Wednesday, October 22, 2014

And Then My Head Exploded

Dear Mom,
On a recent visit to the Kansas City area to spend several blissful days with a dear friend, we gloried for hours, soaking in the inspiration of Florilegium.

beads of every shape and color imaginable

This area was off limits to customers. It is The Owner/Artist's Studio area.

This display is just small selection of the beautiful ribbons available.

Everything is displayed to perfection.

This case greets you as you step in the door.

This Enchantment is beaded embroidery on a window screen!

And one display case was filled with samples of ribbon embroidery.

In addition to the ribbons and beads I've shown here, there was roving, and wool for embroidery or needlepoint, buttons, art yarn, hand painted yarns, and thousands of ideas. Gretchen, the owner, and Cathy, her employee, were extremely generous with their time and ideas, with no hesitation to demonstrate a technique or describe a creative process. We left with our heads spinning. My only regret is that Florilegium is 9+ hours away. Lucky for ALL of us, they ship orders every day!

Sunday, October 19, 2014

The Estate

Dear Mom,
A long time ago, not at all very far away, a grand country home caught the eye of a curly brown haired girl, riding in the back seat, behind the driver, as her family took a Sunday drive through the country. That little girl was I.

I think the whole family loved our country drives. And probably all four of us kids were hoping with all our might that the drive might end up at Dairy Queen; but until we either returned home or pulled into the DQ parking lot, I leaned my head against the window and looked out and day dreamed.
On one of those summer Sunday drives, as we drove past a full spruce tree near the road, a remarkable number of rabbits shot out and scattered across the lawn of a large brick house. Daddy, who loved to tease, announced that this was where the Rah-bots live. The name stuck. For forty years I've thought of that house as The House Where the Rahbots Live. And for forty years I've admired that house. I still live within a few miles of that house.

The house has History. It is 150 years old and started out as the home on a 100 acre horse farm, Two Gaits Farm. Eventually, the home was donated for use as a rectory and then one of the parish priests purchased the home. The horse farm was sold off bit by bit and this grand house is now surrounded by the the newest sections of my neighborhood.

Not too long ago, as my hero and I were driving past - either heading to the hardware store or for a dinner out- I saw a For Sale By Owner sign in front of the house I've been dreaming of all these years. I grabbed paper and pen out of my purse and wrote the contact info down. I knew in my heart that this was an unrealistic dream, but I was going to make that call.
And I did. The house is way out of our price range and it needs a hefty investment of time and money to get it in shape, but in my conversation with the estate agent, I was told that there would be an estate sale to sell off the contents of the house. I noted the dates on my calendar, knowing that this may be my one and only opportunity to step inside that house.

The estate sale was impressive. I felt like I was in a museum, surrounded by fine antiques, depression glass collectibles and a barn filled with glass lamps and lamp fixtures. I didn't necessarily go there to buy anything as much as spend time in the house, satisfying so many years of dreams. I did manage to find an interesting solution for my laundry detergent. I've been wanting something prettier than the Tide box to keep the detergent in- something that would be fun and functional. What I found is absolute perfection! It is the vessel that would have once been used to empty a chamber pot!

This beauty holds a huge amount of Tide detergent and I keep a pretty little tea cup with a detergent level mark on the inside of the cup to scoop the detergent out and into the washing machine. I am thrilled with this purchase. I also found a delicate, petite-sized cake stand with a glass dome. Not necessary, but too pretty to leave behind.

What I really really REALLY wanted, but was intended for sale with the house, was this sign. I took a photo, knowing that my picture would be the next best thing to having it. I have so many childhood memories tied up in the name of this farm, and in this sign. And yes, it should stay with the house, where it belongs.
The Estate is still on the market. I won't wonder or dream about living there anymore. I am happy to stay here, in My Home, but I will be keeping an eye on The House Where The Rahbots Live, hoping that it can be a home again to someone who will love it. And maybe even to someone who dreamed all her life of living in a house just like this one.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

All That Wool

Dear Mom,
Remember last spring, when I took all that beautiful angora fiber from Duncan, your adorable rabbit, and some black alpaca that was given to me, and some gorgeous mohair (another gift) to the Fiber Event to be dropped off for processing?
Well, it's here.
And it is beautiful. 
And boyohboy do I have my spinning "work" cut out for me! (okay, we all know it isn't work.)

I chose to have half of the angora blended with some coral merino wool, and the other half blended with a teal merino wool. Both blends and 80% merino/20% angora. More angora than that and the garment would be too hot to wear. The mohair was also blended with merino, but with white merino so I can dye it if I choose, and see the shimmer of the mohair against the merino. That will be fun to play with. The black alpaca was blended with a peacock merino. The color is gorgeous. 

I've already started spinning the coral. It is a dream to spin.
This is the coral blend (obviously) with the mohair blend behind it.

And the teal in front of the peacock.
Getting an accurate color photo of these blues was tricky.
 This is the best I could do.

The heavenly mohair/merino blend

Olive says, "ACK! Where are you going to put all that stuff?!"
"Just don't block my view!"
Lots of squirrel watching out there.

Monday, September 22, 2014

My Kitchen

Dear Mom,
Okay. The last time I showed you the kitchen, the back splash looked like this:
and the island looked like this:
And now?! The island has been painted and the backsplash has a decoupaged collage of vintage cookbook pages and kitchen advertising!

I even covered the outlet and switch plate covers.


I even decoupaged some pretty fabric into the drawers- no more ugly, self-sticky drawer liners!

Mod Podge has come a long way. I used a furniture specific formula that can be washed after several coats and time to cure. I took a leap of faith, doing this, and got that sick "I am making a big mistake" feeling when I was a small way into the project. But once I finished the collage on that first section, I was in love.
I had a great boost in supplies when MelissaWhoDoesNotKnit offered me her grandma's collection of clippings and recipes in exchange for a pair of hand knit socks. Otherwise, it would have taken me forever to get that wonderful assortment! I love the personality my new back splash adds to the kitchen. And the paint color on the island turned out better than I dared to hope. When I look at those "before" pictures, I am amazed at how washed out things looked.

It would seem that most of my creative efforts have gone into the kitchen. And yes, it did take a lot of time and energy, but, there has been some knitting. And spinning. Stay tuned!

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Starts and a Finish

Dear Mom,
School has started, projects are nearing completion and others are finished with great satisfaction.

The Young Lady started her Junior year of High School and I was able to take a First Day of School photo on the front porch. A clear sign of Growing Up-  the Starbucks Light Vanilla Frappuccino in her hand.

A week later we moved The Young Man back to IU for his Junior year. On the hottest, humid-est move-in day, for us, so far. With the longest walk from vehicle to dorm, for us, so far. Thank heaven his room has AC and we only had one flight of stairs. After making several trips back and forth, laden like pack mules, and still faced with transporting the really bulky, heavy stuff, we decided to risk our parking spots to pull into a drive meant for Official Vehicles Only to do a quick unload, thus cutting our walking and carrying distance in half. Since mine was the vehicle with said Heavy Load, I pulled into the drive with My Hero and the Young Man standing by. They unloaded onto the sidewalk in record time and I almost as quickly pulled around and began a new hunt for a parking spot. I lucked out and got a spot even closer than my previous one! My Hero babysat the load on the sidewalk while I was parking and the Young Man took a load to his room. As I approached My Hero in his perch on the sidewalk, I saw him signing a clipboard and handing it back to two camera wielding folks. When I got to him, he flashed me a huge smile and proudly stated that he was "going to be on a website somewhere".  Last week, the Young Man forwarded this photo from one of IU's Facebook pages.
Yes, there he is, in a garage sale rescued dorm chair, with the mini fridge. 

While we were moving in, I noticed several resourceful people pulling collapsable wagons loaded with belongings. We are going to have one of those for the next move. 
After 20ish years, our backyard barn was an eyesore. We needed a new one, and one with a bit more useable space. After unloading and dismantling the old barn, and storing all its contents in the garage, we finally got the new, cute little backyard building painted and reloaded. This one has two sets of doors- one for easy access to the things kept there, and one for John, Dear to drive in and out. We are calling it our cottage because it is probably the closest we will ever coming to owning one!

We've really accomplished a lot of home improvement projects this summer. The kitchen facelift is almost complete! I can't wait to show you how it looks!

Monday, August 11, 2014

Fast Forward

Dear Mom,
I don't even know what happened to July, and if I don't hurry up and post something, August is going to be halfway over.
Thank goodness for the photos I take with the intention of blog posts or I might not have a clue of where I've been and what I've done.

There was this adorable, very hard-working girl raising money to redecorate her room….
her glasses were practically steaming up with her efforts

A baby blanket off the needles and sent to the mother-to-be….
This is Churchmouse Yarns Picot Edged Baby Blanket pattern
and KnitPicks Comfy Worsted Yarn
And I finished Ivar, which might just be my new favorite cardigan.

I used Baah Yarn, La Jolla, in "Poison Ivy". This yarn is wonderful.

And I sewed another dress to coordinate with a cardigan I knit in the spring. 

Let's see. What else?
The kitchen cabinet project is marching along. We are almost done, with just the bit over the fridge and the kitchen desk area left to do. I painted the ends of the cabinets blue and I am considering painting three sides of the island a darker shade. And can you see that little bird stenciled there by the chickadee cookie jar? I gave serious thought to painting the back splash with chalkboard paint. Thankfully, I taped some black construction paper up there to get an idea of how it would look and I did NOT like it. So, we will keep things as they are unless and until I get a better idea.

My vegetable garden has been producing abundantly. My freezer is stocked with green beans and I am eating these yellow pear tomatoes like they are candy.
We took a last trip to Shipshewana to visit our favorite Bed and Breakfast before the owners retire. The weather for our stay could not have been better. Actually, our weather all summer long has been nearly perfect.
Sunset over the cornfield.

And I got brave and veered out of the cookbook to make a better peanut butter cookie.
Here is the back story on these cookies, and then I will tell you what I did. Which is not at all scientific.
When MelissaWhoSpinsButDoesNotKnit was here one Saturday so we could collectively try to figure out how to make her borrowed rigid heddle loom work, she mentioned some extra specially delicious peanut butter, made locally, and available in special shops and the farmer's market. I don't even LIKE peanut butter very much, but when she mentioned pretzels and white chocolate, trying some of this peanut butter found its way to the top of my to-do list. You and I went and bought some on the following Tuesday. You got the cranberry dark chocolate version and I stuck with the white chocolate pretzel variety. Click HERE to link to their website. Anyway, we got home with our crack peanut butter. As I took another spoonful, I said to you something like "wow, this peanut butter would make a good peanut butter cookie" and you just looked at me like why would you use a 7 dollar and 50 cent jar of peanut butter in a cookie but instead of saying that you just sort softly and slowly said, "or you could just put pretzels and white chocolate in you peanut butter cookie dough".

Me: "…"

So I did.

Here is the basic recipe that I used for the dough:
1/2 c butter
1/2 c crunchy peanut butter
1/2 c sugar
1/2 c brown sugar
1 egg
1 c flour
2 t. baking powder
1/2 t salt

Mix butter and peanut butter; add sugars and mix well. 
Add egg and beat well.
Sift the dry ingredients together and add to peanut butter mixture. 
This is where I veered off the cookbook page….
I threw in a fat fistful of broken pretzel sticks and half a 12oz bag of Nestle's white chocolate chips. I did NOT chill the dough.I did not mold the dough into balls and dip them in sugar. I did not flatten the dough with a fork. Instead, I used a scoop to plop the dough onto silpat lined cookie sheets and baked them at 375 for 12 minutes.

It made less than 2 dozen cookie, though, which is good if you, like me, would probably just keep eating them until they were gone even when everyone around you has enough will power and restraint to walk away after 2 cookies. Like I said, they were good and I don't even really like Peanut Butter cookies.

The Young Lady starts school on Wednesday and we move the Young Man back to campus next week. As much as I dislike setting my alarm, I am ready to get back into a routine and on a schedule again. (And an alarm is a small price to pay for a daily dose of alone time.) WOOHOO!