Thursday, September 30, 2010

Encouraged by Potatoes

Who knew that digging potatoes would be fun? It reminded me of the time that my family went digging for diamonds in Arkansas (no one found any) but I could eat what I found in my garden. And anyone who knows me knows how much I love eating potatoes. Plus, as an added bonus, potatoes take practically no effort to grow. No pruning or tieing up or constant worry over bugs, just bury them, add a little more dirt a few times, keep them watered, put up tomato cages, and dust for the obnoxious earwigs once in a while. And look at what came out of that little patch of dirt! I'm estimating that I have 3 pots of Yukon Gold Potato soup from my 4 little seed potatoes that I planted. Next year, I think I'll try growing the potatoes more vertically (although I plan to build wooden boxes rather than using tires) but, for a first try, this year was great!

And, as an added bonus, from under the dying potato plants (I was told that the potatoes would be ready when the plants started to die), I unearthed another lovely butternut squash. I so hope that these guys ripen before the frost hits!

I also have an obscene amount of apples, given to me by a friend who wasn't going to use most of the yield from his trees. These are being peeled, cut, cored (by hand -- I need one of these cool gadgets), mixed with cinammon, sugar, lemon juice, flour (a la Joy of Cooking), put into quart freezer bags, and frozen for wintertime apple pies.

If I can get back to cutting today, I plan also to make apple butter from my favorite canning book.

And, in the meantime, I leave you with a photo of my flower bed and my favorite snapdragon (my favorite flowers in general).

Monday, September 27, 2010

Rainy Afternoon

I'm in an organizing mode today and don't have very good light for photos so I'll just post this one photo of the leaves beginning to turn outside the study window. Have a lovely and cozy afternoon!

Friday, September 24, 2010

What Was Hidden Above the Dropped Ceiling aka Full Stop

Well, as horrible as it was, I guess that the schoolroom dropped ceiling in our kitchen did serve a purpose after all.

First, it covered the never-repaired holes in the plaster from when, apparently, there was a leak in the bathroom above. At least they didn't just plaster over a Dixie cup, as the previous owners of my parents' house had done to "repair" a bathroom leak!

(This second hole photo is of the twin hole inside the tiny bathroom next to the kitchen. The upstairs bath is above both the kitchen and the downstairs bath.)

Next, and quite importantly, it contained all of the flakes of paint that were falling from the ceiling. All of the flakes of most-likely-lead paint. . .

Third, it concealed the ever-pesky tops of the old cabinets.

And, lastly, and perhaps most importantly, it contained all of the wiring for the kitchen. Not just for the monstrously awful fluorescent lights in the kitchen as we'd assumed but also for the cute light above the sink, both light switches, the 3 whole electrical outlets which the kitchen contains, and who knows what else. The porch light and butler's pantry light could even be wired into this mess.

Now we are at a loss about what to do next. We don't want to put the panels back in, as it created a kitchen with approximately 7-foot ceilings but we also do need some electricity in the room.

There's an older junction box that's actually above the plaster (you can kind of make it out in the photo above) which we might just be able to tap into entirely. Although it would likely require that we make more holes in the plaster to hook all of the wiring to it properly.

Also, we have the option of encasing the wiring more efficiently and then putting in a bead board ceiling higher than the dropped-ceiling was. But that seems like just a new band-aid to cover the old band-aid.

Our plumber recommends that we not patch the existing holes until we're finished with remodelling the bathroom upstairs, which could take years. Maybe we should just knock down all of the plaster, do it all right, and live with a construction zone kitchen for however long it takes to fix both the kitchen wiring and the bathroom layout upstairs. We'll probably go with the last option, realistically. But, in the meantime, we just have to ask our guests not to look up when then come into the house (the door in the last photo is the one we use for most coming-and-going -- it's on the street side of the house). Ah, the joys of an old house!

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

The Little Red Lighthouse Under the George Washington Bridge

This project, as happens with so many projects, has certainly been a long time in the works. But now I am fairly finished with it. It is limited edition (run of 200) gocco'd notecards. They are printed by hand over an inkjet-printed background (as you can see in the second photograph down) from a sketch I made of the Little Red Lighthouse. I had a ton of fun working on these and hope that you enjoy them. They're up in my shop now.

And. . . An Afternoon in the City

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

A Week of Fingerless Mitts

It seems to be fingerless mitt knitting time. Especially since it's gotten to be a bit chilly up here in the mountains and that makes me think of things like unfinished mitts at the bottom of the project box. These first mitts, however, are a new project. For a new friend. And a new (to me) thing. I've just (finally) joined ravelry and immediately joined a swap (ravelry link). Because I do love a good swap.

It's another secret swap so I can't tell you much more about the mitts at the moment, other than that they're from this pattern and they were a lot of fun to knit. I knit them in almost exactly 10 hours. I can tell you this because I was gallery sitting for a friend here in town last weekend and it was very slow at the gallery so I mostly just knit for the entire time I was there. And these mitts came of it. At least I'm ahead on the swap!

And, because I've apparently become a crazy cat lady, here is the second cat photo for this swap. Can I help it that she likes to be wherever the camera is pointed? Of course not. (And I'm not going to try!)

These ones are the wonderful Endpaper Mitts. I love fair isle knitting! But, somehow, after travelling with us to Europe a year ago and making the move to the new house 7 months ago, the mitts had fallen by the wayside, with all that was left to do being putting the fingers' ribbed trim on one and the thumb trim on both. Geez! So I pulled them out and finished them right up. Too silly!

Now my hands will be warm (and someone else's hands will be warm. . . ) just in time for fall!

Monday, September 13, 2010

My Vastly Improved (but Still Unpainted) Sewing Room

After spending most of last Friday better organizing the shelving in my craft room / sunporch, I decided that the time had finally come to post a few photos over here.

First, here is the room as we saw it when we looked at the house last summer. It was being used as a kind of breakfast room. Off of what was set up as a dining room (now the tv room). Off of the kitchen, most of which was taken up with a dining table. Hmm.

As you can see, my sewing machine is right underneath where that light fixture dangled (and, conveniently, looking out onto the chicken tractor!). I whacked my head on that thing about 1,000 times. Luckily, I have a husband who doesn't mind being daring with harmless little things like electricity, so he replaced the fixture with this milk glass one that we picked up at a junk shop for practically nothing. It lacked "guts" but he just put in the wiring from the old fixture. I didn't even have to paint it (it's kind of copper-patina-green)!

You might also recognize the curtains made for me by my mother and grandmother. These are pretty much two of my favorite things in the house right now!

Beeker likes to watch the chickens just as much as I do.

The fabric and books are all in there (with tons of miscellaneous other things). Obsessively organized, with red, brown, and grey fabric in the cabinet on the left, and blue, yellow, and green fabric in the cabinet on the right. That porcupine-y thingy next to the window, on the left, is my knitting needle holder. Being guarded by a monster I made in a silly craft workshop with my friend, Aryn.

I actually managed a decent shot of the yarn tower Patrick built for me from cedar (to keep the pesky moths away a bit). The room is so small, it's really tough to get a shot of it but here it is! (And this is all after not buying yarn for almost a full year!)

On the other end of the room, not as much is going on. I'm hoping to eventually be able to get my daybed which I've had since I was 10 years old shipped or brought up to New York. It will go down here with the quilt on it. In the meantime, at least it no longer contains a toaster oven and a television and I've been able to hang a few of my favorite bits on the walls. (The first photo is (hopefully obviously) a before photo.)

In the foreground is the cat-proof door that Patrick put up for me. It's one of the best things about moving from the bay window in our apartment to the sunporch in our house.

On the wall are (clockwise from top left) a funny clay head which Patrick made in high school, a very very cool fabric collage that I found at an antique store on Cape Cod, a shadow box I put together with a postcard from Paris, an antique crochet hook, a lace doily, some antique buttons, and my small vegetable ivory collection, one of Stephanie's pinecones, and an antique picture postcard of 3 baby bears in Maine.

The only (major) thing left to do is to paint the panelling. I don't know when it will happen as I have made it my goal to paint the living room, finish painting the kitchen cabinets, and paint our bedroom before Sheep and Wool (when I am having a party at my house). Some day, the panelling will hopefully be similar to what's in the adjacent tv room, only pale green rather than white.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

I Love the Mail Today!

I couldn't even wait to get somewhere to sit down to open my DQS9 package! Patrick had to hold the box while we walked down Main Street and I pulled out my wonderful presents, one by one. As we were passing one of the shops, I'd just pulled out the beautiful Amy Butler fabric and the shopkeeper stopped me to say that I should make her something with it because it is so pretty. I agree with her about how pretty it is, that's for sure!

Also in my swap package from Valerie were some very cool stamps, mother of pearl buttons (which are perfect for the cowl that I made yesterday -- see below), a Canada tshirt which magically fits me perfectly, and a super-cute little notecard. And, of course, the most lovely quilt!

Friday, September 10, 2010

The Swaps Continue

Continuing on with the Scrappy Pincushion Swap, I've decided to jump on the paper piecing hexagon bandwagon. I used this tutorial and the hexagon "graph paper" generator she links to, set on 0.75". The hexagons were indeed fun to piece. I don't know if I could do a whole quilt of these though. I pulled all of the fabrics from the pile shown on Tuesday. The sides of the pincushion will be an embroidered flower garden.

I've also just joined my first swap (ravelry link) on ravelry, which I've finally joined. My friends have all been after me to sign up for several years but I've only just now decided that I have a bit of time to devote to the infinite browsing everyone says follows signing up. It's not happened yet (honestly, I find the site a little bit difficult to navigate) but I'm still having fun with this swap. More on that to come!

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

The Sewing Bug

I think my sewing maching may just burst into flames. I don't know if it's been the heat keeping me from wanting to knit or just the excitement of DQS9 but I can't seem to stop sewing things! First I have my completed quilt from the swap. It was for Lael and she seems to be loving it. And her kids seem to love the ducks I crocheted for them. If this isn't encouragement to go on doing swaps, I don't know what is!

So then I moved on to the Scrappy Pincushion Swap. It's another blind swap, like the DQS (where my partner doesn't know who I am so I can't ask him/her questions) and my partner doesn't have much information available as to what she'd like so I've decided to use these cool feed sack scraps that I found in the house we cleaned out a few months ago. At least I think that they're feed sack scraps. There was such an age-range of things in that house that I can't really decide for sure. But I'm sticking with my story for now.

I've also been saving selvedges for a while and, with all of this sewing, have a good selection to make sachets. And I also made one with a scrap from the backing fabric and a bit of cross stitch for my friend who is having a moth problem (they're both stuffed with lavender from the local health food store -- hopefully my lavender plants will produce lavender for me next year!)

And finally, I've started on a doll quilt for myself. Based on this quilt and this quilt from the DQS that I LOVED and this quilt that I saw a photo of some time ago. I've decided that the small size of doll quilts makes them absolutely ideal for my many many quilt ideas. At least I can get many ideas out of my head without completely filling my house with quilts or spending thousands of dollars on quilting fabric!

I'll see you back here in a month when I tear myself away from my sewing machine again!

Friday, September 3, 2010

Cozy Pieces of the House

Inspired by Amanda's Corners of My Home, today I have a few little bits photographed. Since there are few pieces of the house looking "nice" so far, it's fun for me to isolate the nice ones (or at least the ones that are nice, in my opinion) once in a while.

Please ignore the drop ceiling in the first photo. I do believe that it will come down over this long weekend. Something I do love at the top of that one is the door bell. It makes a horrible buzzing noise but it looks pretty cool. Being a real bell and all. It's called an "Edwards Buz-A-Bel".
The last picture is a few things on my mantel. There are other things on the other end of the mantel (mostly more silver stuff) but it will have to wait for another post.

Have a great weekend!