Saturday, June 30, 2018

Craft! Glamour with a refurbished vintage Samsonite train case

I totally staged this photo.  But the book choices are pretty appropriate, I think.

This project was just finished up last night, a vintage Samsonite train case picked up at the thrift store.  The inside of the case is immaculate and the tiny keys were still sealed in the envelope.  The outside was really tired looking though.  I love how it turned out.

As found.  The exterior is sort of a faux-leather and wasn't coming clean ever.  Plus I just wasn't excited about the color.  I taped the center stripes off with painter's tape and spray painted the case with two coats; the first a pale blue and when I didn't like that it was painted over it with a sage green.  After the tape was peeled away the spots I missed, along with the center stripe, were painted with a small brush.  Over spray was cleaned up with a nail polish remover pen.  The original cream color was kept as striping and cleaned up with a magic eraser - it worked wonders to brighten it. 

This case makes me so happy to look at but I have no idea what I will ever use it for.  It just feels like a tiny bit of vintage glamour.  And don't we all need that sometimes.

I suppose it could be just be used as an overnight case, if you're a gal who travels light.

Let's ask some Hitchcock women who have overnighted on short notice.  Lisa carried a tiny designer bag for her perfectly innocent sleepover at Jeff's in Rear Window.

And when Melanie stayed at Annie's house in hot pursuit of Mitch in The Birds, she carried her belongings in a purse and a paper bag.  I had forgotten about that.

So... we'll say the train case falls somewhere in the middle?

Thursday, June 28, 2018

Io moth, borage, garden harvest

Look who stopped by today! 

 Isn't it gorgeous? We leave the front porch light on at night and it was resting on the siding this morning.

Tiny pocket-sized Golden Guide circa 1964. 

We've owned a couple of the large, expensive Peterson field guides over the years and I swear these little Golden Guides are all the average person will ever need.  Plus, the illustrations!

Not only is it an Io moth but a lady one at that. If she grew up eating corn she must have traveled from the farm up the road, no roses here.  I always assumed that cornfield was sprayed within an inch of everyone's lives but maybe not. 

I put her in this pot for the day, away from any spider webs.

Random picture of Borage in the fava beans. Plant Borage once and it comes back forever. Everywhere. Happily it's beautiful and pollinators love it.

Picked this morning: double handful of green beans, some snow peas, fava beans and a huge pile of kale (already in the freezer).  There's so much kale out there and the bugs haven't gotten to it *quite* yet.  Sadly, deer have been eating the most of the chard regularly. Even so I think I'm going to be able to freeze all of the organic greens we can eat this winter for the cost of two cheap seed packets, which seems a small miracle.

Tuesday, June 26, 2018

Postage stamp craft, a false alarm & freezing produce

Another little project finished.  A wooden "H" for the kids' room, decoupaged with stamps.  This was actually finished awhile ago but this week it finally got a hanger put on the back so it can go on the wall.  I love it and plan on making a second one, maybe in green.  It took sooo many stamps to cover all of the curves and surfaces but was so much fun.  

Oh, stamps.  So much fun.

We had a bit of a day yesterday.  I was positive I was in early labor for, oh, hours.  I had been to the doctor that morning.  The signs were all there and it got progressively worse as the day went on.  We put the family on high alert, got the place ready and packed hospital bags.  I went to bed having light contractions and when we woke up this morning... nothing.  At all.  I checked under the blankets for a baby but... no.  I feel totally normal.  40 weeks pregnant normal but normal still.

So we had to call everyone and say "oops, not yet".

The little man has taken to hugging my belly and yelling "come out, baby!" into my belly button.

So, when you're feeling totally miserable and your husband is rushing around trying to get the place ready, what do you do?  You waddle around pulling things from the garden and freezing them.

Four small bags of snow peas for winter stir-frys.  I blanched these 90 seconds.

Stripped all of the "mostly ripe" currants off the bush and froze them.  I think we're going to get another currant bush, maybe a black one. These are delicious and we're starting to get nice harvests now.

Big handfuls of greens; chard, kale and orach.  Blanched 60 seconds.  We loved using these last winter.

What happens when I don't crop my belly out of pictures :)

So the next big thing I'd like to wrap up around here is this whole baby incubation project. We all can't wait to meet our little guy.

Saturday, June 23, 2018

Crafts! Vintage yard stick step stool, an auction & an anniversary

What a weekend so far.

Another project finished this week, and wow am I pleased with this one.  This is my favorite thing that I've done in a long, long time.  Goodness knows it took long enough.  The step stool came from a yard sale last year and the yard sticks have taken about a year to collect as well (flea markets and thrift stores).

The yard sticks are all vintage and mostly local, some even from our little town.  If you zoom in you can see that a couple of them are old enough that they list 3 or 4 digit phone numbers.  The step stool was unfinished wood.  I didn't prime because I wanted the grain to show through so it just got a single coat of paint and then waxed.  I marked the portions I wanted to display and my husband   cut them to size for me. Then I nailed them down  with tiny gold linoleum nails.  I used blue painter's tape to hold everything in place while I was nailing.  It's not perfect but I am so, so happy with it.  

We'll use it in the bathroom every day for brushing teeth.

Here it is in the upright position.  Oh, love.  I'd really like to do another project like this, maybe front the drawers of a dresser for the kids' room.  

In other news today, I spent the morning at the Amish community benefit auction where I got my bantam pair a couple of years back. It had stormed all night and into the morning so the farm it was held at was a mud pit when we got there.  They still had a great turnout, there were hundreds of people, mostly Amish.  For me, it's mostly a place to eat food and visit with people. I was thrilled to run into one of my old work friends there and joked with him that "You can tell the real county people around this place; our boots smelled like poop before we got here."  Honestly, there had to be 4 inches of mud/muck and some unfortunate people were wearing sandals. 

My husband stayed home with the little guy.  Being days away from having a baby it seemed a good idea to go with my father and his friend just in case, although we joked that if I were to go into labor somewhere I could do a lot worse than surrounded by a couple hundred Amish women.  I'm sure they could have delivered a baby between making batches of doughnuts without breaking a sweat, saving us a hospital bill to boot.

We didn't buy anything but food.  This year of all years (why?) someone had brought Muscovy ducks, Royal Palm turkey poults and guinea hens to sell at the livestock tent.  This is not the time for me to be buying birds and it drove me crazy because at the livestock tent critters sell for peanuts.  Like $2 for a rabbit or $1 per chicken.  I wanted those baby turkeys badly and I'm sure the pair went for like $5.  

Thanks random internet photo.  Royal Palms are gorgeous, someone the next road over has a tom as a lawn ornament and he's stunning.  Oh well, maybe next year.

The rest of the day was wonderful as well.  It rained in the afternoon and the little guy and I hung out on the porch.  "Not too far..." he said as he was sneaking down the steps and around the corner.  We ended up taking a long walk and eating fresh currants off of the bush, barefoot and in the rain. It was really, really sweet.  Then my husband and I went out for dinner to celebrate our anniversary.  It was the first dinner out for us minus the little guy in months.  A really wonderful day all around.

Thursday, June 21, 2018

Craft! DIY air plant display & love

Nesting is taking the form of crafting this time around, feeling the urge to wrap up some half-done projects instead of oh, doing laundry or cleaning or anything actually useful.  Oh well.  Stay tuned for some more craft posts over the next couple of days.  

I fell hard for air plants this winter and ended up spending too much money buying a couple groups of them off of Ebay. It was so addicting though; both times the plants were shipped from clear across the country and arrived in perfect condition.  Both times the sellers included free plants too - I think one seller sent 5 free plants with my order!  So they're tiny but added up quickly.  I've been displaying them in little bottles and planters but really wanted one of those hanging frames I've seen on the internet - but was not willing to pay $50 for a frame with wire stapled to it.  We have plenty of chicken wire around here.  Today I finally made one!

The chicken wire is just stapled to the back of an antique frame with a staple gun and my husband hung the the whole thing on the porch with hooks.

The little plants are just tucked in the chicken wire.

I think it looks really great and modern on the porch.  It reminds me of a little science display.  We'll hang it inside in the fall.

The plants also look really beautiful glued to driftwood.  You can order special glue on-line but plant sites seem to agree on the E6000 Quickhold glue I got from Wal-Mart; the $3 tube is huge and will last forever.

These are the easiest plants I've ever owned.  All they need is a good soak once a week or so (I leave mine in a bucket of water overnight or pile them in the sink and let the little guy soak them down with the sprayer).  If it's a day I'm cleaning the fish talk I'll soak them in the fish water to fertilize them but that's it. 

I could see this getting out of hand quite easily. 

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Little wonders of nature

It's been such a fun couple of days outside.  Look at what we've seen!

These sweet things are called Bird's Nest fungi.  I've found them mostly growing in mulch.  Besides just looking like a tiny fairy bird nest, it reproduces in the neatest way - when raindrops hit the "nests" the tiny "eggs" are launched into the air to germinate nearby.  Isn't that great?  In our area it comes in this color and also a beautiful bluish/grey.  

The little guy and I found this tiny creature at the lake yesterday.  I took a picture thinking it was just a type of beetle we weren't familiar with and we'd look it up when we got home.  Turns out this little one is actually a baby ladybug that's not fully grown up yet.  It's the pupa stage of the insect. Wow!  Ironically, we own a book on this very subject but had forgotten all about it. Next time we'll talk about it for sure.

This wonder of nature is happening right on our front porch, in the planters.  I noticed big black ants puttering around on the flowers stems and wondered what they were up to.  If you look closely by the ant's feet you can see tiny green bugs - aphids!  Each ant I saw was hovering around a small aphid cluster.  When I was little my favorite book at one point was an antique guide to insect behavior and I still remember reading about the relationship between these two insects.  The aphids actually produce a substance that the ants love to eat.  The book had described the ants as tiny dairy farmers tending their herds - as does this article in Modern Farmer (the ants/aphids part is about halfway down the page).  I was so excited to see this for the first time.  

We've found some really tiny miracles of nature this week, and it's only Wednesday. It's been a lovely reminder to slow down and take a good look around at the world around us.

Sunday, June 17, 2018

What's this flower?

This perennial is blooming in my mother's gardens and I don't know what it is. The purple color is so intense that when my sister came in the house with them I thought they were artificial flowers. They're really pretty.

Thursday, June 14, 2018

Second-hand Thursday

Oh, treasures.  Let's see what "second hand but new to us"  wonders snuck in the house this week.

Saturday I got up early and went to two yard sales with really nice children's clothing.  I think there are 22 items here, including a winter coat, that were about 50 cents each. Really nice name brands and my total was $11.00.  This would have been a couple hundred dollars new.  Buying children's clothing new is so expensive and they grow out of it so quickly.  Plus, the one sale was full of "outdoorsy" stuff and there are several little camping/animal themed outfits here.  Adorable.

More books from out little local thrift store, 25 cents each.  I brought these home today and we've already read the pigeon book, the pet book, the cupcake book (twice) and the baby animals book (twice). 

This treasure was from the thrift store.  I saw it being dropped off and asked right off if I could buy it.  He absolutely adores his new "pirate castle" and has played with it every day.  It even took a trip to Grandma and Grandpa's house. $3.00

He loves it so much that the next day I stopped back in to ask the volunteers if they had found any of the knights or horses that would have came with it.  That was a mistake on my part.  This is the little local place.  I think the minimum age for volunteers is 85 years old and every one of them was confused by what I was asking.

Standing at the back of the store, this was my conversation with two of the volunteers:

"Hey, Bob! This lady is looking for a castle!"
"No, I bought it here yesterday. It was sitting outside and I bought it before it went out on the shelf. I was asking about the toys that came with it?"
"Has anyone seen the toy castle someone donated?"
"I didn't donate it - I bought it. It's at my house."
"I don't see a castle."
"I know. It was in this box here, but I bought it before it was put out on the floor. I was asking if any toys came with it?"
 "Well, if there were pieces missing, we would have thrown it out."
"You didn't throw it out, I bought it.  I was asking if you found any toy horses?"
"Well, since you're missing pieces, why don't you take this train set home with you? It's free."

(Pause. Me weighing the situation and deciding to just be polite and get the hell out of there.)

"Ok, great, thank you.  But I'd really like to pay you something for it."
"No, here, just take it.  Are you leaving now or do you have more shopping to do?"
"I'm leaving."
"OK, good.  Here take it and leave before Bob sees you."

Vintage Fisher Price circus set: free.  Don't tell Bob.

Small towns are so funny.  I don't know who Bob is, but if he's the incredibly nice gentleman that works the checkout counter I really don't think he would have cared.  In fact, thinking about it, maybe I should have just talked to him in the first place.  So I took the circus set home.  We already have one.  I figured I would just donate it back next week but it came with all of the circus animals and when I got ours out of the toy box I realized that the cars were different colors too.

So now we have a very large choo-choo with all of the animals. 

And lastly, my new favorite maternity shirt from my dear, sweet friend L, who always seems to intuitively know when I'm feeling down and need a little pick me up.  The baby dropped and none of my maternity clothes fit.  But this gift fits wonderfully and is soft and just long enough to cover a huge belly. 

What a bunch of blessings this week.

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Animals everywhere

There have been so many random things going on around here, all animal related.  Here's a bit of the mayhem.

Well, there was an evening earlier this week that I didn't get out to close up the birds until after dark.  It was a downpour and I had a flashlight and my big brown work jacket on with the hood up.  Walking out to the coop, what greets me but  one of my little skunk buddies sitting INSIDE the chicken coop happily eating an egg. Come on.  It was a little guy with odd broken striping down his back.  No amount of yelling or banging on the coop would interrupt his dinner.  Mostly he would just take a bite, blink around in every direction but mine and then go back to getting another egg.  I guess I was in the dark and blinding him with a flashlight.  Eventually I got a T-post, opened the clean-out door on the coop and tried guiding him out the door.  He ran and hid under the nest boxes.  There is less than 3 inches of clearance under there.  I stuck the T-post under and ended up forcibly shoving him out the door.  Anyone have a cat? And when you go to the vet you have to turn the carrier upside down and shake it in 10 directions to get the cat out?  It was like that. No one got sprayed.  He toddled off. 

Next up, remember the raccoon woes? Did I mention that one of them hissed at me from the other side of the fence one evening? And it wasn't even dark yet? Yeah, it's been fun.  I set some live traps last night and this morning there was a raccoon in one.  I came in to have a bowl of cereal before dealing with it.  I came back outside to find Nigel sitting sadly beside the trap.

He's molting right now and looks terrible.  I don't know what happened to this poor guy before I found him on Craigslist and brought him home but you have never seen a sadder face on a creature then when Nigel sees a box trap.  He will literally just go stand beside the dang thing and stare at it sadly.

But wait, what's this?  Anyone see a raccoon? No? Me either.

It managed to break out of the trap.  "What.... the..... hell....?" I said in disbelief.  "What! The! Hell?!" and then it occurred to me that maybe I should back peddle myself out of the chicken yard for awhile while looking over my shoulder.  How on earth did this happen?

Look, the door is all mangled.  It takes me both hands to set these things and I have opposable thumbs.  How did it get out from INSIDE the trap??? UGH!  So not only is it still out there, but it's never going to go in a trap again.  Awesome. 

So, thanks in part to the raccoons we said goodbye to our two remaining ducks this week.  Between the raccoon attacks and getting repeatedly humped by the gander (yep, sorry, that was actually happening) they were pretty miserable.  They went to a family we are good friends with who have a wonderful property with a big flock of free-ranging birds.  This is the first time we've been without ducks in close to 5 years.  It's sad.  I miss them.  The plan is to start over in the spring with a new flock. What was really surprising is how much quieter the place is.  Want to know what's louder than 4 geese and 3 roosters put together? Two female ducks demanding breakfast.  

Oh, heck what else?  There was a night this week when I was putting the little man to bed and he was talking about a grasshopper in the kitchen.  The kid knows his wildlife and I could not figure out what he had seen with a picture of a grasshopper on it.  The next morning he and I were at the kitchen counter making bread and he points and says "Look, mom, is grasshopper in the sink."  I looked and didn't see anything.  "Where, honey?"  "Right there! Is grasshopper in sink!"  

Yeah, it wasn't a grasshopper.  It was a baby praying mantis, about a 1/2 inch long.  And the thing is, they were everywhere.  Everywhere.  Worse yet, this is not the first time this has happened this year because *someone* likes to bring the egg cases inside and display them.  The last time was in April and there were mantis babies all over the dining room, like 100 of them.  I denied it when asked of course, because I couldn't actually remember having brought another one inside.  But come on, who else could be at fault here?  Eventually I found the egg case and put it outside.

Too late. Everyone know what a praying mantis looks like?

Fierce predators about 4 inches long.  This is what I had unleashed upon our house.  We're still finding them.

On a lighter note, Bee brushes up on her babysitting skills and gets a foot to the face.  

And I went fishing this week.  Look at this bounty!  It was a beautiful evening at the lake.  Panfish may be small but they quickly add up.  Seven sunfish and a small perch.  We had fish tacos and there are still some fillets left in the refrigerator.  

It's not even the middle of the week yet.  What other fun is waiting for us?