Sunday, November 30, 2008

Holiday Cheer!

I hope everyone had a great holiday! We had a great time with family and friends at Thanksgiving and we had a little bit of Christmas with Dearest Sister and her Wonderful Guy while they were here.

Since we have moved to the desert, we have put up our Christmas tree earlier than was our tradition. It mostly falls to me, but I love getting out the tree and the ornaments and all the memories that they call to mind.

This is one of my favorites!

Dear Ms A made this nativity many years ago from a kit that I ordered from a catalog. I have always loved her artwork and I have saved many special pieces, but this is one of my favorites. I think that she was probably ten or so when she made it.
Meet the Holy Family and the Angel - notice the walnut shell manger!

The wise men with their gifts!
Villagers who came to see the Baby Jesus.

Ms A submitted it as a 4-H art project at the county fair. She was disappointed that she didn't get a first. The judge commented on the critique sheet that they didn't stand securely.

If they had been displayed differently, the judge would have seen that they really weren't made to stand, at all!

They are finger puppets!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

This is how long its been...

since I have posted!
I don't know if I will have blooms by Thanksgiving, but they are well on the way!

I love the way the roots just insist on growing like crazy, once they get started.

This is my "new" garden. I bought three hyacinth bulbs at the same time and decided to use this ceramic bowl. It is the one I usually use for paperwhites. The hyacinths are not going gangbusters, yet. I confess that I did "peek" by picking one up to see if the roots were started. I did not have enough pebbles for both groups, so I am using some flower arranging marbles.

I never had success with them in a vase with cut flowers. The water always got cloudy and stinky when I tried. If they don't work for this project, then I will bag them up and put them in the charity box. I am sure they would be perfect for artificial flowers, but I don't do artificial arranging. Without the power of nature to add beauty, I am afraid of dismally lame results.

I have been very busy with the distraction of commerce this past week. In preparing for Dearest Sister's Thanksgiving visit I have been trying to de-clutter. I decided to list some vintage estate sale/auction goodies on ebay that I had set aside over a year ago.

I also picked up a Lenox nativity set at a garage sale that I thought I could turn for a profit. The Mary figure was missing, but I looked on ebay and it seemed there was quite a lively "secondary market" for this set.

Oh my goodness! One man's trash is certainly another man's treasure! (I am not suggesting that a scene depicting the birth of Christ is trash, mind you!) I am often surprised at the prices folks sometimes pay for something that is not worth nearly so much to me! Suffice to say, my "investment" was returned many times over!

Anyway that is what my computer time has been spent on. I have gathered momentum for the de-clutter process. A little success is a powerful motivator!

Sunday, November 16, 2008

My Winter Garden...

I love paperwhites! To me, they are the ultimate in instant gratification (relatively speaking) in the plant world!

During the Adventure to the Midwest, Ms A and I were driving from one of our favorite haunts to the next and she commented that we were passing a garden center that had the same name as the one near our former home. I swung into the parking lot! I had intended to put paperwhites on the list of "things to buy that are not available in the desert" (along with Maple Nut Creams from Russell Stover, Gravy from Stroud's, salad dressing from Pizza Shoppe for Dear Niece M, who was kitty sitting, chocolate/vanilla twist ice cream cone). Luckily, Ms A reminded me!

We bought paperwhites and hyacinth bulbs for forcing. They were even on sale!! It was hard not to get carried away and get crocus and bulb iris, but there are only so many containers that I can protect from "cat grazing".

Usually I start paperwhites in January, but this year, I decided to plant early and perhaps have a live Thanksgiving centerpiece. I may have delayed too long for Thanksgiving blooms, but it we will see...

This is my recipe:

Ingredients - five paperwhite bulbs, lovely bowl and small pebbles.

This is the first year that I have used a crystal bowl. In the past I have used a ceramic bowl, but I thought the crystal would look a little "fancy" for the holidays.
Next, put the rocks in the bowl.
I bought these rocks about five years ago. Each year, I wash them and let them dry on newspapers and paper towels. (The first time, The Mister was very puzzled as to why I was washing rocks!)

Next, nestle the paperwhite bulbs into the rocks. The rocks need to be about half way up the sides of the bulbs for stability. The flower stalks will get to be about 12" to 15" tall.

Add water up to the top of the rocks and wait for the magic to happen!

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Today in history...

On this day in history, the very loved and talented Ms. A was born. Also on that day, I came to realize that while birthdays are very important to children as they mark the milestones of their growing up, it is also a big day for moms! I always tried to honor my mother with flowers on my birthday from that day forward.

Happy Birthday, my precious! And many wonderful years to come!

Thursday, November 13, 2008

My Sister gives me crack...

Well, it is crack to me...

I believe that I have mentioned that I have a weakness for vintage fabrics (and other linens and textiles). I have been fortunate (from my perspective, anyway) to have lived in an area with a tradition of estate sales and auctions. I have collected quite a few vintage fabrics from those sources, sometimes from the online auction and from the odd antique store or flea market. I used to sell many of them on ebay, but then something happened. I began to think "maybe I will just keep this one. It is so beautiful - interesting- unique etc" Before you know it, I was only listing things that I had "extra" of.

Then I came to the desert where there are no old things. Suddenly, there was no more supply! I began to troll sources while on vacation, (during the adventure, I found two green feedsacks with a novelty print at a vintage store for $6 each!)

After spending time visiting craft blogs, I began to get inspiration to create. I decided that I needed to "make better use of my time" an attitude highly prized in my mother's home! Making softies, quilts etc for charity seemed like a good fit for me.

But, I could not use my vintage fabrics. My vision for them is quilts. (I have very long-range vision, so don't expect to see any finished quilts right away!)

I went to Jo-Ann and found flannel remnants! Often, I found them on sale at 75% of the off the bolt price. When the flannels are on sale at $2.50/yd, the remnants are $1.25/yd. Why, they practically pay me to take them away!

I have collected quite a few....

The bottom shelf is flannel solids -

These are the flannel prints...

And this is the crack that Wisest Sister gave me!
She probably didn't realize how deep I am into it. I am sure she wouldn't have knowingly contributed to my sad dependency. Since she is a recovering stasher herself, she understands the issues. She just didn't know.....

Monday, November 10, 2008

Flotsam and Jetsam

Over the years, I have become the Keeper of some of the flotsam and jetsam of our family that has floated down through the years. I became the keeper mostly because I lived in the same house for 16 years and it had lots of storage space. And I lived close to my mother who was the original Keeper.

Mostly it consists of boxes of things that were stored for years, perhaps by the original owner; photographs, cancelled checks, school books, various deeds and agricultural loan documents, miscellaneous receipts, newspaper articles etc.

Periodically, I go through a box here and there and decide who in the family might appreciate having something (or more likely, who can I talk into taking something away!) Whenever the sibs or nieces come to visit, I often have a little packet of photos and documents that are particularly relevant to their branch of the tree to send home with them.

Once in a while, I find something that I have never noticed or realized I had.

This is the wedding photo of my Aunt Ruth and Uncle Don. She is my mother's aunt, my grandfather's youngest sister. She was born in 1897 and she was married to Uncle Don in 1927.

A few weeks ago, I found this:

It is a tablet that probably was meant to serve as a note pad. An early pre-courser to the spiral pocket notebook. I probably saw this notebook and assumed that it had columns of cattle feed costs and notations of how many acres were in pasture at some point in time.

Imagine my surprise -
Aunt Ruth used it as a diary in 1916!

Many entries are pretty typical of most 19 year old girls - boys, parties and her friends that were married and having babies. She wrote intermittently, always apologising for "neglecting you". In the first entry, she mentions George Fuller. In the last entry, eight months later, he is not to be heard from.

The last entry:
August 8. 1916. Tuesday

"It sure has been a long time since I have written to you but I have sure been busy. I have been happy, tho. Chas came up last Sunday and we went to HIS HOME and his Aunt & Uncle and Cousins were there and Earl & Anna and Frank & Sarah and we had ice cream and cake and Anna & Chas & Lawrence played and Ruth & Irene sang and I got weighed. I weigh 133 lbs. And in the evening we went home with Anna & Earl and spent the evening with them. Coming home Chas told me a lot of things about his life but I care for him more every time I am with him."
"He made a date for tomorrow night. I wish it was tonight but I believe it is going to rain."
"Mabel & Norris was married July. 28 at Dodge City. I guess they are happy.
Well Anna & Mabel are both married - it is my turn next"

The last entry made me a little sad when I read it. It would be 10 years before Aunt Ruth was married and not until after her father died. Before that time, her lot was to help run her parents house on the farm and care for her grandmother. Because she "stayed home" Aunt Ruth inherited the house, a rural Victorian mansion really, built at the turn of the century which became terribly run-down in later years.

During my visit with Dear Aunt last month, I asked her about the timing of the marriage and if it was significant that Great Grandfather had passed away before Aunt Ruth married. She didn't remember exactly, but she said "some people were jealous of Aunt Ruth because she was 'given everything', but really, do you think she chose that life? Her place was to stay home and take care of her grandmother. I don't suppose there was any question of whether she would marry!" Dear Aunt said that her dad (my grandfather) always said that Aunt Ruth married Uncle Don because he was the only one who would put up with her responsibilities.

After they were married, Uncle Don moved into his in-laws' home and Aunt Ruth continued as the dutiful daughter. A couple of times Uncle Don's father tried to set him up in a farming operation, but it never lasted very long. After all, Aunt Ruth was needed at home.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Gardening in the Desert (in November!)

I believe that I have mentioned that I am an iris "fancier". I brought a small number of iris with me to the desert and The Mister built me two "boxes" for them to live in.

The first year, we did not have the watering schedule quite right, but the second year, I had some lovely blooms.

The problem was, though, that I could only see the blooms if I went out the backdoor, around to the side parking area and walked behind whatever was parked there.
This is the view from beside the car trailer looking back between the pick-up camper and the cinder block wall. Not exactly a "garden setting"....

You can see that they look a little neglected. That is because they have been neglected!

The other bed looked worse!

That is because these guys have been eating the rhizomes (the fleshy part of the plant that stores all the energy for next years growth).

After the initial surprise of being thrown out of their comfy flower bed, they are pretty fast!
These two guys were racing back to the dirt.... for a minute...
Anyway, The Mister volunteered to move the boxes to the front yard.
Any gardening in the desert begins with this:
Once I saw an article in the paper about putting in a lawn. It began with, "First dig up your yard and take it to the land fill. Then buy some good dirt."

This is the new location. You can see that there is a large trailer parked cheek by jowl with the flower bed. In order to bring the plants, plant markers,the dirt, shovel, the soil amendments etc, it was necessary to put the ramp of the trailer down and open the side door. Then, I walked through the trailer and out the side door with each load. (The other option was through the kitchen and living room and out the front door.)

After another trip to the garden center for more soil, I got the plants in the ground.

It is still an odd feeling for me to be planting in November. In my Kansas garden, if the plants were not in the ground by Labor Day, or at the very least Columbus Day, it was iffy that they would make it through the winter. Here, they still have a couple of months for the roots to get established before winter.

Another thing that is different is that in my previous garden, I only watered once a week, or so, to get plants established. Then, if they couldn't make do with what mother nature provided, they couldn't stay in my garden.
Now, every plant gets its own little sprinkler!

I am really excited to have my flowers in the front yard where I can see them easily and share them with passers-by! I hope I have some photos of lovely blooms to share next year!

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

The Car is the Star!

In Las Vegas, there are many conventions. This week is Automotive Aftermarket Industry Week. There is a huge gathering of car people (mostly men but some women), who are fans of cars and all things automobilia. It is a joint convention of SEMA (Specialty Equipment) and AAPEX (Automotive Aftermarket Products). If you have a car guy (or gal) in your home, then you know that all the famous car people come to these shows to see, be seen, and sell!

At the Expo Center, there are millions of square feet of space devoted to car parts, products etc. Each seller tries to attract attention to their booths.

One booth used my car to attract attention!

The good people of Clean Tools requested the presence of my Isetta to grace their booth! I must say that it looked right at home and very special! I was so proud to see it looking all shiny and cutie-wootie!

At the end of the week, it will come home and leave the glamour life behind. There are no more car shows until spring, so it will have to be content with getting attention from the occasional visitor to the garage!

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

In my garden

Before I moved to the desert, I had a garden with lots of flowers, but mainly iris. (actually, hundreds of iris) When we prepared to move I tried to find homes for them with my neighbor, my garden club friends and, for the favorites, with Dearest Sister.

I brought a few (20 or so) with me, but our yard does not have much room to plant things. Most of it is covered with concrete, or rock with specimen plantings of shrubs and palm trees.

The Mister built a couple of planter boxes in the RV Parking side of the yard for the iris. Nothing like the place of honor along the front walk of our old yard, but a place for my old friends.

Our back "yard" and I use the term loosely, has a wall that separates our yard from the yard behind us has a lovely vine growing on it.

Our first spring, we were delighted to see the flowers that appeared!

After the flowers, there were little green berries! Imagine our surprise when we returned from a fall vacation to this!

They turned a bright red-orange in the ten days or so that we were away.

I still miss the plants and flowers of the mid-west, but I am learning the flowers and plants in this dry, harsh environment and learning to appreciate them more as each season passes.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

It happened again!

I am working on a set of tea towels for Dearest Sister to give to her MIL as a holiday gift.

I had a mishap with towel number two and had to repair a small fray that occurred when I was pulling the fabric tight in the hoop.

Towel number three was nearly finished when the same thing occurred! I was finishing it up and a passer-by asked what I was working on. I attempted to pop it out of the hoop and show her, when I felt the same "give" in the fabric. Sure enough, the fabric had given way, although fortunately, not as severely as with towel number two!

Thankfully, number four was completed without issue, but I finally took steps to prevent it from happening again.

I bought this adjustable hoop.

My regular hoop is a vintage wooden one with no adjustment screw to catch my thread. The inner hoop is oh-so slightly smaller with an inset of felt sort of inlaid that holds the fabric secure.

I have used it successfully for many, many projects and it feels like an old friend.

I am kind of liking this new one, though. Who knew that I would be won over by "new technology"!

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Home again!

Eleven days and 3200 miles later, we are home!

Some highlights:
Fall foliage!

String Cheese from Oceola Cheese Company, Oceola, MO. Worth the trip if you are within 100 miles!

Birthday lunch in honor of Dear Daughter (Ms A) with Wisest Sister at Andre's- Worth the trip if you are within 200 miles!

A wonderful visit with Dear Aunt - I had a really good time asking about some of the family history.
A visit to Greensburg - to see the progress in rebuilding.
Completed travel projects :
Four dishcloths (using up odds and ends of yarn)
Five baby hats for a charity knitting project.
Two more tea pot tea towels!
I am glad to be home, wearing sleeveless t-shirts and going barefoot! It was really cold some of the days of travel - even for someone who has gotten used to the desert!
Heaps of laundry awaits, so more particulars later!