Archive | February 2017

Cool days…I love them…

It’s cool and damp today, as was last night.

I love weather like this. I always have. I think I was made for living in the UK…or Oregon.

But, here I am, in Kansas. I do love the natural environment here, and have lots of wonderful memories of my time on a farm not too far from here. Before I leave here I’m going back to the farm to see if the current residents will let me take pictures. Last time I was there…maybe 8 years ago? No one was home and I drove up the longish drive just to see things. Everything seemed different, the way things do when you were around them when you were young and haven’t seen them since. Everything had shrunk.

I was very impressed with the neighbor’s front yard, though. When I was about 15, a large family moved in there and the parents planted trees everywhere. Now those tiny saplings are a tall, mature, beautiful forest. Maybe if I time my visit right they will be leafed out.

I had been lamenting the fact of not having a good enough camera. My cell phone takes ok photos, but they could be better.

This morning when I woke up I threw on pants, a long shirt, made tea and headed outdoors. Cool and damp…I couldn’t resist. I took the ipad, too. The one I’ve been using for months…and took this:

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Now, doesn’t that look like you could just reach right through the computer screen, snap off a fresh lettuce leaf and chomp on it? I know! I’ve had this ability to take much better photos all this time…harrumph!

I’m currently making crostini…or trying to. It doesn’t want to brown, but I have to go check on it. In the meantime…look what I have to do to keep the cats out of my new vegetable beds…

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The crostini is still not brown…dripping with oil, crunchy, but still not brown…and, yes, Olive would be right in the middle of that soil…doing you-know-what…if those sticks weren’t there. Still, they get as close as they can.

If I leave here, the garden will be my biggest disappointment. I have so many plans for it.

However, the stitching will continue, no matter where I am. Here’s the latest on In Nature. I practiced a few faces before stitching one on. It was the only drawing I did all week…and my next class is today. I will have nothing to show Mr. DeBeverly.

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I’ve been wanting to do a critter for a while now. Jude is so talented and her beasts are such an inspiration. But my critters will always look like my critters…and I am ok with that. This piece has been a lot of fun…and I’m not finished yet.

Today is the last day for stitching any more February words on the word cloth. And I have several I’d like to do. I will probably start on this instead of drawing. What a bad student I am this week.

Speaking of other places, I like a lot about Oklahoma. I love the wild green cedars dotted across the rolling burnt red landscape. It is truly beautiful.

Norman, which is a good-sized college town, also has better food than we do. My favorite store discovered on our weekend trip was Sprouts where we found these white rose potatoes:

They were so creamy and delicious, simply sliced and baked with a red onion and oil. Half the bag is already gone. I ate last night’s leftovers for breakfast.

The crostini has now been in the oven forever. Last time I checked it still wasn’t browning. I’m going to take it out anyway…I’m tired of waiting. And then I’m going to take a grapefruit outside and eat it and enjoy the cool and damp…and perhaps I’ll ponder some more about the near future. H told me last night we will know if we are moving sometime in the next 10 days.

In the meantime, look what’s happening outside:

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They like the cool, damp, too.

Crostini update: slightly golden brown, sprinkled with Fleur de Sel…and cooling.

 

Cat calamities and other nonsense…

This little number has been progressing nicely…

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She did, indeed, go with me to Oklahoma this weekend. I stitched on her whenever time was available. We stayed fairly busy, even though we had little planned.

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H went to the Laker’s Game in Oklahoma City with family Friday night…I opted out and instead went to the Air BnB room (a condo) to get us settled. I had about two blissful hours where all I did was lie on the couch and read a new (to me) blog I am following, The Kitchens Garden. I have gone back to when the author first began the blog, back in July 2011. I am enjoying it immensely. Having already read through Hazel’s blog, I was looking for new blog material. I have a lot of interest in farming/permaculture, so the garden blog is really appealing.

I’m hoping to get outside today and do a little gardening, myself. Although I have sewing I want to do as well. It is always a push-pull kind of feeling, trying to decide what to do with my day. I also need to work on getting a place ready for chicks and ducklings! I have decided (more or less) to just go for it: whether we stay in this house or not, whether we move or not…bah! Just do it! The only sad bit is I will probably have to kick Chicky out of his shed. He does love it in there, but it’s really the only place I have to safely keep the chicks.

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We arrived home Sunday evening to…cat calamity. Weanie and Olive had somehow (I know exactly how!) managed to trap themselves in our home office, which also serves as H’s bedroom. (I have my bedroom, he has his…not every couple can or wants to share a bed! Anyway, it works for us for various reasons.) Besides being thoroughly traumatized by the event, (she was howling under the bed) Weanie had the horrible experience of actually being trapped WITHOUT FOOD in the same room with the dreaded little girl…Olive. Horror of horrors!

And, what you might think would happen, happened. I don’t know how long they were cooped up, but it was enough time for each of them to poo…yuck! Olive discreetly and respectfully tucked her butt into a corner to do her business while WEANIE chose to poo right in the middle of…did you guess it? No, well, right in the middle of her Dada’s BED! Double yuck. She used his comfy blanket to go on AND to use for covering up. Blegh.

In her efforts to avoid said disgusting younger kitty, Weanie had also managed to knock all the photos off H’s display shelf – including his new Two Hearts piece…hmph!… a racy photo of yours truly, and a group shot taken of H with famous rapper Nelly! How disrespectful!

Frazzled and nerve-wracked from her ordeal, Weanie darted outside once she was done wailing under the furniture where she proceeded to gorge herself on the cat food H had just put in the outside food bowls. After few minutes of shoving food into her pie hole faster than she could chew it, she promptly did an about-face and puked…right on our welcome mat.

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In case it’s not clear by now, Weanie is high-maintenance and high-drama. I could tell she was thoroughly ashamed of herself. (The girls – even the little ones – are so good in the house and never disgrace themselves, or us, in this fashion.) This on top of the fact something else has been bothering Weanie lately, so she’s having a rough go of it. I have noticed today she is studiously avoiding the home office – refusing even to look at it or really acknowledge its existence – which is so fascinating as up until the point of being trapped in it, the office/bedroom was her favorite haunt…day and night. She is currently curled up in a tight ball on the couch with her back to EVERYONE.

It really wasn’t the kitties’ fault they got trapped. I should have thought of that possibility. I made the decision not to sequester the little girls to their space upstairs, as I was worried they would go stir-crazy. They have been behaving well enough I thought I could leave both upstairs and down for them to enjoy. The office/bedroom is, also, H’s domain. Before we left I almost said…hey don’t you want to close off the office so they can’t get in there? But, the truth is, I have grown tired of making helpful suggestions only to have them totally ignored.

Things like…hey, if we clean the garage out a little more we could squeeze the car in there and it won’t get any hail damage…Nah…it’ll be ok…or hey, maybe you should wash that apple before you eat it, after all, they are the most heavily sprayed of the fruits…Nah, I never wash my fruit before eating it, hahaha…

You get the drift.

The latter comment was made last night at dinner. I told H that was the exact attitude that got his bed pooped on. And then I laughed. hahaha…

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Headed south…

Where is this piece going?

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I’m not sure esthetically. But physically it’s going with me to Oklahoma for the weekend.

I hope you all have a good one. It’s cold here again. Wishing you warmer weather than this!

P.S. Buggar refuses to go out…

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Cabins and dreams…

Last night I finished my second log cabin piece, as inspired by Jude’s latest works.

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It’s been fun to put them together. I had enough fabrics from last year’s dyeing efforts to make each swatch a different fabric. The two lightest colored pieces were dyed with mulberries. The others were dyed with Rit. Maybe I will make some more blocks like this as I have lots of dyed fabric and I like how the pieces look together. You can see a bit more detail of the stitching here…Jude’s seam stitching and invisible basting methods used as decorative stitching…(I know, I need to get a good camera!)

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My first moons were pretty messy…but I like their mysterious quality.

I’m not sure exactly how I want to proceed now. I didn’t touch these fabrics for months for fear I would mess them up. Now that I’ve got a couple of quilt pieces put together, I’m afraid I’ll mess those up. I think other stitchers understand the dilemma. That’s one reason I’m doing the word cloth, trying to ease up a bit on the idea of perfection and give myself freedom to explore and experiment. I think it’s working. Here are a couple shots I took yesterday when working outside.

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Here’s an example of an experiment, the cloud. I wasn’t yet stitched in the photo above, simply drawn.

My first stitching efforts on the cloud were ugly and didn’t look cloud-like. I had tried two layers of stitching trying to make this work, so I removed one, left the other, and took out the gray I had been trying to use to make it look more rainy. Using white, I simply stitched over the previous stitching (ala Jude’s wrap stitch) and it worked. Nice and puffy.

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The raindrops are extended French knots. They work, too.

The sun was shining when I got up, now it’s clouded over. I missed the sun for sleeping. I have been so sleep deprived…for years…that I’ve decided if I can sleep, I will. Lately that has meant 10 or so hours each night, sometimes divided up into two sections, sometimes divided by a couple hours of being awake. I have the luxury of time these days, if not money, so I have decided to sleep.

My dreams of late have been wonderful…there have been some beautiful, caring men (sorry, H!), involving lovely encounters. Each night before I sleep, I have been telling my Spirit I want peaceful, calm dreams…and they have been. (Working with your own Spirit REALLY works!)

Last night I was traveling, in England, then I was riding an elephant on a wildlife preserve. I had such a fine view from my perch and the steps of the giant I was upon rocked me gently. There were gazelles and zebras and wide, grassy fields. I stayed quiet as we passed a herd of rhinos, not wanting to provoke the dangerous beasts. When my elephant deposited me safely beside a high fence, I waited until the rhinos were calm and not looking before I dashed to the other side and made my way over a fence and out of the preserve.

Later, I was among a large group of stitchers at some kind of retreat. One very friendly lady approached me. She had her work in her hand, which I recognized from a nature scene piece I had seen on a wall. Her style used large circles of that old fashioned stretch polyester my mother used to make pants out of. The piece she was working on had many brown circles with a larger circle at the bottom in dark orange for the sun. The circles were puffy, as if filled with batting. The lady stitched as she talked…she was open to hearing gossip of any kind or talking about whatever…she babbled on, happily, and was a care-free spirit and good-natured, despite her penchant for gossip.

When I woke, the sun was out, but now it’s gone. But, here it is again…the sun…

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A bit of this and that…

I don’t have much to write about today. I’m mainly sharing pictures.

Why?

Because it’s sunny and gorgeous out, I slept late so I am missing a chunk of the day, and I’m itching to go here and stitch:

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Hey, don’t laugh. It is a very redneck set up, but it works! I made this discovery last spring when I was desperate to be outside but tired of baking in the sun. I kept eyeballing that piece of lattice and thinking…I wonder if it would work? On hotter days I throw an old sheet over it for enhanced shading. Is that called make-do ingenuity? I don’t know, but it works.

That’s my word cloth pictured above. I’ve got a few words to get on there. And my socks are already off in preparation for some grounding. The grass is greener since taking this photo, thanks to all that rain. Earlier I found a ladybug in the kitchen and took it out. I have more gnats than usual and a few moths in the house. I suspect the plants upstairs are hatching things. It’s that time…

Jude has been putting together log cabin blocks. I have admired them for a while now. They look so easy and fun I wanted to try it. It was a good excuse to start using some of that fabric I dyed last year.

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Jude has a video she posted recently where she talks about the stitches she uses on seams. I found her method actually creates a beautiful decorative stitch, so I went with it using perle cotton and some bamboo silk thread, which sews like a dream. The stitches remind me of a Morse code pattern…dot dash….dot dash… After all, we are communicating with fabric and thread…

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I enjoyed putting this block together so much, I started another one. Here I’ve used thicker thread again to make the invisible stitch visible. I like the effect. That magenta thread is soy silk.

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On the drawing front, I showed this sketch to my instructor yesterday.

He helped me understand what was wrong with it…the eyes are off a bit. He explained how eyes need to be level with the tilt of the head. However, he said it was too good a sketch to change anything about it. That was nice to hear.

As far as kitty shenanigans, not much to report. I suspected it wouldn’t be long before Buggar started playing with the little girls. I have been enjoying their antics in the back yard.

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They do love the tall grass that grew in this little garden plot, Buggar especially. She loves to hide in it. That’s her poofy tail on the right and Matty (aka “Noodle”) laying in wait on the left. As Matty grows older it gets harder and harder to tell them apart. They are so alike in coloring…and personality…you’d think they were related.

Everyone has behaved pretty well lately, even Bully, although there has been more chasing of Wienie, which I really dislike. She has always been chased by the other cats. I don’t know what that’s about, but I’m going to look into it. Everyone also came in right away last night, except for Matty. She giggled above my head on the roof for a long time. She loves to get up there. Finally, I directed her to the top of the shed, where she jumped down and then finally ran inside, as if she hadn’t done that by herself a million times. Cats…

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Birds, bees and…ducks…

The past week has felt like spring.

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I’ve had a few bees buzzing around me in the backyard, likely in search of blossoms. (That’s a photo from last spring.) The only thing I’ve seen blooming so far is shepherd’s purse which is an herb that has a little white globe-type blossom. But after nearly an inch and a half of rain last night I suspect early flowering plants will be popping out all over.

It seemed like it was possibly building up to rain when I was on my walk around  Path last night. (I got 3 miles in!) But I don’t pay attention to forecasts, they change so much anyway, and I wasn’t expecting it. It had been so long since I had heard thunder, I didn’t recognize the storm rolling in a few hours later.

Last year H was not allowed to mow in the backyard for a long time…not that he minded, as he is not a fan of mowing. But I wanted to see what all would grow there and what all would bloom. I couldn’t believe how many dandelions and other flowers we had…it was like a carpet with the bees swarming all over them. This year there will be even less mowing, as I am using more space for gardening. We’ll see if any of it comes to fruition…H is looking for jobs elsewhere.

The birds and bees signaling spring have me thinking about…ducks. I’m getting some! I wanted some last year, but I stalled. Actually, I bought 9 beautiful ducklings last spring when visiting a former acquaintance, but in a very complicated situation in which I had to leave quickly I was unable to take them with me. They were all left behind, and I was very sad about it. Once home, I couldn’t find the kind of ducks I was looking for: Muscovy. I’m hoping to get a few here when the local farm supply starts selling chicks and ducklings. I might get a few chicks, too.

Here is Buggar, surrounded by the dandelions…

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Even though the groundhog said 6 more weeks of winter, we’re obviously marching along towards spring. I don’t listen to those silly predictions anyway. I listen to the birds. They are singing about spring all over the place. I have the front window open and have been listening to their delightful songs this morning. Now, if I could just beam myself to the country some place and be surrounded by those song birds, that would be ideal…

Stitching was completed on Two Hearts and gifted to H. He promptly ran out and purchased a frame for it. I thought that was very sweet.

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I got the red linen backing on after the bulk of the stitching was done. I don’t have a lot of that lovely red, so I removed what wouldn’t show.

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Even though I had pinned the decorative bit down, when I put the edge stitching around it a sort of bubble was created. Once I got the final backing on I had to invisible stitch the front down, sliding in between layers. Halfway through the second edging I realized the thick perle cotton thread I was using was just too bulky. I’m not a big frogger (ripping stitches out) but this had to go. A thinner thread looked much better.

 

A couple closeups…

It didn’t take too long to get it framed. I decided to use fabric for the backing. I had plenty of that shiny red/blue to spare.

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I wasn’t sure why I included the silver silk shantung, other than it was a nice contrasting bit of color. It did make sense in a sort of I Love You way…and then H pointed out how it looks like a “KU” theme…his favorite basketball team…which happens to have these colors. It really does look like KU sports gear. Kindof funny how that turned out.

As usual, the weekend went by too fast. We did, however, enjoy some good meals. We went to one of our favorite restaurants, which was nice. But this meal at home – pasta with sweet potato puree – was a highlight.

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I really didn’t have a plan going into it, but suddenly a pasta dish sounded really good. Here’s how I made it:

I boiled 1/2 a package of Farfalle (bow tie) pasta (250g/9 oz) with 3 cloves of garlic. I grated just over 1/2 cup of Piave Italian cheese, similar to romano or parmesan. I chopped up a handful of fresh basil (from my plants I wintered over upstairs…I’m so glad I did that!) I drained the pasta, removed the garlic and mashed it in a large mixing bowl, then added 1 Tbsp butter along with the other ingredients. Plus about 3/4 tsp. pink sea salt.

I had warmed up a very large sweet potato earlier, which I had with butter for breakfast, so I scooped out the rest and in a separate bowl I mixed it with a little salt and 1-2 Tbsp goat cheese. I kept thinking it would go really well as a topper for my pasta… and it did! We drizzled olive oil over the top, which added a wonderful nutty flavor.

The combination was really lovely. We enjoyed it immensely…along with a bottle of San Pelegrino mineral water, which seemed only fitting.

Wishing you good meals with true loves…

 

 

 

Karma or coincidence?

I couldn’t get started just now until all my photos were uploaded. I’m not sure why I couldn’t just start writing, other than I couldn’t think of what I wanted to say until those photos left my phone and arrived on the computer where I could add them here.

Maybe it’s because I don’t have a lot to write about. Actually, I don’t have many photos, either.

It’s sunny out today, and warmer. Hopefully a walk in the sun later will boost my mood. I think it’s been two days since I did laps.

I’m also a bit off because there’s a cat-involved situation going on, something I don’t want to discuss because I am fairly frustrated with it. Despite many attempts to prevent this happening, I’m having to deal with it today when I’d rather not. It didn’t help that the big girls have been super pissy the past few days…i.e. screeching, swiping, swearing and generally disobeying orders. (Weanie got thrown out in the cold for her behavior and Buggar got “swatted” and scolded with a soft cat blankie for her crimes.) Honestly, I think they were extremely disappointed the warm weather was short-lived and after a brief taste of freedom and the blissfulness of the outdoors they had to be inside and see each other and continue sharing space. Oh, the horrors. Luckily, today is sunny and warmer, so everyone is OUT!

Brief interlude: here’s a pic of a beautiful cast iron tea pot H procured for me at his job. Thank you, H! (this beautiful pot has yet to be used)

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Now, back to the show:

I have also had housework staring me in the face for a long time, and I’m not interested in it, either. But, if I don’t do it now or at least soon, it will get worse.

I’ve also been thinking about friendship and how hard making friends has been for me as an adult. It’s weird because I have always had several really good women friends in my life at any given point in time. H and I recognized long ago we are basically each other’s only friend. I’m grateful every day to have him in my life. We get along amazingly well – it’s a bit uncanny – and have a lot of fun together. But I do miss having women friends. You’d think it would be fairly easy to find some, but my experience is that unless you are willing to go with the norm – join clubs, participate in certain unifying belief systems, squash your personality in order to fit in, etc… – then you’re probably SOL.

I tend to think this is because I live in small town Kansas where small thinking is the norm (that may sound like a judgement, but really it’s just how things are – people are more simple here in many ways) and there are fewer people to choose from. Whatever the reason, more and more I think it’s just difficult to have friends as an adult. People change so much as they get older. Communication becomes more difficult if you are not naturally a people person, and you tend to have fewer things in common.

More and more I appreciate my cats, even on their pissy days…although they are very much like people.

Sometimes when I’m feeling bummed about the lack of friends in my life I think back to religious school days when a couple of tattle tale girls got on my and my best friend’s bad sides. For whatever reason – I also seem to remember some exclusiveness going on – we decided these two girls were sub-par and not worthy of our friendship. (The memory makes me cringe!) We only had maybe a dozen girls in our class, if that many, so to exclude anyone left fewer friend options for everyone. It was a very hurtful thing to do.

One week I had noticed these two girls hanging out together. I asked one of them how she could stand being friends with her? Her answer was to the point and much more grown-up of a response than I expected:

“Well, what are you supposed to do when no one else wants to be your friend?”

I have felt very badly about that for a long time.

To be fair, I had many experiences of being excluded around that same time in my life, girls who didn’t want to be my friend, wouldn’t talk to me, didn’t want me around. There was a time when I made friends with someone I normally wouldn’t have, just because I was so lonely being by myself. Perhaps it was karma? Sometimes I think I’m still living it.

But, still, I keep thinking about friends. As an adult and limited in my own ways where I live, I have begun reaching out online, trying to make friends. It really has not gone well. Just last night I decided I had, perhaps, been pursuing people who aren’t really interested in being my friend. It was like a lightbulb moment, a moment where you realize you’ve been casting your pearls (or your perles, lol) before swine, and why not move on and find people who ARE interested in you? That was my decision, and that is what I am going for.

In the meantime, I will continue to try and be my best self, work on my own foibles (we all have them, some people’s are just more visible than others), continue to enjoy my own company to the fullest, and cherish any legitimate and true connections which come my way.

On to other things…I’ve been cracking open some of the fermented foods I have stored in the fridge. I opened a beautiful quart of yellow pear and cherry tomatoes, only to find kham yeast had grown. Kham doesn’t spoil, but it does taste bad. Bummer! This morning I opened a different jar, feeling hopeful but apprehensive. Happily, these ones are just fine!

Check out that blue garlic! Yes, blue! The copper minerals in the garlic sometimes turn blue when fermented. I like that. And TGB stands for (green) tomato, garlic and basil. It’s not the best tasting jar of tomatoes I’ve enjoyed, but they’re ok. And, yes, they didn’t go in there until December! That’s how long I had tomatoes sitting around. I like to chop up these pieces and have them with crackers and goat cheese.

On the stitching front, here’s progress on the Two Hearts piece:

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Mainly thread beads.

I managed to go to the thrift store Monday. Often, it’s one of the only highlights of my week! Here are a few slightly antiquated finds:

20170215_140740Wishing you lots of wonderful friends…and good stitching…