Thursday, March 26, 2015

One Step Forward, Two Steps Back

At some point cabin fever feels more like being crushed by a cabin cave-in.

We've had a little setback to Spring's arrival, but it is finally in sight.

And we're probably going to make it there without anybody getting hurt.

But it will be a close call.

Friday, March 20, 2015

Season Opener

Honey season that is. Discriminating palates prefer a little smackerel of the sweet bee treat on their daily toast.

When you wake up in the morning, Pooh," said Piglet at last, "what's the first thing you say to yourself?"
"What's for breakfast?" said Pooh. "What do you say, Piglet?"
"I say, I wonder what's going to happen exciting today?" said Piglet.
Pooh nodded thoughtfully. "It's the same thing," he said.”

“Well," said Pooh, "what I like best," and then he had to stop and think. 
Because although Eating Honey was a very good thing to do, 
there was a moment just before you began to eat it which was better than when you were, 
but he didn't know what it was called.”

The bees are so ready to get at the task of making honey they were swarming our bird feeder by the dozens on the warmest and sunniest day of this week.
Odd, we thought. But a little Googling found that in the absence of pollen hungry bees will gather dust from bird seed. 
These bees were at it so vigorously that they were knocking seed out of the feeder and causing it to audibly "ping" off the metal squirrel guard.
The cardinals, titmice, and juncos were sensibly keeping their distance.
We are very happy to see our fuzzy, buzzy little friends take their work seriously as we have serious plans for future honey eating!

Happy Spring!

Monday, March 16, 2015

Period Pieces

When we are sewing we often have the TV on for company, but it can be hard to find something for background filler that isn't annoying. 
Talk, reality, game, or home improvement shows, all are just so much noise. Soaps? Uh, no.

So our default is movies. Many of them certainly owned by the networks that run them over, and over, and over again.

13 Going on 30, The Blindside, A League of Their Own, You've Got Mail, Dirty Dancing, 
oh, and our all time favorite because it features flying cows and combines - Twister.

We can tune in at any point of these movies and know exactly what is going on. And we don't have to actually watch. We know the scenes so well, we can measure, cut, and sew while listening to the dialogue and soundtrack with the images in our head. 

It is a bonus if we turn on the TV just in time for the best scenes. 
Jennifer Garner getting the crowd going with Thriller. Tom Hanks telling a sniffling Evelyn that "There's no crying in baseball." Patrick Swayze getting Baby out of that corner someone dared put her in. Sandra Bullock standing up to gang punks while wearing a white pantsuit. 

Well these little tumblers that feature pretend play characters remind us of some of those famous flix.

Made in one decade, yet depicting another. 

Dirty Dancing for example was made in 1987, but set in 1963.  And despite good authenticity of the setting and details of a New England summer lodge including cars, clothes, and decor, the actors  all still have a faintly '80s vibe. Notably perms and mullets. 
Modified for sure, but not gone. We may have detected a few shoulder pads too.

So too these little pirates, indians, cowboys, knights, and spacemen look like they live in the era in which they were drawn vs. the time period in which they might really have lived. 

We find them pretty charming. Just as for our favorite TV and movies we are totally willing to suspend disbelief when we want to.

Survive a tornado by dodging a flaming oil tanker?!? Totally possible. Bring it on! 

Again, and again, and again.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Churn Dash

Finishing this up was less of a dash to the finish, then a slow churn.

We featured the first completed blocks, in the alternatively named Monkey Wrench pattern,
here over a year ago.

The angular machine quilting design is called Triangle Tangle.

We were hoping its dizzying lines would distract the point police enough that they would not notice that more than a few are missing. Lost in seams. 

We usually work in all patterned fabrics so those kinds of imperfections are more camouflaged, but it is good to get out of our comfort zone from time to time. 

And we (mostly) pulled it off.

Machine quilting expertly done by J. Bauer.

Sunday, March 8, 2015

It was Fun, But Now It's Done

So long, it's been good to know you.

But it's definitely time for you to go.

Don't let the door hit you on the way out.

Image courtesy of The Graphic Fairy.

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Bed of Roses

It was bittersweet to be sure. 

We un-sewed quilt blocks pieced by Grandma Rosie in her later life, then re-cut and reset them to make a little, soft, pastel flannel baby quilt.

Grandma loved pink and she loved her namesake roses. 

She would have liked this little quilt.

It is rather sweet. 

Just big enough for a little one to lay on for tummy time or some good arm-waving and leg-kicking exercise. 

Babies deserve to start off life in a bed of roses. 

And thanks to Grandma Rosie one just might get to.

Sunday, February 22, 2015


The program for the February button club meeting was on Cherub, Cupid, and Putto buttons.

Yes, we learned, they are different creatures. Cherubs typically have wings and attend God. Cupids have wings and weapons and have to do with love. Putti can be either or neither, sometimes they are just cherubic little children, and are often found in Baroque art. 

Or something like that. If we ever really need to understand the fine distinctions we will make a chart and sort it out.

Back to our story. The presenter had several buttons for our inspection. 
This one found its way into our collection because of its reasonable price and intriguing image.

It shows two little cherubs, one breaking sticks to feed a campfire and the other warming his little hands by the flames. Is there more to this story?

A closer look led us to believe that the kindling being used is not just sticks from the nearby trees, but may actually be cupids' bows and arrows. 

What? Cupids giving up on love? Or have they just found out that there is a dot com that has borrowed their name and will likely put them out of business anyway? Or are they so cold without any earthly raiment that the bows had to be put to more practical use? So many possible scenarios!

Well, if they were hanging up the profession we would understand. We have felt the sting of matchmaking gone wrong and have vowed not to dabble in it ever again. Our career as cupid ends with one great success on our record (and several small failures hardly worth mentioning). 

What we do know about the button is that it is pressed brass, made by studio button artist Kevin Kinne of Tennessee, and it is signed and dated '94. Even though it has an antique look to it we are talking 1994, not 1794 or 1894 and the artist's mark is made with a Sharpie.

Just as we always say...every button tells a story. 

Even though we don't often know exactly what that story really is, it is always fun to speculate.

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Winner, Winner, Chicken Dinner

It's hard to believe this was left on the Goodwill clearance shelf. Score!

The graphics and details are wonderful.

The price? A mere 58 cents.

Chicken feed!

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Hungry Bird

Beautiful, and useful for making even a non-artist feel talented.

 A young designer created a game for the iPad based on the iconic William Morris pattern called 

Morris based his work on what he saw happening outside his window as thrushes raided his kitchen garden berry patch.

As the bird soars across the screen following your finger and eating the berries in its path the pattern appears as a pencil sketch.

Next the design is washed with color as the bird flies over it.

And finally the berries appear more quickly, but harder to find in the fully-colored,
 smaller scale image.

There is no score. No prize. 

It is however lovely and meditative.

The Royal Scottish National Orchestra provides the perfect soundtrack for a precocious bird going about the business of doing what birds do in and around the garden.

Get a little taste of the Strawberry Thief here at vimeo.

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Two Favs in One

Dishes and buttons. 

A very fun find.

And a small victory.

We left the store with a single plate rather than an entire service for eight.

Therapy is obviously paying off.

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Pallet Pals

Two housemates and one neighbor.

Saturday afternoon plus ingenuity.

A couple of pallets and several hammers.

One big cheese and four big wheels.

Finishing technique of choice.

That is the recipe for a significant and attractive DIY coffee table.

And it looks like they had fun and got their lawn mowed too.

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Unity Quilt

This quilt from a pattern appropriately called "Band Together" by Bill Kerr and Weeks Ringle 
was finished just in time to give as a gift to acknowledge a milestone event.


The event was the college graduation of another young person who had the many people of our amazing village 
banded together to guide him up the many steps that led to the podium. 

Members of the village carried and rocked, collected rocks, employed a pint-size yard boy, taught welding, kept a sense of humor, counseled his mother, and displayed in countless other ways that they loved and supported him as he strove for the independence of adulthood.

Thank you to the village (again). 

Congratulations to the graduate!

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Crafty Canned Christmas

Next up, this wonderful gift of home canning from the young community garden plot holders.

Look at the custom labels.

Behold the colorful produce.

Imagine the hours of labor to grow, cut, can all this bounty.

These are so nice to look at on the shelf we may have a hard time breaking into them. 

But we will. We would never let love's labors be lost. 

Or grow old and scary at the back of the pantry.

Saturday, January 3, 2015

Crafty Crocheted Christmas

Look at this wonderful gift! Can you believe its cuteness? It is almost too much to bear, right?

 We knew the daughter-in-law could crochet, but we did not know she could CROCHET.

And it came with this little treat. Good enough to eat. Oops, no won't do that.

Can't wait to try out both luxuries during a cold, dry January.

Smooth elbows and hot toddies ahead for the new year!

Do you suppose there is any yarn left for making Miss Monkus a male mug pal? 

Only 11 months and 21 days left until Christmas. Just sayin'.

Sunday, December 28, 2014

A Tradition of Trees

Christmas crafting goes meta. When these are hung there will be trees on trees on trees.

We made these for the first-time Christmas tree households in the family.

All things come around. It's been years since we  received ornaments made of Popsicle sticks, peanuts, or pipe cleaners. 

Now we make our own and pass them back in the other direction.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Elf Off the Shelf

This little fellow, who usually sits on the kitchen shelf minding his own business and keeping his mouth shut, must have thought it was time to send a message.

Who can blame a guy? As of two days before Christmas no cookies have been baked, no pretzels dipped, no taffy pulled, heck, the powdered sugar hasn't even come out of the cupboard yet.
And to make matters worse for a poor little sugar-lovin' elf and probably cause him to lose all hope of proper Christmas confections, we were in full-scale granola production mode for an entire evening.

Elves do not do whole grains.

So he slipped into our market bag and tagged along to the grocery store where he chose the bakery section to stage a sit-in until we agreed to heed his silent plea for help.

No worries little dude. Today is the day the baking begins. You probably didn't notice that we were making lists and checking them twice to make sure we had all kinds of sugar and spice. Chewy chocolate mint, crinkly ginger molasses, and frosted cut-out sugar cookies will all be cooling on the table in a very short while and your world will be right again.

Here's hoping your holiday season is happier than an elf hepped up on hydrogenated fats and highly refined sugar.

Merry Christmas and a Happy and Healthy New Year to you!

Monday, December 22, 2014

It's Not All About the List

Look what we saw on a newspaper paper vending machine downtown last week.

And again under random windshield wiper blades up and down the street.

Someone's trying to do something nice.

And we have to believe it is out of the goodness of their heart, 
rather than as part of a late-in-the-game campaign to have Santa reverse his check from the Naughty to Nice column. 

Inspired by the anonymous Christmas Kindster we picked up this label sans candy cane that was laying in the gutter and discarded it properly. 

And then this nail from the grocery store parking lot. It wasn't a grand gesture, but perhaps it saved someone from some unneeded holiday hassle.

If you want to read about some truly kind, but hardly random acts that will extend well beyond December 25 check out this lovely story and this breaking news from a town that knows and actively strives for nice.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Penguin Prezzies

John Lewis Christmas adverts bring us to tears annually. And by  "us" we mean anyone who has ever seen one.

This year is no exception.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Soup Saves Christmas

There's shopping to do, gifts to make and wrap, carols to be sung, cookies to bake, a tree to decorate, plus parties, parades, and concerts to attend. 

And don't forget you'll need time to visit Santa, sew costumes for the Christmas pageant, and come up with thoughtful gifts for teachers, garbage men, mail deliverers, and hostesses. 

Where will you ever find time to make a potluck dish for the Garden Club Christmas Party that will make all the guests ooh and aah, and beg you for your recipe?

Canned soup to the rescue!

Makes 8 servings (more with additional ingredients)
Cooking spray
2 packages (10 ounces each) frozen chopped spinach, thawed, drained and squeezed dry 
4 cups of cooked and chopped chicken breast 
(Optional additional ingredients - ½ can of quartered artichoke hearts, 
sautéed leeks with the specified wine used to deglaze the pan, 
 a cup of small roasted and frozen summer tomatoes. 
Any of these can be added to the pan or folded into the mix.) 
1 can (10 3/4 ounces) reduced-fat, reduced-sodium cream of mushroom soup, undiluted
1 can (10 3/4 ounces) reduced-fat, reduced-sodium cream of chicken soup, undiluted
1/2 cup light mayonnaise
1/2 cup light or fat free sour cream 
1 cup grated sharp cheddar cheese 
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon curry powder
1/3 cup dry white wine
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
 ¼ - ½ cup purchased breadcrumbs
Salt and pepper to taste
 Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly coat 8 x 8 inch casserole dish with cooking spray. 
(9 x 13 inch with added ingredients)
To assemble: layer spinach and chicken. 
In medium bowl, whisk together soups, mayonnaise, sour cream, cheddar cheese, lemon juice,
 curry powder, wine and salt and pepper to taste. 
Pour mixture over spinach and chicken. Sprinkle with bread crumbs and Parmesan cheese. 
 Bake uncovered for 30 minutes or until bubbly. 

* This is a lightened up version of a classic recipe. To go even lighter, or at least additive-free make a nice white sauce to use as a substitute for the canned soups.  But be advised that without the time saving use of convenience food products you may have to cross something else off  your to-do list. Yes, something's gotta give so don't get your hopes up for making it to Taste of Tilden this year.

Monday, December 1, 2014

Beautiful - Check, Useful - Check

Not since this wonderful find have we seen such an intriguing heart-shaped antique artifact.

Everything about it is charming.

The shape of the bowl with hand etched design reminiscent of  a heart monitor reading.

The stamped handle with twist pattern below.

More, vaguely Scandinavian hand etching on the back, but no maker's mark.

So pretty.

Again we quote the sage William Morris - "Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful."

Both is best.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Blossom Blizzard

Wistful for our preferred blanket of white.

 Seems much farther in the past than just six months ago.

Let it snow. Let it snow. Let it snow.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Scenic Mountie

Here he is. The cutest little mountie ever, found at an estate sale, liberated from a doll collection display case and put back into service "defending the law" wherever needed. 

In the foothills. 

In the forests.

And in the mountains.

Of this educational book.

Not that he would ever sleep on the job, but should he ever need to play dead - to fool an adversary for example, his baby blue peepers close when he reclines.