Saturday, July 19, 2014

natural beauty

The hydrangeas seem to be especially lush this summer, they are practically blocking our front walk so I will have to go cut some today.  They never last real well in water, and I do dry some but there is a limit to how many I can use.

I saw 2 unusual animals last week, in 2 different locations nearby.  These pictures are not real good, I only used my iphone for these and the critters don't like to sit still anywhere close to where I was.  The first picture shows a regular brown squirrel on the right side of the trunk, and on the left side you can get a glimpse of a black squirrel.  I don't think I have ever seen a black one before.

Then a couple days later I saw this pretty white squirrel, and he shows up much better in the picture.  I have seen a couple white squirrels before, so they must be a little more common.

Ian spent an overnight with us and he learned how to help me dig a hole to transplant some hostas.  He was proud to be able to help with his little trowel.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

I cooked in my kitchen!

Oh, happy day!  All appliances in place and in working order!  Just a few loose ends left to finish before I can actually say the remodel is totally done, but won't it always be a work in progress?  I have targeted my next update--the light over our table has got to go.  It is sooo 1989!

Still awaiting the range hood, 1 light fixture and shower glass to be installed.  We have made a lot of progress with unpacking everything that we removed from the kitchen and bath 2 months ago.  Why does it seem like this has been going on for 6 months?!  Anyway, I did do some sorting at that time to weed out stuff to donate, but now as I am unpacking I am doing the same thing!  This is mostly because I feel like I have all of the essentials in place in the new kitchen, yet there are more boxes awaiting us.  This probably means that we have non-essentials that could go live with someone else instead of cluttering up this place!  Just one small example:

Inside a plastic storage box I found a whole bunch of costume jewelry.  Some of it I actually remembered wearing at about the turn of the century!  Some of it seemed totally unfamiliar to me, like maybe someone else stashed it in there?  And I don't think it was Bob!  So almost all of it went into a bag for the donation box.  One very fine rose among the thorns were those fantastic skeleton earrings!  Halloween, here I come!

Some updates on the kiddos:
Ian cashed in his IOU that we gave him at Christmas to go to a ballgame with us.  Last Sunday we took him to see the St. Paul Saints, our minor league team.  They have a very entertaining ballgame and very family friendly.  They have spectators participate in contests between innings, doing races while rolling a tire around the bases; spinning around until too dizzy to stand then required to cross a finish line; sumo wrestling, etc.  The ballgame was pretty non-existant to Ian, except when the pitchers were warming up right in front of our seats.  His biggest impressions from the excursion were the garbage truck in the parking lot (he loves garbage trucks) and the "funny lady" (a pig mascot wearing a dress).

Jack is now a little over 3 months old, and I propped him up on a pillow for a different perspective.  He is so happy and healthy right now.  His mommy had her first day back at work and he did OK being away from her for 13 hours.  Next week he will start at the same daycare that Ian goes to, so that will be another transition.  Much easier the second time around, and not just for his parents!

Most of my time at home has been devoted to organizing and cleaning.  I have been on a cleaning bender the likes of which this house has not experienced in a long time!  With the new kitchen and bathroom, I feel like the whole place needs sprucing up.  I think I have cleaned and washed in a few places that have not been touched in decades!  Seriously!  But occasionally I take a few moments to sit down and do something like write a blogpost or assemble these little pie pieces:

English paper pieced circles that measure 5" diameter.
Plans for more but not sure where it is all going.
I just get satisfaction in how neatly the points all meet!

 So I hope you are getting some satisfaction from something you are doing, too!

Friday, July 4, 2014

a little bit of quilting

I have been seriously lacking time to quilt on my longarm, but I hope to kick that habit soon!  Right now I am using a poinsettia pantogram on this Christmas quilt--

The quilt blocks were all made by members of my quilt group, the Ham Lake Piecemakers.  At Christmas time, we take up the challenge to use one or two chosen fabrics to create a block.  Then we have a drawing to pick the winner(s).  Our friend, Thora Lee, won this group of blocks.  She has moved away from the area, but still comes back here occasionally so I hope that this can all get done and be ready for her soon.

One big reason why my quilting time has become minimal is the fact that I have been involved with the kitchen and bath renovation at home.  Some days it just isn't conducive to creative work, and other days I just have to be out of the house.  To have our cabinetry all painted, the 2 rooms had to be completely taped off and sealed up.  The fumes were very strong, and we stayed 3 nights with Ben and Brita.  Here are some pictures of how much has been accomplished--

tile floor in the bathroom looks wonderful

counter tops and sink installation looks fantastic

shower is coming together, still some grout left to do on the dark sections

and the wood flooring is now completely done
I really love to see the craftsmanship that goes into all of this.  I regret that I was not at home when the counter tops were done, because I would really like to see that process.  We chose to use a laminate product, meticulously installed by our friend, Dana Lewis.  He can undermount sinks from a certain manufacturer, and the join is flawless!  And now the faucets and drains are in working order, so we can start using them.  Oh, the things we take for granted!

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

quilts for the basin

A little while ago, I told you that I had been working on quilting several (10) small quilts for Stacy of Buttermilk Basin.  And by small, I mean less than 1 square yard.  They are part of a group of 12 patterns, designed to be done on your own or as part of a monthly sew-along.  It is called the Basin Quilt Club.  Pictured below are several of the quilts I did.  I can only find pictures of 7 of the 10.

Now for a piece of humble pie--on the last picture, upper right side, you might detect a lack of quilting. For some reason, I sewed the circle but not the feathers around it.  Didn't see it until Stacy brought it up, and now she won't let me take it back to fix it because she thinks it's good to not be perfect or some such malarky.  All I can say is I might just have to creep into her studio and sneak it back home to finish it up right!

Most of the fabrics used in these samples are reproductions of fabric that would have been in existence during the period of the Civil War.  They really complement the traditional blocks she is using.  So my quilting needed to also be somewhat along the traditional line, plus able to stay in the background so the photography for the patterns would look beautiful.

Thanks, Stacy, for the pleasure of being a little part of your creativity!

Thursday, June 26, 2014

thanks to mother nature

We are testing out a change to our regular summer gardening--basically, we have no garden!  Instead, we have a share in a local CSA (Community Supported Agriculture).  The farm is not far from here, just up in the Isanti area, and is called Outstanding In Our Field.

Yesterday was our first pick-up.  We have only a single person share, to see how it goes.
We were given basil, sage, thyme and parsley plants.
Then Bok Choy, turnips, spinach and a big beet rounded out the selection.  I have spent the morning washing, rinsing, washing, rinsing to get all of the fine sand out of the leaves so we can devour them!  Actually, since my stove is not in place yet, I will take some to Brita's house tomorrow night to cook for dinner with them.  And I am starting to educate myself about juicing, something my son, Dan, is a big fan of.  So we will haul out the juicer and see what we can concoct from these and some fruits.

When I cut off the beet top, I saw this pretty design by Mother Nature--

Also, another part of nature's bounty, these came to us last week from Glacier Distilling in Coram, MT. Lucky for us, we have a connection via Dan and Lauren to obtain some of these fine distilled products.
But you, too, can order from their website drop by Coram to get these or other distilled adult beverages, so don't miss out!  The bottles alone are worth having!  The labels and design are beautiful.

On the left is Little Cottonwood, a cherry liqueur flavored with orange, cardamom and ginger.  This is delicious in small amounts over ice.  On the right is North Fork Whiskey, named for the North Fork of the Flathead River, flowing from British Columbia to Montana.  I have tasted this one, too, in little sips.  It is smooth and flavorful.  Do I sound like a connoisseur?  I'm not.  
It's hard to lay my hands on a decent glass around here, since everything is still boxed up.  We are using mostly disposable stuff, and I'm sure that the dixie cup that these beverages were served in added a special and unique flavor.  Sorry, Lauren, you might be cringing over the fact that your award winning distillations have stooped so low, but I can assure you that the good glasses will be located soon!

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

fill 'er up!

After a whole lot of deliberation, we finally landed on a wine refrig to go in as we remodel the kitchen. And now I need a wine sale to happen!
As we were considering our options for this appliance, we did a lot of online window shopping of a variety of brands and sizes.  We needed one that could be in a "built-in" space with the proper ventilation.  We wanted one that would hold up to 50 bottles, although it will be a bit before we reach that number!  We wanted one that was affordable and definitely did not cost more than the new full-size refrigerator we purchased!  We read lots of reviews by online customers, which tended to be less helpful than I had hoped because it's mostly the crabby malcontents who write the reviews.  One of the biggest complaints I read about was the noise associated with the condenser running, which many people find disturbing, I guess.  It is a fridge, after all, so that condenser does need to run!  We finally stumbled upon this model by Vissani (made by Magic Chef) at Home Depot, a hotbed of winos, I guess!  It was the right price and the right size, so we brought it home.  We had it in the box in the garage until last week, when we brought it into the house with the hope that it soon could be put into place.  We were gone last Wednesday-Sunday, and when we came home we were happy to see that it had been slid into place.  The plug-in had been non-operational, so we didn't think it was hooked up.  After a couple hours of unpacking, I took a closer look.  Lo and behold, it was turned on and cooling!  We had not noticed a single little sound from it, so I guess all the fears of deafening noise were put to rest!  Today I had some time to clean it inside and out, remove and reverse the door (all by myself!) and place the 4 bottles of wine we had on hand into their place of honor.

About a week or 10 days ago, we went down to Iowa to visit my parents.  It's about a 4 hour drive from our house.  There had been heavy rains 2 days apart, and we drove out to "the farm" to see how the crops were effected.  Standing water in many areas means washouts and drowning.  Not a good thing to see.  The picture below is on "the dump road" running next to the land my brother farms.  The low area was always a perfect spot for flooding, so now it isn't actually planted to crops.  But you can see that the water had been high enough during the night to run across the road.

While staying with my mom and dad, Bob and I did some yard work.  We were given the task of pulling out a bunch of overgrown plants from this little garden on the slope.  We ended up assembling that rock wall, planting and dividing plants, and spreading wood chips.  A good result.

Our special little guys are both so precious, so I need to share some new pictures.  Jack just turned 3 months old, and is smiling and cooing now.

Happy Jack
 Ian (age 2) does a pretty good job as big brother, but does have to be reined in now and then when he gets a bit too enthusiastic.  He is quite a talker and surprises us with the things he picks up on.
King of the Cupcakes
By the way, during all of this remodel business, we have made many excursions to stores to look at lighting, sinks, toilets, faucets, tile, paint, etc.  We have the 3 big-box stores within a few miles.  I can honestly tell you that we have found Home Depot to be the best with customer service and selection.

I also wanted to tell you that even though I might lapse in the posts here sometimes, I am also writing posts over on the Bear Patch blog more frequently than I used to.  So you might want to pop over there to see what else I have to say!