Sunday, November 23, 2014

My Guideposts -- 103

Let the thankful heart
 sweep through the day and, 
as the magnet finds the iron, 
so it will find, in every hour, 
some heavenly blessings! 

~Henry Ward Beecher


Tuesday, November 11, 2014

More Than a Convenient Holiday

Veterans Day seems to be one holiday that really brings out our grateful, heartfelt thanks.

Maybe because it isn't a three-day weekend? (It's always on November 11th because the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month marked the armistice that ended WWI.)

Maybe because we get to thank all our veterans, both living and deceased, for everything they sacrificed during their service?

Maybe because it has more to do with parades than shopping?


Whatever the reason or reasons, I always feel a great sense of reverence on this day.

To all those sons, fathers, brothers, uncles, cousins, in-laws, and friends who have served or are serving, thank you for our freedom and our liberty.  You inspire us by your example and we do not take for granted our right to vote, to freely speak, or to peaceably assemble.  You remind us of the power of One to make a difference.

And although we focus on our menfolk, I haven't forgotten that there are many ladies who've also contributed to defending our freedom.  We know how much strength we women have and how determined we can be.  For all you mothers who are separated from your children while you serve, you deserve a special place in our hearts. 

We are (INSPIIRE)d,

Tuesday, November 04, 2014

My Fall Garden--Making Leaves Disappear

We all know why we call this season Fall...could it be leaves falling everywhere?

 I revel in scuffing noisily through them like the kid-at-heart I totally am. I enjoy racing swirling leaves blown by our Nevada zephyrs as I ride my bike to and from work. I rejoice in colorful leaves backlit against the intense blue of a high desert sky. 

I even like the physicality of raking leaves into piles.  At least for the first time. 

Not so much the second and third times.

Or the fourth, fifth and sixth times. 

So I started letting the chickens have all the leaves from the cherry tree by their run so they can scratch and rustle to their little hen-ly hearts content.  As a bonus, I had a nice cushionly soft carpet of leaves to tread upon when I collected eggs from autumn through winter to early spring.  Alas, springtime was also when I faced shoveling out the run--the leaves didn't decompose like I'd hoped, they just organized themselves into layered heavy pancakes for me to scrape and haul.

All the maple, peach and apple leaves were tossed into the compost bin for the winter.  That worked, sort of.  Yeah, the slimy layered mash again.

Last autumn I raked leaves into large piles.

Used the lawn mower to mulch them into small bits. 

 Wonder of wonders, they composted perfectly, both in the bin and in the chicken run.  Happy dance!
 I'm doing the same thing this autumn and trying hard not to be smug as I watch my neighbors haul out bag after bag of leaves for trash day.

The landfills are happy, my compost bin is happy, the hens are happy.  

My hayfever isn't thrilled but that's what allergy pills are for.  


Sunday, November 02, 2014

My Guideposts--102

Those who don't believe in magic will never find it. 

~Roald Dahl 
  • You won't find that perfect puppy unless you believe she's out there waiting for you.  
  • Love at first sight only happens if your eyes are open.   
  • Attitude is everything.  Every. Thing.
Let's all have a magical, positive, uplifting week.  I could use one.  You?


Saturday, November 01, 2014

Winding Up Halloween

We have three adorable little boys under the age of four living across the street and three ex-kindergarten students and two current ones living in our neighborhood, so I went family-friendly this year.

It's hard to get friendlier than Woody!
 The kids loved him. And they thought getting to pick their own candy from my bowl was awesome.

The woodland owl was my spookiest jack o'lantern.

One dad told us that the Golden Retriever jack o'lantern was the clear Best Pumpkin winner. I've gotta agree especially knowing how much time it took my son to carve it.  Plus this one doesn't shed hair all over black pants like our real-life version does.

I enjoy my witchy Dollar Store blackbirds, but this little fluffy owlet was in impulse buy that I'm glad I indulged.  She's so cute!

Now it's time to Thanksgiving-ify the front door by adding pheasant feathers to the autumn wreath.

And put the prowling arachnids away for another year.

Farewell, monsters, large and small, until next October...

Welcome, pilgrims and scarecrows, squirrels and acorns, velvet pumpkins and fall leaves of every hue! 

Monday, September 01, 2014

Fun With Fabric: Custom Color Shoelaces.

These tennies were an impulse buy at Target.  
  • The polka dots were sweetly crooning my name. 
  • They were "lowest price of the season" ($12). 
  • And buying myself shoes while birthday shopping for my son must surely count as multi-tasking.

I knew with a pop of color they'd be awesome.  I mean, why settle for ordinary when you can amp up the style quotient make them colorful and fun,  Hmm, black with white polka dots...what about turquoise shoe laces?

I thought I'd have to look for some colored laces, then I realized these tennies came with white cotton shoelaces and I have a huge stash of acrylic craft paints.  Free is good.

A bit of fabric medium mixed with Navy Blue and Jade plus Pool Blue provided the intense turquoise I was mentally visualizing.  I thinned the paint still more with water in my fabric-dying container provided by StarKist and soaked the shoelaces for a couple hours after smooshing them well into the paint using a plastic bag to protect my fingers.  Then I draped them over a branch of our apple tree to dry. 

The key to using acrylic craft paints on fabric is to heat set the final product. I can't stress this enough.  I set my iron on "cotton", protected my ironing board with a brown paper grocery bag and protected my iron with a paper towel over the laces. Good thing I did too because you can see lots of paint ironed off!  So protection is good if you like your iron and your ironing board cover the way they are.
I ironed slowly along the length of the laces, then turned them over and ironed the other side.  A fair amount of color bled--even though I ironed slowly on both sides.  More than I expected, but still well within reason.

I checked for color-fastness by holding them under running water in the sink.  The water stayed clear but just as I began congratulating myself and thought about lacing up my new shoes, I began to see first a hint of color, then a flood of turquoise pigment even though I knew I'd heat-set the paint pretty well.  I think the color was from the interior of the shoelace weave because the visible part of the laces stayed the same vibrant turquoise.

I dried them again on the branch (thank heavens for temps in the nineties--quick drying suits my impatient nature) and then re-ironed them and checked for color-fastness.  Again.  I maybe impatient but I'm not stupid enough to want turquoise paint bleeding onto those white polka dots. 

The colorful result is casual, happy, and carefree.  And totally unique. 

It's nice to know that I can custom color my shoelaces.  What would I do different?  One thing:  I'd thin the paint even more than I did--watery would be better than soupy.  And the finished shoelaces wouldn't be quite as stiff from the acrylic paint. 

Now that I know that...I'm thinking those polka dots would look cute with cherry red laces too.  Or hot pink.  Or rainbow tie-dye.  Or goldenrod for autumn.


Monday, August 11, 2014

Playing With Wood: Christmas in July

Yes, I know Christmas is in December, but I worked on these in July.  Happens every year--I finish a holiday project or two. In July.  Go figure. 

When it's hot outside, it's nice to have some small, easy, stress-free projects to work on.  And all three of these came under the "playing with wood" category.

First I painted a teensy frame red for this cross-stitched Santa that my SIL sent as our Christmas card for 2013.  I didn't realize that Santa's bag was purple before.  Who knew?!

Then I happened to be cleaning my workroom of clutter at the same time that I was browsing my Pinterest boards.  The result was these penguins created from the three little unpainted wooden flower pots that had just been sitting around awaiting inspiration.

  Love'em.  Wouldn't they be even cuter wearing little scarves?  I'll get on that.

Next.   I bought an unpainted laser-cut tree at Joann's last October.

Inspired by Jeri Lander's scherenschnitte (of which I proudly own a framed piece), I painted a tree of Life.  Not that I'm anywhere in Jeri's league, but her art makes me happy and so does this little piece.

Am I the only one who mixes up December and July?

The comments section turned up other Christmas-minded blogging friends.  Including a party at Journey Back!