Thursday, December 30, 2010

My Guideposts - Week48

I will honor Christmas in my heart, and try to keep it all the year.

~Charles Dickens, A Christmas Carol

Dickens had the right idea!  I'm loathe to give up smiling at people while I shop and happily humming songs everywhere I go and feeling that the whole world is united in love and peace--so I think I'll try my hardest to retain that wonderful positive Christmas Spirit throughout the upcoming year.  Every time I light a candle or see some outdoor lights, I'll remember to spread some Christmas magic.


Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Holiday Mysteries

Mystery #1: Why doesn't Scotch tape stick to gift wrap as well as loose candy cane wrappers do to my hands?

Mystery #2: Why are flights late when the skies are clear and storm-free and the airport reports few delays? I can see a ripple effect adding a bit of time at the end of a day, but nearly four hours? Really?

Mystery #3: Why is it that no matter how early I start buying and making Christmas gifts, I still don't have enough time?

Mystery #4: Why hasn't there been a clear blue sky in the Biggest Little City (land of three hundred and fifty days of sunshine) so I can take decent photos of our red-and-green completely decked-out cottage to share?

Mystery #5: How is it possible that little ms. pogonip hasn't contributed one single craft to the blogosphere this December?

Mystery #6: What exactly has ms. pogonip been doing? Because it sure hasn't been blogging!

Answer #1: I solved the tape issue by no longer using "Magic" Transparent tape. Now I use old school tape--no more "magic" for this girl--and everything is staying closed (so far). And fortunately, Bob's Original Peppermint Candy Canes unwrap fairly easily so that even if they do still stick to me, I only have to persuade two pieces of cellophane per cane to jump in the circular file.

Answer #2: Flight crew enjoyed too much eggnog or they had to finish their shopping while they were in P-town or the plane just threw a hissy fit like the rest of us. I can sympathize with all those reasons.  If I were a conspiracy theorist I might have some other ideas!  But think how happy we'll finally be to see Pooh and the Professor and Tigger when they do touch down at midnight!

Answer #3: I guess Christmas is just such a wonderful event that I can't expect it to fit a time schedule. And it's probably good for me to relinquish control just a teensy bit.

Answer #4: I blame global warming. Otherwise we'd be enjoying sunshine between snowstorms instead of slogging through grey soggy skies.

Answer #5: I've been winding up some furniture refinishing, during our rainy but relatively warm days, as well as trying to bring some order to the chaos created by the contents of the storage unit that we liberated for my cousin this summer. Yeah, it's still going on all these months later. Lots of vintage delights. Lots of books--antique and newer. Lots of amazing genealogical treasures. And that control thing...yeah, I seem to need to go through every. single. thing. and ponder what should be done with it.

Answer #6: See Answers #4 and #5. And add piles of clutter around the cottage that I just couldn't stand to look at any more...and the need for Christmas decorating to happen...but that's all in the past and I can't wait to share some holiday cheer with y'all!  Now I just have to hope that you have the time to read a few new posts as I play catch up.


Sunday, December 19, 2010

My Guideposts -- Week47

All the great blessings of my life are present in my thoughts today.  

~Phoebe Cary


Wednesday, December 08, 2010

DiversityTastes Divine

When my older son was in kindergarten, we learned a song:

Hanukkah, Hanukkah, festival of lights.
Hanukkah, Hanukkah, seven days, eight nights.
Hanukkah, Hanukkah, let the dreidel spin.
Hanukkah, Hanukkah, let's all join in!

(I'm pretty sure it's an old Hap Palmer tune.  Love Hap Palmer, even if he neglected to mention the latkes!)

So tonight--the eighth night of Hanukkah--we lit eight candles (even if some were peppermint-striped and some shaped like Christmas trees).
If you counted nine, that's because we used a shamash or helper candle.

And we fried our latkes--you have to love a holiday that involves fried foods!
Sizzle, sizzle.

Yep, served on our The Night Before Christmas plates.
With homemade applesauce on top...Oh. My. Goodness.

We spun our dreidels while we ate.  Long ago I made up little rhymes to help my feeble brain the kidlets remember what to do:
  • Shin (shin, shin, put one in).  
  • Nun (none in, none out).  
  • Hay (hay-af, half--one for the pot, one for me, one for the pot, one for me). 
  • And Gimel (gimel, gimel, gimme all).
It took a lot of spins to get my mini-dreidels to come up Gimel.
I like the win/win of celebrating holidays from other traditions and cultures.  Celebrate, understand, respect, coexist peacefully.  We can learn a lot from kindergartners.

Dedicated to learning good things,

Sunday, December 05, 2010

My Guideposts - Week46

Sometimes one creates a dynamic impression by saying something, and sometimes one creates as significant an impression by remaining silent.
~His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama, Tenzin Gyatso

Devotedly (but quite as single-minded as Kharma),

Sunday, November 28, 2010

My Guideposts - Week45

We shall never know all the good that a simple smile can do.
~Mother Teresa


Friday, November 26, 2010

Cinderella Whips Potatoes

Final Score: Nevada 34 - Boise 31
One more thing to give thanks for.  Fun game to watch with drama, heartbreak, near misses, thrills, chills (it was only thirty-one degrees), frequent nailbiting, moans and groans, and more ups and downs than a game should have.  And I'm not a football fan.

Smiling ear to ear,

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

My Snowbirds

It's their first snowfall.
They like it a whole lot better than rain, partly because we always have sunshine after a snowstorm. And dry soil under our incense cedar well-suited for frazzling.
And a nice bench perfect for catching the rays on. 

I'm not sure what they're going to think about temps falling into the low teens. Uh-oh, I think Norma Jean might have heard me.
"What did you say? Teens?!  And we're sleeping where?"
Don't worry, ladies, I have a plan for heating your coop. 
And our resident turkey has a message for all of you this Thanksgiving. 

Personally, I prefer this message from my son.
Wishing you all a wonderful, happy, replete Thanksgiving,

Monday, November 22, 2010

No Secrets

Fresh snow never lies. Miss Mousey spends her nights hanging out in the chicken run and sleeps in the woodpile during the day.

It's hard to devise a trap that won't catch chicken toes or a dog nose.

So for now, Miss Mousey gets a pass.
I guess the white stuff has gotten me in the Christmas spirit a little early this year.


Sunday, November 21, 2010

My Guideposts - Week44

Order is a lovely thing;
On disarray she lays her wing,
Teaching simplicity to sing.

~Anna Hempstead Branch

I am loving my cleaned-off kitchen countertop and my favorite canisters in their new arrangement--just in time for my annual Thanksgiving baking.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

The Last Gardening Day 2010?

Thoughts on a chilly November day:
    • From fifty mild degrees to fifteen chilly degrees equals a panicked motivated gardener!
    • Instead of movie-going with my sweetie, I'm spending a much-needed day in the garden.
    • I don't know who's running the weather, but it would be nice if all the leaves could be down and raked before the first snowfall.
    • If I don't get the leaves raked today, I might get the chance until next Spring when the blanket of white melts.
    • I don't want to see old leaves next Spring.
    • Keeping my hood up keeps me toasty-warm while raking, mowing and clipping.
    • The yard is was end-to-end leaves, including the pond.
    • The big net (formerly for pollywog catching) works great at "fishing" fallen leaves out of the pond.
    • My neighbors have oak leaves that are six inches long.
    • I hate to trim the last golden-yellow mums (even if they are long past their prime) because they're the last flowers of the year.
    • Having a kleenex in my pocket is a really good idea on a cold day.
    • Leaves work well in the coop--the girls enjoy nesting in them.
    • Pine needles are nicer to walk on than squishy chicken mud.
    • I like having the Bombshells for company while I garden.
    • Remember where the non-blooming phlox are.
    • Life is too short for flowers that refuse to bloom.
    • Sleep well, little baby rosemary plant. I'm glad I don't have to bring you inside.
    • I hope I remember where the new monarda, the white sage and the other newbies are next year.
    • It sure feels good to have the garden clean and tidy.  Snow may now come.

    Thursday, November 18, 2010

    Creating a Velvet Pumpkin

    I was smitten with the gorgeous velvet pumpkins I saw last year at Olive Juice.  But did I act swiftly enough to buy one of her kits?  Sadly she was sold out by the time I had made up my mind.  (When am I ever gonna learn not to procrastinate?)  So I was stuck with creating my own version.

    • I not only had Olive Juice as inspiration, but also Plump Pumpkins and Hot Skwash.
    • Ahh, the colors! Could I have one of each, please? (Too bad they're not in our budget.)

    • Find the velvet.  I had hoped to find a high-quality velvet (not velveteen) in one of our many fabric stores to hand dye.  Alas, not a white velvet to be found.  Happily I found a squash-colored crushed velvet that I love.  Two-thirds of a yard was enough to create three pumpkins. (I also have a warm brown velvet tucked away that I haven't found the time to "pumpkinize"--I can hardly wait to see how it looks.)
    Finding a quality velvet in a great color is the hardest part of this project. Here is a link to an etsy store with lots of luscious silk velvets in case you can't find what you want locally.  Silk velvet is amazing!

    I did find the time to start my brown pumpkin since I first posted this tute--he won't acquire his stem until I'm done with my holiday pumpkins--but I think he looks pretty cute as he is.
    Now I'm yearning for a soft green pumpkin and a juicy purple one too!

    • Now the hard part--cutting into your lovely fabric!  How big do you want your pumpkin to be?  Oddly enough, I'm enjoying my smaller pumpkins more than the larger.  Want a six -inch pumpkin--cut an eighteen-inch diameter circle.  Want an eight inch pumpkin--multiply by three to find out what the diameter of your circle should be (twenty-four inches).  Now go in search of something around your home that is approximately that diameter--a pot lid, a mixing bowl, a lampshade, whatever.
    • My summer hat wasn't quite big enough, but I centered it on my fabric, used a Sharpie to dot around the brim with an extra two finger allowance and cut away.
    • With regular sewing thread in a color to match or blend with your velvet (my thread is dark to show up on this tutorial), turn the velvet under about a quarter inch or so, and take large half-inch stitches all around the circumference of your circle.
      (Isn't it nice to know that learning all those horrid math terms like diameter and circumference is finally useful?) 

    • Gather your fabric slightly, leaving a hole large enough to easily stuff your pumpkin.  
    • Keep your needle on the thread!
    • You could use fancy bean-bag pellets, or play sand stolen from your child's sandbox, or you could raid your kitchen cupboard for some inexpensive white rice like I did. 
    • How much to use?  This comes under the "it's not brain surgery" category--the amount isn't crucial.  Use enough to weight your pumpkin so it sits contentedly, probably more than less.
    • Now grab some fiberfil.
    • Stuff your creation so it has a pleasingly plump silhouette.  
    • Add, smoosh or remove fiberfil as needed.
    • Now tighten your gathers but leave a big enough opening for a stem. 
    • I happened to have saved the stems from our jack-o-lanterns, but a tree branch works nicely also.  If your heart is set on a genuine pumpkin stem with all its idiosyncrasies but you don't have one, use a branch as a temporary substitute until you can get your hands on a real pumpkin stem.
    • Insert the stem at an angle, pull your gathers tightly around it and take a few stitches to hold in place.
    • Knot the thread, leaving a long tail.  Pull the needle down into the pumpkin, then out, and clip.
    • For a tendril, curl some green wire around a chopstick/knitting needle/pencil and slide off.  Poke the end into the pumpkin next to the stem.
    • I wanted my pumpkin to have a leaf. Naturally I grabbed my fabric samples from this summer's bonanza and found the perfect soft khaki green, went outside and brought in a small fallen maple leaf for a pattern and was totally unimpressed with my creation! Tweaking ensued with only minimal improvement, so I went with Plan B. I borrowed a silk leaf from our cornucopia display--right size and shape, wrong color but, hey, that's what paint is for!
    • I put my leaf on a plastic grocery bag, used some plain old grassy-green acrylic paint straight from the bottle and loved the result.
    Half done--quite an improvement, yes?  I like the way the veins resisted the acrylic paint.

    The finished product was exactly what I was looking for: a late-autumn pumpkin leaf!
    • Glue a bit of green wire to the underside of your leaf, attach to your pumpkin, and wander around your home setting your new creation here and there, looking for the perfect place to display it.  On the dining table?  Entryway?  Mantle?

    I "sew" hope you enjoy your velvet pumpkin(s) as much as I'm enjoying mine!

    More goodness: Show and Tell @ My Romantic Home and The Tablescaper's Thanksgiving Cornucopia and BeColorful's Motivated Monday.

    Plumply, squashily yours,

    Tuesday, November 16, 2010

    I'm Officially Inspired

    Talk about perfect timing!  I found this wonderful holiday craft ezine 
    (via the Graphics Fairy ) just as I happen to have some extra time on my hands. 

    With Christmas right around the corner, I don't need any other reason to be sidetracked into an orgy of sparkle, elves, trees and stockings (each and every project necessary to make this holiday season memorable for my family and friends).  I'm going to be very busy indeed as I wind up some unfinished sewing projects and morph into my Mrs. Santa alter-ego.

    Check out Amy Powers for a just a small sample of the myriad delights to be found in her Inspired Ideas.  Just make sure you have plenty of time to leisurely browse when you check out her free ezine, otherwise the dinner will burn and the dogs will go hungry while you do some Christmas shopping.

    Tonight I know I'll have visions of sugarplums--and silk yoyo trees, glittering putz houses (oh how I've wanted to try making these little gems),
    vintage ornament wreaths, and sparkly Sculpey snowmen dancing in my brain!

    Maybe I don't miss summer after all.

    Ho, ho, ho,