Sunday, February 28, 2010

Part Two - Clearing Out

Cosmo spends a lot of time staring out the pet door, longing for unfettered yard access. I know the feeling.
He thinks those uncouth dogs have lost their minds, enjoying the stuff. (Well, this was taken before the last two days worth of snow.)
He tries the back door - maybe a different vantage point will be an improvement.
Nope. How 'bout you DO something about this. Don't you have a big hairdryer?
A long view of the driveway.
I'm trying to be good about this, I really am. Nothing lasts forever, right? This too shall pass, right? No sense complaining, because it doesn't change anything, RIGHT? Well, I'm working on it...

Saturday was supposed to bring an additional one to three inches of snow, starting about 5 PM. It started about 2 PM, and it appears to be about five additional inches.
Here's our mailbox after Saturday morning's clear-out:
And here's our mailbox after Gerry did this morning's clearing:
You can barely see the big sugar kettle at the side of the driveway:
But the snow has melted away from the back chimney, showing how deep it is (after settling!):
Here's the drift outside the back door to the deck. We can't get that door open at all. Now you know why Cosmo is discouraged and complaining...
...but not me! (Yeah, right...)

Round One - Clearing Out

This is how things looked at our place about 6 AM Saturday. It began snowing mid-day Friday, with lots of blowing and drifting, too.
See how deep it got?
It can be kind of pretty.
The dogs love the snow, but Molly doesn't like the noisy snowblower.
There's a (little used) sidewalk under there somewhere.
It could have been worse. At least the temps have stayed in the 30s.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Happy Birthday, Lolo - We Have a Winner

Remember, I'm supposed to draw today for the Thanksgiving in February winner? I chose today because it's Lolo's birthday - she would have been 82 today.

Threw the numbers for the number of comments into the bowl and my Oldtimer drew....JudiA!

You don't even have to send me your address, Judi, I think I have it. Just let me put the finishing touches on that sugar scrub over the weekend, and your goodies will be in the mail on Monday.

Thanks to everyone who left a comment. I wish I could send something to each of you.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Monday Photo - I Made This

This week's photo theme is "I Made This." I was really stumped, thinking I'd posted everything here already, but then I remembered that I made three hearts to swap on Sherry Goshon's new doll group. They are skirt panels, and essentially are upside down hearts. All three of these have gone in the mail, and I'm waiting for two of the three coming back to me - then I'll make Sherry's doll.

We spent the whole weekend working on the wood planks for the bedroom walls. One wall is done - I'll post before and during photos soon.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

An Update Potpourri

Oh, my...reading my most recent posts, one would never guess that I started this blog with the intention of showing off my dollmaking efforts and nice close-ups of gorgeous handmade luxury soaps. I knew I'd have the occasional rant or brain dump, and likely a periodic moan about weather, and I hoped to share some helpful hints. Still, I've said little about all that really occurs here.

First, a helpful hint - remember that gorgeous primitive cabinet my Oldtimer gave me for last year's birthday?

He's oiled it and it is gorgeous, but we've found that when cleaning with dust rags, it gathers little hairs all over the rustic wood. BUT, by applying strips of shipping tape and yanking them off, it's nice and clean again. (Much like those wax strips for ladies' facial hair - oh - you don't know about them?)

I've been making lots of soap, too. Here are a few bars (untrimmed and unlabeled) of the most recent batch of Lavender Buttermilk soap. Yum...definitely a favorite.
No sooner did we finish working on the pantry than we started on the bedroom. The bedroom isn't too bad - it has a wallpaper that is printed in tolerable colors, but not really a pattern I would choose. However, it's getting worn looking, and we've lived with it for nearly five years, so have decided to make a big change. Here's a before shot of one wall:
Now, after the nightmare that was stripping the wallpaper in the smallish bathroom, which took several months, we've decided to NOT strip the entire bedroom - all four walls including bed nook - that are covered in this stuff. Since the look I'm going for is slightly upscaled rustic plank walls mixed with romantic, we've begun purchasing packages of pine planks and pickling them. (That was a mouthful!)

Here's a shot of the same wall with some of the pickled planks leaning in place:
Notice that Molly dog got herself in the photo. I love the paint color we're using to pickle (2 parts paint to one part water, applied, then wiped off). It's Laura Ashley (Valspar/Lowe's) Winter Oak, but if I were to name it, it would be "Malt." It's exactly what I wanted, and we got it right the first time! The trim will be done in my new favorite white - White Dove.

I'm also working on a Personal Challenge Doll via Sherry Goshon's new Yahoo Group, called "It All Started with a Cloth Doll." Sherry provides one piece of the doll pattern every week but this is an eye-opening new way to make a doll - from the bottom up. We did the legs and feet first, and here's my progress on that:
(You can't see it, but she has purple mesh stockings!)

And finally, my poor, lonely rocking chairs, still adding a cheerful spot of color on the front porch. I canNOT wait until I can use them again in the spring. Well, I could use them now, but I wouldn't particularly enjoy it.

If you look into the distance on that photo, you can see the "light snow" drifting down. It's supposed to do just that this entire coming week! Yay, Cleveland weather! Don't start spoiling us now.

And here are the illuminated icicles outside my kitchen window. This was taken yesterday - they are MUCH larger today.(See, I told you I'd complain about the weather...)

Monday, February 15, 2010

Monday Photo - Clouds

Our theme this week is "Clouds" - which I've known for a couple weeks now. Unfortunately, this time of year, our clouds are usually one solid mass of gray - pretty tough to see any formations. I tried, but no luck.

This photo was taken late last summer with my cell phone while my husband was driving past a local nursery. We made it home before anything hit, luckily!

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Thanksgiving in February

Stick with me, folks - this will turn into a GIVEAWAY!

This morning I was discussing the "Today Show" stories with my Oldtimer, over our morning coffee. He'd just come in from blowing the snow out of the driveway, AGAIN, and we were talking NOT about the drudgery of snowblowing, but the fact that he felt so fortunate to have a snowblower that made the job relatively easy, while watching others digging out on the news.

And while it's no secret that this isn't exactly where I planned to spend my golden years, there are a lot of things right in our life - only a couple years ago, the wolves were nipping at our heels quite rabidly. Our conversation turned to the collective ennui in not just this region, but this entire nation, where the news is loaded with bad economic, weather, and international relations stories. We aren't even getting the gratuitous "mama duck made it across the busy street with her babies" stories anymore - we are REALLY focused on bad news.

Since my mind works a bit like an eggbeater, my thoughts connected this discussion to the post on the blog of my friend Mary Pierce. I love this blog post from her:

Mary's taking happy little steps to make her corner of the world a happier, more positive place. Now, my disclaimer - Mary and I are *many* miles apart when it comes to religion - but not all that far apart when it comes to spirituality. And we share a lot of history. A LOT of history, but we won't go into that here...

SO, the point of all this is that it's time to remember that thoughts are things, and to recognize that there is much to be THANKFUL for, and so... I'm going to give away a "Winter Survival Kit" of sugar scrub, body butter, lip balm, and luxury soap (loaded with shea butter) for some lucky person who leaves a comment here about what they are THANKFUL for (I'd be thankful if I could phrase this in a grammatically correct manner without sounding stilted). Please leave me a note with your thankfulness, and I'll put your name in for the drawing; post a note on your blog (and tell me about it) about thanksgiving and what's right in your world, and I'll put your name in the hat a second time. Feel free to promote the drawing and encourage others to join in here. I'll draw the winner two weeks from today (Feb. 25) on Lolo's birthday. So tell me - what's right in your world?

I'll start - I'm thankful that Lolo was my mom, and she gave me an amazing perspective into gratitude. Despite numerous moves (sometimes to escape the bill collectors), collecting fallen wood and corncobs to burn to keep the wood furnace going, driving a car that caught fire under the hood on EVERY trip to the grocery store, she never let on that it got her down. Her battle cry was "Another Adventure!" and off we went - with an extra blanket in the back seat for putting out the fire.

(The above shot is the beautiful sunset over the back wall at daughter Gen's place in AZ last September. I'm thankful she came through her surgery so well, too.)

Monday, February 08, 2010

Monday Photo - Hearts and/or Flowers

I choose flowers! (This week's theme is Hearts and/or Flowers.) I took these two last summer, and I love them, and I surely do wish I could see them outside the window right now!

Tuesday, February 02, 2010

Monday Photo - From My Window

This is the view out our bedroom window.

(I know it's Tuesday. I have excuses, but I'm sure you don't want to hear them!)

Pantry Complete

As of just about this time yesterday afternoon, the pantry work is (finally) complete. I can't pin all the delays on our handyman, as we made a few changes from the initial concept, kind of mid-stream.

First,you see the pre-pantry area, a little vestibule-like thing that serves no purpose. As you go to the pantry/laundry area, the door to the narrow basement steps is on your right, and we had some shallow white wire shelves used to store canned goods on the left. Now it looks like this:
And here's a bit of a peek at the door to the basement stairs AND a glimpse into the laundry area, with the brand new utility sink, built into it's own base cabinet, with a nice storage cupboard above. (It used to be more white wire shelves with the freezer below.)
Here's a glimpse of the laundry again, from the opposite side of the room. It's a tiny space, with a lot to take in, so it's hard to get a good angle:
Back a few posts, I showed you the ugly before of this corner, and a painted "during" shot. Here's the after:
Floor to ceiling cabinets - smaller on top; larger lower level cabinets have 3 pull-out drawers each and a larger stationary top shelf. The shallower cabinets by the back door have stationary shelves that are reinforced to be strong enough to load with cookbooks:
Even the insides are beautiful! Here's a shot of one cabinet with top and bottom doors open:
Gerry had our handyman add a "secret" drawer next to the sink. Talk about a custom fit! See:
You can't tell in the photo above, but the utility sink is VERY deep. There's a marvel of plumbing engineering in the cabinet below, as well - including a hidden faucet with its own control to fill the hot tub outside. Oh, and that's an Olga Lipats painting that we just had framed, hanging above the sink.