Monday, December 31, 2012

Pretty as a picture

Okay, they are pictures. Pretty ones, at that. I took them Saturday noon-ish. Much as I'm not thrilled with dealing with snow, it still does make for beautiful scenery, and it always makes me want to grab the camera... so I did. They're all "plastic shots", too, out the same window, except for the last one. 3M does make some mighty fine window plastic.

They're much nicer to look at enlarged, so click on them to see them at their best if you want, especially the last one so you can see the sparkly snow better.

We're having Christmas today - hurray! So Merry Christmas to us... and to anybody else that might still be celebrating. And to everyone a very Happy New Year, too! I hope 2013 is a wonderful year for all of you. Thanks for viewing my blog and for all your encouraging comments! I hope you keep coming back!

After our Christmas today, I can finally show you a couple things I made for gifts. And now that December and all its hecticness is over, I can get back to sewing up my great pile of intentions - yay!

Thursday, December 27, 2012

This morning

I hope you all had a lovely Christmas! We're only half done with ours... the best is yet to come!

It's snowing here right now, with several inches in the forecast. I thought I'd share this little video from our backyard for those of you in warmer climates who didn't get to have a white Christmas. Enjoy!

Monday, December 24, 2012

Christmas decorations

Nature's decorations are the best! I took these pictures on Saturday morning, just as the sun was coming up. Click on any photo to enlarge it and see it even better!

Did you notice that little bit of orange feathering? So cool!

I was snapping away, but as the sun kept coming up, the decorations got more glorious!

I took many more photos than these, but much as I hated to, I had to narrow them down so the post wouldn't be so photo-heavy. There are still too many... but relax for just a moment and ENJOY them! :)

And on that note, I just want to wish you all a most glorious Christmas! May your focus be on Jesus, the reason we have this holiday (Holy Day) in the first place, but enjoy all the festivities, too!

I'm not sure when I'll be back. Might be hit 'n miss the rest of this week.... might even be all "miss". But I assure you, I will be back after New Year's Day if not before. How's that for open-endedness? Ha! I don't have a blog post plan at this point, but I do plan to have some family fun. ;)

Friday, December 21, 2012

Plastic shot

I couldn't call it a screen shot, since all the screens are off my windows. So I now do plastic shots because there's plastic over some of them. :)

Anyway, I saw this little cottontail resting in the shelter of the asparagus stalks yesterday morning as the wind was howling. At first its ears were down and I couldn't tell if it was a rabbit or a cat. But then it perked up, and this is what I saw. It only stayed long enough to let me get a couple quick shots, then scampered off below the evergreen branches.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Christmas crafting with Courtney

One of the craft supply items Courtney got from LiEr was a roll of Christmas ornament stickers, with the suggestion of making a "People Tree", like her girls did.

Since I don't have a lot of green markers, I bought a sheet of green poster board to shape into the tree. I was planning on having Courtney make a paper chain to wrap around the tree, but due to our unplanned-for trip to the post office, I didn't think there would be enough time for that, so I just cut some red strips with a decorative scissors and hot-glued them on. I cut a star out of construction paper. Here's how it looked with those on it:

The idea of it being a "People Tree" was that Courtney was to write on the ornaments the names of people in her life that she was thankful for. She did that (but only names that she thought were short enough to fit on the ornament), and then she proceeded to stick them on the tree.

She wrote "Jesus" on one ornament, and it got top position... on the star. It's His birthday we're celebrating on Christmas, of course!

She loved how her tree turned out! Here's how she wanted to display it:


Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Do you Click-N-Ship?

I had a couple of packages to mail this week, one being Jess's skirt. Did you know that you can go online and order various sized free shipping boxes from the U. S. Postal Service and they'll ship them right to your door... for free? They're all Priority Mail and must be used for that purpose. Then when you have something to mail, you can go online again and Click-N-Ship it. You have to put in your and your recipient's names and addresses, the weight and dimensions of your box, and then it calculates postage which you can pay for via a credit card or PayPal. When that's done, it produces a label for you to print, which you then tape onto your box, and it's all set to go!

That's what I did with those two packages. It even saves you a little money, as it's a bit cheaper than having them do it at the post office, plus you get free delivery confirmation. I like that!

Then I went one step further and set up a scheduled pick-up... for our mail carrier to come to the house (because they wouldn't fit in our mailbox) and get the packages, so I wouldn't have to take them to the post office. I've done this before, and it worked great. However, this time it didn't. They didn't get picked up. Long story short, I realized they'd been missed, in time to take them to the PO so they'd still go out yesterday. There was a line at the PO, but since my boxes were ready to go, I was able to just hand them over and not have to wait. I mentioned that they were supposed to have been picked up, but they told me they hadn't received that notification. I don't know if it was a computer glitch or what, but I wasn't very happy to have to drive them into town. Courtney wasn't, either, as it ate into her crafting time. ;(

Update: I got an email from the USPS this morning apologizing and saying that the failure to pick up was due to an "internal USPS error". They're going to attempt pick-up today. Well, good luck with that! :) Nah, our small town local postal employees will (hopefully) remember my complaint and realize it's the packages I brought in yesterday and won't send our carrier to the house after them.

Addition: I forgot to mention when I wrote this that I suggest adding a piece of packing tape to secure each end of the boxes. The boxes have self-adhesive ends. I've found them to be VERY sticky and about impossible to pull apart. So I was very surprised to find that after sitting overnight and half the morning yesterday, the end flap of one of the boxes was sticking out, unstuck! So I re-stuck it down and added a piece of tape... to the ends of both boxes! It might've been because I've had the boxes for a couple of years, but I still am not taking any chances in the future!

Oh, yeah... when I was getting things ready to ship, Josie decided she wanted to go somewhere, too!

She's still here, though! :)

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

McCall's M5591, take 2

You may recall that I made a skirt for Jess back in June. She decided she likes it so much (despite it being somewhat big in the waist - one of the hazards of long-distance sewing) that she wanted another one, and who am I to say no? ;)  This time I made it out of knit fabric, which was not one of the recommended fabrics on the pattern, but neither was the canvas I used the first time. I'm brave like that. Ha! It worked out fine, and was, in fact, easier to sew than the canvas skirt.

Daylight just was not cooperative for me for taking pictures, but I needed to do it anyway so I could mail the skirt to Jess to wear for Christmas festivities. So forgive the blurriness caused by a dark, cloudy, occasionally snowy day. Here's the skirt:

I like the pocket flap. We "borrowed" the idea from a ready-to-wear (expensive) skirt Jess saw for sale on a website. It's just a flap... no pocket underneath. The skirt does have pockets, though, in the side seams. Adding this flap made for a pretty thick seam right there... NINE layers, in fact, by the time you count the folds of the pleats and the interfacing in the flap! But it actually wasn't hard to sew through, since the knit (which was called double knit in the store, but I don't think it is) is fairly thin.

Last time I also had trouble getting the waistband to line up right when putting in the zipper, due to the pleats there being kind of in the way (but I didn't show you a pic of its crookedness - haha). This time I knew what to expect and I was prepared and used a little different technique. I'm very pleased with how it turned out:

The rest of the zipper is sewed in under those pleats... just a bit tricky but doable.

I'm quite happy with how it turned out. I think it would look really cute with a pair snazzy tights, don't you? Now let's just hope the waist fits!

Monday, December 17, 2012

Sunrise last Friday

Click on any photo to enlarge.

Friday, December 14, 2012

The "new era"

If you remember this post, you know that Grandpa and his brothers quit milking and sold all their dairy cows last August. They didn't retire completely, however. They're still farming, and recently they've acquired some new livestock to take care of. The young ones arrived this week on Wednesday, so since Courtney was here again yesterday after school, she and I went over to see them and take some pictures.

It was somewhat dark in the barns, so photo-taking wasn't the best. Here you can see a lot of eyes!

This next one's a little better (with a little editing help). These are the new "babies"... 150 holstein bull calves. Yep, black and white... just like the ones that used to be born there. If you look closely, you can see a red and white one in there, too. I guess there are a few of those.

Photos turned out much better when the calves came closer!

After visiting there, we went to what used to be the dairy loafing barn. Because it's cold now, everything is closed up for warmth, so it was pretty dark in there, too. More eyes:

This barn has 172 head of bred angus cows which arrived a few weeks ago. They pretty much all look like this:

There are a couple with some white markings. I managed to get a not-very-clear picture of one of them:

These animals take a lot less care and time than dairy cows! It'll be interesting to see how it goes when they begin having their calves in February.

Courtney wasn't too excited about seeing the cows and calves. She enjoyed the dog more.

That's "Scoobie". She's getting pretty old and slow. This chair in the break room is her preferred spot on cold days.

Lucky dog, huh?

Thursday, December 13, 2012

My walking foot

No, this is nothing about either of my feet... the ones attached at the ends of my legs. They have, however, done their share of walking, considering that for many years I walked about 2½ miles along our road nearly every day, for the exercise. Then one winter the relentless cold and wind got to be too much, so I ordered a NordicTrack ski machine, and I've rarely walked along the road since. I do still use the NordicTrack 5 or 6 days a week, believe it or not, and I will soon have completed 27 years of regular exercise! Whew!!

But, back to the real subject, which is my walking foot! This is another of my favorite sewing tools. Have you heard of one before? As of a couple of years ago, I hadn't. But when I did, I thought it could be a very helpful thing to have, and believe me, it is! They're not cheap, especially one for an old sewing machine like mine, but I think I did get a pretty good deal on eBay. It cost me $37.50, but I'd seen one elsewhere for over $60.00!

I use it a lot. It's particularly useful for sewing on several layers of fabrics or on slippery fabrics. Its purpose is to feed the fabrics at the same rate from the top and the bottom, so that they end up even at the end of your line of stitching. It's very helpful for sewing bags, where there usually are numerous layers of fabrics and interfacing to sew together, and I think quilters also use them a lot.

This is what mine looks like:

I guess I should've wiped the lint off before I took the pics (over a year ago!), but it just looks very realistic this way. ;) And it looks even worse than that right now. But it gets a lot of use, and I don't know how I ever got along without one before!

A blogger I follow made a video demonstrating her walking foot. If you're interested in seeing it in action, take a look here.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Crafting with Courtney


Courtney had a great time with her crafting yesterday! My friend LiEr had send another package of goodies for her (and some yummy homemade krumkake for me!). Here's most of what was in the package. What you can't see is that on the back of each of the big pages of stickers is stapled another page with a scene to stick them onto. Courtney was pretty excited with all the loot!

The little package in plastic, next to Courtney's right hand, is what we worked on today. Here's what we made:

Yes! It turned into a gingerbread house! Soooo cute! (Just ignore the circle on the side of her forehead. She apparently pressed the cap of a marker against it. :) ) It's made of foam, and Courtney punched out all of the pieces of decorations. We worked together in assembling the house, and then I hot glued the decorations onto it.

Here's a closer look at the front:

One side (which looks pretty much just like the other side):

And the back:

Of course she just had to do one of 'those poses':

Goofball!! :)

That's all we had time to do today. Grandpa came in and Courtney wanted to play horse with him. So there are still lots of things for her to work on next time... which will be tomorrow, as we get an extra after-school day this week! Fun!

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Hibiscus, etc.

How is my hibiscus faring this winter, you ask? Okay, nobody asked, but I'm sure you've been wondering. You have, haven't you? In the midst of all your Christmas preparations, surely you've been wondering. Okay, not. But I'm gonna tell you anyway. :)

Here it is, relegated to the bedroom Courtney uses when she stays here, which used to be her daddy's bedroom (and he still claims it as his when he's here). The room is on the south, so it gets plenty of sunshine, but it's not heated much. The hibiscus is looking kind of scraggly. Josie was pretty hard on it last winter, then the heat of the summer was a bit much for it, too. Not to mention that it needs to be in a bigger pot (please don't mention that!).

But it's valiantly blooming! I took these pics yesterday. The nice thing about the cool room is that the flowers last longer... maybe 2 or 3 days instead of just the normal 1 day. Of course I'm rarely in that bedroom, so I don't get to enjoy them as much as if it were in the living room... but that brings us back to the Josie problem....

On top of the cabinet next to the hibiscus is my umpteen-years-old red prayer plant looking down. It seems to like its location, too, where it gets just enough light without direct sunlight.

Oh, and in case you noticed the greenery by the hibiscus pot in the first photo, that's my now-42-year-old ivy. :) All of the above, plus my gerbera daisies, make up the extent of my houseplants these days. I used to have tons of them... but I guess I got lazy... and/or I got cats. ;)