Saturday, February 28, 2015

Skunks and Bunnies

Last Saturday morning, I was awakened at 4:30 a.m. by the familiar click-click-click of canine claws pacing on hard wood floors, a sign that Molly, our eleven-year-old Springer Spaniel, needed/wanted to go outside.  I ignored her until 4:45, when Gabby, the mastiff, joined her. It's harder to ignore a dog who can stick their nose in your ear.    

As soon as I opened the front door just a crack, I realized why they were prancing to get out at that hour - skunk!  These dogs are not strangers to skunks - they have been sprayed at least twice - so you would assume that they know to keep their distance.  Well, I know these dogs, and I don't have that much confidence in their intelligence, so the door remained shut and the annoyed dogs stayed locked inside.

So there I was, awake at 5:00 a.m. with little chance of getting back to sleep, and two annoyed dogs that were still faunching to get out. I did the only logical thing - I went to the basement to sew a bunny bag. 

I saw the idea on Pinterest (where else?) and even though I don't have any little girls in my household, it was so cute, I had to try it.  It went together very quickly.  In fact, it took longer to embroider the face than to sew it all together.

I want to make a few more, varying the fabric choices for the ears and lining.  I'm still not sure what I'll do with them, but I bet I can find some young ladies who will enjoy them.

It was the beginning of a long, fun day of crafting.  At the end of the day, I was ready to get tucked in with a good book, but when I opened the door to bring the dogs in for the night, there it was again - skunk! -  but this time it was coming from the dogs. I told you they weren't that intelligent.   It was well below zero outside - so a hose in the front yard wasn't an option. 

If you've never tried to lift a rebellious, 100 pound, skunk-drenched dog into a bathtub, count yourself lucky.  It took more than an hour to bathe both dogs in baking soda and hydrogen peroxide, bathe myself, scrub the bathroom, and then wash towels, bath mat, shower curtain and my clothes.  Not the ending to my day that I was hoping for!  Maybe next time I should make a skunk bag and the dogs will just chase bunnies.

Monday, February 23, 2015

The More Things Change . . .

I love antiques and anything "vintage".  In fact, I sometimes think I was born thirty years too late.  I should have been a 1950's housewife.  In lieu of time travel, I purchased a stack of Saturday Evening Post and Life magazines from the 1950's and 60's.  Browsing through them brings back childhood memories, but just as often, I learn something about the world during that time that a child would not remember.  As I read my way through the stack, I'll post from time to time about the things I learn and remember.

Saturday Evening Post, December 7, 1963.

Although the cover date is a week after President Kennedy was assassinated, the magazine had obviously already been printed because there are several references to the President and his administration.

Obviously, lots of things have changed since 1963 - such as:
  • How we get our music.  Oh, the hours I spent lying on the floor in front of a stereo like this - listening to the soundtrack from Elvis Presley's movie "Spinout" or Lionell Barrymore reading Charles Dicken's "A Christmas Carol."  (I still have that album, but no way to play it.)    Now I listen to music via satellite (a relatively new thing in 1963) or stored in some mysterious digital form.
  • Polaroid intruduced the Colorpack - the first color "instant" camera - the perfect Christmas gift for only $99.
  • As was the newest aid to housewives - the self-cleaning oven.
  • Boys (and boys only) were recruited to deliver the Saturday Evening Post and earn prizes.
But some things haven't changed as much as I thought.  An article titled "The Failure of Congress" states:
"More than ever before, the public attitude toward Congress is a mixture of indifference, amusement and contempt. . . When the citizens of a democracy begin to hold their legislature in contempt, democracy is itself in danger."
The more things change...

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Japanese Knot Bag

During one of my frequent surfs through Pinterest, I ran across a pattern for a Japanese Knot Bag.  I was intrigued by the unique shape and the simple design. The bag is basically a tube with a circular bottom and uneven handles.  The longer handle feeds through the shorter one to close the bag and form a wrist strap.

My sister, Teri, gave me this wonderful fabric featuring dress forms and tape measures.  The bag is reversible, and I swapped the bottom pieces for a little contrast.  I used heavy-duty interfacing on the bottom to add some shape and strength.

I should have added something to the pictures to give you some size reference, but I can tell you that it is the perfect size to carry two cans of pop and a little snack to work.  In fact, I liked it so much I decided to try a larger, insulated version to carry my lunch.

The retro martini fabric has been sitting on a shelf for over a year - waiting for the perfect project.  It makes me smile just to look at it.

 Again, no size perspective, but this one is about 1 1/2 times the size of the first.  I used the same pattern and kept the handle width the same, just widened the curve in between to make it 12" wide - because that's the size of paper I had handy for drawing the pattern.  I also added 5-6 inches to the length.  In this version, I used Insul-Bright insulated batting in the bottom and sides.  There is no batting in the handles to keep them flexible enough to form the "knot".  

Normally I would give credit to the author of the tutorial, but in this case I won't.  The one I used is poorly written and leaves out a couple details that are crucial. This is really a very simple sewing project - if you have all the information.   After the second one, I think I've got it figured out, but there are lots of patterns and tutorials out there if you search "Japanese Knot Bag", so I'll let you find a better one.   

Thursday, February 19, 2015

A Puzzling Post: Germs and Sneezing and Snot, Oh My!

A bout with the a nasty cold kept me down for a few days and feeling like I wanted to be down for a few more.  I'm on the road to recovery now, but my head's too stuffed up to think clearly and write a post.  Instead, we'll play a little game.  

Can you name these ten items associated with the cold and flu season?

There's no prize except I promise not to visit you and spread the fun.  I'll hide comments for a day or two so you can't peek at anyone's answers.

UPDATE:  The correct answers are  Alka-Seltzer Plus, Ny-quil, Campbells Chicken Noodle Soup, Ricola cough drops, Kleenex (or any tissue), Mucinex, Vicks Vapor-rub, thermometer, humidifier, Tylenol.

The Campbells soup seemed to stump the most people.  Lisa (who's answers i seem to have lost) got all but that one.  Teri, who emailed me her answers, and Peggy were right behind with 8 out of 10 correct.

Thanks for playing.

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Tangled Thursday

Don't panic, you haven't overslept and it's Thursday already.  I'm just running a little behind getting this posted.  It was my turn to select the theme for the Tangled Thursday challenge and, in honor of our new business, Wabash Construction, I chose the letter "W".   I used a curvy W as my string and found seven patterns that begin with W - including my favorite, W2.  

I could tell I was way out of practice. Things didn't come out as precisely as I wanted, but I had fun, so it's all good.  Now that I've got the pen and paper back out, I'm fired up for the next challenge.

Visit Heather at Books & Quilts to see all entries in this challenge, or to link your own post - then check out the next challenge.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Needlework Tuesday: Long Time No See

I haven't participated in Needlework Tuesday for months.   I have been crafting like crazy, but not necessarily needlework, so I'm expanding this post to include all crafts.

I have been fascinated by the "mug rug' craze on Pinterest.  There are hundreds of adorable examples out there.  I made a few Christmas versions just to see what I thought.  I discovered that some patterns are more complicated than I want to invest in for a glorified coaster -- but I do like the extra size, so the determination is that mugs rugs are a great trend, within limits.  Here's my favorite, made in the same manner as my favorite potholders -except round.

I tried my hand at knitted stocking caps.  I really like this one, except that the purple stripe is made from a different weight of yarn.  The variation was intentional, but what I thought would look artistic or modern actually looks more like a mistake.

Of course a new year calls for a new journal.  I use standard composition books, but make removable/reusable  fabric covers.  Amanda gave me this sparkly reindeer fabric for Christmas and it seemed like a festive start for the new year.  There is a pocket on the front to hold a pen and highlighter, and a ribbon bookmark.  

My biggest sewing project since I last linked up are called "Oh Sh** Kits" - or emergency kits if you prefer.  They are small bags - suitable for purse, backpack, desk or car, that hold all the things you might need in a minor emergency.  The options are endless, but I chose this simple bag pattern, and included a flashlight, small scissors, Band-Aids, ibuprofen, nail file, needle/thread, buttons, safety pins, eye-glasses cleaner, glue dots, etc.  I made about 20 of them - for all the ladies on my Christmas list - and they were a big hit.

So much so, that my brother-in-law wondered where the male version was.  He thought it should be called the "Oh, F***-it Bucket".  That kind of creativity deserved a response, so I created this for him.

The bucket contains a hunting magazine, golf balls, extra batteries for the TV remote, a DVD and a bottle of his favorite liquor - all the things you need to relax after a tough day at work.

Painting has taken over most of my creative time.  I'm still working on learning to paint with watercolors.  It's a slow process, but I can definitely see improvement, and it's incredibly relaxing.  

Visit our Needlework Tuesday hostess, Heather, at Books and Quilts to see what others are stitching up, or to link up your own post. 

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Wabash School of Bin Building

Ever wondered how to build a grain bin?  Yeah, me neither.  But since grain bins are now a large chunk of my life, I have had to learn.  So, just in case you really have been wondering that, here is a short course in Bin Building 101.

Our first shipment of grain bin "pieces and parts" was delivered:

and off-loaded to be stored until time to build:

The long strips on the trailer are floor slats.  The curved bars on the forklift are roof supports.  We also received roof sheets:

Each stack of pie-shaped wedges will make one roof.  The variety of lengths corresponds with the diameter of the bin.  That oval cut-out will become a man-hole for access to the grain stored inside.

And of course a bin has to have walls:

These stacks of curved sheets will form the "rings" of the bins.  Bins are measured by diameter and height (number of rings).  The stack in the center will build bins with a 36' diameter.  The stack on the left will build 24' bins, so they are curved a little tighter.   There's a lot of detail about farm bins vs. commercial bins, the width of the rings, etc., but you get the idea.  The crates above the center stack hold the nuts and bolts of the business - literally.  There are more than 1000 bolts in an average grain bin.  Each one is inserted by hand by a crew member on the outside of the bin and tightened by a crew member on the inside, using an impact wrench.

When the weather warms up, we will start pouring concrete pads and erecting bins.  (And by "we" I mean Dave and a crew of 6 guys.)  Bins are built from the top down.  First the roof is constructed then jacks are used to raise it far enough to insert the first ring underneath.

Then two rings . . .

Four rings . . .

Six rings . . .

 Eight rings . . .

And the 9th and, in this case, final ring is in place. Time to start raising the second bin.

Next comes floors, spiral staircases, doors and installation of an auger.  This process takes 1 or 2 weeks - depending on bin size -  including time to pour concrete, let it cure for several days, erect the bin and add finishing touches.  

Thank you for attending Bin Building 101.  I'm sure this information will make for interesting conversation at your next cocktail party, or may come in handy in a game of Trivial Pursuit.  Here at Green Acres, it's just another day at work.

Friday, February 6, 2015

Life Under Construction: Independence

Independence:  freedom from control or influence
Independence:  freedom from support or aid

Every teenager dreams of independence - freedom from parental control.  Parents dream of the day their children become financially independent.   As I begin this new chapter of life, as empty-nester and partner with my husband in our new business, I am faced with another kind of independence - independence from immediate access. 

For the last ten years, we have both worked at jobs that were predominantly desk time, and allowed us to communicate by Instant Messenger or text.  Any time during business hours that I had an emergency, a question, information to relay, or saw something funny on the internet, I could tell Dave nearly as easily as if he were in the same room.

Not so in the construction business.  During the building season (April-November - give or take) he is on a job site as a hands-on member of the construction crew, which doesn't leave a hand free for conversational texting.  During the "off season" he is attending trade shows, visiting customers, working in the shop and generally not being accessible.  

Not that I have always had instant access to my husband.  I was a stay-at-home mom in the years before cell phones and home computers.  There were many long, long days when I handled the household, the finances, and children who wanted their daddy, who was working late.  But I tended to be a needy mess by the time he walked in.  

The "second-half me" refuses to fall back into that routine, so the goal is to build an independent life that includes Dave and the kids, but is not dependent on them. Thirty-two years of caring for others make that harder than it sounds.  It's been a long time since life was about me.  I don't mean that to sound like a diva - "it's all about me" - but I need to fill my days with my own interests, plans and missions.   

Now, all I need are interests, plans and missions.  

(Part II - "Finding Balance" - coming soon.)