Tuesday, June 29, 2010

This and that!

I'm sorry for my long absence. From the moment Mum and Dad arrived last week we had a pretty busy time with Sandlot and Little League games, our traditional Father's Day picnic, shopping, Storyteller's reading program, Dreamer's youth activity, a rough liver day for me, and then more Sandlot Softball and some long overdue house cleaning! Whew! The lovely part is that Poppa took the children swimming two afternoons and they had such fun with him at the pool. Grammy decided to stay on here for a bit, so Poppa headed home alone.  I'm so glad Grammy is here, but I hope we don't wear her out, and that the heat and humidity ease up a bit!  It's great to have her here!  Yesterday afternoon I got at my sewing and made three summer p.j. sets for the children!  That felt so good!

I finally went to the doctor this morning for my painful arm.  Though it is not quite as painful, it hasn't healed completely and now we know why.  I've stretched, pulled or somehow torn some ligaments and will need anti-inflammatory's and physical therapy to get this healed up. I didn't think a little painting could be so painful, but there you go!

I'm not the only one who's a bit of a wreck around here! Our dear Historian has a case of poison ivy on his arms, back, neck and face.  Poor man.  He looks terrible, but I'm using grapefruit seed oil topically where the rash is worst and he says it's helping.  The last time he had a case of poison ivy was 10 years ago, and he had a very bad reaction which required cortisone shots. 
Hopefully it won't get that bad this time.

Our Storyteller has a summer cold with aches and a sore throat, but despite that, he is mostly cheerful and happy.  He is enjoying the TLC.  Sister made him jello, frozen juice pops, and grape ice cubes on a stick!  I made a batch of chicken noodle soup for him and Grammy read a baseball book to him.  We had him gargle with salt water and gave him a nice bath in Kiss My Face Cold and Flu bubbles.  If tender loving care can cure a cold, he'll be better in no time!

Let's see ... I think that is all the news, except one more important thing! The Storyteller is signed up for Little League FOOTBALL in the fall.  My stars and garters!  I'm not sure I'll be able to watch!  One of the teams has a 215 pound player - our boy weighed in at 104.  I don't like those numbers one bit! 

Baseball is not full contact.  Baseball is not violent.  Baseball injuries are rare.
Why couldn't he just stick with baseball?


Is it wrong to hope he hates football?

The Historian took this quick picture through the window screen the other day - our two crazy animals.  Miss Bailey and Mr. Minty (Peppermint) are getting along quite well.  We are very surprised. They like to hang out on the driveway, even though there is plenty of shade just a few feet away.

That's all for now!  I hope you are enjoying your summer!

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Friday, June 18, 2010

Company Girl Coffee

 Welcome Company Girls!
I hope you have had a good week.

This week has been hard for me.  I've been seeing the glass half empty instead of half full. I've not been in the depths of despair, but I could feel myself going there.  I've spent some extra time in prayer and just called out to God for comfort and  help.

I've been thinking too much about all that I used to be able to do, before liver disease. I really miss having energy to be the kind of wife and Momma that I want to be. I've been focusing on all that I don't get done, and seeing only my failures. I feel like I am always in need of so much help,
when I long to be a help to others. 
It's not a very productive line of thinking!
I'm not quite out of my 'down' yet, but I've been focusing on two words 'Press on' and finding encouragement in the Word.

Philippians 3:12-14 (KJV)

 "Not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect: but I follow after, if that I may apprehend that for which also I am apprehended of Christ Jesus.
 Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before,
 I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus."

 I don't know what I would do if I didn't have an abiding faith in the goodness of God and the truth of His Word.  I love reading the Psalms when I am down, and can relate well to David when he laments 'Why are you downcast oh my soul - put your hope in God'.  I don't know how others deal with the trials of life without faith, but I know my faith is a lifeline. I hope you know the same kind abiding joy in the midst of struggle!

In other news ....

My Mum and Dad are on their way for a visit.  We are really excited to have them come - it's been 4 long and difficult months since we saw them. Mum is still recovering from her hip surgery, so I am hoping that we will have a quiet visit that doesn't overtax her. I need to go and do some preparation - the cookie jar is empty again and there is dog hair on the floor! Imagine that!

Have a great weekend!

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Wednesday, June 16, 2010

A Boy's Dilemma

What do you do when Mama says it is just too muddy to play baseball in the yard?
 Why you find yourself in the middle of a true boy's dilemma - and if you have any imagination, you quickly figure out there is only one way to solve the problem!

Read about baseball, of course!

After all of the years of struggle we have had with reading with our Storyteller, it is pure joy to see him absorbed in reading something his is passionate about.
I'm praising my Heavenly Father for this reminder of His faithfulness today.

I am so thrilled to see my boy reading that I didn't even bawl him out for parking his wet and muddy self on the couch.  You'll notice it is navy blue and very patterned. For those of you with white duck slipcovers on your couches, I applaud your decorating savvy and bravery, and I envy you just a little bit.  I, however am not ready to follow your lead quite yet - I have clay soil and an almost 10 year old boy, and there isn't enough stain remover in the world to entice me to slipcover in white! Yet!

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Saturday, June 12, 2010

Asleep under her quilt ...

After hours and hours of tiny little stitches, I completed the quilt binding.  I was listening to the Storyteller read aloud and to the Dreamer practicing her piano as I stitched.  The sun was streaming in the skylight, I was comfortably cool with the a/c on, and I was thinking about how blessed I am really am!

The skies poured down just at game time, clearing out the humidity and dropping the temperature by 20 degrees.  The sun broke out and the game was played - and the boys lost a close one, but had a great time!

Last night, Dreamer slept beneath her quilt for the first time.
She was soooooo cuddly and cozy, she didn't want to get up this morning!

Thanks for all the well wishes concerning my elbow.  It is still quite sore, but improving slowly each day.

Now, it's off to the ball game!

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Friday, June 11, 2010

Company Girl Coffee

Welcome Company Girls! I'm glad you dropped by.  Help yourself to some sweet tea and make yourself at home. Please excuse the mess - you can see we are trying to paint the school room/ dining room/ family room and we've been stalled by an injury. Just step around the boxes of books and piles of school supplies - that's what we've been doing!

I hope you can lend us a hand - we're working on binding our first 'real' quilt and we'd love to have you come and sit a while and put in a few stitches with us.  Dreamer and I don't care if they are perfect - we've already done some ripping out, but we are learning! In fact, I've found some great tips through Missouri Star Quilt Co.'s YouTube Channel - HERE.  I was so thrilled when I learned to make  a perfect mitered corner - and it really did turn out perfectly!  

We are having a lot of fun getting these finishing details done for Dreamer's grown up room.  I am hoping that she will sleep beneath this quilt for many years and enjoy happy memories of making it together.

Oh, the rain has started again and I am hearing lots of thunder too!  We've had quite a rainy spring, and it's made baseball season kind of crazy - but thankfully the teams were able to get in a game last night.  Storyteller's team played really well, but they lost again.  It's hard when there are such long breaks and no practice between games, I think.  There is supposed to be a make up game tonight, but we'll just see. 

We have a little bit of our summer school work to do this morning, and then we are off to the library and grocery store.  The cookie jar has been empty far too long, so we'll just have to remedy that.  I haven't done anything 'extra' this week because on Tuesday I awakened to a very painful right elbow. I was doing a bit of painting Monday night and I don't know if I hurt it in some way, but I've been amazed at how little I can accomplish without my right arm.  I've done some sorting and organizing of light things, but I have not been able to really use my arm until yesterday when the pain eased quite a bit. Thankfully, hand sewing for short periods of time doesn't hurt! 

Thanks for dropping by!
I hope you have a great weekend!

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Tuesday, June 8, 2010

The Three Chairs


BEFORE: My friend Mrs. M will recognize this chair - she found it in the garbage!  She used it in their home for a number of years before she passed it on to me.  I'm sad to say that it has taken me over a year to get to it.  I stripped it down to the bare frame, repaired the cracked frame, sanded and stained the legs and arms and then let it sit - forever.  I finally got up the courage to replace the webbing and re-tie the springs.  What a job - now I know why they charge so much for spring repair. I replaced the padding and finally put some pretty fabric on it.  It is super comfy!

AFTER: Mum, do you remember our soft sage curtains in our last home?  I recycled them! I still love this fabric and the price was right.  This chair is going in our bedroom.  No doubt you'll not see it for the pile of clothes that will land on it, but one can always dream - right?


A few years ago we bought 4 chairs for $5 from a 'hole in the wall' antiques junk shop.  They went pretty well with some inherited chairs from the Historian's side of the family - and the price was right. We've used them as spares when we stretched the table for guests. Sadly, the caning is old and brittle, and replacing it is a lost art.  I came up with an alternative for one of the broken chairs, and I am really happy with how it turned out!

This is Dreamer's 'new' desk chair and she loves it!!!  I used Krylon 'Blue Ocean Breeze' in gloss after a few coats of primer.  I love the splash of color in her room!  I cut a piece of plywood and sanded it smooth before adding lots of layers of padding and covering it with fabric.  You can bet I used the Scotch Guard on this one. The striped fabric co-ordinates with her quilt which is machine quilted and ready to be picked up today. Next step is to be bound along the edges with some homemade bias binding.
It has to be sewn by hand! 
My, oh my - that will be a job - but I can't wait. 
Her new wall color is Behr's 'Cool Jazz'.


Her slipper chair got a slip cover - inspired by Pier One - you can read about the chair's long and checkered history HERE, if you like.  It's quite a departure from the former sweet pink floral.  We sanded the legs and painted them brown.  They are still ugly, but at least the dust bunnies can't hide under her chair anymore. I chose to recover in a cotton duck and then slipcover because it seemed like a case of more work now for less work later - she won't always love this funky slipcover, so I'll be set to easily trade it out when she gets tired of it.

Dreamer's lamps also got a coat of  Krylon 'Blue Ocean Breeze' - one lamp she had, and other was a $4 Goodwill find.  I used scraps of quilt fabric for the shade covers.


Her valances are done too - so fresh and fun! 


I guess that's all for now.  As soon as the quilt is done, I will do a complete Dreamer's Room Show and Tell. This project is taking more energy than I have right now, but it is so worth it to see her delight in her new room.  Projects done by inches sometimes seem more special - and we are still having fun even when we get sidetracked by the general business of life.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Famous last words ...

I don't know about you, but I often take a look at something and think .... 'hmmm - that doesn't look too hard!'  Famous last words!  I often realize that things are harder than they look, but sometimes I am pleasantly surprised!

 A case in point - The Living Wreath Project 
When I visited the garden center early in the spring, I saw the living wreaths getting a nice start in the greenhouse.  They looked so pretty, but so pricey - $90 for a small wreath!  I looked at the kits to 'make your own living wreath' and decided that $45 for a make your own that didn't include plants was rather .. unreasonable!  I tucked that thought in the back of my brain until my June Better Homes and Gardens magazine came! Then I saw this:

 Ooooo! Aaaah!

Inspiration! I gathered my ingredients and began to plot strategy.  Sadly, I am an impatient gardener.  I know full well that they used cutting to make this wreath weeks before it was photographed. I know they took time to dip each cutting in rooting hormone before inserting it into the moist soil of the wreath, but I decided that that would take too long! I headed to the garden center for plants! Instant gratification - or in this case, plantification!

I found 6 packs of coleus for $2 each at Lowes, bought 5 and dug out an old metal wreath form from my crafting closet. I moistened a bag of sphagnum moss ($3), a half a bag of light potting soil, and tried to figure out how to hold it all together.  Since I would have to mortgage the house or sell the firstborn for copper wire, and paddle wire just rusts like crazy (marking up a nicely painted door - don't ask), I decided fishing line was my only choice. I stole borrowed that from my husband - keeper of the fishing tackle! My grand total - $16.

I lined the laundry room counter with plastic, made a circle of damp moss and plunked my recycled wire wreath form on top of the moss. I filled the wreath form with moist potting soil and began the process of bringing the moss up and around the dirt. 

I just gently went around and around with the spool of fishing line until it was all pretty cohesive.  It was a messy job, but didn't take long.  The fun part came next - I made holes with my fingers and began inserting my coleus here and there.  I added more moss as needed and just kept going around until it was filled out.

Much of the coleus is really too tall, but I will leave it flat wait and for a week or so while it settles into the soil before I give it a haircut - believe me, those plants have had enough trauma for one day. Watering this wreath involves a garbage can lid - I'll just fill the lid with water and let it soak for an hour when it gets dry. Hopefully in a few weeks it will fill out and look more wreath like.  I won't hang it up until the roots have had time to get established. Hopefully, I will have a lovely wreath in the not too distant future for an hour's work and very little $$$.  It would have taken less time if I had avoided a few mistakes, so I'll share those with you - just in case you're inspired by living wreaths too!

Lessons Learned the Hard Way
Living Wreath Tips
(so far)

  1. If you are thinking that sheet moss will work instead of  the sphagnum, you are in for a real mess.  It just crumbles when you try to roll it up around the soil. Messy and a waste of sheet moss - I am trying to dry it out to recycle it. Live and learn and than grab the sphagnum!
  2. If you steal fishing line from your tackle box for this project, give it a 'tug test'.  It's kind of heart breaking to get half way around the wreath and realize that the line is rotten!  Starting again for the third time is - not so much fun!
  3. Plants were harmed in the making of this wreath.  Because I am impatient and didn't want to wait for cuttings to root, I used the smallest plants I could find.  I still broke quite a few.  I used rooting hormone and tucked them in here and there to fill in gaps on the wreath but they may not come. I would say buy twice as much as you think you'll need.  I used 35 plants, and maimed about 7. I will plant them in the ground and they may come back, but that remains to be seen.
  4. Sphagnum moss stinks like an outhouse smells strongly when wet.  If you soak it overnight in your laundry room, your laundry room will smell pretty ripe by morning.  Even baking something won't mask the smell.  I'd advise putting it outside or in the shed while soaking, unless you like your children going around saying 'What IS that awful smell??'
Happy Gardening!

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