Monthly Archives: January 2013

Almost There!

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My lovely Amaryllis is blooming!  We knew it would happen soon.

This is what it looked like at around eleven o’clock this morning….

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See?  Just peeping out, a little color showing.  Happy!

 

And this is what it looked like at 9:30 tonight!

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Looks like it’ll have a lot of white mixed in with the red.  Awesome!

I’m thinking, I’ll have a pretty good bloom by morning.

There’s a small miracle happening in my kitchen!

(Those of you who are thinking, “This is not a miracle, this is a plant blooming,”  have never seen what I can do to a house plant…)

Stay Tuned!

 

That Wild and Craaaaazy Amaryllis

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Evenin’!

Time to post an Amaryllis update, as this plant is taking off like a rocket!

On January first, I posted that the Amaryllis was sending up a new bloom shoot, which was just about two inches tall, and the foliage was even tinier, barely measurable.

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Tonight, I took a ruler to it, and this plant, from where the stem emerges from the bulb, to the tip of the bud, measures a whopping 24 inches in length!  

The foliage, again from the point where the leaves emerge from the bulb, measures 10 inches in length and are starting to fan out.  The leaves feel thick and sturdy, and very smooth, very pleasing to the touch.

The bulb is still rolled tightly, showing no bloom color, but looking “stockier,” like it’s swelling, getting ready to bloom.  

It’s almost as cool as watching a baby grow, gaining weight and strength, in a mother’s womb!  The sense of anticipation, while not as intense as when you’re thinking of a child being born, is still there.   It’s a wonderful feeing, that anticipation of life…I just adore watching the life cycles of plants!!!

Here’s our “baby,”  growing strong, getting ready to bloom and make its beauty known to its little world…

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Stay tuned!  I believe this little wonder will decide to bloom soon.

 

Amaryllis Update

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Good morning!  

It’s just after 6:30 in the morning here in sunny Connecticut.  The birds aren’t even up yet. They’re hiding from the cold!  

As cold goes…this is normal January-in-Connecticut weather, temperatures out there right now are 9 degrees Fahrenheit,  expected to go all the way up to a balmy 22 degrees later today.  

GOOD!!!  Let the cold snap freeze the fungus that wiped out my garden last summer!  

As cold goes, I’m not about to complain about these single digits.  I won’t be playing Frisbee out there today, but I don’t have to deal with what’s happening in the upper Mid-West, either, which is currently sitting in the negative numbers, with much of Minnesota registering at negative 34 degrees.

Negative 34!  I just got the shudders thinking about it!

No…no complaints from me, here in summery Connecticut.  I just hope my car starts.

Now, here I am, warm and cosseted, enjoying the quiet of the breaking dawn.

I just took some new crappy cell phone pics of my amazing Amaryllis, which is growing like a loon, undaunted in its quest to bloom again.  I actually took pictures las week, but they came out badly, and the plant shot up another two inches in the last week, so I tossed those shots, and will share these.

What a plant!  It’s getting really tall, growing beautifully, not quite ready to bloom yet.  Its bud is still rolled up tightly.  

What I thought, because of general shape, to be a possible third bloom peeking out last time I posted pictures, is actually foliage coming up from the center of the bulb.  Mike corrected me on that, explaining that it is the plant’s leaves that come up from the center of the bulb.  Sure enough, there are leaves coming up strong, and they’re going to be gorgeous!

That I have a healthy green plant growing in my kitchen in the middle of winter is giving me the most ridiculous amount of pleasure and awe.  I find myself staring at this plant, looking closely to take in all of the gradient colors of the foliage and the bud, looking for signs of imminent bloom, of that time when those bold trumpets will pop and tell the world, “I am here, and I am happy!”

That’s a little while away, and I won’t even try to guess when.  I’m completely new at these plants, don’t know their rhythms yet.  

Here are the shots I just took…enjoy watching our Amaryllis grow!

Sweet, tightly rolled bud

Sweet, tightly rolled bud

The stem is hollow!

The stem is hollow!

These leaves will be gangbusters soon!

These leaves will be gangbusters soon!

Look at those color gradients!

Look at those color gradients!

It’s nothing short of amazing, isn’t it?  Here is a simple plant, all it asks for is sunshine, water and warmth, and yet it gives back one hundred fold, in peace and pleasure, and in that kid-before-Christmas sense of awe that I feel, watching it grow, watching it thrive, waiting for it to bloom.  

Stay tuned!

Felted “Shadow” Scarf Completed!

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I hope this finds everyone enjoying their day!  I know I am…I’m working on making toys, making scarves, making…well, whatever Miss Muse brings up! And, I’m delighted to share with you, my felted “Shadow” scarf is finished, washed, and ready to join the world! Shadow scarf Before Felting See those gorgeous gray undertones?  I’m calling this one my “Shadow” scarf because that’s the name of the sheep that the roving came from.  This scarf is about as natural as it gets, in that I got the prepared, ready-to-spin roving from Lynn, who got it right from Shadow.  I spun the yarn for this scarf on my favorite hand-made drop spindle, and crocheted it with a very basic extended single crochet stitch throughout.  The most decoration this piece has is in the finished ends, which I did in a reverse extended single crochet.  That’s crab stitch…with an extra loop.

I decided, when the piece was finished, to lightly felt it.  I didn’t want to lose all of my stitch definition, but I wanted a softer, less scratchy piece. So, borrowing from instructions for felting Artfelt (and I’ll go down that very cool road, soon…) I washed and rinsed the scarf, and, still very wet, layered with:  Plastic sheeting, then scarf, then at the leading edge, a rolled up dish towel, and rolled it all up.

Unbelievably bad rendering of Artfelt rolling technique

Unbelievably bad rendering of Artfelt rolling technique

This, I put into a nylon knee high, then tossed the whole thing into the dryer and listed to it go, “Bang!  Thumpthumpthump, Bang!” for about a half an hour.  (Please note that Artfelt instructions call for fifteen minutes in the dryer at low heat, but since I had a heavy piece, and am running a very apartment-sized dryer, I ran it through for half an hour.)

Now, I’m going to stop right here and share with you the very first thing I learned about this felting technique.

Never use a printed shopping bag.  Ever.

The video instructor on the Artfelt site claimed that “any plastic will do,” and, as far as possible melting would go, I’m quite sure she was correct in this assumption…the plastic, no matter what you use, will not melt in the dryer at low heat for fifteen to thirty minutes. I initially used a few Shop Rite bags, cut open, handles cut off.  What a great way to recycle these sunny yellow bags with their bright red market logos!  I did my thing, rolled it all up into the shopping bags, stuffed it into the stocking, and ran it through the dryer.  

When I took the piece out to inspect my handiwork, I thought, “Hey, this doesn’t look bad!  Maybe one more run….” and unrolled it all the way to find… A bright red INK SCHMOTZ all over my hand-spun, hand-made crocheted wool scarf.

Huh!!!  Okay, so now I’m standing over the piece, my hair tightly grasped in my hands to keep my brain from expelling its neurons out through the top of my skull, when my eye fell upon my hero,

 

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Eureka!  Sanctuary!!  Up went the prayer, down went that bar of soap into the big red schmotz, out came the water bottle to make sure I had plenty of slick lather rubbed in, and sure enough, the splat rubbed out, disappearing into the ozone.

I do not know what is in Fels Naptha.  I do not care what is in Fels Naptha.  I only know that I have yet to find a stain that this stuff can’t tackle.  I’ve tried a lot of stain removers in my time, and always come back to this, this 99-cent grocery-store miracle.  It just works.  That’s probably why it’s been on the market, mostly unchanged, for over 100 years.

So, my hero removed the big red schmotz, I rinsed out the scarf, washed it again in Jodi’s magic laundry soap, and did the Artfelt thing again, this time with some light weight clear plastic sheeting I had kicking around.  I took my “package,”

scarf ready to dryer felt

and tossed it into the dryer to ka-thump-thump-thump about for another half hour…you see, it isn’t just the heat that felts the wool..it’s the agitation! With this second time around, the scarf felted exactly the way I’d hoped.  I have a stronger, softer fabric with better drape.

Shadow Scarf Felted 02

My edges are smooth, and the stitch definition, while smoothed out a little is  still prominent, with very little loss of texture.

Shadow Scarf Felted Detail 02

All of Shadow’s natural tones are intact, even showing up better now, and I didn’t even lose any of the tiny hay bits!

Shadow Scarf felted detail 01

I’m delighted with this scarf, relieved that I didn’t destroy it, and planning on further exploring the wonderful world of Artfelt.

Stay tuned….

Introducing Amanda Grace Feets!

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I hope that this new post finds everyone enjoying the new year so far!

I’m still stitching like crazy, as usual.  My hands are almost never idle.  (They’re idle when I’m sleeping!)  I’m not in flat-out-get-it-DONE! mode, but comfortably stitching away at a wool scarf, very simple, in extended single crochet, that I’m trying to decide…to felt or not to felt?  I’m thinking, I’ll make the scarf and consult my Muse.

In the mean time, I am delighted to introduce you to my newest member of the Feets family, Amanda Grace Feets!

She’s tiny.  She fits easily into the palm of my hand.  She is not, however, delicate.  She came off the hook, openly and lovingly welcomed by her two brothers, Chauncey and Earl, and immediately started asking for a pin to wear, like her big brothers.

Here’s how it went….

“Welcome to the world, little sweetheart!”  I exclaimed.

“Hi!”  answered the new little toy.  “Where am I?”

“You’re in my house,”  I answered.  “You just now came off the hook.  May I call you, Amanda Grace?”

She thought that over a few seconds, and answered, “Sure!  I like that name!  Um…WHAT am I?”

“You’re a toy,” I replied.  “You’re a very special kind of toy, from a big family called, The Feets Family.”

“Family….” she mused.  “Does that mean there are more like me?”

“You bet!  You have two brothers living here, with me, and other brothers and sisters living with their people.”

“Or DOGS!” came the exclamation from the other side of the room.  “Some of our brothers and sisters live with DOGGIES!”

“And that,” I offered, would be your oldest brother, Chauncey.  He’s hopping up and down on his feets waiting to meet you.  Would you like to meet your brothers?”

“You bet!” she shouted, and started hopping up and down on her feets, too!

Chauncey and Earl were overjoyed with their new baby sister.  They instantly loaned her some of their pins to wear!  Then, they asked me if she would be living with us.

“Well, Guys,” I started, “She can!  If you all really want that to happen, it can happen.  Amanda Grace, however, is slated to go and live with a very nice lady named, Audrey.”

“Okay,” Earl offered.  “But can we talk about that first?  Maybe take a vote?”

Earl is very Democratic.

“Of course!” I answered.  This is a total Democracy, you can vote on anything you like!”

“Wendy is a Lee-Bray-Yell Deem-O-Kraf, like me,”  Earl proudly explained.

I didn’t even try to correct his syntax.  He gets the gist.  And he’s a Liberal.  So, it’s okay.

“And we’re peen-koo-sheens!”  Chauncey chimed in, in his big-boy voice.

“And Amy-Goo-Roomiez, too!”  Earl added.

Now, I had all three of them bouncing up and down on their big feets.  Even Earl, who is usually more reserved, jumped feets first into the excitement.

“So,” Amanda started, “Who is Aww-Dree?”

“Well,” I answered,  “Audrey is Christoper’s lady friend.”

“Who is Kissofair?”  she interrupted.

“Christopher is my son,” I answered.

“And he’s really COOL!”  Chauncey jumped in.

“YEAH,”  Earl shouted.  “He has toys, too!”

” ‘Cept he calls them, ‘Ax-shun Feen-gerz,’  Chauncey mused.”

“Yeah,” Earl agreed.  “He calls them Ax-shun Feen-gerz, but they’re still toys.”

“Yes, they are still toys,”  I said.  “Anyway, Audrey is Christopher’s special friend, and she’s very sweet and nice, and she’s totally into toys, like you.”

“She likes toyz?  Will she like ME?”  asked Amanda Grace.

“Yes, she sure does!  And I’m willing to bet that you will make each other very, very happy.”

“Hmmmm…Can I have a loopy thing like my brothers, and a closey-peen?”

Wow, the things these guys come up with!  What Amanda Grace was talking about was the safety pin and loop that her brothers have.  That started, at my sister’s request, as an alternative to sticking safety pins into their heads.  Mary didn’t mind the sewing needles..they are pin cushions, after all…but the safety pins sticking out of their wee heads grossed her out as total toy torture.  Now, the safety pin loop has grown into a Feets punk element that Chauncey insists all of his little brothers and sisters have.  This time, I didn’t have to wait for Chauncey’s input.  Amanda Grace was not satisfied coming off the hook as she was, and asserted herself for her own loop and pin.

I had that little request fulfilled in short order, and she preened for her brothers, showing off her new safety pin.  

They played for a while, playing word games, watching TV, and talking over what they wanted to do about Amanda Grace’s future.  Finally, they came to me, as a group, to disclose their vote.

“I think I’d like to go and live with Miss Aww-Dree,”  Amanda Grace proclaimed.  “I’d like to see more of the world!”

“And we voted with her,” Earl chimed in.  “We put it to a Deem-O-Kraf-fix vote, and we voted Yoo-Mam-Ah-Moosley to give Amanda Grace what she wants, to see more of the world.”

Chauncey, somewhat contemplative and ever-protective, asked, “If Amanda Grace wants to, can she come back home?”

I, of course, melted.

“Of course she can,”  I soothed.  “Amanda Grace, you can always come home if you want to, for a visit, or to stay.  It will always be your choice.”

Well!  That said, they got all excited again, and started hopping up and down on their big feets, chattering about Amanda Grace’s upcoming adventure.  They finally quieted down, after several hours of planning, and went off into their little toy slumber.

Amanda Grace stayed with us for several days.  When it was time to go, she went without a single fear.  Chris escorted her to Audrey’s house, and I was told the next that that she was welcomed with open arms, that Audrey fell immediately in love with her new yarn friend, and Amanda Grace, with her new human friend.

Looks like BFFs forever!!!  (and a baby brother or sister on the hook for Chauncey and Earl…)

chauncey earl amanda grace

G-Ma Ellen, You Been Widgeted!

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Darling G-Ma, you have earned your special place in my side bar, with your very own click-to-shop widget!

G-Ma Ellen has so many wonderful things in her shop, I didn’t know which picture to use to present her great site!  She has jewelry, rugs, mats, book marks, cowls and scafves…you name it!

Click on the very cool purple ear rings her (or on the widget) and go say “Hello” to this really cool lady!

G-Ma Ellen's Etsy Page

G-Ma Ellen’s Etsy Page

Have an Etsy shop?  Would you like a widget?  Write to me with your Etsy address!

New Flower Coming!

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My friends, I’m excited to let you all know that my diligent Christmas Amaryllis is putting up a new bud!  

I’ve been watching it for a couple of weeks, and now, it’s suddenly started to take off again.  If everything goes like it has been, I expect new blooms within a month.  Isn’t this COOL?

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And look next, at what I believe is a third bud forming, from the center of the bulb!

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See that little darling poking up, ready to greet the world!

What a plant!!!!  I will keep you posted!

Now I have a confession to make…I am an Enabler.  I have not only caused, but have actively enabled, my cat’s addiction to evaporated milk.

She’s lost some weight, her coat needed a little help…and I remembered she liked lactose-free milk.  I had canned milk.  So, I gave her just a teaspoon, and waited to see if she could tolerate it.  She did!  The next day, I gave her one more teaspoon, and waited.  A few hours later, a tablespoon…

And a four-legged, furry evaporated milk junkie was born.

So, her weight is coming up a little, her coat is improving, and she doesn’t have even a shred of lactose intolerance.  That’s great news!  It’s great news, because now I can not enter the kitchen without the cat begging, asking for, screaming for, more milk!  

Here’s my girl, with her “pathetic beggar kitty” pose, asking very politely for more evaporated milk goodness

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See the paw?  I wish I had the cell phone camera in my had a few days back when I asked her to, “Show me what you want,” and she went to the fridge and swatted the door…and then YELLED.

Precious Kitty!

Finally, today, I’ll share this with you all…I “quick” felted a bar of the new soap I got from Heart’s Creations at Etsy (see the side bar for the link!).  While the green peace sign is obviously made from dyed (commercial) roving,  the whites and gray  you’re looking at are so natural, the wool still has tiny bits of hay in it.  I leave it there, too!  

felted soap

 

The soap itself is so wonderful that my hands, after the wet felting process, feel and smell incredible!  That gray will be substantially lighter when the bar dries.  And this soap, a gift for my friend upstairs, comes with its own wash cloth.  I just love felted soap!

Hehe….I love felted…everything!

Time to go back to the hook!  I have a pure wool scarf, hand spun, working, and I need nineteen “Feets Friends” by the end of the month.  I also have two hats and a prayer shawl on deck.  Better get to hookin’!

Stay tuned….

 

Soaps To Die For!

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My friends, I just bought hand made, all natural soaps from an Etsy seller, and these soaps are so fantastic, I have to share.

I bought seven bars, in five scents, and a pound of natural laundry soap.  The laundry soap smells so clean and fresh, I can’t wait to start the wash!

As for the soaps…Wow.  I have here, “Soapy Clean,” which smells clean and crisp, and perfect for women, and even the most “manly” man.  Jodi also sent a sample of Cracklin’ Birch which is clean, fresh, and woodsy.  

I also have “Butter Cream and Coconut” soap.  I took the bar out of the bag and just closed my eyes to smell…just breathe.  AWESOME.  And get this, Jodi sells a natural, unscented Cocoa Butter soap that’s even better!

And that brings me to Jodi’s “Cherry Almond” soap.  Can I eat this????   No, of course not, but Darn!  What a lively, invigorating, amazing scent!

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Jodi’s soaps are all natural, hand made, loaded with stuff like cocoa butter, goat’s milk, plenty of essential oils, and scents to just dive into and engulf yourself in.

Her shop is in my side bar, just click through!  (Or just click on the soap.)

Next up:  G-Ma Ellen needs a widget!