Monday, August 31, 2015

Summer's Hot and Humidity is Back and Book Reviews

  I thought I would get my walk in this morning, but after about several minutes decided it was just too hot along with the high humidity already. I got in 500 steps and will jump on my nordic trak ski machine and see how many steps I can get in this week. It is to be super hot all week-sigh, I am really ready for fall temperatures, fall food, fall natural dyeing, everything fall lol
    I should get my new pedometer by week's end-so then I can include all the steps in the house too.

   I purchased a beautiful handmade necklace from my friend over the weekend. The link will take you to her post describing what she made. I love it-and just had to have it. Thanks Jackie. I love handmade items when they inspire me, or when I just totally fall in love.

   This was one of those mornings where I had a whole list of business's I had to call to straighten out things; strange to me that so many all at once but I got it done so no more stressing over it. Over the weekend they were heavy on my mind and couldn't do anything about it til today-Monday.

   A couple weeks ago I checked out three books by the author Jennifer Chiaverini who is known for her Elm Creek Quilts novel series. I have read all the books in her series except for one and she has another book due out end of this year. I hadn't had the chance to read her The Union Quilters based on the civil war era. So was happy that was in the library. Her books are family oriented and I have always enjoyed all the books in this series.
      I have also been wanting to read her newer books that were based on historical events but still classified as fiction so was happy that our little library had these. Mrs. Grant and Madame Jule I read first and I really loved it. 
   Her historical fiction Mrs. Lincoln's Dressmaker I didn't care for so much. I enjoyed the first part of this book as she described the personalities of Mrs. Lincoln well but then it seemed to me the rest was just a chronological course of events that she rewrote from other sources. One of the credits was the memoirs of Elizabeth Keckley in her book Behind the scenes 1868. She was the dressmaker in the book. I went on amazon and was able to download a free kindle version which I would rather read. Keckley was born a slave but was able to purchase her freedom and then become a well know dressmaker. I also ran into a couple repeats from the Mrs Grant book-so since I read these two books one right after the other is perhaps why I didn't care for the Mrs. Lincoln book as much.
    I believe there are still a couple more of her historical fictions that I will check into.

     Since it's too hot outside I will be catching up on domestic stuff today. Perhaps later this afternoon I will attempt those gluten free waffle cones again

Enjoy your Monday  How is the weather where you are??

Saturday, August 29, 2015

Still Walking and Oak Galls & Update on Plant ID

  Although still sore and stiff this  morning, I can report no painful charlie horses-thanks again to my friend that reminded me about taking magnesium and potassium and to wear good shoes too-in my last post.

  We have chances of rain this weekend so I wanted to make sure I got my walk in and I ended up going right back out to collect oak galls-so got my 4000 plus steps in already.

   The oak galls have always fascinated me, but I have as yet to use them. I could never find specific information on how to use these as a mordant-when to collect, how much weight oak galls to weight of fibers. These are especially used as the mordant-fixative when natural dyeing cottons. In the past these were also used to make ink and to dye leathers.
   During my first walk I spotted several small oak trees full of these, so when I got back to the house, I gathered up a bag and went out to collect some. I definately need lots more but this is a start.
    I went on pinterest and there are loads of pins about oak galls so I will do some reading, I also have Liles book so hoping he has written about these too. I am thinking I may use in my natural printing projects.
   If any of you have worked the oak galls in your dyeing I would love to know more.

  Yesterday afternoon I went out in the garden to see what there was. I gathered up some nice cucumbers and sweet peppers so thinking of making a sweet pickle relish today. I also gathered some beans-finally-enough for a couple meals. I did have a few sweet dumpling squash growing but those squash bugs have found them and are devouring the plants as I speak. the sweet potato vines look good so will see in another month or so if they grew any potatoes.

   I am off to make me some breakfast and get going on the making and canning of relish
   Have an awesome weekend!

Update: after looking at my photo yesterday again, and looking at them again on my walk this morning it popped in my mind that the leaves look like thistle, but I did not see anything sharp on the stems. So I knew my plant expert Mr L would know-and as soon as he saw the photo-he said well that's a type of thistle that grows in the woods not usually  near buildings. I said I couldn't find the thistles-oh they are there he says on the leaves themselves-so I will check on that tomorrow. He says the tips of the leaves are very sharp. The top little purple part of the plant is the flower-but it does not blow around in the wind later as does the thistle we are used to that the goldfinches eat.

So of course I asked him about the oak oaks too. In the spring when they are green-with gloves on for sure-inside is the thick black ink that the native americans used, and used on their leathers. Now in the fall when they are brown and dry and the bug is gone, is when you use these for a natural dye and/or a mordant-or the fixative on cotton especially

Friday, August 28, 2015

Photos of my Walk This Morning

  In the middle of the night I woke up with extreme painful charlie horses in my legs-the worse I have ever had-scarey in fact. So this morning I was not so sure I wanted to walk again, perhaps skip a day? but no I decided to take the same path I took yesterday afternoon-so I wouldn't need to count the steps- and I grabbed the camera too.
   Once I got into the walk I could see why my legs had an extra work out-the terrain is much rougher this year do to all the rain and we have been logging some of our woods too. It needed to be thinned out and if you don't cut once in awhile we end up with a not very healthy stand of oaks. Especially since we have lived here we have had a couple very very hot fires go through and that devastating ice storm several years back now has hurt allot of the trees.

   I did find a very pretty wild turkey feather and somehow I lost it on the way back home, I think I will retrace my steps later to see if I can find it.
     These photos are in the order I took them-the first little froggy was a surprise-do click to enlarge them


goldenrod is beginning to bloom

 Do any of you  know what this one above is? I also saw this very tall like 6'

the path goes straight down holler to a running creek-I used to walk this to look for rocks for my bathroom project-don't think I could do that anymore-carry heavy rocks back up

above is an oak gall-used in natural dyeing for the tannin mordant (fixative) have not tried this yet-wasn't sure when to collect these before the bug is inside or after it leaves-anyone know??

this was a puddle full of little tad poles

pokeberries beginning to ripen but I see the critters are eating them too

Sun rising through the trees-almost back to the house

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Do You Walk Everyday?? & Grinding Flour

   For me the hardest thing is just getting started for any type of exercise program I want to do-I never liked gym as a kid, never could stick with exercises, tried yoga on my own but decided I needed a class for that-so walking has always been the easiest for me, especially here in my woods-where it can always be an adventure too.

    Well, this morning was "it" I did it-my first long walk in probably a year now, and I didn't cry over Nikita-as I had a goal in mind for myself this time.
      I counted the steps too and it was around 2100 steps. My goal this week is to try to walk 4000 steps each day or until I think I can handle more than that.
      I appreciate more now anyone of you that gets your 7,000 to 12,000 steps in each day-as that is really allot of walking. I found this article which I found to be a good guide for me on how many steps I need each day. I agree with the author to a point, as we get into our 60s our metabolism really slows down so we actually need to walk more than when we were younger-but I think most of us have not kept up with this over the years so are out of shape at this age, and we all have new aches and pains and body parts wearing out-lol so we each need to figure out what is best for us.
   I have always loved walking and I feel safe in my woods and I am walking on ground so better for my bad knees than pavement.
   A couple of my blog friends suggested they really loved their Fitbit's but checking online those begin at $100.00 and I don't want to spend that much money. I can keep my own daily journal instead of hooking it up to my computer. I don't have wireless either, and no smartphones so I don't need the extra technology. 
    I searched on amazon and read lots of reviews and decided on this one an omron. It is still  more money than I wanted to spend but the reviews were really good and I want something that will last. They had an updated version of this model for allot less money but the reviews were not as good and everyone seemed to love the original one better-so I decided to order one-I need all the motivation I can get lol

I had a good productive day-which I have not had many of this summer. I have been grinding up several pounds of wheat berries-one for pastry flour, and the other for breads. I decided all ground up I would use this up faster for Larry's treats and breads. These wheat berries have been in my big freezer for a few years now (photos will enlarge) The second photo is bread flour.

I also just finished up painting two old rusty pieces of shelving we had picked up at a garage sale. I should have taken a before and after photo cause they turned out really well. These will go in Larry's new studio space. They need to dry-hopefully by tomorrow so I can flip them upside down and paint the undersides of the shelves and touch up what needs it.

So I feel good a day of progress-- love that--  I counted the steps from our house to the building we are fixing up for the studio and it's 100 steps each way-so I kept track of that too in my diary.
     I think I am going to take another walk now to get up to my 4000 steps today. I can feel it in my legs already and if I wait til after supper I don't think I will get outdoors again.

Happy walking!

Update: photos of my painting project. also the big plastic shelving was a garage sale find too-that was an awesome find-very strong and durable-hoping to find one more of those
   We originally built this cool little wooden building that looks like a mini barn about 9-10 years ago now. the plan was for the bottom level to be all of our garden tools, and the upstairs to be fixed up as a mini space that our friends could sleep over in when then come to visit. This area in the photos is a concrete slab we put down so we could have atv's etc there under a roof. It is junked up now with all the stuff that was inside-I will be working on getting the hand tools moved to another little shed this fall. I think I want to fix up this area as a little patio next spring.
     Plans changed over the years and now we are fixing up the first level into the studio and we still would like to fix up the upstairs for sleeping quarters. We will be putting in a shower-bath area downstairs. It all takes time, and hubby is not well enough to handle the heavy drywall by himself now-but we are getting there. Figuring we still have september and part of october to get it finished inside.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

I Can "Smell" Fall in the Air & Catch Up-Long

  Fall has always been my most favorite time of the year-especially more so since being retired and living here in the woods.  We have not had a rough summer this year with extreme heat and humidity but rather just too much rain for so many months-not the norm at all here in the Ozarks. 

   Also this is the first year in my life so far that I feel "old". Being an official senior this year my body is going through changes-more arthritis pain everywhere now it seems, and gaining weight and inches-which is "not" normal for me at all. Even with the adjustment of my thyroid medicine back in May I have had no changes in my weight. I am someone that has a real "thing" about being fat. I have been for me lazy in the physical department-not taking my every day walks for two years now has really taken it's toll-my excuses have been-when our Nikita passed I no longer had my walking partner which did and still does make me sad, too hot, too many bugs, I don''t feel like it. etc
    Reading online last night to see if this is a normal occurance to gain weight after 65 I see that it is-our metabolism is much slower now so that means even more exercise than before and to eat less and be more choosy on our food choices. I have mostly eaten healthy but my downfall is my  munchies habit and I realize it has gotten worse since last winter-so I am working on changes for me. 
   I must walk-no excuses now except for the bugs and there is always bug spray for that lol, or get on my ski machine from  nordic trak that I bought ages and ages ago and rarely use, and stop the excessive munchies. I don't like being fat period. 
    I also have much to accomplish yet with all my crafts, and our home is still not finished-and I need to be physically able to do these things-so starting today I will work on getting my body back in shape.

   Enough of all that -lol- Yesterday I had a huge shopping day-just me-and I had a very long list of things to do. I did purchase the paint I need for the living room, and there are bad spots in the ceiling so easiest for me is to do textures-with joint compound so I bought that too-wow don't remember all that being so heavy before.
       I have been in desperate need of shoes-everything I brought down with me in '03 is now worn out so I broke down and went shoe shopping. I also needed a nice pair of jeans again-since nothing fits-and with no luck finding something at the resale shops I went to the jeans outlet too. This outlet used to always have racks of $8.00 and $10.00 jeans but no longer. This is what mortified me into taking action-I had to buy a size up-which I have never worn before in my life ugh ugh 

   I also did a little food shopping, mostly to get started stocking up for winter. Our Wal Mart has started carrying allot more organics and healthier grains like quinoa and lots of different rice-wild-black-red-sweet and more. So I stocked up on those along with more soup beans. Next time I will start stocking up on some canned items.  
   This is the time of year I shop around for the best price to fill up my propane tank-and wow I found some for .99 a gallon-unheard of price-love it!  I also hired the company that worked on our a/c last spring to come back out and finish hooking up our gas furnace. It's time to have back up heat now. Larry is in no condition to cut and split all of our wood any more. wow that will feel really strange having gas heat again. I almost feel guilty about that.
      I am hoping we can find someone to hire to still cut our firewood though-as it will be much warmer in the house to still run our wood stoves. Nothing like crafting near the warm wood stove.

   I did get my beautiful bracelets in the mail the other day and I totally love all of them. Wendy also sent me a surprise 4th bracelet-with a mermaid-how special is that??

(click to enlarge photos)

and over the weekend I defrosted and organized my two commercial deep freezers. this photo is the freezer with all my gluten free grains and flours and baking stuff along with pastas, bread etc. I keep everything in the freezers if it is not in a jar or can lol don't need to worry about bugs and critters that way. this was a big job-about 8 hours to complete as I also labeled each stack so I can hopefully find things better this winter.

     Well, I need to get off here, get out of my jammies and onto the exercise machine, and get ready for my day.

Are you looking forward to fall? or the next season from where you live??

  Oh and I almost forgot; any day now our hummingbirds will just be gone. For now though there are still loads of hummingbirds here especially at dawn and then at dusk. I have now gone through 225 pounds of sugar-so that's allot of hummingbirds. Last year the end total was 180 pounds of sugar but last year at least 1/4 or more of that went to feed a wild bee hive-we didn't have those bees back this year-thank goodness.

Monday, August 17, 2015

Had to Share-Photo of my New Bracelets

My long time blog friend Wendy, just sent me a photo of what she created for me, they will be in the mail soon.

The first one is sea glass that my friend in Greece sent me, she added the little seahorse too-really love this one.
     The second one is a sea fossil I bought on etsy from the czech republic and I believe the stone is from my friend in Greece too.
     The third one is beads from the czech republic too and the large stone is a handmade bead that I won here from a blogger.

   So now I can't wait to get these. I don't usually wear silver jewelry but I told Wendy to go ahead and make what she thought would go best with the pieces. I really love all the clasps too.

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Tiny Tree Frog and Peach Margaritas

  Finally the air is cooler today, not much humidity, so I decided to start washing the windows on the outside of the house.  Surprise this cute little guy was hanging on one of the windows-of course I did not disturb him.

  I am doing some other chores outdoors too and wow it actually smells like fall is approaching and the breeze has a coolness to it. I have noticed some wild plants like pokeberry already are ripening-we have so much to catch up on before winter so I need to keep a move on to get things done.

  Our friends brought over organic peaches for margaritas-they were good but we really love the mango margaritas better.

Happy Tuesday!

Friday, August 7, 2015

Mango Margaritas & Handwoven Coin Purse

  Some friends of ours had stopped by one hot evening and I happened to have a ripe mango in the frig so I asked if they liked mango margaritas. They had never had one. So I made up a pitcher full for the four of us-and they have been talking about these margaritas ever since lol They are one of my favorites.

  A few days ago when they were shopping at Aldi the mangos were on sale for .39 each cause they were ripe and ready to eat right now-soooo they brought over 5 of them. I have been making these up for a couple evenings now. The rest I am going to whirl up in my vita mix with lime juice and freeze them for later-like for a winter time drink when we want to remember warmer weather.

My recipe-I don't use mixes as I want as less extra "stuff" in my drinks and more natural-less sugar etc.

I have a vita mix that is about 40 years old now and still running strong so in that goes a ripe mango that I cut off the big pit in the center, then 1 to 2 shots of real lime juice depending on my mood-lol 2 shots of tequila, 2 shots of triple sec, a big splash of agave-or to taste, just want to cut the acid a bit. whirl up til smooth, then fill up with crushed ice and also add 1/4 cup of water, and blend til smooth This gives 5 glasses as seen below.

When I saw my friend Gene Black's post a couple weeks ago about his handwoven coin purses-I had to have one. I have been needing one too for my purse, as my change is just thrown in, and falls to the bottom.
      I fell in love with this one the best and it arrived in today's mail-thanks much Gene I love it!
   The photos are of each side and he also lined it with cotton batik fabric. This is such a cool handmade item

We have several days again of super hot weather with heat indexes of over 100 degrees f again, there has been allot of severe storms in the ozarks but we have gotten missed. Perhaps some rain today. Next week though promises to be perfect with no humidity.

I will be canning up my second small batch of sweet dills this afternoon. This will be the end of my pickles. I was able to salvage enough tomatoes to make 4 pints of stewed with onions and my sweet peppers. Like most the tomatoes are just not doing well at all this year.

I just back a little bit ago from an errand in town; so I need to get off the computer and feed the hummingbirds, I noticed their feeders are just about empty now-

Have an awesome weekend!!

Thursday, August 6, 2015

I Have Decided on the Name for my "Lady Russian" Spindle

   I have given much thought and research for the name of my spindle. I wanted to thank all of you that offered your name suggestions, I also had a few names offered over on my facebook page, and I had looked up online different Russian lady's names as well for more name ideas.

   I looked up what all the names meant to help me decide on the ones I liked the best. I also looked up Jenny which was my husband's grandmother's name who immigrated here from Russia.

  I learned that most of the Russian names that I had looked up were derived from Greek names, so that was a nice thing to learn about.
  It came down to two names Svetlana from Gene and Oksana from Mitch. 

      Svetlana means luminescent, world, light, shining woman. Oksana means women of hospitality, foreigner, guest, traveler, and she was a 5th century saint.
    Linecat suggested Petrova and when I looked it up, it means rock or stone in Russian and is also a person's last name-so my spindle also has a last name now. I  liked that it meant stone cause one of my stone spinning bowls works perfectly with this spindle

     Since I just couldn't decide between these two first names:  I love the names and their meanings I decided on both-lol so my Lady Russian spindle's name is now:
     Oksana Svetlana Petrova     Love it!

Thanks again everyone; I do have handmade papers to share with the winners-so Mitch-Gene Black-and Linecat please send me address information (Gene I have yours already)

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

I Have Yarn on the Russian Lady & She Needs a Name

   After watching as many videos as I could find using the Russian spindle I have been practicing and I do have yarn.  Fun!! and I am making nicer yarn than I was getting on my drop spindle and my other Russian
     I do not have the technique down yet, as I am used to the short draft, and this spindle is designed to use the long draft to make lace weight yarns-or threads.

  I was trying something a little different this morning so the last yarn I spun is thicker than I wanted but the rest is really nice. I don't need the lace weight yarn now but I do need to learn the long draft for cotton spinning, and I think that will help me when I try spinning on my wheel again. Right now I am spinning this alpaca roving and doing the spin-park-draft method. The alpaca is a dream to learn on. I am loving what I am spinning now opposed to my drop spindle for sure.

  I hope you all are not getting too tired of reading about my spinning posts lately, as I love to share what I am learning.

This is the most lovely spindle I have now, and am so happy I bought her. I am thinking she needs a name besides just Lady Russian-which more I think about it, I do love too.

   So if any of you have suggestions for a Russian lady's name Or even a Danish lady's name since she was handcrafted in Denmark-or maybe a combination of both--for this beautiful handcrafted tool please tell me in comments. I still have some of my handmade papers left I will share with the winner. The papers are mostly pinkish in color with lots of textures.

We have lots of rain and storms moving in. Most of Missouri has already gotten storms since last night, so we must just be on the edge of these so far. Nice to have the cooler weather. ahh I see it is raining now lol

The hummingbirds are unreal and fun to watch-soooo many at the feeders now all day long-usually at least 6-8 birds at each feeder and lots flying around all over near the feeders. They are getting ready to fly south soon, sometime this month they will begin to leave-and will be sll gone by mid September.I miss them when they are not here. I think I will surpass the 180 pounds of sugar I went through last year.

I tried to count them but as you know they move so fast-lol we have at the very least 40 little ones buzzing around most all day now. This means I am filling their feeders 3-4 times a day since last week. I have 3 of this style feeder and I also have 2 feeders that hold allot more nectar. and the rain doesn't stop them too much. If you enlarge the photos and look real close you may spot a couple sitting in the wisteria-they love to sit in there-especially when it's raining

Happy creating!!

update a little after 1:30 in the afternoon, my left hand is getting painful so I decided I wanted to try out the spinning from the fold before I needed to stop, this is my first attempt-amazing-like magic-fine yarn-it is actually a little thinner when not relaxed

Monday, August 3, 2015

What a Difference in Spindles

I just had to come back and post a photo  In the mail this  morning I got several fun things that I have ordered in the last couple of weeks.

On the left is my new Russian spindle-traditional, and on the right is my non traditional. They are both beautiful and both handcrafted by hand. I am in love with my new one now more than the other one, it is so feminine, light, and when you spin it-wow it stays spun for a very long time. Now to get out that video and practice mastering this one. With my left hand giving me major fits in the arthritis department I will be using my right hand to spin this one. If I can't do it that way I will try the navajo way-I am hoping to end up spinning some cotton on this one.

The spindle on the right is difficult to hold a spin-I can see why now it is so much heavier. I am making much nicer yarn, but this is designed more as a drop spindle but instead is supported in a bowl.

These are my spinning bowls. In the back are the two stone ones, and then in the front I just got these in the mail today. They are vintage salt cellars. In that video-which I need to find and post a link for you-she mentioned that these vintage salt cellars are just perfect for spinning bowls-I fell in love with these two and had to have them. I shopped on ebay and there were many available, including these lovely bird salt cellars. I can see how these could become something fun to collect. 

I had gone on a spending spree last month-so now no more spending for quite some time. I have a ordered a couple spinning books over on amazon, and on etsy I purchased mohair roving, and organic cotton. and for my hexagon project I purchased some new needles and also a needle threader. I also bought the fabric I needed for all the paths for the civil war era hexie quilt. I have never used a needle threader before but I think it will be handy with the silk thread.

I am out of laundry detergent so I need to quit "playing" and make that up.

Oh and here is a link to the you tube video I just love for learning how to use a traditional supported spindle

Getting Closer to Fresh Indigo Leaf Dyeing

  I ended up with three nice indigo plants, lost about 6 plants from all that colder than normal and wet weather from May through first half of July. I am happy though that I should have enough to play and learn how to do this.

  This morning I am a little stumped if they are ready to harvest or not. A bruised leaf does not turn blue as allot of reading suggests, but my plants are tall enough according to some other reading.  We have had about 3 weeks of very hot and humid weather which another article suggests that the plants need to go through a very hot period.
     If any of you have grown and dyed with fresh indigo leaves I would love it if you would share with me on when to first harvest. thank you

  I have been doing more reading too, A Dyer's Garden by Rita Buchanan published back in the '90s is referred to often, and I do have her book. This morning I ran into another very informative article with clear photos on how the dye bath will look through out the process find the pdf here  I have bookmarked this one to find again one of the better reads I have found so far on the process. I also picked up from this one that to always use cold water when covering the leaves in the beginning and slowly bring up to the temperature. Many I have read are saying to cover with hot water and then bring up to temperature. It's these little things that make natural dyeing a better success.
   I also learned that I didn't realize before is that I do not need to pre mordant the fibers first, that will save me an extra step. I have roving that I purchased last year for dyeing, that I am going to use first in my indigo dye pot. I also purchased a couple silk scarves from Dharma that I may use also after the wool for a lighter blue. 

    I am doing a little spinning every day now, to get better and to keep on learning how to make better yarn with my spindles. I need to card up some more churro wool for my navajo spindle, and I am liking my non traditional russian spindle better too.
     After getting used to the traditional navajo I was not liking the hook on the russian and it just was not spinning properly in the bowl either. I remembered last nite my instructor suggested to try the spindles left or right handed cause it may just work out better using a different hand. So I tried that last nite emptying the spindle from the previous yarn and starting over; and yes it made a huge difference.
    I also had watched a really informative video on learning on the traditional supported spindles and one of her suggestions was to wind on the spun yarn matching the form of the spindle. If you don't do that than as the spindle fills up with the yarn it will no longer be balanced and spin properly-wow that made a huge difference too. I never would have thought of that tip
    Here is my latest with my russian non traditional spindle and I wound on as suggested. This is alpaca fiber in a roving that I purchased at the fiber event last month.

Happy Monday and enjoy your week!  


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