Saturday, December 21, 2013

and the work continues

It's walnut cracking time now and though I find this process kind of fun, just like the hulling and all that, it's also very time consuming!  I spent about 2 1/2 hours on Friday evening to get this:

That's just 8 oz of walnut meat!  it almost filled my little 401 Pyrex bowl - but I think it's about 5:1 shell to meat.  I lost count of how many times I dumped the shell bowl!  That 2 1/2 hours was using my big mamajama walnut cracker too!  i can't imagine doing it with a hammer like my grandpa did.  I'm sure he was way faster and got more meat because he had a good technique!  i hope I'll bet better too.  

Today I went down to the 2nd Street Market because I haven't been there in forever and I'm kind of feeling like I could use a little something extra for my mom for Christmas.  I'm though I'd finish my Glashutte hat and give it to her, but I'm really kind of liking it and sort of want to keep it for myself!  i guess that's selfish. Anyway, the market was packed to the gills and I didn't spend much time there - I did get some maple sugar candy for my dad, and 5 lb bag of popcorn for us, because we eat a lot of popcorn!  While I was there, I also went to Sew Dayton for the first time!  I think when they first opened, it was just before we moved and I wasn't letting myself spend an unnecessary dime, so I didn't even want to go look! It's a cute little shop and they're super friendly!  I talked to Tracy, one of the co-owners, for a while and she was really nice.   It's a little sewing shop - not just a place to buy fabric - they have classes and private lessons, and all that!  they also sold some patterns you can usually only find online, and some nice high end fabrics!  I bought this Washi dress pattern, which I'm ashamed to admit I hadn't heard of, though in sewing circles it's pretty much the equivalent of the Clapotis scarf.  You know, like if you said to a knitter "oh, I'm knitting this scarf called Clapotis - don't know if you've ever heard of that."  That's the Washi dress.  It is very cute.  and when you look online the variations are endless - people have done some super cool things with it.  

Apparently I'm not keeping up with the cool sewing kids.  it's probably good.  i already feel overwhelmed by my knitting queue, and my sewing queue, and my reading queue.  it's a problem i need to work on!  

Wow, we are now no longer in the winter wonderland, we're in a monsoon!  it's been raining for 2 days and it's 50F!  We have standing water out back - it's pretty crazy - i had to put on my rubber boots and slog out there to get more walnuts out of the barn.  I looked like we ought to be growing rice there!  Ok, Merry Christmas again everyone!

Sunday, December 15, 2013

winter wonderland!

I officially entered my holiday panic mode on Friday!  i realized that even though I had made lists, and had plans that didn't seem like they'd take long, I hadn't really executed on much and time is running out!  Also, i had loose ends that I had no plans for yet - like nothing for my dad, brother, or uncle - the three hardest to think of gifts for!  And of course we woke up to a beautiful winter wonderland on Saturday morning - gorgeous, but not optimal for going out and finishing up shopping, but I did!  That's billy walking through the snow, with Borris and Olive following him and having a good old time!  they are so happy being able to go outside!

I went to Half Price books and got something for all the men - not sure if my brother will have a second to read with the 6 kids, but that's his problem!  haha!  

I also finished these little wreath ornaments for my co-workers this weekend!  I got some little foam wreath shapes, then wrapped them with some fuzzy yarn (for those of you who understand, this was a Lindy purchase!) and glued tiny pine cones from my tree on them, and added a felt bow and hanger.  cute!!

I also finally finished up the hats for our next door neighbors!  they've been so sweet and helpful to us and I wanted to make something for them.  So the one that's just plain grey is for him ('cause guys only like boring hats) and the one on the right is for her (it was originally for him but billy thought it looked kind of feminine.)  the one on the right is alpaca that I bought from a vendor at the Yellow Springs farmer's market, which is where they sell their fruit, so I thought it was pretty fitting!

Still not finished, but the list is looking more manageable now!  Yay!  I hope everyone is having a great holiday season!!

Thursday, November 28, 2013

crafty thanksgiving!

This Thanksgiving we are staying home - we invited a fried over, and are splurging on homemade Pizza Hut personal pizzas!  When I first found the recipe on Pinterest, I told everyone about it because it was soooo good and I pretty much demanded that they make it!  now, post-heart-attack-thinking me is screaming "oh my god - don't ANYONE make that!  it will kill you!"  haha!  So on the day of splurge eating, we decided that pizza sounded better than the traditional fixin's!

The pizza dough is terrific.  You divide it into 3 parts and let it rise in a cake pan (with some olive oil on the bottom so that when it bakes it's good and crispy!)

Of course the menu is also including roasted chestnuts!

So I spent the morning giving the embroidery machine a workout!  I made this cute pot holder!  I even made that bias trim myself!

And I did this adorable corn!  He'll be a potholder too.  I really don't need more pot holders, but sometimes I can't think of anything else to embroider!

Just the other day I bought a pack of cool patterns for tags.  Then today, all the patterns are 50% off!  of course!  i might get this in a smaller version, because 4"x4" is a little big.  I made the top one with a little batting inside.  It'll be cute to just include with a handmade gift - like tied to it.  If I wanted to attached it to something though, I'd like a smaller version.

Then I made this sachet for my mother - I filled it with lavender and attached a ribbon so she could tie it to the rod in the closet, or just put in in a drawer!  i thought a set of them would be better than just one, so I did another, but haven't put it together yet.  they're so cute!  

Ok, gotta go make a big salad!  Hope everyone has a great Thanksgiving!  

Sunday, November 24, 2013

the dining room gets its turn!

This weekend we gave the dining room a little bit more of a makeover!  We went back to Atomic Fox in Yellow Springs and reunited the hutch with our new dining room table!  the hutch that matched our table was there back when we bought the table, but we weren't really in the market then.  We'd been using a hutch that my dad made way back when he and my mom got married - he made it right in the apartment!  it served its purpose, but we kept thinking about that hutch.  I liked the fact that it had glass fronts so the cats wouldn't knock off our "fine breakables".  And it was just much more mid century.  He gave us a good deal and we took it home!  We put it in the garage because we wanted to paint the dining room and it seemed silly to put it in, then have to take it out again.  This morning the fella decided we should paint TODAY!  he started taping the edges and unloading the room (as they say on the TV shows) and I went to buy paint.  We decided on orange because it's small and brightly light room that can handle the pop of color!  Here it is without a flash (it's so hard to take good pictures to actually show color!)  The new hutch is there in the corner with the owl on top - pretty sweet, eh?

And here it is with a flash.  It's called Knockout Orange from sherwin williams.

I'm going to make new curtains for the sliding glass door - i just ordered the fabric and lining.  It's this:

gosh, that color looks off on my computer too!  the color is called aquarius, and it's a dark teal blue/peacock.  It will look great with the orange.  In the living room we're going to do a light blue wall color and a similar print (from the same fabric line) but in a citrus/yellow-green.  Actually, the fabric I covered the chairs in below is the color that the living room curtains will be, but the print of the dining room curtains - see how it'll all flow together?!  the print on the chairs is half the size of the curtain print though - so it's a different scale.  I found that vintage table cloth ages ago and it just happens to fit the table!  thank god i didn't cut it up, which was my plan!  

And on Friday evening I finished the stockings for us!  yay!!

Friday, November 22, 2013

New old bathroom!

Yes!  finally a room that feels really personalized!  We got lots of art made, framed, and hung!  It's hard to see the dimensions, but it's a pretty long bathroom, so one wall is kind of like a gallery - we really wanted to fill it up!

Obviously the theme is fish!  the mister did all of the mid century inspired art, except for that one on the right in the green frame - i did that!  whee!

those yellow frames were some that we already had - just needed some spray paint!

The silver floating frames we got a Michael's on sale - get 3 for the price of 1!  sweet!

And then this little school of fish all alone.

He's working on another long narrow canvas!  super!  the fish will never end!  There's a small window in the bathroom too - i'd like to remove the old metal blinds and do something in fabric, but I'm still mulling it around. 

Sunday, November 10, 2013

The girls are back in town!

11 months after moving into our new house, I finally got the girls out of their traveling box!  'bout time!

I can make the excuse that I've been busy with outside stuff, and I have, but I've hung other things.  The poor ladies, just got pushed to the end of the line, i guess.  Now they're free!

This weekend we got all kinds of stuff done!  One of which, is getting the bathroom painted.  When we moved in, the bathroom had this terrible old lady wallpaper:

The fella removed all that months ago, and it sat white for a while while we debated different colors (remember the potential reds?)  

Well, the tiles are a bit more peach than pink (i wish it was more pink!) and we decided to go with a green/blue.  What we ended up getting is probably a bit more blue/green.  it's strange how different color looks in different places - the drips on the can look much more mint green, but on the walls, it certainly looks more blue.  Either way - it's cool and very period for our 1961 ranch! 

The nice thing about having an artist for a fella, is that he can make some cool mid century-esque art for the walls.   He's got some cool ideas because I told him that I love those old chalkware bathroom wall hangings - especially the fish!  i don't know why, but fish just seem appropriate for the bathroom.  Or mermaids. The bad thing is that artist-type kind of work on their own schedule, so who knows when that'll materialize!  when it does, I'll take pictures!  

Saturday, November 2, 2013

what I did on halloween

This year was the first year in a long time that I didn't have any trick-or-treaters!  I don't want to sound like a bah humbug (or whatever the halloween version of that is) but it was pretty great!  So how did I spend my time?  Making Christmas stockings for the cats!  haha!  I'm so into decorating for Christmas this year because we didn't get to last year - it was just us and a wall of boxes wondering if we might close on the house today.   These are the ones I made for the kitties:

They'll get a little toy or something, and Borris will probably get a collar with a bell because he's proved himself to be a real killer lately!  every few days he brings a dead bird or mouse or vole to the porch.  I know that's what cats do, but I wish he'd stop killing the birds.  He could, however, start killing moles and that'd be great!  Those darn things are the worst!!  

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

a few me hours!

Today I took a half day from work - well, I left at 1pm, because that's how things go!  I just wanted to have a few hours of me time!  I went to my new favorite thrift store - a giant new St. Francis - and got to look through all the clothes!  I usually only look through the clothes when I'm alone because otherwise I get the "uuuuh, now you're going to try them all ON?"  I found some great stuff - there was a cool red/orange peacoat, but it was too big - booo!  I did get this super snappy vintage dress that fits me like crazy!  how often does that happen? Also, why can't I write a sentence that doesn't end in an exclamation point?  geez.

I don't know why, but I was having the hardest time getting pictures of this dress- I think the color might be more right in the full length shot, but it doesn't show my favorite detail - the little asian neckline - that shows up in the smaller, more green shot.  Anyway, super cute, eh?

I think this is vintage anyway - it's definitely vintage double knit fabric, and there's a lot of hand sewing inside, but the seams are serged.  I know my grandma had a serger, but I think it was pretty newfangled at the time.  So not impossible, but I just don't feel like I see it a lot.  Eileen, I feel like you'll know about this!

I also had to buy these mittens because they'd obviously been lovingly handknit and they didn't deserve to be in a thrift shop for $1.99.  I rescued them.  and I'll wear them because I love them!

I also got a fantastic red velvet blazer, which is a little tight in the upper sleeves, but it was too great to pass up, so bought it with the hope that maybe I can melt off a little arm flab!  surely all this walnut work will do it!!  

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

My chestnut empire

New things are always a novelty and fun, but I don't think I'll ever get tired of my chestnut tree!  As I mentioned before, it's one of my favorite trees because it's so cool looking.  Now it's chestnut harvesting time and it has been crazy!  (i nearly said "nutty"!)  I had no idea the quantity of chestnuts I'd get - I mean there were clearly tons of them on the tree.  Recently they've started falling, which is when they're ready to harvest.

When they fall, the yard looks like it's covered with sea urchins - and chestnuts.  Inside each VERY prickly hull, or burr, there are 2-3 chestnuts.  Usually the hulls open and the chestnuts fall into the grass.       Unfortunately, the nut wizard I own is the large size (made for apples and walnuts) and trying to pick up small chestnuts was damn near impossible.  It would take a lifetime to pick them up by hand.  Thankfully my neighbors (who are big nut people - in the Ohio Nut Association and all that!) came to the rescue after I'd gone in the house and ordered a small nut wizard online.  He happened to have a stockpile of nut wizards in his barn to sell to nut association folks.  He gave it to me for free!  Amazing!  So I was off to the races, picking up chestnuts.   Now here's how I built my empire - I put out one email at work letting everyone at the facility know that I had chestnuts if anyone was interested.  $1.50/lb.  So far I've sold out my entire harvest plus the next 20 pounds I get (oh yeah, there's more in the tree!) - I've weighed up and sold something like 92 pounds of chestnuts!  My fiance scoffed at first - thinking my chestnut business was a folly - now he's changed his tune!  The buyers are a combination of people who haven't had chestnuts since they were kids, and people who've never had them but want to give it a try.  And the Chinese.  I heard that some of my neighbors sell directly to Chinese restaurants.  I only knew of water chestnuts in Chinese food, but no, they love chestnuts.  One guy bought two pounds to try them (because he's picky about the quality) then said they were awesome and wanted 50 lbs!!  holy smokes!  That's where I oversold my current stock!  I weighed and bagged 40 pounds for him tonight and I told him I'd get the next 10 pounds to him probably within the week!  Then another Chinese co-worker ordered 10 pounds - so hers are next!  It's amazing!   I mean it's not going to pay the mortgage, but it sure is fun!  yes, I've roasted a few myself and I'll make sure to save some back for some dressing, but they're going like hotcakes!  My neighbor recently told us we should be asking $2/lb (he sells at a local farmer's market) so next year my hot commodity may be bring in even more!  

Friday, September 20, 2013

full and finished!

This morning I had to crack a walnut, despite it being uncured.  I just wanted to make sure it had a nut in it and that I wasn't doing all this work for nothing!  It was FULL!  how beautiful is that?

I have some undyed Frogtree Pima Silk yarn that has tried to be 3 different projects so far that have all be ripped (maybe the name "frog"tree should have warned me that it would be nothing but frogged projects!).  I'm wondering if I could dye it with my walnut hulls.  I'm not a huge fan of brown, but I do think it'd be cool to have a walnut dyed cardigan!  I'll have to read up on whether mordants are needed with cotton and all that!  

Speaking of yarn, tomorrow is the Woolgathering and despite the fact that I need more yarn like I need a hole in my head, I'm super excited about it!  And because it seems like I have about 25 projects on the needles that I can't seem to finish, I finished this scarf last night.  Seriously, I was 5 rows away from finishing it - why did I let this sit on the needles for more than a year?  geez.  I blocked it last night and I love it!!  This is some of the Wolle color changing Cotton that we were all going gaga over at last year's woolgathering.  I still have 3 balls of it that I intended to make a Daybreak shawl out of - but haven't yet!  

Thursday, September 19, 2013


I took a couple days off work for a stay-cation, and I sure have been getting some stuff DONE!  In anticipation of the walnuts dropping from my 25 black walnut trees, I made these 4 curing racks.

But before we get to the curing part, we have to get the things off the ground!  I used my fantastic Nut Wizard and got 3 buckets full.  There are tons more in the trees!  2 of the 3 buckets are still sitting out under the trees because i ran out of juice before I could carry them in!

The green hull on walnuts will stain anything it touches (which is why it's used as a natural dye!) so I was trying to be careful and wore leather gloves.  I didn't want to mess up my shoes by stomping on them to get the hull off, so I just did the ones that I could rip off with my hands.  THEN, you have to wash them to get all the fiberous hull parts off - that's the part that isn't so fun.  Oh, this is the point when I realize that leather gloves were a stupid choice because they'd soaked through.  My fingers got a little brown, but not too bad.  I switched to rubber gloves.  Then I rinsed and rinsed in a bucket and I was afraid to dump the water because it's toxic to a lot of plant, so the first two bucket fulls I took out and dumped around a walnut tree.  then i got sick of that and just dumped it!  Some people use a concrete mixer with some gravel in it to get off all the hull.  I do not have a concrete mixer.  I do have a wire brush, so that's what I used.  whew.  This is what I got from half of a 5 gallon bucket.  some were tossed because they were "floaters" - those are ones with undeveloped walnuts.  Not a lot of walnuts.
But about 3 hours of work!

My hands are only a little stained, but I'm not too worried - i'm not a hand model!  I've noticed that it's gotten a bit darker as the night goes on - so maybe it'll be horrible by tomorrow!

Perhaps tomorrow I'll find some shoes that I can sacrifice as stomping shoes and get more done!  After they dry, you have to let them cure on the racks for a month or so.  After that, the fun of cracking them - black walnuts are like the diamonds of the nut world in terms of harness!  I saw a you tube video of a guy using his bench vice, and that's what I'm going to try too!  I know my neighbors all have walnut trees too, so maybe eventually I will get tips on being more efficient!  

Saturday, August 24, 2013


Well, i peeled and quartered and boiled and stirred apples today and ended up with 12 pints of applesauce.  It doesn't seem like a lot. 

And of course there's the cleanup afterwards and the mopping of the floor because inevitably apple stuff is everywhere!  Originally i peeled and cored the apples because  that seemed easier, but my hand was killing me after paring enough for the first batch so i said forget and and I did the next 2 batches with the skins on and sent them through my Victorio food strainer.  They're a little more chunky and have bits of peel in them still, but it's good.  Not entirely sure which was the better method - the Victorio is kind of a messy process and then you have to clean all the parts. Anyway - i still have this staring me in the face!  :

Just for the record, the apples left in the carrying basket were originally from the bushel basket - i grabbed a few to finish up the last batch but didn't need them all.  Regardless, it's still a bushel of apples left!  oy!  what to do?  what to do?  Maybe I should take them down to the neighbor with horses! 

Thursday, August 22, 2013

when life gives you...

When life gives you a broken apple tree in August, you make a lot of apple sauce I guess.  and you pout about losing a tree.  Today, one of our two apple trees, just fell right over - it broke off a the trunk.  We knew it was old, but I didn't think we'd lose it the first year!  So I went out and picked a ton of apples - well, about a bushel and a half, i guess, and I'm going to be making apple sauce this weekend.  I'll probably freeze some, but I feel like I should can some because I brought a bunch of canning jars when we moved.  I should make sure all my carrying and hauling wasn't for naught!

These apples are a little bit gnarly - I didn't spray them because we were still dealing with the old house this past spring and there was just never time or money to do it.  I'm pretty sure I can cut off any little spots and it'll be just fine!

Sunday, August 11, 2013

it'll catch up with you!

geez, i haven't posted in forever!  well, it's been a heck of a month.  i don't usually post about personal stuff, but last month my fella had a heart attack!  he's only 42!  it was quite a life changer!  to make it worse, i had just left that morning for a meeting in Seattle - and something was telling me that i shouldn't go before i even left Dayton.  I'm not usually all superstitious like that but he dropped me off at 10:30 for a noon flight and I didn't get out of Dayton until 8:30 that night!  flights were pushed back then cancelled, then I rebooked, etc. - i was thinking to myself while i was waiting in line at 8pm that it seemed like this was a sign that something bad was going to happen if I left!  But i finally got on a plane and got to Seattle at midnight (that's 3am Ohio time) only to have a voicemail on my phone from a friend of his telling me that he had started having chest pains and was at the hospital getting tests run.  that's not a call you want to get when you are as far away from Ohio as you can get but still be in the US.  it's not a good call to get anytime!  needless to say, i flew back to Ohio just a few hours later.  He's ok - they caught it early, but he had an angioplasty and a stent put in.  Apparently a life of smoking cigarettes and eating too much macaroni and cheese will catch up with you!  even though i really thought we didn't eat terribly, i've realized that we ate too much of the stuff we shouldn't, and not enough of the stuff we should.  now it's low sodium, low fat, low cholesterol.  i weigh out portions and look at grams of saturated fat and whether or not stuff is whole grain.  Here's my advice - find a happy medium for yourself before this happens!  Most days he's super positive about it all and he's doing great with eating well and walking on the treadmill every day (even weekends!) but other days it's all I can do to bite my tongue because he find a way to see the negative in everything and acts like life isn't worth living anymore.  I know it's normal for people to feel that way so I try to just let him vent when i want to tell him he ought to be thankful.  You really can't talk someone into being thankful.  i also know that life changes are hard when you didn't make the choice to change.  He had all but quit smoking entirely - so cutting out the few cigarettes when he was with his friends was easy, but taking a 180 with eating (and salting!) is hard when you didn't really want to do it.  it's also frustrating because between the healing time and the medication side effects, he doesn't always feel great - and when he does, he knows he isn't supposed to exert himself too much until he's healed, so that's frustrating.  I'm hoping that losing weight will make him feel better and motivate him to continue (he's lost about 20 lbs - of course, i've only lost 10!  you'd think with our new super healthy diet, we'd both have lost 50lbs by now!  i guess losing it slowly is the healthy way to do it.)  So anyway, heart healthy recipes are my obsession now.  I'm trying to keep food interesting to divert attention from the smaller serving sizes and less salt.

I have been knitting occasionally - I started this for my meeting trip, and continued it in the hospital:

It's all seed stitch and quite wide - i'm hoping I can make it pretty long.

And for my mother's birthday, I started this set of placemats for her.  I used a bluebird patten on my embroidery machine and changed it to the blah neutrals that she likes!

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Happy Dining Room Day!

Ok, that's not a real holiday at all, but that's what it feels like today! Here's the story:

 Billy noticed that there was a shop in Yellow Springs called Atomic Fox and they sell mid century furniture and stuff.  Because of our new mid century ranch, we're in the market for such things.  (thanks for jacking up the price on everything mid century Mad Men! geez.)  And because we have a stupid spangly chandelier in our dining room, we're especially keen to replace it with something more period - we've been searching for the perfect retractable atomic UFO fixture.  So we decided to give it a try.  Terry, the owner, was super nice and when we told him we were looking for some ceiling lighting, he said "hey, i've got something i haven't put out yet" and he brought out this Moe honeycomb retractable light!  whaaa??!!  this is the original ad for the honeycomb line by Moe:

It's the one on the bottom right.  The wiring looked great (and many of that era don't) and the price was decent so we walked around thinking about it.  while we did that, we kind of fell in love with a dining room table and chairs.  the dining room table i have now was the $149 set from Kmart that I bought when I moved out on my own!!  i always meant to replace it when i found the right one.  16 years later, I'd still never replaced it!  it was a good little table, but sheesh.  Plus we were always drooling over mid century dining room sets.  this one had lots of cool features but we feared it was too big for our dining room.  We talked price first and he gave us a great deal on it because we were getting both the table and chairs and the light! woohoo!  so we measured the table then drove home and measured the dining room space and said "yes!!  it'll work" and drove BACK to yellow springs again to get it!  It's so beautiful!  this is the dining room table:

Here's a better view of the chair style.  I'll be changing the seat fabric - it's not original and it kind of like a weird upholstery terry cloth.  

I love these little metal buttons on the chairs, and there's one on the table legs too

This is the light fixture

and this is the retractable part - it lets you move the fixture up and down.  pretty popular in the 50's and 60's.  Yes, my kitchen is plaid!  at first I was like "geesh.  plaid"  but now I don't hate it - it certainly has character!

So Yay for Atomic Fox!  you should definitely go there - but if you buy anything I might want, I'll fight ya!  they have a hutch that matches my new table...we'd have to get rid of a hutch in the dining room to have it, but I'd kinda like it...