Monday, December 30, 2013

Litte Free Library

Have you ever heard of the Little Free Library movement?  It's just very cool.  You build a small box with a window.  Can be something as small as a microwave oven or as large as a repurposed telephone booth.  You put it on a post in front of your house, fill it with books and invite people to come and read them.   The idea is to share reading.  People passing by are encouraged by the sign on your little library, to take a book.  It's free.  It can be returned...or not.  It can be kept forever...or not.  It can be replaced with something else....or not.  The idea is to pass it on.  Pass on books.  Pass on the love of reading.  Pass on the IDEA of reading.   Pass it on to whoever is walking by.  How cool is that????

The Little Free Library movement is quite large, world wide and tucked into hamlets and big cities.  My daughter and I fell hook, line and sinker for the idea.  But I live in the country where there isn't much in the way of foot traffic...except in summer when renters are around.  But my daughter and her family live in a perfect place.  They are close to the center of their town, close to a school, in a walking neighborhood.  It's a perfect place for a Little Free Library and she was in love with the idea.
So, for her Christmas gift we had the good luck of knowing someone who offered to build this little house.

It's bigger than the microwave ( but smaller than the phone booth), made entirely of recycled materials, which is a huge part of the Little Free Library philosophy.  I mean, you're recycling books, right?  So use recycled materials, get creative and build a weather proof box!   This one has a window recycled from an old house, shingles, siding from construction jobs.  He put two shelves in it, the window door has a spring loaded hinge so it will shut on its own.  It is weatherproof. 

I painted it using outdoor paint I had at home, just to unify the look.  But I imagine the girls doing a more decorative job on the back of it.  My daughter and SIL have the spot in the yard where it will live picked out, and a box of books already pulled from their stash to stock it with!  I was a little disappointed in that....I, too, have a box of books for them!  I want to play, too!!

Monday, December 23, 2013

Christmas and Secret Santa

It was Christmas for us this past weekend. I'm sorry to say 99% of my pictures are blurred.  These guys don't sit still for much. They run in the door calling to each other and off they go.  Little Michael included.  Michael is now 11 months old.  He's been walking/running full tilt since he was 9 months old when he decided if he was going to do what his big brother and big sister do, he'd better be faster about it.   He thinks there is nothing he can't do and insists on trying. He only has one tooth. Technically, he is an infant.  He thinks he's five.
At dinner Saturday night we adults could hardly hear ourselves talk because the kids were laughing and singing and telling jokes so loud.  I just sat back and reveled in it.  These are their golden years and someday we'll look at these pictures and wish these years back.

 Saturday night the ice came.  I prayed hard that we wouldn't lose our power.  We do so easily lose power and I had a house full!  But we were very lucky.  The apples that are still hanging on the trees, the ones the deer can't reach, were covered and looked like candied apples.
It really is very beautiful but there are 200,000 people along the southern part of Michigan without power, meaning no heat, lights or anything, till maybe after Christmas.

 I wasn't supposed to open this till Christmas, but this weekend WAS our Christmas so I cheated the calendar and opened my Secret Santa gift.  This absolutely beautifully made sewing basket is just gorgeous.  Jenny in Australia made it for me.  And the detail she put was so special.  My name is on the yo-yo flower.  The year of the SSCS exchange is dated on the button holding a tape measure.
 Inside are pockets...and look!  I've already started to fill it!   Now here's the other amazing part.  I've been using a pretty box for my supplies.  I keep in on the table next to my stitchin' chair and it has my needle case, scissors, threads for the current project, hand cream (lavender), finger pads and tape measure.  The other day it broke.  I was making the room presentable for Christmas, picked it up wrong and it broke.  I wandered the house looking for something suitable and finally gave up and put everything in a zip bag.  So my question is, How did Jenny know this is EXACTLY what I needed???
Thank You so much, Jenny!  It's perfect!!
 She included some photo cards made by Chookyblue, the wonderful woman who organized this whole Secret Santa exchange.  It was through photographs that I "met" Chooky.  Wandering around the blogs one day a couple of years ago I found Snappyfriends and asked if I could play along.  Through that, I discovered her Secret Santa exchange, and well, the rest is history.  My blogging is doing exactly what I wanted it to do.  Introduce me to quilters around the world who would become friends.

Notice the card with the red quilt and black cowlet.
I know they're called calves! But cowlet seems to fit Cops.  The quilt is Jenny's and Cops is Chooky's and the picture is taken on her property.    If you follow Chooky's blog you've met Cops and a few other critters, too.

Jenny, thank you so much for the VERY special gift.  Love it all!!

Thursday, December 12, 2013


It's ridiculous cold out there.  We've been pounded with snow and freezing temperatures and everything is cold.  Inside, outside, noses, toeses.  Nothing feels warm enough.  But even with that in mind, we do eventually have to go out in it.  Bread. Milk. Shovel. Whatever.  As I left the house this morning I turned the corner and saw this amazing sight over the lake.

Look just above the water horizon. Look at those snow clouds rolling in! The waves and the ice forming along the shoreline at the bottom of the picture.  But those clouds!  And I know just what they are carrying!

 This would be a real storm if it were summer. 

I decided to stop at the lighthouse on the way to the store to see what the high winds and waves did.

This is what we like to see.  Blue skies, calm lake, red lighthouse. 
But when those waves kick up.....and then freeze......
you get this!   I didn't realize till I got home the picture is a little blurred but I'm not surprised.  The wind was high and I was absolutely shaking with cold. 

Friday, December 6, 2013

Santa was here!!

Santa was here!  I wasn't home or I would have offered him a cookie, but he left my package from Jenny Morris in Australia just the same.  Good ol' guy that he is.
 Aren't these the cutest faces?  I love these little ornaments.  They are hanging on the tree getting acquainted with the rest of their new tree-mates.
 This is my package.  I can't open it till Christmas but nobody said anything about not squeezing.
 These are amazing little snow globe looking ornaments.  They are in my kitchen, in the window so they really look shiny.  Very, very cool!

And how did Jenny know I love birds AND make them?  She sent this birds of Australia calendar!

Gosh, thank you, Jenny!!!  What treats!  What fun to open on a cold, cold Michigan winter day!!!

 This is our tree this year.  See the red ropy garland I was working on?   I finished two balls of yarn making it and it fits perfectly.  I love that it looks so deeply red.  We don't custom decorate our trees.  They look a little like kid trees,  the branches hold dangly found objects.  There's an orphan mitten in there,  spoons, forks, little tea cups, candy canes, silver drinking cups, lids, old hand carved wooden bottle stoppers, homemade ornaments.  It looks like a crow decorated it.  Crows like sparkle and bright colors and will bring found objects to their nests and as something catches my eye I put a ribbon around it and hang it on the tree.
 I tuck pictures of the grandkids in the branches.  Most are from the past year, but their Santa visit pictures are there,  the photo Christmas cards are there, birthday party invitations,  etc.  I love seeing their little faces in the lights.

 This is a project. A messy chocolate project. They are peanut butter pillows.  I got a sort of recipe from the chef at our retreat house.  She is generous about sharing if I ask about a dish.  This one was part of a conversation that started with my peppermint patties.
 This is truly what I had to go on for a recipe.  I scribbled as she talked.  But I cook this way anyway so it wasn't a problem.
 You mix crushed dry roasted peanuts with enough peanut butter to make a thick paste that will sit on a Wheat Thins cracker.  Melt chocolate...some dark, some semi-sweet, some milk chocolate all combined. If you can see the recipe you will see there's no sugar.  Just peanuts, peanut butter on a cracker dipped in chocolate.  Dive the piece in, dig it out, make a mess, put it on a parchment covered cookie sheet, I stick it in the freeze to set them quickly then into a tin to live on the cold back porch with the peppermint patty tin.  Chef Sharon said I needed a gadget to dunk them with but I didn't.  I don't like cluttering with gadgets I never use after they come home.  I just settled them into the chocolate on a fork and brought them back up.  It worked.
If you like chocolate and peanut butter and crunch you'll love these.  Oh, yeah.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013


Saturday I was walking around our little downtown checking out some sights.  I happened to notice one of the stores decorated the window with oil cloth stockings.  They were stapled together.  I went in and bought two pieces for a stocking for my daughter-in-law and son-in-law.  Poor things they've gone ten whole years without a homemade stocking at our house.  They've had to make do with a store bought one that doesn't hold much.  But this idea intrigued me.

 The red piece design had two border prints and a middle poinsettia.  I cut the stocking centering the two borders.

Then cut son-in-law's.   This black check looks masculine, right? Not Christmas-y?

 Well, I used the middle poinsettia from the red stocking to festive it up a little.

I added a little eyelet for a cuff and it feminized this one a little.

Easy project, took just a couple of hours and the oilcloth was so very easy to work with! 

Friday, November 29, 2013

The Sillies

OK, scroll down real fast and you get the idea. 

They really are little "angels" but they have way too much fun being together to sit still for a grandma picture.  I would think they'd be used to it by now, but instead they get sillier.  Yesterday, Thanksgiving Day, was just too much fun.

I hope your turkey was delicious and your family silly.  Ours was!

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Thanksgiving snow

It snowed lots last night and this morning.  It's beautiful.  Really it is.  But, sigh.  It IS snow.  Sigh.
 I title this one    Lavender in Winter.   Sigh.
 There's nothing like new, fresh, deep snow and two little girls to get us up out of our chairs!!!
 They were forging a path the the back yard.....
 Where they took the cover off the sandbox to use the tools to build a fort.

Elizabeth decided to start eating.  There's nothing that tastes like fresh, new snow. 
 Yummy, delicious, sweet, cold, crunchy.
"Sit down," she said, "there's plenty here!"
And so we did.
After our snow lunch Grandpa and Adelaide took a walk to the end of the road to see the snow on the lake and check for westerly clouds.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Weekend wonders

 Saturday was a big day.  The first train ride for the girls, and we were on our way to Chicago on a special mission. 
The girls were troopers from the first.  The excite-o-meter dial was moving wildly.
 But there were glitches.  The train was an hour late in leaving our station and a few...a very few miles outside Chicago there was a glitch in a bridge sensor and we were stopped for another hour and a half.  Two and a half hours behind schedule and by now, the only thing that made sense was a little Chardonnay.
 After begging and cajoling, exactly five minutes from Union Station they finally fell asleep.  Five minutes.

  Destination:  American Girl Store!

 It was sensory overload. There was so much to see, it was so hard! I never saw such crowds....oh, wait, yes I have.  New Year's Eve at Times Square. 

 By the time we left this one was way past her shelf life.  She would have fallen asleep standing up.
 And after no delays coming home, we got off the train and discovered it had snowed on this side of Lake Michigan and the girls couldn't run in it, or eat it fast enough.
 Next day, Patient Husband and I went hunting.  There have always been rules about our Christmas tree.  When the kids were growing up the main rule was the top of the tree had to touch the ceiling.  Lisa would carry along a piece of string that she measured by standing on a chair and letting a ball of string drop to the floor while she held it at ceiling.  We would cut it and take the string with us. Somehow that system always failed.  We always found a tree, measured the string and yet had to cut off at least a foot when we got home.  In this house we don't use a string.  It depends on how far we have to hold our head back to determine if it's tall enough.  This house has higher ceilings and it really doesn't matter how tall.
 PH is getting too old for this.  We are discussing a small chain saw for future years.
 But this is what I love.  The gift wrap at the end.  We don't have a truck and PH is way, way to trusting of tying things to the top of the car and expecting one ribbon tied in a bow to hold it on.  We have stories.
 So the baler is the important thing for me.  The tree goes in like this......
 and ...
 comes out like this!!  Oh so worth it.
 Now, for the really important part.  We have one of those stands with a spike in the bowl and we need to have a hole drilled in the trunk so the tree can sit nicely on the spike and not ever fall over.  We have stories.
See the drill bit at the bottom?  Up it goes...     Love this thing.