Thursday, October 25, 2012

Let's Catch Up With Nancy!

Yeah it's been a while since I posted anything. I have a bunch of pictures to share. Hopefully Blogger will keep them in semblance of order.

A late season reminder that summer is long over. The blackbirds are flocking by the hundreds in this area, and leaving soon. They don't come to the feeders anymore, so the seed lasts longer.

Love those spectacular sunsets!

This one seems to be dressed for fall.

For DDIL Stacey's birthday party, Mother Nature gave her a rainbow! She got one on her wedding day too. I know she's a little bit Irish, so I wonder if there was a pot of gold involved?

We had a fine crop of toadstools out by the mailbox this year. More than last year. I'm told they've never appeared on the property before. Maybe it's something about me; the fantasy writing and all that...

These would make very nice fairy umbrellas!

We only got one big picking of beans before the frost got them, but they went in late. There was 23 lbs in that single batch and out of them I got 14 quarts put up for the freezer. I'm not complaining.

Hot peppers. I had some sweet ones too, but I guess we forgot to take a picture. This is the final gleaning before the frost.

A very big picking of melons and squash. We got another smaller picking of melons later. That biggest watermelon weighed 41 lbs and the smaller ones were 25lbs. I have never grown melons of that size. They were tasty too.

The bulk of our winter squash. I only had a few clumps of plants. We did remarkably well. 

Money has been tight this year with ongoing repairs here around the farm. I've also been very busy writing. So I haven't had the time and incentive to go out thrifting, or out to the craft stores. My stash is overflowing anyway. Still now and then, everyone needs an outing, and sometimes there's that one special item you have to find to finish a project. I didn't spend much but I had a ball, as we hit a couple dollar/discount places and a thrift shop one afternoon. I hadn't done that in months!

Only $5 worth of glittering fun here.

I used some of this in a recent project.

I have a thing for E-beads. The sheet craft foam is something I've never used before but I find I really like working with it. The rest was bought on 'spec'.

Ah, thrift stores. No matter what my financial status might be, I will always haunt them, yard sales, and flea markets. I picked a good day for thrifting.


I found a garden dress! Broke in without being worn out, and uber-comfy with no wild colors. Yes it's big, I'm a chunky little gal.

Some of the haul. I have this thing for tins, and the floral one is already in use. Mouse-proof storage here in a must. I love the gardening/floral theme of the little frames. That enamel pan is now on my kitchen table corralling the salt and pepper grinders and the toothpick holder.

I grabbed that old rolling pin first thing. That is one solid piece so it isn't new. I decided the rest had to come home too, I do like wooden kitchen things and the little pastry roller is in good shape. The spoons look like they were never used. And lucky me, I snagged one of a pair of Tupperware deli keepers! My original one is now in sad condition after years of holding Christmas cookies.

That is the cover to the deli keeper. I collect the shish kebab skewers but don't use them because it looks like they are attached with lead. I like the farm motif though so they are living in a flat ceramic owl shelf vase with some unmatched knitting needles as a pseudo bouquet. The peeler works great—hardly used and it is a high end piece with some weight to it. We never have enough peelers, they tend to disappear into the netherworld of lost kitchen items.

No thrifting trip is complete without some books. I Piers Anthony, and neither Lee nor I had read this one. I have both the round and oblong sets of the Knifty Knitter looms but not that book. Lots of stash yarn to use up too. And hey, it's Mr. Food and chocolate! Ooh it's sooo good!

An old locker basket or something for a mere 99¢. I am always looking for storage for things like newspapers. 

Been doing a bit of crocheting and crafting again lately. The inspiration comes from my longtime pal and blog contributor Roger Stegman, who while convalescing has been doing whatever he can to keep busy, since his health and mobility is not the best. Also inspirational is my over-burgeoning stash, which has become painfully obvious now that most of it is tucked in various storage areas on the property.

I wanted to do something to cheer Roger up, and take the focus off of being sick to getting healthier. I had an old pattern for granny triangles and saw them somewhere on Pinterest used as a banner. I have plenty of yarn, and started thinking about making a healing mediation banner. My little Pagan mind started thinking about elemental themes and things just sort of evolved...

If esoteric themes bother you, you might want to turn away now before your soul is corrupted by my awesomeness. LOL!

So this is the banner base. It's meant to hang up by those ends. I had to curl it around to get it all in the picture, and yeah, it's upside down. Each triad color scheme symbolizes a spiritual idea to me. The green and brown represents EARTH for those things in our life that are practical matters, things we deal with daily. The blues are for WATER, the ideal of emotions, dreams, intuition, psychological issues, and deep feelings. The red, orange, and yellow triad is for FIRE, the province of actions, passion, strong reactions, and decisiveness. The white and gray one is AIR, for lofty creative thoughts, logic, cool headed judgments and agreements. The center triad is gold and silver because it stands for SPIRIT, which is how you envision a Higher Power or Upper Self. The whole thing is edged in black for the UNKNOWABLE or UNIVERSAL ENERGY. There is a lot about the Greater All out there that we don't understand, and from that I believe we can draw hope.

I don't dictate faith to my friends, and I don't push mine, but I like to share what gets me through the trying times. Having something to look to when there is no one else around to share the joy or catch the tears keeps me moving forward with my life.

Each one of these triads has a representative charm hanging from the point, and in the blank spots between them on the hanger, I added a beaded bell chain. 

The little house charm hangs from the EARTH triad. It was the first time I ever worked with that craft foam. I saw the color and it reminded me so much of the gingerbread cookies I used to make for the holidays. I knew I wanted a house, because that's the most grounding, practical part of our lives, having a home and somewhere to live. So I sewed the halves together with white embroidery floss (tug easy, this stuff rips) tucking a shiny 2012 penny between the halves to represent money staying home. The heart button stands for home being where the heart is...

...The shamrock button is for good luck. Both of those were sewn on before it got edged BTW. The rainbow chenille dangles represent happiness coming from the home and the little gold rings for fortune because it is a rainbow after all. Each charm got a hanger of E-beads in the proper color and length.

When you've been ill or hurt and have had a long recovery, all you can think of is coming home. You also worry about having a home left to come too, because medical bills can be horrendous. That was my fervent wishes that things would work themselves out for the better.

In the space next to that EARTH colored and charm festooned triad is this bell chain with Roger's name on it, in wooden alphabet beads. He is a woodworker after all, and he also writes. The black and white beads of various shapes and sizes are made of bone, and he had a lot of painfully broken ones. The round green beads are moss agate which is a stone that is supposed to pull in energy that helps you fight exhaustion—something that you deal with all the time after a serious illness or injury. The little green bell calls fairies, angels, whatever you want to attract. If nothing else they're pleasant to listen to. 

Orange foam, two yellow buttons, and bronze E-beads sewn to each side in the holes made a sun charm for the FIRE triad. I was going to use glitter glue to edge it but decided on the orange floss instead. The sun is healing if you sit out in it, and Roger lives in sun-drenched Florida. It needed more length of beading to match the size of the house charm. It's such a cheery little thing to look at. I don't think you can feel sad too long on a bright and sunny day, and its warmth and brilliance makes it easier to get up and try to be active. A good part of recovery is facing the necessary discomfort you have to deal with in order to heal, and accepting those things that will never be the same. That all takes courage. I hope this helps remind him that the sun will rise and bathe the earth in light every day even if you don't feel particularly perky. 

Next to the FIRE triad is a bell chain with fiery beads, little suns and hearts. I hope that red bell calls forth whatever strength and passion for living he needs to get through all this medical brouhaha.

The dragonfly came to mind right away when it came to the AIR triad, because they are such carefree masters of buoying themselves within it. Some wire and various beads and the design just kind of suggested itself. I kept the colors light and gossamer soft. Ideas just seem to come out of nowhere sometime, and Roger is a very creative person.

I want to make some of these to put in my houseplants!

Nothing is more light and ephemeral than thoughts or soap bubbles floating on AIR, and that's what these beads remind me of. Those are tiny silver dragonfly spacer beads between them. The little silver disc beads say WISH, HOPE, BELIEVE, & CREATE. Hopefully that purple bell will call up the creative muse again. Doing things with your mind and hands is integral to recovery because it changes the focus from 'can't' to 'can'!

The charm for WATER is very simple, a single pendant of sodalite in a teardrop or water droplet shape. The beaded attachment is long because it's a small charm, but when you think of it, emotions, intuitive thoughts and the subconcious things that affect us are often buried deep inside. Yet like water dripping on stone, over time they can have a profound influence, wearing a groove in our lives. The blue varies just like the ocean down where Roger lives, the darker colors farther out indicating deeper water. Sodalite is supposed to be a healing crystal that helps you put what's hard to say into words and clears confusion. It's also quite attractive and its cool colors are soothing.

Next to the AIR triad is the bell chain of blue bubble beads. Some of those are the ones I bought in my excursion detailed above. Peace and Serenity are things we can all use, but are vital after such a shock to your system, that turns your entire life upside down and inside out. The little disks are inscribed on both sides and I hung them so they sort of float on the blue E-beads beneath them. When that bell rings, I hope it brings a sense of calmness. 

The charm for the SPIRIT triad had to reflect some sense of a Higher Power or purpose that we could both understand. I chose Brighid's Cross, because it seemed perfect for both our worlds. Brighid was a beloved Pagan deity of the Celtic Pantheon. When the people of the area converted to Christianity, they just could not leave her behind. The Catholic Church eventually gave her a more Christianized identity, and she was canonized as a saint. She is associated heavily with healing, as well as various creative crafts, and spring celebrations are often dedicated to her. Since spring is the time of new beginnings, and life is starting over for Roger since his accident, it just seemed appropriate. 

This one is made of gold and silver chenille picks with the arms tied by a fine red coated copper wire. The hanger is gold and silver centered E-beads. There is no bell charm for this one, because nothing is more powerful than the faith we find within ourselves. My wish for Roger is that he finds the comforting, uplifting presence of SPIRIT to get him through this very difficult time.

This entire project took about a month to put together, but it was a labor of love. I wish I had a good picture of it finished, but I was eager to send it off. He should be getting it soon.

I mentioned that I had been crocheting lately, and that I had a considerable stash. Well yes, I have and I do. Since I have started watching TV programs and movies online with HULU or on the networks in order to relax before bedtime, I have the urge to crochet again. With Roger's banner all done I needed a new project. 

I wanted to do kitchen stuff and cotton is best for that as it doesn't melt like plastic if it catches a flame. Acrylic and all synthetic yarns will do that, so don't use them for kitchens, or anything you send to a military person. They are also very cold when wet, so 100% wool is best for military donations. Unfortunately it makes my skin break out in bumps and psoriasis plaques so I can't wear wool. 

I don't need any more afghans or amigurumi stuffies right now, but with the holidays coming, (and all the cooking that entails), I could really use some more hot pads. My counters here are hardwood and I don't like to set piping hot food dishes down on them. We tend to have most of the food-related family gatherings at this old farm. I could not for the life of me find my tub of cotton yarn! So I broke down and bought a couple rolls of Peaches & Cream cotton and put myself to work making double thickness hot pads. 

Nothing fancy, just two single crochet hexagons with a magic ring center and a 6 stitch per round increase. I joined them together on the outer edge with one row of single crochet and then a row of crab stitch (reverse sc). This yarn did come out of a work bag that I was rummaging around in. I used the join and turn method here, which gives me a straight seam and no off side. Both sides are the same color yarn.

This is one side of a hot pad with a brown ombre yarn I really liked and bought. I got the other yarn to compliment it. The hexagon here is larger and made with the spiral method, where you mark the first stitch of a row, but don't join or turn. It doesn't work well for hexes, and I thought it would appear more rounded. Not turning also leaves a right and wrong side, and for the double sided pieces, they won't match. Not the prettiest piece I've ever done, but it will be serviceable, and that's what counts. 

This is the back side of that piece. The plain tan color (they called it Amber) makes the unevenness less noticeable. This oversize one will fit under my big bowls and my 5 quart thrifted amberware casserole dish with some room to spare. Not only do hot pads save your counters but they keep the heat in the dishes and food. Otherwise it distributes to the counter surface and the food cools far faster. Throw a towel over the top and you won't be reheating stuff when you have multiple dishes to cook.

In rooting around in my project bag I came across this scrunchie I never finished. So I worked that up and had enough yarn left over...
 make this dishcloth of alternating single, half-double, and double crochet. The cotton yarns tend to fade like crazy and they're stiff, but the wear like iron and make good pot scrubbers. 

This is why I need to relax at night. I've gotten three books written and published in less than a year. Plus I write short stories that appear in magazines and mixed author themed anthologies. I'm expecting another novel and at least one more short story in an anthology to be out by year's end. I'm already working on next year's books. Since I also am assistant editor for one of the three companies I currently write for, I get to work on other people's books too.

Ah the joys of being an empty-nester with a later life career! Of course I still have to do housework, cooking, and grocery shopping, because I'm not wealthy enough to hire staff yet. LOL And the farm renovations are still ongoing around me. So now and then, a day off for thrifting, fun shopping, or just kicking back and being creative in some other more tactile form gives my overloaded mind a vacation.

Ariel The Wonderdog and I would like to thank you for stopping by and visiting with us again. We'll try and be a bit more frequent with our updates. Just not enough hours in the day sometimes. 

Y'all come back again, ye hear?

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