Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Off to be a Good Little Consumer

The kids and I are venturing out in the snow to add our stimulus to the economy. On the list today: pick up some wine for visiting house guests, find a pine wreath for the house, purchase a welcome mat on which to wipe muddy feet, buy groceries, etc.

One other thing I have to buy - a card reader for the computer. Due to the fact that we have a newer computer and an older camera, a simple cable is not doing the trick to get pictures up on this blog. I am so thankful Big Fish knows his way around technology! Someday, soon, dear blog readers I can show you some pictures of the house and our tree.

Since Brookie has decided that cleaning the windows involves licking her finger and rubbing it all over the glass, I must now go and introduce her to the finer points of housekeeping. Stay warm and cozy!

Friday, December 11, 2009

A Discussion on Firewood

I had a chimney guy come out yesterday to put a lock-top damper on our fireplace chimney. Today we are supposed to get some firewood delivered. Hopefully, we'll be able to cut and stack our own wood in the future. In many situations the wood needs time to dry and season. We would like to use our fireplace now! I can't even imagine how much wood is required to heat a whole house all the time.

Our new house actually has a furnace system that not only uses oil but also has the capability to burn wood or coal. We are attracted to the wood burning idea (especially since it uses the ducts already in place throughout the house), but we'll have to stockpile more wood!

How do you heat your homes? And how do you keep the air from being too dry in your house if you do burn wood? Does a humidifier of some sort do the trick?

We did discover that energy efficient items like the lock-top damper qualify for a bit of a tax credit. I think it's about 30% of the bill that can be refunded. Make sure you are saving receipts for your energy efficient things - even the light bulbs!

In other news: the camera has been discovered and batteries charged. We are now missing the cable that enables us to download the pics to the computer. Someday we might get it together! In the meantime, we're going to bake cookies! I would like to make the batter for two kinds today: gullets and maybe giant nutmeg cookies. I'm a bit behind on baking, but I did go through ye olde cookbooks last night. I have about half a dozen varieties that I would like to get done. Then, I have two kinds of candy to make. I'm thinking a little tin of cookies would be a nice gift for the neighbors. Best to get busy!

Monday, December 7, 2009

To-Do List

After a great weekend of spending time both with our own little family and my parents and brother, we are now hoping to get a lot done this week. Sunday was actually the last day to worship with and spend time with my brother - a missionary doctor in Uganda. It was a great time, and I am so thankful for him! I am older than him by exactly 11 months and 3 weeks. Isn't there a term for that, like Irish twins or something? I am very thankful for email and skype. Sometimes it sure doesn't seem like he's that far away. We can actually send instant messages and all!

Anyway, my list of things to do this week is at least 15 things long! It also seems that when I cross one thing off the list I think of more things to add. It's hard to cross things like "unpack" off the list. That is an ongoing adventure. Today I found one of my saddles in a box, the high school newspaper that I edited as a senior, and about 200 ink pens I've collected along the way! Where does one store that kind of stuff? I have been tossing bunches of stuff, and as Big Fish points out "we don't need to buy anything, ever" I guess we'll be saving money!

I'm close to using the camera again. I've narrowed its location to the bedroom closet. I'm off to make a pot of chili for dinner and then work on that list! Ta ta for now!

Thursday, December 3, 2009

We're Home!

Now.....if I could just find my camera to take a couple of pictures of the progress! We are officially in our new (to us) house and working on unpacking. We have a lot to be thankful for, and we are enjoying the views of the woods around us. This morning I saw some kind of woodpecker from the kitchen window. We've hung a bird feeder and suet feeder and have sighted some nuthatches, titmice, bluejays, etc. Yes, the pesky squirrels have shown up as well!

Exactly five days after moving in we hosted Thanksgiving dinner for my side of the family. Dinner was actually the Friday after Thanksgiving, and there were 21 people in attendance. It was so fun to show our place to my dad's parents and his three siblings. I've started a guestbook to coincide with the beginning of life in the new house.

Well, blog readers, I'm back to the world of unpacking. We just hooked up to the internet yesterday, so I'm looking forward to "getting back to the swing of things" - as the saying goes! Hopefully, I'll be starting some crafty type things soon! I have some Christmas baking - cookies especially - to hopefully share as well! Cheers for now!

Friday, November 20, 2009

Hopeful-New-House No Longer!

We now own the house! I just got back to my parent's place after signing all the papers and unloading a pickup load of stuff. Busy times ahead as our belongings are scheduled to be delivered tomorrow.

The next post I write should be coming from our new place. Hopefully, we'll get the ol' internet hooked up soon.

Come on for a visit. The door is open!! Just don't pay any attention to the boxes.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

House Update

Well, we are in the final push! Tomorrow (Friday) at 10 a.m. is the scheduled closing on our hopeful-new-house! This past week has been a frantic scramble to get it all together. I think our mortgage broker has been doing most of the frantic scrambling!

Today I discovered I needed to take our down payment in the form of a cashier's check. Well, the bank with which we have our accounts does not have any branches in the area! We had to do some quick thinking and phone calling. It looks like Big Fish will be able to wire the money while he is in VA picking up our belongings with the moving company.

Did I mention that I had to get power of attorney to sign the papers for Big Fish and I? Just another detail we had to take care of this week. I can't wait for the big sigh of relief that will happen after the papers are signed!

As I told our mortgage broker, we sure do have a lot to be thankful for (even with our closing day being pushed around). As another friend in a very similar house situation described; we just have to realize that this is all part of God's plan!!

One wonderful event this week for which we are mightility thankful: the arrival of my brother! He landed in Philly yesterday from his job as a missionary doctor in Uganda. He'll be home for about 3 weeks; we'll get to see him next week! Brookie has been coloring lots of pictures in preparation for her uncle's visit!

Monday, November 16, 2009

Knitting News

I'm having a love affair with the cable! In my very limited kniting experience it is one of the most fun stitches to do. Check out some pictures of my latest projects; one of which includes a wonderfully chunky cable running right up the center of the scarf.

The rust yarn on the single needle is the very beginning of a hat for Brookie. This pattern I am teaching myself how to do a picot edge. I think the yarn color is so rich and yummy!

The last couple of pictures show Small Fry modeling his new hat. On this project I learned how to use DPN's (double pointed needles). This was a cute little pattern available for free on Ravelry.

We have received news that our closing date for the new house is scheduled for this Wednesday afternoon. Yippee! Now I just want to scramble and get my mom's kitchen curtains done. I'm working on the valance for the last window.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Follow Me

A new gadget (or widget) has been added to the right side of the blog. I don't really know the correct term; what is the difference between a gadget and a widget? You can follow me and stay on top of updates. Before I knew about following blogs, I manually clicked to each blog in which I was interested. This was a little bit of a time waster because often I was checking and re-checking blogs that did not have new entries. I love following blogs now, and I can really zip through and see who has something new. I hope it works for you!

Another area for my blog improvement is the banner. I would really like to make something personalized. This is a work in progress.

Today is a bank holiday (Veteran's Day), so we have no news on our closing date. Our mortgage broker is encouraging us with the idea that our closing should be early next week. We might be able to sleep in our new house next weekend!

Monday, November 9, 2009

Monday, Monday!

This is what happens to us when daddy leaves for the work week! Small Fry has to sit in a box to read his book, and Brookie has pj's on that do not even come close to matching. In mama's defense, daddy loves to see what fashion extremes he can go to in the choice of pj's including last night!

We have had a bit of great news just now; the second appraisal on our hopeful-new-house just came in the email! This appraisal is higher than the first, so we're hoping for a quick closing. We are thankful!

Today is project day. I've started to make some kitchen curtains for my mom. They're to be her Christmas present if I can get them done. She knows about them. Actually, she picked this awesome fabric!

It's a great little pattern on an almost wheat colored background. I have two regular size windows - about 40 inches wide or so and then a valance in the third window to make. Curtains are fun.....just a lot of straight seams!

Thursday, November 5, 2009

The Waiting Game and Fabric.

Our family is waiting - learning patience - for the second appraisal on our hopeful-new house! We are supposed to hear something today, but the appraisal company is based out of CA. We east-coasters hope that we will hear something tonight. I've always wondered if people who travel a lot for work have problems with time changes!

I did something rather adventurous today: I took some of my handmade items to a local shop! (I know, I totally lacked a transition there.) Tapas, located in downtown Sewickley, takes artists' work on consignment. They took some of my things! I most appreciated the time the owner took with me. This really is my first time approaching a store, and she was most helpful with suggestions. I really, really need to find cheap fabric and I mean cheap prices.

I lament the fact that a certain large store (name begins with a W) no longer sells fabric. Any suggestions you might have for finding fabric would be much appreciated. Maybe my research will help you a little bit. This site has served me well. It has great sales, and free shipping is available on orders over $35. Etsy has produced some quality fabric from individual shops. It just takes a little time to find sales. I have even bought fabric on ebay!

I am hoping to find some fabric suppliers in the Amish country when we move a little more close to that area. Lastly, it's a great idea to make friends with your local fabric stores. Fabric does go on sale, and they might be able to help you locate and order specialty items. A local yarn store, actually, carries a line of Kaffe Fassett fabric that I love. I asked if they ever put the fabric on sale, and the owner said she could give me 15% off right there! It never hurts to ask........ Oh, one more place I found cute fabric on sale was IKEA.

Hopefully, this will help someone out there! And hopefully, we'll have a house update soon! And hopefully, all the links in this blog post work! Thanks, Amy, for your help in that area.

Monday, November 2, 2009

We've Got Nothin'...

as far as Halloween costumes go! Check out all this great fun from other people:

In this post, I love how the whole family was involved. They look so great!
Have a glance at this amazing costume!
Amy did such a wonderful job with her little guy's getup.
This Curious George theme just killed me. Take a look!

So, what do we have? Here, this is what is on my camera from the weekend:

This, people, is a naked kid with 2 small pumpkins! His sister calls them "punkins".

Disclaimer - we actually had costumes that we actually put on the kids, but we didn't get pictures! I think I'll coin a new phrase for this situation: "parental error".
Enjoy your "punkins"!

Friday, October 30, 2009


One of the best reasons about moving to our new area is the proximity to some of our family. Big Fish's new job happened to land us in an area about an hour away from my parents! Then, most of my aunt and uncles live about two hours away. We are so thankful; of all the places Big Fish was applying to end up in western PA!

Today we went to visit my grandparents - Brookie and Small Fry's great-grandparents. We are hoping to see them again in a few weeks for Thanksgiving. Which we are supposed to be hosting. In a house on which we haven't signed closing papers yet. Where did the time go?

Here, Brookie and her great-grandma are modeling the latest in designer necklaces. Brookie's necklace actually has a lobster on it.

Sidenote: the second appraisal on our hoped-for house is to be done on Monday. We are looking for some great news (well, great price to be exact).
So, my grandmother set out quite the spread for us today. She always does! Her way of showing love is to feed us! We had beef stew; mashed potatoes; homegrown corn, lima beans and onions; chicken fingers; homemade applesauce; apple AND peach pie; etc. Good thing we raked some leaves beforehand as a kind of pre-calorie workout!

My grandfather, who is 90, just returned from a hunting trip to Colorado. My grandmother called him the Energizer Bunny today! Here he is thrilling the kids with rides on his lawn tractor.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

I've Been Fleeced!

Yesterday was a highlight of the week, knowledge-wise. I learned so much from a good friend. Barb has taught herself to spin; she knits beautiful sweaters and socks; she quilts amazing quilts; the list goes on and on.

A lovely afternoon was spent with Barb showing me some of her treasures. I saw some of her fleeces, some alpaca fiber, and some mohair. There was even a spinning lesson involved on her beautiful spinning wheel (I think she said it was a Baynes wheel). I was also able to take my fleece and begin to learn what to do with it!

The first thing we did was dump my fleece on her patio and go around the edges to remove the pieces of, well, poop. This is called "skirting" the fleece. We also tried to shake off the small pieces of wool called "seconds" that are a result of the shearer making a second cut to get close to the sheep's skin. The seconds are just too small and prickly to be made into yarn or anything else. Barb's dog, Rowan, thought the fleece smelled so interesting!

The next step was to actually wash the wool. I assumed that using hot water would felt the wool, but that is only part of it. Hot water is the best for cleaning the wool; you just have to be careful to not rub the fibers together much. We did 4 hot water baths of about 25 minutes each. It is not advisable to wash wool in your sink or laundry basin and let the water drain into your plumbing! The lanolin from the wool will just cause buildup. We used plastic dish basins and emptied the water in Barb's flower beds (great fertilizer!). The 2nd and 3rd hot water baths we used a gentle cleaner to help release the lanolin. Let me know if there is any interest in the product.

Next the wool needs to be hung in order to air dry completely. A drying rack or clothesline would be perfect. I washed a lot more wool today, and my parents' clothesline in the basement has been commandeered by wool!

There will still be a lot of "veggie matter" or "vm" in the wool. This would be bits of sticks or straw or hay. These can be removed by hand, as the wool is processed. I will be using some of the wool roving directly in my needle felting projects, and I hope to spin some of it into yarn. There will be further steps of carding and prepping the wool for spinning later on.

Monday, October 26, 2009

New (for us) House Update and Some Other Projects

Well, we have made it to one of the more crucial steps in the home-buying process. Drumroll, please.....the appraisal! We have had one appraisal already last week which came in low. This is not good, BUT there were some errors on that report. I won't bore you with all the details, but one example on the report documents the house as having 2 bedrooms and 1 bathroom. Believe me, we actually want to find a house with more bedrooms and bathrooms than the apartment we just came from. We are a family of 4, people.

So, we have asked for a re-appraisal hopefully to correct some of those errors. We get that news tomorrow. I'll keep you posted!

One project about which I am so excited is my fleece. Yes, I know a guy who had sheep! He sold me a whole fleece! For $5! He had Cheviot sheep, and the fibers seem to be sturdy and useable for a variety of projects.

I have had the fleece hanging in a bag in my parents' garage for a few weeks. It really needs to be cleaned, and I just happen to know another person who can help me. I'm supposed to take the fleece to her place tomorrow to start the cleaning process. I don't know a thing about this - I know we need some sunshine and soap and scissors. This is going to be fun; come along and learn with me. I already have ideas rattling around for dyeing the wool. I want to try some onion skins for yellow and some beets for purple! Pictures to follow.

Today I'm designing a pattern for a simple belt/scarf. Brookie and Small Fry are down for their naps, so I'll see what I can get cut.

Here is another recipe that was super enjoyable (and used up some more of the apples of which we had aplenty!). Oooohhh, I've always been so amazed with blogs on which people linked to websites by just clicking on the word. I hope this works. Enjoy!

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Apple Crisp Recipe

I asked my mom where she had found this recipe for her apple crisp. She said that a roommate of hers in college had baked it often. So, I have grown up eating this! The recipe is fairly simple, and it has a lot of wiggle room. Here is the recipe along with my adjustments:

Apple Crisp Recipe

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Butter a deep dish baking pan. Peel, core, and slice apples into the pan. I used 13 apples when I made this last week, and they were fairly large apples. The lady at the apple orchard provided me with Jonathan, Cortland, and Yellow Delicious apples. Remember that the apples cook down, so make a mound of them!

Pour about 1 cup of water over the apples, so they don't burn and stick to the bottom. Sprinkle at least 2 teaspoons of cinnamon all over the top of the apples.

Make the crumb topping by combining (with fingertips or a pastry blender or a food processor) 14 tablespoons of butter, 2 cups sugar and 1 1/2 cups flour. This is an area which I adjust. I probably make about 1 1/4 extra of this part of the recipe! What can I say, I'm a topping girl! Combine until crumbly. Sprinkle all over the apples - put it on thick!!

Bake at least 30 minutes. Make sure the apples are soft. For extra consumer enjoyment, serve with homemade whipped cream!!

Friday, October 23, 2009

Separation Anxiety

I know a lot of people are thankful for Fridays; the weekend is often a time to relax or maybe do things around the house. Our little family is especially excited about Fridays because we are reunited with Big Fish! During our time of transition, while we are waiting to close on the house, the kids and I are able to stay with my parents. Big Fish travels up to work e-a-r-l-y Monday morning and stays at a place close to his employment until Friday afternoon. We have done this since mid-August.

Needless to say, when the weekend comes, we are quite happy. My parents only live about an hour and a half away from Big Fish's new job and where we hope to live, but we are trying to save a little on gas money - not to mention how tiring in would be to drive 3 hours a day. We sure have a whole new level of appreciation for people who have long commutes or are separated from the families for a lot longer time period.

Moving from Virginia, we are SO excited to be much closer to my parents. Little weekend visits will be such a breeze! I think Brookie and Small Fry are excited, too. They love their daddy!

Hopefully this weekend, I'll share some pictures of the apple crisp that was made yesterday. It is now almost gone, so it's a good thing I took some pictures already! I would love to share the recipe, too!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

The Cast of Characters

So, I think I've come up with a plan for how to name the members of my immediate family in this blog. For now, at least, I'll keep their "real" names private. Maybe this will change in the future, but for the beginning of this blog I'll give them nicknames (thanks Kathy for the suggestion!).

My husband is an outdoorsman to the enth degree, and he particularly enjoys fishing. He prefers trout fishing in cold mountain streams that he wades right up the middle to hunt out his prey. He is always trying to explain to me how peaceful, beautiful and blessed the whole experience is; and I certainly agree that this all works for him. (I, on the other hand, have an unhealthy fear of watersnakes; so the whole wading in the water and feeling peaceful thing just doesn't seem to work as well for me. That and trying not to fall in - anyway, where was I?) So, my husband, will now be referred to as "Big Fish".

I picked this nickname for him not only for his love of fishing and trying to catch the big fish, but also because I definitely caught the big fish when we were married. He is truly a gift from the Lord!

The kids' nicknames stem from the fishing theme as well. My daughter, who is 3, shall be referred to as "Brookie". One of her dad's favorite fish to catch is a brook trout, and she is one of my most favorite little people! My son, who is 1, will have the nickname of "Small Fry" for obvious reasons. Maybe, when he is a strapping teenager I might change that! Here they are enjoying some arts and crafts time at my parents' table.

How about you? What do you do on your blog to name people that you love? I'd be interested to hear!

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Indian Summer in October

We have been enjoying the sunshine today! I think it might be technically too late to be termed "Indian Summer", but it sure was nice to take a trip to the thrift store today and not have to warm up the car! I didn't even put on a jacket. Having lived in FL before, I certainly know that 60 degree weather would NEVER be classified as any kind of summer; but it sure feels better than 30 degrees.

Yesterday, my two kids and I went to another thrift store. Sidenote: I still don't know if I should use their names in my blog yet. The jury is still out on that one. We are on a mission, people. We are searching for 100% wool sweaters to use in my felt projects. The man of the house still doesn't understand how I can take "perfectly good" sweaters and shrink them beyond recognition and then cut them up!

Here are some of our finds - along with my first uploaded photo! These sweaters have all been felted and are awaiting the knife er scissors.

This sweater says on the label "vintage". I'm assuming that it's really not that old - how would the manufacturer know that? Anyway, the color of this sweater is awesome; it's a great pink; any suggestions or guesses for what it will be used?
I'll be posting a picture or two of some finished products soon!! I need to figure out how to link my etsy shop to this blog. I think it's up there, but other people's blogs have pictures with theirs. I have to figure that out!! I have a lot to learn. Thanks, Amy, for the font suggestions. I hope this is better - more readable. Let me know what else I can improve!

Monday, October 19, 2009

Here We Go!!

Wow! What an exciting thing to be writing the first blog post of my life! I have read so many completely amazing blogs and have been inspired by many people to finally just jump in!

So much thought has been spent on thinking about what I would write on a blog if I ever had a blog that I just finally realized that I needed to start. There is so much to learn; so, blogworld, any tips or suggestions you have would be so much appreciated! One specific question I had: what is the protocol for adding blogs to my list of blogs I follow? I have so many good ones! Do I need to email everyone whose blog I read and ask if I can follow them on my blog?

Since our family is preparing to move into a new house - closing date in 3 weeks - this seemed like a good time to start documenting our lives and our adventures. Stay tuned for more on this later.

It's great to be here!