Monday, October 10, 2011

What's Old is New Again!

What's Old is New Again!

I have been waiting for my youngest son to leave home for the third time. He left the first time to move out on his own. Then he was called to active duty and go to Iraq for a year. Now he has a job and have moved out again. While I have mixed emotions about him finally leaving home, I am excited about turning his room into some new...again.

I had thought years ago when son #2 moved out I would make a guest room. I have hung on to that for such a long time. Then it occurred to me that I could make an office/fiber studio in there and use the smaller second bedroom as a guest room. So it is taking place now. It's horrifying to me to post this first picture but I wanted you to see the before and in working progress pictures.
This is my son's room right before he moved out. And now it looks like this...
My husband ripped out the carpet and the padding. Then (because it drives him crazy) he screwed down the under flooring that squeaked. Here is the primer, paint for the ceiling and paint for the wall.

Here is one corner primed near the closet. Please ignore the time stamp. It's way wrong because I took these pictures today.

This is a shot of the only window in the room. The black area to the right of the window is the access to the pipes for the water in the bathroom that butts up to the bedroom. There is framed square of wood that covers that up with molding. I will have to paint the molding so that stuff has been moved. I have to rough it up a bit and then paint it the new trim color.

The really cool tool that is the tallest in this picture, is ceiling popcorn scraper. It worked like a charm and all that mess is gone, gone, gone. So now the ceiling has to be primed to cover up the little marks from scraping the popcorn off. It looks so much better.

Here is another corner of the room that has the water pipe access for the other bathroom. I thought that this room should be the fiber studio because every time someone runs water in either bathroom, the poor person who sleeps in this room has to hear every drop. Not great for sleeping so I have been told about a million times by my son. I painted five different colors on the walls to see what I liked. I wanted to do a more tan color for the wall and a beige color for the ceiling. Since there is going to be so much color from all the yarn stash, I figured neutral colors would be the best.

The ceiling got one coat of primer so far. We bought flooring for this bedroom and the smaller one since it was on sale. When we get all the stuff out of one room the other one will be cleared to start the whole process all over again. A metal shelving rack has been purchased from Lowe's and I think I will go and get another one that is a wee bit smaller to put in front of the window. I want to put some plants in there and fix up a spot for the cat for when he out runs the dogs. So that is where we are in the fiber studio so far. I will make updates as soon as we get something done.

Monday, September 19, 2011

It's Sock Time!

It's Sock Time

I joined a group on Ravelry that is knitting socks all year round. I started off with the best of intentions but fizzled out when I lost my knitting mojo. When I finally found it, I knit all of those Waffleknit Dish/Wash cloths (40). It was mindless knitting that I could take anywhere and thankfully,they sparked my desire to knit again. Since then I have knit one pair of socks and have another pair on the needles. I helped someone put a border on a handspun knit gift for a wedding and a misc. scarf for a coffee shop owner where we gather twice a month to knit. I was just trying to burn up yarn and Angela said she liked it and it's found a new home. I know I have not made as much of a dent in my stash as I wanted but I have been trying.

I just finished these socks a few weeks ago but my blogging has been hit or miss lately. So here is the newest green socks with a pattern that I have used before. I truly love this pattern. I tried another yarn with this cabled pattern but it just didn't let the cables shine through so I frogged them and changed yarn.
As much stuff as I order from KnitPicks over the years, you would think that I would have actually ordered some yarn from them, but I have not. Well, at least not this year. Right before I knew I would not be ordering yarn, I went in with a mass order with some friends. So I ordered some yarn and this is one of the yarns I ordered. I think it's Stroll but I can't find the ball band. Here is the sideview of the sock. I didn't line up the cables very well for the photo op but they are there. There are two in the fron and two in the back up to here I put in the after thought heel. I love that heel! It's a bit annoying to pick up the stitches later, but the look is so worth it. I did not use reinforcement on the heel or the toe. I forgot. I like the extra strength but opps!
I know there is a huge ladder right down the front of the sock. I had a run-away stitch that I dropped and had to pick it up. When I did it made the ladder. I am hoping when the socks are washed and dried that will go away. These are some of the easiest socks I have ever knit. I would recommend this pattern to an advanced beginner who want to try cables.
Here is a more close up view. Can you tell I really love these socks. This is pair number three I have done with this patter and I think there will be more down the pike. Happy Knitting!

Saturday, September 10, 2011

A Quickie Craft Idea

A Quickie Craft Idea

I have been cruising craft blogs for months now looking for inspiration and I found it. This seems to be a new trend and I for one, love it! It's such a simple idea that I can't believe I have not done this sooner. This is the simplest idea ever! Not much money either. So it's a hit with me!
How cool is this? In my search for great organization ideas I found this one on the net. First you find a glass jar or vase. Of course you have to purchase a spray can of chalk board paint and some masking tape of some kind. You mask off an area around where you want the spray to go. There might be over spray but that's quickly fixed by using a dry SOS pad and the little tiny droplets come off quickly. Then you spray the chalkboard paint on the open spot in small strokes. I let the paint dry for about two hours and then put on another coat. I think I may have done either three or four coats. Then I pulled all the tape off. I cleaned off the over spray areas. I think I read somewhere on the net that it's best to take your chalk and completely cover the painted area then wipe it off with a soft cloth of some sort. After that anything you write on the area should look great. I was tickled pink with the results. The above photo is of all three of my one gallon zip lock bags of 5 gm. sock skeins for my sock blanket. Now everything is in one place and I can see all the yarns I want to use!
I really dislike laundry detergent boxes. They are awkward and usually pretty ugly. So I bought a jar at Tuesday Morning and decided it was going to be my first project. It worked really well so then it was the sock jar above.

In my zeal to organize even more I found a vase that was collecting dust in one of my kitchen cabinets and I gave it the chalk board treatment. Mind you, this is still the same can I started with. So now I have all my straights in one place and that emptied out an container that I donated to another knitter. I can see all my needles which in the long run will save me money. I won't be going to out and buying more needles because now I can clearly see what I have.

I have clearly been smitten with this idea. I am going to use the chalk board paint on some other items so stay tuned. My youngest son has gotten his own apartment and I am hoping to make his old room my craft haven. So there will be more organizing coming down the pike. Check out this site and you will be blown away with new and fabulous ideas!

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Dead Wood

When we bought our house I have to admit that having a deck was a selling point. I didn't give the up keep much thought; ever. I think the first owners of the house had it installed while they lived here before us. It was not brand new but new enough. We didn't do any preserving or much up keep and it shows. It's been through hurricanes, standing water, animals, carpenter bees, paint splatters, rats and bunnies gnawing on it and tons of snow, not to mention the scorching hot summers. I think the deck was well worth someone else's money. Now it's our turn to upgrade the yard and make it ours. After eighteen years, I think it's time.

So the weekend of July 4th we finally decided to do the deed. It was a back breaking deed, but it got done. We tore down the deck to parade rest (my husband loves that expression). There was digging, prying, hammering, sweating and swearing , but it got done.
This is the deck before the day of demo. As you can see the steps coming down into the yard had rotted away and my cheap solution was to use pavers stacked up to serve as the new steps. It's hard to tell from this photo, but the section of the deck we tore up sits up higher than the portion of the deck that is closest to the sun room door. Let's face it. It's a mess.
This the view from the deck after all the floor board were taken off. It took all morning. Then we took a break to top off our fluids, eat lunch and have a nap to recoup. The afternoon was spent taking out the bottom frame. What a job that was. We had to get a rather large sledge hammer to tear up the foundation boards.
This is the view from the part of the deck that is still intact. You can see part of the garden straight ahead. Notice the fence? We did that to keep the dogs out and so far it has worked really well. So as you can see everything is still in progress. We plan a small herb garden that will have a potting bench. A small fence has been put up since these pictures were taken. We still have to decide on stones for the new patio and rip up the other half of the deck. Weekends is the only time we have to work on this so it's going to be a slow process. I don't care if it takes all summer as long as we make some progress on it every weekend. We are planning on taking some of the foundation deck boards that are in good shape and making two more large raised beds for the garden and to make the potting bench. I hate thinking about the good wood being wasted so we have plans for it. I am excited that we are finally making progress. Stay tuned.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Old Fashioned

...nope that is not referring to the alcoholic drink. It's referring to something that I remembered from my childhood. My grandmother lived on a very quiet street in Temple, TX when I was a child and well into my adulthood until she moved to another part of town to a much nicer house. I have some really great memories about the old house and her neighbors. It seemed to me as a child that everyone on that street was old. I mean really old. Of course this memory was from elementary school, so I guess everyone was really old to me then. I suspect those "old" people weren't really that old.

The woman who lived next door used to make homemade donuts and gave them to my grandmother for us when we came to visit. In turn, my grandmother would send over a small brown bag of her cherry tomatoes. Long after my grandmother passed away, I went back to the old house and knocked on the neighbor's door. That donut woman still lived there but now she really was old. I think she told me she was in her 90s. I am pretty sure that she has passed away by now, but I still have such wonderful memories of her donuts and how nice she was to let me come over and spend time with her.

The neighbors who lived next door to the donut woman were a married couple. They were so cute together and again were so sweet to me as a little girl. I don't remember too much about them except their names and how slowly they moved. They used to have a wooden screen door on the front door that would make the neatest squeak when it opened and closed.

Then there were the two old ladies who lived on the corner. I never knew their names and never talked to them but I would walk past their house on the way to the grocery store at the end of the street. My grandmother knew them and used to say they were two old maid sisters who lived together. The thing that I loved most about walking past their house, was their killer garden. They had the white picket fence on the side yard and there was all kind of green stuff growing gang busters there. I remember seeing them in the scorching hot sun in their plain long sleeved prairie dresses and their prairie bonnets on working their magic with a hoe. I don't ever remember seeing their faces. Their bonnets covered up their faces. I know they wore them to keep the sun off of them but I have never forgotten how cool and old fashioned I thought they looked. Does anyone here remember Holly Hobby? They looked just like her.

So when I saw this post from my blogger friend Paula, I had to do something quick to get some of these! Since Paula admired my dishcloths, I asked if we could do a swap and she said yes! I was so excited. The bonnets came in the mail a while ago. I should have posted this sooner but I have been just a bit busy with work, the garden and taking on a new responsibility and posting often got pushed off to the side. It posting this sooner did not lessen how crazy I am about the apron/bonnets. Wait until you see the pictures I took the day I opened the box. Please be gentle as you look at my pictures. Remember, you are admiring the bonnet not my bad hair...

This is taken in the bathroom so that you can see the hat. Not such a good one but the next one is much better.
I just love it. It gets the thumbs up from me for sure.
Paula exactly what I would like so she made me two bonnets. This one is the second one. Pretty cool? I am just thrilled with my new bonnet/aprons. I have to confess, they probably will never be used for an apron because I just love the sun bonnet look. If you have not read Paula's blog you really need to. It's cute and all about the country life she leads. I am always tickled when she has a new post.

Thanks Paula, for such a wonderful exchange. Please accept my thanks and my apology for not posting this as soon as I got them.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Meet Mortimer
Last year I expressed an interest in a tea cozy to cover up my tea pot. I am an avid tea drinker as of late. I had been eyeing a cute tea cozy in a book that my friend Romelda had. She was knitting a tea cozy for someone else's birthday. I made a passing comment that I liked the sheep. Romelda filed that comment away for a later date.

Romelda quietly got started on my 2010 birthday present. I had no idea what she was up to. My birthday came and Romela showed me what she had been up to so that I would know she didn't forget my birthday. I have seen in over the last year in pieces, together, ripped out and then put together again.

I went recently to Romelda's for knitting and we had tea. Mortimer was the guest of honor.
Here is Mortimer from the back. Doesn't he have a cute backside??? And this is Mortimer from the front...
Isn't he cute from the front too? Now who wouldn't love a face like that? Thank you very much Mortimer maker. You did a nice job.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

My Dirty Little Secret

We have lived in our current house for over eighteen years. With time comes complacency. Ever since I have been married we have moved every four years. So that means things are cleaned out, given away, sold at a yard sale or just thrown away. I have to admit that I have gotten lazy about keeping house the longer we stay here.

This is what laziness gets you; a big fat unorganized mish mosh of chemicals that have been there for who knows how long. Too long I think. So I felt inspired one day and decided to clean it up. I don't get inspiration too often so I had to go with it.
There was so much stuff under the sink, I piled it on the kitchen cart and stood on a three step kitchen ladder and took this picture. It's my private kitchen shame...
I really wanted to do the baskets that you can get that will slide in and out on a plastic track. We measured and we can't ft them in there because of the garbage disposal, pipes and misc. things hanging down.
So this has to be the solution for now. The plastic bin is for my bathroom cleaning supplies that I carry upstairs when I have to clean up there. Eventually I will have this stuff moved to the bathrooms I clean and then there will be more room under the sink again. This is the view on the right side of the divider board.
This is the left side. I have a metal tin for the sponges and rubber gloves. Below that in the green bucket I bought from the dollar store are all my dishcloths rolled up and stowed away. The tall metal tin are my kitchen garbage bags. I really don't like the boxes. Since this photo was taken I found another way to store those clear yard bags so I don't have to look at those boxes either. I found doubles and triples of cleaning fluids that I need to use up and get rid of for more earth friendly nature cleaners. It's going to take a few months, but I will whittle down the stock.

I know there are others out there who dirty little secrerts too. Clean them out and confess on your blog. You will empowered to move on to another little secret place that needs purging. I know I did.

Monday, July 18, 2011

It's Not Mine
The most wonderful thing about knitting, crocheting and spinning is the people who do these things. They are some of the most generous people I have ever met. One person comes to mind the most; Juanita. I have been lucky enough to get all kinds of things from her over the last few years that I have known her via my knitting group Yarn for Breakfast. (This link will only work if you are a member of Ravelry)

Between Juanita and I, we must have swapped a whole sheep one ball of roving at a time. I have given her roving and then she picks up something wonderful and she passes it on to me. It doesn't stop with roving, but now it's finished crocheted items like a hat, a flower for that hat, and a dishcloth with the state of Texas knitted in it. I know Juanita is more a crocheter than a knitter so the dishcloth will be a treasured item.

She has even give me zucchini and squash that someone else gave her that she couldn't use.
I made a vegetable and sausage lasagna and a grilled vegetable and penne pasta salad.

The other day when we were knitting at The Coffee Shoppe, she gave me two nice sized balls of the most wonderful cotton yarn. She said it came from a spool that she got from Walmart. While I loved the cotton balls, I decided I could not add them to my stash. So since one good turn deserves another, I made something for Juanita. I am hoping she will be surprised and happy.

I don't crochet very often but it seemed appropriate I should crochet something for the crocheter. So I did. I made Juanita a market bag. The pattern came from a search on Ravelry for a free crocheted market bag.

The pattern is called Crocheted Market Bag. If you are not a member of Ravelry you can find the free pattern here. It's super easy and was an extremely easy crochet. I did it in less than two days. It wouldn't have taken me that long but I ripped it out a few times to be sure I understood the directions. Like I said, it's been a while!

Here is the bag laying flat so you have some idea of size. This is laying on my couch and it takes up one cushion size and a wee bit of the second cushion. I have not put anything heavy in it. I will leave that to Juanita to do when she gets the bag.
I wrote this post a while ago and since have handed back the lovely cotton balls that were gifted to me back to the giver. I hope she enjoys it as much as I did making it.

Friday, July 08, 2011

Tour de Fleece
Every year that the Tour de France runs, Ravelry has a group that challenges themselves to do something every day the race is on. This year the YfB (Yarn for Breakfast) group I belong to decided to do a mini event. The challenge is to spin at least fifteen minutes a day for time the Tour de France.

Here is what was on the wheel. It's a wool, mohair and bamboo blend that I bought two years ago at a quilt show in Hampton, Virginia. I set it aside thinking I would be so excited about it I would be all over it: NOT. I started it and then for some reason wasn't happy with it and quit. Since I am limited on the amount of spools I have for the singles I spin, I had to get the stuff off of there. I figured I might as well finish it and be done with it.
Here is the finished product on the swift. It's not consistent spinning but there is one thing it is...FINISHED!
This is a close up of the yarn. I haven't weighed it yet nor have I figured out the wpi (wraps per inch) to see what size it is. At this point I am just glad it's done. Finding a project for it will be in the future.
I have seen other spinner's do this with a coin, so since I thought it looked cool, I did it for mine to. They put a coin under the singles or finished yarn to show how small the stuff is. Mine is not small but like I mentioned earlier, I am just glad it's done. I have more roving on the wheel right now and will blog about that stuff later. Without the Tour de Fleece challenge from my fellow spinners, that single spool would still be sitting upstairs for who knows how long.

Thursday, June 30, 2011

I'm Feeling Blue

I'm Feeling Blue.

A blogger whose farm blog I really love reading admired some dishcloths that I have been knitting (check out the post before this one) and asked if I was going to sell them. Nope, nope, nope. I admired something she made and talked about on one of her blog posts. So I proposed we do a swap.

Even though I have been on a yarn diet, I figured a purchase to give to someone would be okay. Off to A.C. Moore I went. I was really surprised at how many blue cotton yarns there were. I never have noticed them before. I picked four different blues and one Ecru. I figured that I could use the Ecru to supplement the blues when the cake ran short. Sure enough some of them did.

I have knit somewhere around 40 of the same pattern of these dishcloths. Knitting these was a walk in the park. They are ready for shipping to parts unknown. I am excited they will be in a country kitchen and they will be used. Here they are!

This is a short post, but as you can tell from the last two posts all I really have been knitting is dishcloths. I think I started on May 2. I used a #6 Addi Turbo circular for every one, two stitch markers and a row counter. Such an easy project to carry in a bag stowed in the car to drag everywhere. Now, I just need to get her address and they will be off to a good new home.

Monday, June 13, 2011

It's Back!!!
I thought a few months back that I had lost or at least misplaced my knitting mojo. I fretted and wondered if I would ever be able to knit with the passion I have had in the past. It was such a simple thing that gave me back my knitting mojo. One word describes it...dishcloths.

I haven't ever gotten into dishcloths but for some reason doing them has given me back my desire to knit again. I say dishcloths but it started out was a washcloth for the husband. He likes the knitted washcloths. I have knit them in the past but for some reason they didn't last. So in the trash they went. Out with the old and in with the new in progress. So I am using the same pattern from Ravelry for both washcloths and dishcloths. It's the Waffle Knit Dish Cloth. I followed the link and it lead to me here. I had to laugh after I saw where to link lead me to. I have been reading this blog for a few years now and totally missed this dishcloth. I guess you don't see what you have to see until it's time to see it.

The Waffle Knit Dish Cloth is super easy to knit. It's great for those of us who need a project to drag around with us in the car for the kid's games, dentist/doctor appts, and for knitting groups where there is a lot of talking going on and the attention span is shot! Great project. I don't think I can have too many dish/washcloths in this pattern.

To this day I have completed nearly 30. I want to keep knitting these but I am running out of balls of cotton. So I guess I will have to move on to some other projects that are UFOs. At least I am knitting again and want to keep knitting. So here are the beauty shots...
Here is a stack of my work in progress. I have various colors but the same pattern for everything. It just works so well.
I especially love the white cloths and the Ecru with the green.
There are some solids and some variegated.

So as you can see, there is a really good reason why it's been a while since I have blogged about what I am knitting. I have been knitting these for over a month now. I have three medium sized balls left and then the marathon Waffle knit will be over. I am now looking for a new project.

Monday, June 06, 2011

A Childhood Memory Revisited

Last weekend was my husband's birthday. I am always at a loss about what to give him. This year I gave him back a memory he had as a kid. I have been hearing about this for years and years. We have been eating all kinds of cakes trying to figure out what the recipe was for this special memory cake he had. So I did some research on the Internet and came up with something that sounded like it was what he remembered.

I completely understand how a memory attached to a certain food is very powerful. So I tried to recreate something for him and kept my fingers crossed.

I got out the wax paper and put it on the cake plate. I saw this trick on a number of TV shows and it works great. Only thing is, I should have done smaller strips and not covered the whole plate. utting the wax paper on the cake plate helps to keep the edges clean when you frost the bake. It was a real bear pulling them from under the cake.
The recipe I was using called for a from scratch cake, but I cheated and used a box mix. It said it was a white cake, but it looked more like a light yellow cake to me...turned out okay though.
I wanted to make the cake a four layer cake so I cut each of the cakes in half. I don't have a turn table so it was wonky. It really didn't matter since it was going to be smeared with icing.
The icing is called a "7 minute boiled icing". It really doesn't boil and it didn't take seven minutes; it took longer. I used a white vanilla extract that my friend Julie (a professional cake decorator) recommended to keep white really white. Worked perfectly!
...iced the first two layers and then stacked the rest of and iced them.
When you cover the cake with something totally, you don't have to worry about how pretty your icing is done. No one will know you are not a professional.
Here is the finished product. My husband's wonderful memory about his grandmother Marylee was her coconut cake. Something so simple has been in that man's memory his whole life. Who knew that one recipe could make him tear up when he talked about her coconut cake?
Here is the birthday boy cutting his "Memory Cake".
I am thrilled that I could make something as simple as a coconut cake that would make my husband so happy about his birthday. Here is the recipe that I used. Unless you are hellbent on baking a cake from scratch, use a mix and save yourself some time and supplies. A white box cake and that fabulous icing is every bit as good as anything else. Ask my husband, he'll tell ya!

Happy Birthday Sweetie!