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Tuesday, July 31, 2012

More UFOs Sighted

It has been awhile hasn't it. Life has been quite boring here so have had nothing to say. It is just hot, hot, hot and that slows me down in every way. I am very thankful for air conditioning this summer, and just pray that it keeps working!

I am also a huge Olympics fan so you will catch me in front of the TV all the time for the next two weeks. Sometimes I feel embarrassed and a bit guilty because I have so much I should be doing instead. But I so enjoy them and have ever since they were first televised decades ago. I admire the athletes and the dedication they have to improving their sport. And I root for the USA!

Some time ago I found the needlework kit for the seashell picture done in candlewicking. I finished the needlework and then got sidetracked and busy with other things. Now the question is. . . . how do I finish it? Do I make a pillow? Frame it to hang on the wall? Any suggestions? It's not only candlewicking, but also quilting as there is backing fabric with batting in between.

Today I was doing something near the bookcase in the back entry and discovered the UFO below.

This is a CCS picture of a famous Charles Wysocki painting that I love, called 'Frederick the Literate'. I started this many years ago, probably close to 10 years, give or take a couple. It is almost finished. The reason I put it away was because of frustration. You may notice some gold thread at the bottom right of the fabric. That is a metallic thread. If any of you have worked with that you know what a pain it is to work with! It coils, it knots, and just does not behave well. Plus this calls for 3 strands at the same time! Impossible! Since I don't work well when frustrated, it was time to put it away. And frankly, I had long forgotten about it until I found it today.

This is a close-up of the area where the metallic gold is to be used. It outlines the gold bars at the top and bottom of the "VOL I", etc. across the encyclopedia volumes, and on top/bottom of the titles at the top. Simply an outline stitch, so it should be easy and quick. Right! I actually have the bottom row done but it does not show well in the picture.

I started working on it while watching the men's volleyball game (Olympics) and was reminded how frustrating it is to work with that thread. I think I have found something that helps a little. I twist the tail ends around the main strands before I start. Then they stay together better and don't get all tangled and knotted while working with them. They do eventually come apart and it has to be done again, but I am making headway a little faster.

I noticed I still have to sew on the cat's whiskers, and then check to see if I forgot anything else. I am not real happy the way some of the book titles don't show up very well, not like in the picture on the kit cover. Those titles all have something to do with cats. So I may see if I can get them highlighted a little more. And then it will be ready to frame. Then comes the next problem. Where am I going to hang it? I am running out of wall space for pictures. I don't want to give it away or donate to the church auction since it is one of my favorite pictures. From one dilemma to another!

Friday, July 20, 2012

We are being invaded!

Invasion! A huge army is marching across the desert. Wave after wave on several paths among the sand dunes they come. See the columns? The first picture is a little blurry as it made me so nervous to see so many.

They seem to be forming battle lines in a couple of areas, while more are marching in.

Many are headed toward an oasis in that desert. I hope it isn't just a mirage.

Here is a close-up of the oasis. There does seem to be water there and they are circled around it to get their drink of that lovely sweet water. Oh, but it could be tainted water! It could be poisonous and all that drink of it will die! But they are oblivious to that and continue to drink, like cattle around the water tank.

I put a teaspoon in the picture to give you an idea just how tiny these invaders are! If they didn't move, you wouldn't even know what they are. They would just look like fine bread crumbs. But yes, they are ANTS. I had never seen such teensy ones until I moved to this area. I am used to the larger brown ants that are probably 3 times larger. Those are still smaller than the black ants outside which I have very rarely had come in the house.

Here is my ammo arsenal. I find that this pair does quite well. The Clorox Clean-up sprayed on all that can be seen kills them instantly. I then wipe them up and wash the area well. Then I take little pieces of thin cardboard and put a few drops of the Ant Terro on each one, place them in the areas where they tend to travel. That catches those that come later - the scouts and the reserves. It may take a couple of days to get rid of them completely but it works. It is important to remove any other food, crumbs, etc that they are searching for so that the only 'food' they can find is the poison.

Monday, July 16, 2012

A UFO has been sighted!

Some of you may know that a UFO to crafty people means an unfinished project that may have been shoved into a dark corner for too long. I am not even sure how long ago I had decided to make some covers for my sofa pillows to help coordinate my sofa with the rest of the room.

I used to have a mauve recliner that went with this blue sofa, which is a hide-a-bed, and the only extra sleeping space I have in this small house. (Yes, I know that color scheme went out a long time ago. LOL)  When I had my hip replacement surgery a few years ago my son decided I needed a better chair to sit in while I recovered, so he bought me a big leather chair with ottoman to match, which added dark brown to my color 'scheme'. And later I gave away the mauve recliner to some friends. Can you find the sofa pillows in this picture? I am not talking about the green print/gold petaled one on the left. That is one my daughter had bought at either a thrift store or rummage sale and decided she didn't have room for it in her new apartment, so asked if I wanted it. It doesn't fit in the color scheme either, but the print has all kinds of cats on it, and the pillow itself is quite unique. It is handmade.

The other pillows are side by side on the right side of the sofa. That big brown thing in front is the ottoman, showing the color of that and the chair. One day I had the 'brilliant' idea to find some fabric that resembled leather in the same color brown and cover those pillows. And I did find some at Walmart. I don't remember the price anymore since that was over a year ago. I bought a 1/2 yard since my pillows are 16" square. After I got home I realized that was enough for 2 16" squares, but that is a front and back for only one pillow and I have two! Back to the store I go and the bolt of that fabric is gone! Now what? I went to the remnant bin and there is a remnant! It is less than 16" wide but there was enough there to make the split backs for covers. Later I was in the store again and there was a new bolt of the same fabric so I would have been okay, but you don't know that will be the case. So a part of being frugal here is that the remnant was a discounted price, saving me a little bit, plus making the covers is much cheaper than buying new pillows.

The following pictures show the steps of making the covers in case you are new to sewing. They are simple to make. If you don't want to make the covers removable they are even simpler - just cut two pieces to fit the pillow, sew around three sides, turn, put pillow in, and stitch the end closed, either by hand or machine.

The first step is to measure the pillow and add at least 1/4" extra for the seam allowance on all sides. Since my pillows are 16" square, I made the squares 16 1/2". That is the front of the pillow. I want the back in two pieces so there is a way to get the pillow in and out. That measuring is a little more tricky. I wanted the slit to be more toward one end as I think it is easier to work the pillow in and out. Most are done like pillow shams and have that slit right in the middle. And I have struggled too many times trying to get a long pillow in those things. You want to cut the pieces so that they will overlap each other by at least 1" to 1 1/2" or more, but not too much. And then you have to add 1 -1 1/2" to each piece for hemming. In my case I didn't need to hem the one that will be on the bottom as the leather-like fabric does not ravel. Below are the 3 pieces I cut for one pillow.

The next picture shows the three pieces laying on top of each other, with the larger back piece showing the back of the fabric to show it better.


The next step is to put a hem on the narrow back piece as it will lay on top of the other back piece once it is turned right side out. Since this does not ravel I only turned it under 1/2" and stitched it down. For other fabrics you would then turn it up about an inch or more and stitch again. When I was going to fill the sewing machine bobbin with the matching brown thread, I realized I had bought the extra heavy button thread! Oops. Maybe that was the only small spool I could find with the right color. Don't remember anymore. But I don't think I realized that it was button thread. So I had to adjust the upper tension to get the stitches to look right. My suggestion is to always test the stitching on a scrap of the same fabric before sewing the actual piece.

Then pin the narrower back piece to the front.

 Then pin the other back piece in place. Mine does not have a hem as I didn't need it, and I didn't want the extra bulk since this fabric is rather heavy.

Now we are ready to sew it all together with a 1/4" seam allowance. It is good to do some reinforcing stitches where the two back pieces overlap as there will be some tugging there each time the pillow is removed and put back. Once the stitching is done, clip a diagonal piece off of each corner so that the corner will turn better.

Turn the deeper half of the pillow, push out the corners, and insert pillow as seen below.

Now you can turn the top part, push out the corners, and you are done!

And the pillows are back on the sofa. Can you see them now?

As I was working on them I realized that by turning the back side to the front, the split and the top stitching gives it another, more rustic or Western look. It also resembles the seams in the real leather of the chair. If I do that, I think I need to put a circle of dark Velcro in the center of the split as it tends to gap just a bit. I am also thinking a Western style metal button in the center of the slit will dress it up a bit and give it a little 'bling'.

Nate Burkus showed some embellishments he made to some plain pillows on one of his shows, so I am thinking belt? wrap a fringed burlap strip in the middle or some wider grosgrain ribbon in a sage green since I have green as an accent color in the whole house? Or the green grosgrain ribbon in the center of the burlap strip? So maybe my UFO isn't quite finished yet!

After I finished that I decided to look in the drawer that hold my small stash of fabric and found another project I never got around to making, plus 3 small pieces of fabric that I don't think I really had an idea what I would use it for, but I liked them at the time. And I still do. So I will have to find some kind of project where I can use them. But I think the next project will be the bag full of pieces for a tote bag. There are two sunflower panel squares and matching sunflower print that I bought to machine quilt around the sunflower panels, and use the matching print for the sides and lining. I had even bought black webbing for the handles. Maybe 25 years ago, when I was working in the craft and fabric department of a Ben Franklin store, I had made a bag like that with a duck panel as I was into collecting ducks at that time. The bag was on display in the store for a time to help sell the fabric. I had made the handles with the matching print fabric and they have worn thin and the filling is showing. Time to retire that one. I am ready for something new and bright - like sunflowers!

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Where Did They Go?

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I was awake very early this morning though it was already getting light out. The first thing I noticed was how quiet it was. After sleeping so many nights with the windows closed because of the heat and humidity, it has finally cooled off enough at night to have the windows open again. And normally at that early hour of the morning there are lots of birds singing, and I mean LOTS. If you have ever been in full chicken house, you will have an idea what it sounds like. But not this morning. Where did they go? Did the heat get to them, too? The only birds I have heard, and this is new, is an owl. Hoo-hoo . . . . hoo-hoo. It is different from the mourning dove as they go o-WAH-hoo, hoo, hoo, hoo. In fact one or more of the doves are hoo-ing right now, shortly after the owl stopped. I have seen a few robins yet, though not as many as there were during nesting season this spring. And there are always the English sparrows twittering as they are here in great numbers in all seasons.

One that I have missed entirely this year is a bird that very loudly says, 'Pretty bird, pretty bird - look at me, look at me.' I have never seen the bird so I have no idea which one sings that song. It can be annoying at times, but now that I have not heard it, I miss it. Where did it go? Why hasn't it been here this spring?

We have not had much rain other than a couple of very brief showers for several weeks, and combining that with the extreme heat for the past two weeks, I am wondering if that has caused songbirds to go elsewhere, looking for cooler weather along with water and more lush greenery. I can imagine the robins are having a hard time getting worms out of the hard, dry and cracked ground. But there are more than enough insects for them to eat, as they have been so abundant this year.

If the birds have started migrating because of the hot and dry weather, what does that mean? An early and harsh winter? Sadly, I had predicted this hot and dry summer when we had a warmer and drier winter than what we normally have, and because of that, spring came at least a month to 6 weeks early with abnormally warm days. No one was complaining of the beautiful days then, and flowers starting to bloom so early. But that is dangerous in the fact that we are bound to get a killing frost later, which we did. So the question still remains. What does this mean? I sure miss all my feathered friends.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Too HOT!

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Too hot here for too many days. We haven't seen this much heat for such a long time that I can't remember a time like this. This has caused our town and at least one other town in the area to be put on water restriction, meaning no outdoor watering of any kind. It does not mean restrictions for household use as yet, but it sure doesn't hurt to be a bit more conservative anyway. And the same goes for use of electricity since the air conditioners are running almost constantly.

The daily highs have been in the mid to upper 90's, approaching 100 or more at times. The heat index has been in the 100's, and yesterday it was 115, I think that is the highest so far. And it isn't even August! The crops are in the fields with their tongues hanging out, not only from the heat, but from the lack of rain as well. We need rain badly but so far all the showers have gone around us, just missing us by maybe 30 miles more or less. It seems we have an invisible dome above us. If you are familiar with garden cloches you might know that they magnify the heat from the sun and prevent any moisture from above from coming in. Prayers for rain and cooler temps are needed, not only for here but for a large part of the country.

With this heat, even though I am in a nice air conditioned home, it seems to sap one's energy. At least it affects me that way. It takes away the appetite (that is a good thing for me!) and the only things you do want to eat are cold. So when I saw the recipe for strawberry ice cream on another blog, I thought it sounded and looked so good. I have included the link below.

Low-fat Strawberry Cheesecake Ice Cream {no ice cream maker needed}

This is the first time I have used the 'share' button on a website to share it on Blogger. I was hoping the whole posting would show up, including the picture but that doesn't seem to be the case. I have shared it on Pinterest too, and someone repinned it within a minute or two! If you would like to follow my pins, there is a button on this page that will take you there.

I know some of you are interested in what it is like to live here in Iowa. I would say it isn't much different than any other rural area in every state. At least my area is very rural. There are parts of Iowa that have a more city/cultural atmosphere as well. Maybe we could say we have the best of both worlds at times. Probably the main differences in America is the variety of weather - from arid desert to tropical humidity, the two coastline states, the Gulf states, and then there are the states in between - either the Rocky Mountains or the vast plains. Each area has it's own idiosyncrasies with language, from the Boston and northeast accents, to the lovely, slow Southern drawl that I love to hear, and the Western twang. There there is the Norwegian/Swedish influence in Minnesota and North Dakota. Some people have an ear for even the slightest difference and can pinpoint just where it comes from.

In Iowa alone, we have some geological differences. Where I live in the northwest corner, we have rather flat but rolling hills that undulate across the land, and you can see for miles and miles at times. Riding down the highway, in one place you can see a town more than 5 miles away. Go another quarter mile and you can't even see the tall grain elevator anymore. In southern Iowa the hills get a bit higher and more frequent. I remember taking a trip to the southwest corner of the state for a neighbor's wedding. It was impossible to use the cruise control as we were constantly going up and down, more like a roller coaster. It is somewhat like that along the eastern border too, but that is along the Mississippi River and so there are high bluffs there, and lots of trees. So, if one part of the state bores you, try a different area!

Some who have traveled across the state complained about all they could see was cornfields, and thought it was the most boring state. They were from Chicago if I remember right. Or maybe it was New York. Having grown up here, I love to see the fields when the crops have turned them green and they wave in the wind. We do get lots of wind here. I love the smell of newly cut hay. Years ago there used to be a lot of oat fields but you have to look long and hard to find them here today. It was about this time of year that the oats were harvested and so those fields would be golden yellow. Soon the corn will be tasseling. Then the farmers who are raising seed corn for next year's crops will have groups of young people in those fields detasseling. They remove the tassels from the top of the plant for several rows, and leave them intact for the same number of rows. Don't ask me the details as I don't know exactly, but it has to do with cross-pollinating. That was something I never got involved with as a teenager, but many do. It is good pay. The other half of the fields are planted in soybeans. They turn the prettiest rust color when ready to harvest.

Well. This certainly was not on my mind as I started this post! The mind does tend to go on a tangent when I write. But now it is time to clean off the kitchen table where there are some things that need to go to the pantry.

Till next time. . .

Monday, July 2, 2012


In a previous post I showed you my stuffed, unorganized food pantry when I was in the middle of removing the front half of the shelves so that I can find things better. Here is the picture when I was done, not  completely organized and neat, but at least like things are with like things - fruits, veggies, canisters, etc. And this is after I put in all the new items that I had recently purchased to build up my stores. I didn't think I would get it all to fit, but so far, so good. The paper shopping bag on the floor holds all the empty plastic containers that I have been saving to use for storing things that come in bags and boxes, but are not being used right now. No sense taking up shelf space yet, right? I do still need to work on emptying a few bags and boxes before I have it all done.

Oops! I went shopping again! A couple of grocery stores had a 2-day sale of loss leaders that I could not pass up, and some were things I will use right away, but many were to add to the reserve stores. There are 8, yes eight, 12 packs of soda pop! And I had weaned myself off of all sodas several years ago, so only have one on rare occasions. So what am I doing with all this? I just cannot pass up a good bargain! These were on sale with a coupon @ 4 for $7.88, that is 4 Pepsi and 4 Coke products. One coupon for each product. But now, where am I going to put them in an already full pantry? I bought a lot more stuff but much of it went into the fridge and freezer, and a few things I found room for in the kitchen cupboards as they will be used almost every day.

Voila! It all went in! I did have to remove the shopping bag with the empty containers to make room on the floor for all that soda pop. There is a bag of flour and a bag of sugar sitting on top of the soda pop, but their canisters are almost empty so I need to transfer them when I get the time.

So now this pantry is just about done. Next I need to work on the appliance/cookware pantry just to the right and out of sight in the picture. It hasn't been that long ago that I worked on it, but I am still not happy with it, and am certain there are things in there that I really don't need. I do need to have it organized so that the things I use most often are handy to get at, otherwise I just don't use it unless I absolutely have to. And I know there are things in there that I would use if it was more convenient to get to them.

Now I need to get to work. While writing this I got a call from my daughter and we talked for an hour. So now it is time for lunch first, and then try to get some housework done today.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

"WHAT TO DO WHEN THE HEAT'S TURNED UP" (not what you think)

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I wasn't able to get to church this morning so I happened to watch Turning Point with Dr. David Jeremiah on TV. I have always enjoyed his messages. Not only enjoyed, but have been blessed by them many times. Right now he is doing a series for the 30th anniversary of shows, and they are the most asked for messages. Today's message is the title of this post, which I think is very appropriate for all the record breaking heat the whole country is experiencing right now. Of course, he did not mean that kind of heat, but it all works together since God's Word is always appropriate for all occasions.

This is part of a study of the book of James and today concentrated on the first chapter. I will include the outline of the message and a few highlights that attracted my attention. The outline includes points that we should all remember and think about when we are going through a trial.

1. Celebrate the Reason Behind Your Trials

                         James 1:2
                             2 Count it all joy, my brethren, when you meet various trials, (RSV)
This I find quite interesting. Dr.Jeremiah said the original Greek word that is translated "count" literally has the sense of "fast forward". When in a trial we need to fast forward our minds and think about the joy that is waiting for us after the trial is over. Yes, the trial is hard while we are in it, but we can focus on the end of the trial and the joy that waits for us there.

Then he went to Hebrews 12:2

Hebrews 12:2

2 looking to Jesus the pioneer and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God. (RSV)

Here we see Jesus 'fast forwarding', for He knew what was waiting for Him after He would be crucified. He knew that by going 'through' He would bring salvation to all believers, and that is a joyous thing! And it also meant that He would later go through the transformation and take up residence in heaven at the right hand of the Father. There is nothing better on earth or in heaven than that. But, in order to do all that, He must endure the trial and shame of the cross.

2. Calculate the Results of Your Trials
James -
3 for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. 4 And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.

    A. Trials Produce Durability

           They can teach patience and endurance.

     B. Trials Produce Maturity

            The words in verse 4 - perfect and complete - mean 'to be mature'. We need to 'go through' stuff in order to grow up. I know when I see a Christian that has a very strong and visible faith, they have gone through the trials. We often wish we were like them, but are we ready to go through what they have been through to get where they are?

3. Call Upon God's Resources in Your Trials

5 If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives to all men generously and without reproaching, and it will be given him.

Always remember:
      A. God is Good
           There are meany references in the Bible that tells us God is good. If you would like the ones Dr. Jeremiah used, contact me.

       B. God is Generous
            Look at verse 5 above.

       C. God is Gracious
            Reference again verse 5 above. God is never insulted by our coming to Him over and over with our pleas.

4. Consider Your Reactions to Your Trials

9 Let the lowly brother boast in his exaltation,
10 and the rich in his humiliation, because like the flower of the grass he will pass away. 11 For the sun rises with its scorching heat and withers the grass; its flower falls, and its beauty perishes. So will the rich man fade away in the midst of his pursuits.
Trials are the levelers. There is no bias with God. Trials befall both rich and poor alike, believers and unbelievers. We all become equal. We are not singled out because of who or what we are.

5. Contemplate the Reward of Your Trials

12 Blessed is the man who endures trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life which God has promised to those who love him.

Here is that joy that we are to 'fast forward' to while in a trial.

If you would like to hear the whole message go to www.davidjeremiah.org