Monday, February 29, 2016

What in the World?

Do you remember World Magazine?

It was the kids' version of National Geographic, back in the 70s and 80s.

Ad-free and sophisticated precursor to today's hyper-advertizing, technology-obsessed NG Kids.

Anyway, on the back page, there was always a series of close-up photos of everyday objects.

You had to guess what in the world they were.

(I'm not actually certain that "What in the World?" was the name of that feature, but if it wasn't it should have been.)

I had fun taking what-in-the-world-type photos of the sapping operation Saturday.

I didn't get any shots of the finished product--I'm only good for about five minutes of watching water boil--but I'm sure I'll have plenty of opportunity over the next couple of weeks.

Friday, February 26, 2016

Sneak Peek

In the weeks leading up to Christmas last year, I found myself staying up ridiculously late at night working on ornaments for my family ornament exchange. It made me tired and grumpy and not especially full of Christmas cheer. So, with that memory fresh in my mind, I got started on next year's ornaments sometime around January 2. For reals. I've never in my life gotten started on anything Christmas earlier than, say, October (make that November), so this was quite a coup.

For several weeks, whenever we watched TV or movies, I busied myself with hand-sewing. Slowly. Steadily. Without pressure or stress. I had them done by early February, and tucked them away for timely gifting next Christmas, at which time I'll share more details.

Thursday, February 25, 2016

February Knit ~ Another Baby Hat

I got another quick knit in this month. It's the twin to last month's baby hat, only with the stripes reversed (it's the same pale green and purple, but the colors look different because I photographed it in some crazy afternoon sun. I love the light but it doesn't do much for the color!). 

This one I actually made before the baby in question was born, and it's the rarest of rare species these days--a surprise baby--so the gender-neutral green and purple are perfect.

Pattern and yarn information and notes, such as they are, on my Ravelry page.

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Wild Wednesday ~ Nature Through a Child's Eyes

Saturday we went on a stomp through the muddy woods, with Z leading us on a circuitous route to the river. I coaxed E, who was in a snit, to come along by offering him the use of my camera. I love what he saw.

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Out With the Old

I bought my sewing machine from my aunt for $25 about 19 years ago. It had been my grandmother's originally (I still have the manual, on which is written in my grandmother's spidery cursive "Bought October 1978"), and that allowed me to forgive its many faults and foibles. I'll never possess my grandmother's sewing skills and if it was good enough for her, it should be good enough for me. And then a couple of years ago ago my aunt asked me if I was still using the same machine. "Mom hated that machine," she said, and had bought a different one not long after. That put a different spin on my sentimental attachment to it, but I kept motoring along with it for a few more years.

The last few times I used it, though, the bobbin-jamming issue that had always plagued it became almost constant. And then E and I decided to make M some bean bags a few of weeks ago (M is learned to juggle in PE and needed some beanbags so he could show off his mad skillz), and the thread just went on a tangled mess. I suppose I could have taken it in to get serviced and eaked out a few more years of service, but I'd had it. I went into a sewing machine shop, but they weren't interested in talking to me about used machines, and I wasn't interested in buying a new one (they cost as much as I paid for my car!), so I went online and bid on my very first ever eBay auction. The box came last week (much to Z's delight--I think he's part cat).

And I set it up Saturday morning. It's the same model my mom bought back when I was a kid (and probably the same age; possibly even older than my own machine). I found a copy of the manual online and got it up and running. Once I figured out what all of the buttons and dials do, it worked beautifully. Its first project was those beanbags, finally, and the second was a curtain for the "new" bathroom. I even figured out the blind hemmer function. I had to order a new cord/foot pedal (the one it came with had been damaged and repaired in a way that didn't look exactly safe) and lightbulb, but otherwise it's as good as (almost) new. 

I used the opportunity to tidy up the drawers on my sewing table and get all ready for the projects I've been putting off due to machine frustration.

Monday, February 22, 2016

Bathroom Refresh

I got it into my head a few months ago to repaint our downstairs bathroom. I even bought the paint and supplies in early December, momentarily deluded that I'd have time to paint right before Christmas. When we planned our house, I had a clear mental picture of what color I wanted each room to be, except this bathroom. I finally settled on a yellowish green that I've never liked, despite it being very close in hue to my favorite color (but not close enough).

Before (garish, no?)

After (much better?)

I realized turquoise was the color this room was meant to be. I had picked out the color I wanted, but then picked a different, slightly darker, more greenish shade when I got to the paint store. And then the color mixing machine malfunctioned and didn't add the correct amount of pigment. The paint guy was able to remix to something that looked right (though I was a bit nervous that it would look like toothpaste) and sold me the can for half price. 

The color turned out perfect (it does look better in real life than in these pictures--it's really hard to take pictures of a bathroom. I have new respect for catalog photographers), but it got a bit dodgy near the end--I only bought a quart, thinking that's what we'd used the first time. I scraped every last drop of paint out of the can and only managed a second coat in spots where the green showed through. I could have gone out for another can, but there was that little issue of the messed up can of paint and the chance that the second can wouldn't quite match.

For the finishing touch, I made a curtain of greenish voile with little turquoise flowers, as a nod to the old green walls, and replaced the old switch plate which had gotten grubby over the years with this sweet one from Honeybee Ceramics.

It's so nice having a newly painted (not to mention thoroughly cleaned and reorganized) room that I keep finding excuses to hang out in there (the poor fish is going to be overfed).

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Valentine's Weekend

I had a gloriously long weekend, with the holiday Monday and a sick kid on Friday (I should caveat that having a sick kid is not actually glorious, but he wasn't that very sick, just coughing so much that his teacher asked him to kindly stay home).

I used to have a four-day weekend every week. I forgot how great that was. What an idiot I was to give it up!

With the extra time, I was able to get started on a household project I've been meaning to get to for months--more on that next week.

I also got out for a nice long walk in the woods every day, sometimes with companions, and sometimes alone.

I made these cookies and sent out Valentine's cards (this year's card--the reflection of a pink crabapple tree in a heart-shaped puddle--only showed up on Saturday. I was feeling very irritated with the photo-card company for taking two weeks to get my cards to me, while at the same time feeling very first-world-problem-guilty, especially after my complaint email to customer service was answered by someone in India).

E, Z, and I carried on our tradition of making a Valentine's Day gingerbread house (okay, not much of a tradition since the last one we made, as far as I can tell from scanning ye olde blogge, was in 2011). This was from a kit I got for $1.75 post-Christmas. So we started with graham cracker houses and have progressed to the kit--someday we may even make one from scratch (though the kit seems to be the cheapest and easiest way to make one).

C and I had an old-people's Valentine's Day date--we went out to breakfast and then to the garden center to buy a new bird feeder (a festive Valentine's Day red one).

It's taken the birds a while to get used to it, but I think they're coming around.

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Wild Wednesday ~ Ice Sculpture

Winter finally decided to get serious this weekend, with temperatures dropping below zero Friday, Saturday, and Sunday nights (negative 13 Monday morning!).

The ice on the river, which had been a soggy mess reformed (upstream; downstream it's been a wide-open channel all winter) and C and I took a walk upstream on Monday. 

The ice had formed all kinds of interesting shapes over the weeks of melt and freeze and melt and freeze, with the last places to freeze over, low and shiny, and forbiddingly dark.

Remember in the fall when I was looking for a witch hazel tree? We found one leaning out over the water--where I could never have gotten to back in November. The little flower-looking thingies are the calyxes, or the whorl of flower sepals. 

We saw so many interesting patterns and formations in the ice: scallops.



Bundles of needles.

Bubbles of ice flowing out of the side of the bank.

Ice islands in ice streams.

Puzzle pieces.

Fish bones of slick, shiny black ice.

Another thing we wouldn't see without walking on the river--the way the hemlock trees grow right out of the side of the bank; in fact, the way they hold the bank back and keep it from collapsing into the river.

And also this fungus growing on a tree where we climbed back up onto land. I don't know what it is, but it looks pretty neat.

What's wild in your neck of the woods this week?

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