the gas man was here to hook up the new gas cook stove and he mentioned that we had the lowest gas bill in our entire town. Granted, that's just over 100 houses, but that's fairly significant. I can't say it's true today, but it proved to me that what we were doing was working.

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Tablescape Tuesday

"The dinner table is the heart of the home, a magic place where moments are treasured and memories made. Family events, anniversaries, and holidays are all celebrated at the table, a place where children are taught, business is conducted, and romance is found, a setting that greets with a silent message: 'Welcome. A place is prepared for you.' " (from The Art of Tables and Table Manners by Suzanne Von Drachenfels)
I have always loved a nicely set table, whether with a touch of formality or whimsy and fun. The past few months I've followed Susan's "Tablescape Tuesday" and been very inspired by the beautiful tablesettings posted each week.
We rarely sit at the table to eat because that's how Greg likes it, but now and again I will insist, and he'll oblige. He was grilling filet mignons for supper on New Years Day, so I set the table and threw together a quick centerpiece so we could enjoy a nice meal together, and I could participate for the first time in Tablescape Tuesday.A white tablecoth was layered with a gold runner. I'm kind of a minimalist and like to keep any centerpiece simple. Some Christmas tree balls and candles did the trick for me.

The napkin rings were picked up last summer. My dishes are Mikasa French Countryside stoneware. These are the dishes we registered for when we got married 27 1/2 years ago. Simple black chargers underneath.
The water glasses are also Mikasa French Countryside, a Christmas gift this year. I set champagne glasses since we were celebrating the New Year.
It was fun to put this table together, simple as it is. If you want to see more, visit Between Naps on the Porch every Tuesday!

Monday, January 05, 2009

A Little Needlework

My internet friend, Joanne, has started a new business and is offering a free cross-stitch chart to celebrate. I stitched it up over the weekend, and though it's not framed or finished into anything, I wanted to share it with you. Joanne had mentioned in an email about finishing the snowflake with a pearl, and I just love how that works.
Tucker really likes it, too! :o)

Visit Joanne's web site, Of Generations Past to find out about her new business, and to get this free chart!

Sunday, January 04, 2009

Winter Gardening

I've been a pretty avid gardener for the past 10 years or so, mostly flowers and a few herbs. I love my fresh herbs all through the summer and fall. On Christmas Day, I had just mentioned to my sister-in-law how I was missing them, and the next gift I opened were these! Dill, chives, and my favorite, basil, each in its own "bag garden". Yea!
Today I finally had enough holiday stuff cleaned up and cleared off the counters that I could set them up. The instructions were pretty simple: cut open the bags, moisten the soil, sprinkle the seeds, cover with a plastic bag, and keep in a warm place. Each came with seeds, soil, and wood chips at the bottom of the bag for drainage.
Here is the dill, before covering the seeds with a little soil.
I set up a little "warm place" on a counter in the sunroom using the heating pad set on LOW, wrapped in a towel, with a plastic lid on top. This should work until the seeds germinate in 5-7 days.
In about six weeks I can use the first basil leaves. Oooh, I can't wait!