September 29, 2019

Gifts


Some time before we relocated I watched a close friend move across the country to begin a new life. It was the right time for her, as it was for us over a year later. I saw her working hard to prepare and did not appreciate how difficult it must have been for her until I began to break down my own place. She was alone, I was not. I admire her more for that. We have corresponded through letters on frilly stationery, handmade cards and a few phone calls over time. I have things now in my new home she left behind and they are very special to me, but the package I found on my porch yesterday afternoon has me floored. I was a bit nervous and excited when I saw the package there. Downsizing puts you into a weird place where you get into a state of mind that you don't want any more "things" in your life. I was wrong to feel that way. This thing is exactly what I need in my life. I am so thankful that I have so many friends who have "house warmed" me in so many perfect ways. From the backscratcher brought by one friend to replace the forgotten and terribly missed one I left on a windowsill in my old home, to the handy shoehorn for those considerate folks who remove their footwear when they visit and the amazing tablecloth we received recently, each gift has been thoughtful and loved. This latest gift is no exception.

Inside the big box on my porch is a beautiful print done by my friend's daughter, a graphic artist in Tuscon, Arizona and I love it! Of course, I carried it around the house looking to find the perfect place for it and I finally decided to hang it above my little fireplace in the living room/kitchen area where I could see it all day long and enjoy it constantly.


My husband sees a fishing net upon a shore and I love his interpretation of it. I see a ghost that is invisible except for her veil that comes down from her head and trails over her back and shoulders. But more than our interpretation of what the print really is, I see the love in the heart of my good friend, Fay, who chose it for me and my home. Once again I am touched.







Fay and I in our old neighborhood.


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September 28, 2019

A Walk


One of the reasons I chose this particular spot to buy a home is because it's so perfect for walking. The lakes and trails go on for miles and even in the little neighborhood where my new home sits there are perfect places for a brisk stroll. We moved in June, just as the Pennsylvania summer began, and although it's much cooler here than down in the city, it was still warm and I spent the better part of the season getting settled indoors. And baking. And eating.

I lost over 20 pounds while moving, but the changes in relocating, retiring and overall lifestyle brought those pounds back very quickly. That means that it's time to get my butt outside and enjoy some of the reasons I have come here. I set my watch alarm, dug out my walking shoes and hit the trail just as the sun came over the trees. What a joy! The day promised to be very warm and the morning fog had just lifted. It was peaceful and perfect and I found a little hill to climb to get my heart rate up and make me feel alive. When I got home I was rejuvenated and ready to take on the day.

For fun I loaded an app on my phone called MapMyWalk. I believe they have a running version as well. It makes a cute little map of where you go, how far you went and how long. It can be inspirational, to be sure, but nothing like taking a deep breath on a beautiful autumn morning and seeing the world anew while walking.


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September 26, 2019

Finally Fall!


Hello! I hope you are having the perfect first day of autumn 2019! It has been foggy here in the morning since we are close to the water and the temperature drops so much at night. By 9:00 A.M. the sky is a bright blue.

I got out some music by a new artist we have discovered... just perfect for kicking up a good baking day and went to it!



Of course, considering it is actually autumn now, this week's pie just had to be an apple! Combine that with the excuse to compare an apple crumb to the pear crumb pie I made a couple of weeks ago. This should be interesting since that pear version will be mighty hard to beat. I was even able to get out my handy dandy peeler for this one. I ordinarily use it primarily for peeling potatoes, but the monster versions sold here in the local markets are just too much even for this cast iron workhorse.


This recipe is very close to the pear version. It's clear the difference will be all in the apples.


Into the oven, it goes!

 Yum!



 I can't wait to slice this one up and add a scoop of cold ice cream!


 I have to say that there are few things better than a good slice of pie. This one is very delicious! It's right up there with the better pies I've made lately, but I have to say that it's still a tiny step down from that delicious Pear Crumble Pie. I guess I'll have to make the pear next week and compare again.


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September 24, 2019

The Big Doily


I finished another replacement doily made from the Knitpicks great Curio thread. For a large project like this one, the thread really shines, working up well and frustration-free. It has a nice finish making it slide nicely over the steel hook unlike many of the other crochet cottons I have used. 

One thing I did not expect was that this project would be so much larger than the one I was replacing, even though I used the same pattern and hook size. Actually, I was thrilled that it covers such a generous space and that the lacework is much more visible.


 Here's a picture of them side by side.



The finished project in place.


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September 22, 2019

Fool the Eye Cotton


Years ago I had a little place of my own for a short time. I had a plan then to decorate it all in neutral colors, mostly black and white and gingham. It's a look I have always found crisp and soothing. Over the years I've lived in homes that seemed to call out for jewel tones and many colors. At last, I'm thrilled to be once again enjoying the neutrals that bring me the most comfort. It seems I'm not alone because I am seeing that style everywhere 40 years later. I don't mind that, I certainly didn't invent those colors, don't care about fads or the perception of them and if it's popular, whether you call it Farmhouse or Country really doesn't matter to me. Being popular does mean that there are lots of pretty choices for what I'm seeking on the store shelves. One of the things I have seen in the last few years are these cute little cotton plants used for wreaths and to fill vases. As fall approaches I was thinking about what I could use to replace the daisies on my table and looked around for the cotton. Yipes. Popular may make them easy to find, but the cost is unbelievable! There is no way I am paying such outrageous prices for such a simple little thing.  I studied several pictures of them in the field and just made a version of my own. Do they mimic a real cotton plant? Not exactly, but they gave me the effect I like for under two dollars and I'm fine with that. Here's a quick overview of the project. 

  I gathered sticks from the yard, cotton balls, brown paint, thin cardboard, and some tools.

A pedal pattern is drawn on the cardboard. I cut them freehand after the first one to make them look a bit more natural.

I painted the outside only.

Then I curled them around a pencil.


 I pulled apart the cotton balls a bit, glued them into the petals and held them in a round shape while the hot glue cooled.


Then I glued them to the sticks and arranged them in my bud vase.



I like the look and the price!


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September 21, 2019

The People



In our old house, my husband had two wooden people in his office. They are mannequins designed to help a sketch artist capture good perspectives in their drawings. I don't recall when exactly we acquired them and they stood rather ignored on a shelf for years. Since I am in my "neutral period' looking for warm colors and blacks and whites to put into my new home the dolls have come into an entirely different light and so they have been absconded and included in my new decor. At about the same time, an idea came to me while sorting out 35 years worth of old games. I came across two sets of Scrabble chips, but no boards. And so a plan of people and messages was drawn. 

My original idea was to set up the pair atop the piano, but alas my lovely piano did not fit into our relocation plans and the duet had to be located somewhere else. I put up an antique ironing board in our front window and now the pair lives there.


I like to change the poses out regularly and give them some props now and again while still keeping them simple. I had a set of tiny lawn chairs that worked well as a trip to watch the local fireworks on Independence Day and for a little while, they held the wooden nickels we got at the Goschenhoppen Folk Festival. These days they are watching over my acorn collection. We are living in an area that is just teeming with natural crafting materials and until I find a use for the acorns the people can mind them for me.

One thing I ever anticipated is the frightening shadows they make against the livingroom ceiling when the lights are low on the porch and the fog has come up from the lake. Now I'm thinking that for Halloween a little enhancement to their silhouettes might add a frightening element for the holiday. Spider webs and pointy hats anyone?


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September 17, 2019

The Loom



I finished the little loom project I had started on a cloudy Saturday and it turned out better than I had expected. Since the string was like a kind of a jute it had no give and was stiff and difficult to weave. I gave up using the long weaving needle and just used a short, yarn needle and went in and out one thread at a time. It was a bit frustrating since the thread got caught often on the pins.


It looks nice, but I'm not sure if it has any real use. It's crisp and firm, but not heavy enough for a trivet. I haven't given up on the loom just yet. In time I think I'll try another fiber and see if that works out better.


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September 16, 2019

The Best of Friends



With the leaf in our table for the first time since we moved, we enjoyed a delightful dinner with our visitors yesterday. I made a casserole earlier in the week from a make-one-for-now-freeze-one-for-later cookbook that we love. The Key Lime pie was good too, and we all ate and drank our fill. Right before sunset we went for a quick ride around the lakes and returned as darkness descended for a bit of catching up and storytelling. It's a wonderful feeling to have a couple of best friends around the table on a late summer night. I hope they visit again soon!

Our guests came with a thoughtful gift for our new home and I could not be more thrilled. They brought a beautiful tablecloth, that now becomes part of the story of our lives and I could not wait to see it on the table this morning. I tossed it in the wash as soon as I saw that it was 80% cotton as I knew it would only get softer. I took the leaf out of the table, pressed out the cloth and felt my heart swell. I love it! Folded in half it fits the table perfectly and is long enough to cover the table as well when we insert the big leaf for guests. I will treasure it not only for its beauty but for the fond memories it holds. I'm touched by all of our friends and new neighbors and the love they have brought into our new home.


 The tablecloth has an interesting design of hearts and roses and soothing neutral colors.


It looks great with my normal table setting.


It's lovely to enjoy the view from the living room as well!


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September 15, 2019

A Cloudy Saturday


The porch got a good sweep this morning in anticipation of a visit from good friends passing through tomorrow. I was concerned when we moved that we would lose touch with some folks, but instead, we are enjoying as much company as ever! It's dreary today but promises to be better tomorrow. I don't mind the gray skies. This area is beautiful even in the pouring rain and the geese are flying over often now.

I will be baking another pie in the morning, a sweet lime, this time to accompany the Mexican casserole I have put together for supper. While waiting for a load of wash to finish I am working on my little Weave-it Loom I have held onto for years. It was given to me in 1971 and I have dutifully dragged it all over the country in hopes that one day I would create amazing little squares. I pulled it out now and again for a little weaving here and there. When I purchased my big loom I never touched the little one. The larger loom has gone to a new home as part of downsizing and i am trying a little piece on the Weave-it. It's supposed to be relaxing, but I am finding it rather frustrating. It could be the stiff jute I am using. I told myself to give it a good try and make a decision to keep it or sell it. Right now I'm leaning toward an eBay posting. We will see.





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September 14, 2019

Finished Doily


 The doily is finished and I am really pleased! I've had trouble finding the right natural colored cotton so I will definitely be using more of the Curio for other projects. The walls in our new home are an antique white and many of my older pieces look very yellow here. The wooden coaster on the table is a cut-out from the Martin Guitar Company. They give them out as part of their tours. I attached a chunky, ruffled doily underneath because the wood was not absorbant for dripping glasses on hot humid days. It works really well. 


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September 12, 2019

Crochet


Today is a market day but before we head out I'm taking some time to put the last row on a large doily I started earlier in the week. The edging is a bit fussy and I wanted to tackle it at the table where I could focus, instead of in front of the television where I had worked on the body of the piece. I'm using a new cotton thread from KnitPicks called Curio and it's becoming a favorite of mine. 


 I will post the finished project once it's blocked and I find a location I like, I have a few in mind.

Yesterday we had some work done on our smoke detectors. While the electrician climbed the ladder in the living room, I caught Secret sneaking out into the hall to supervise from a distance. 


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September 10, 2019

Command Center Completion


The last item for my command center arrived yesterday and the project is done! UPS gave the calendar a bit of a vacation sending it to locations all over the country before finally delivering it to my doorstep. Since it doesn't start until January 2020 I wasn't too concerned that it was late. 



I've added a few final touches such as chalk, an eraser in one of the cups and some folders in the rack.


We have been using the method for the last few days and it works great for both of us and looks lovely in my hall. Now off to do a bit of work in the yard!

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September 9, 2019

Fresh Pear Crumble Pie


Hello and welcome! Last week's Chocolate Chiffon pie was very tasty! It sliced beautifully and resembled a homemade chocolate pudding. I'm enjoying making a different pie every week, but I still think the Lemon Meringue was the best. I'm quite partial to anything lemon.


This week's pie is a Fresh Pear Crumble Pie, also from the old Betty Crocker cookbook. Neither Pat nor I have ever had a pear pie and decided it might be fun. 


 It looks tasty and not so different from an apple pie. The pears were a bit firm for biting into, but I think they'll be great for baking.


Topped with crumb mixture and ready for baking.


Fresh from the oven. This pie smells wonderful!


 What a delightful and delicious surprise! We are not huge pear fans and we thought this pie might be a bit of a disappointment. We were VERY wrong. This has to be one of the best pies I have ever eaten. Pat even said he liked it better than an apple pie. I will definitely be baking this one again!

Find the recipe here!


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