Saturday, December 31, 2011

Out with the old.....

Happy New Year's weekend!  We've been keeping busy.  Even though we were late in putting up our inside Christmas decorations I felt a need to clean up and sort and decided to take them down on Thursday.  As is my wont, I made the job harder than it needed to be.  Have you ever had the crazy idea to cut the lights of a 7ft pre-lit Christmas tree?  550 lights?  OMG  All I can say is think about it before you start. What a job!  My hand is still sore from the wire cutter.  But I did it!  I really like this tree and look forward to putting it up next year with some small LED lights, not the blazing bright light it had.  I couldn't even look at it in the dark!

I meant to finish these pillowcases before Christmas so I could put one in The Tramp's stocking.  Didn't do it, but they are finished now and on the bed.  I bought the fabric on a whim when I saw it in the store.  I just love it.

Since it was so sunny, breezy, and balmy today we figured we'd better take advantage of it and take down the outside lights.  It was so gorgeous I first took a walk around the pond.

I could hear the kingfisher chattering from the trees.  He's across the pond in front of the white house.  He is very hard to spot and never lets you get close so I was thrilled to spot him and get near enough to snatch a couple of photos.  At max zoom of course.  :-)

There he is! 

The mergansers are hard to get close to as well.  These are the first decent photos I have of them.  They swim away so fast!  There have been up to ten of them on the pond at one time.  I'm assuming it's because the fish population is recovering nicely.

There are always robins in the bradford pear trees harvesting the fruit.

Ah well.  Back to work.  The Tramp decided to sort by type and carefully tie up our light sets.  We lost four sets to squirrel damage and half of one other set stopped working for no visible reason.  We've learned our lesson.  Next year we won't hang lights on the trees.  :-)

The dogs basked in the sun on the porch.

Ngaire wondering when it will all get more exciting.

Maisy basking happily in the sun.

Are you done yet?

How long do you want me to hold this pose?

The sun is too bright!

Ivy alertly watching for movement in the neighborhood.

Gosh it was a beautiful day!

Of course then we decided to have a major clean out of the garage that took until dusk fell and aching backs said stop!  :-)

Oh my!  I hear fireworks outside.  Happy New Year!

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Coming up for air....

Where to begin?  This has been a busy few weeks.  The pictures pile up but I don't take the time to post.  We've had so many late nights doing other things!

This is a fabulous photo of Grand #2 at a Christmas party.  His brother had the same face paint but would not let his picture be taken.

And look at Grand #3.  Such joy at receiving a Wiggles book for Christmas!  I wish I'd been there.  :-)

Christmas decorating was pretty low-key here.  I did score a whole bunch of snowperson salt shakers and votive holders at the thrift shop last week.  They look great on the table runner Mom made for me  few years ago.   I've had the Avon candle sleigh for about 30 years.  It isn't Christmas without it!

The HOA buys luminaries every year from the boy scouts.  A bunch of us got together to put them out in the afternoon.  Actually the kids did most of the work, we just cheered them on.  After dark The Tramp and I walked around the pond taking photos.  It's one of those times you wish you had a wide angle lens.  Our house is the second from the end.  Cars drove around the pond all evening to see the lights and luminaries.  The Tramp likes to think most of them slowed down to look at our house!  LOL  I doubt it.

I went outside around midnight, after most of the house lights were out and it was pure Christmas magic.

I have managed to fit in a bit of Christmas sewing.  I made this "Merry Christmouse" ornament for my bee's holiday swap and Mom got it.  Good thing for me, as I had forgotten to take a picture of it.

Chocolate was necessary.

The weather up to Christmas was so mild I had another day of sewing with all the windows open and fresh air blowing through.  Good thing too.  It helped keep me awake.  :-)

Actually, the real reason I was creeping around outside with a flashlight after midnight on Christmas Eve was to find arms for Mr. Snowman.  The bottom box held a new desk chair for The Tramp.  The smaller box, a shop vac.  The head box had t-shirts.  I managed to get it put together, decorated, hatted and scarved without The Tramp seeing.  I taped an envelope to one "hand" and a small gift to the other.....which managed not to fall off until we we were just sitting down to open our presents!  I think the dogs were a bit peeved they couldn't get to the front window.  :-)

The luminaries in the morning.  Only a few bags had gone up in flames.

Our old black microwave finally annoyed us so much we treated ourselves to a new white one and spent Christmas Eve afternoon installing it (after we went back to Sears to replace the wrong parts it came with...sheesh).  You wouldn't think so but it makes the whole kitchen so much brighter!  And it doesn't beep!  Yay.  Everything else in the house beeps, this goes "bing, bing, bling!"  LOL  I love it!

Once a year, on Christmas morning, The Tramp insists on having bacon and eggs for breakfast and I, as dutiful wife, prepare it.  I don't mind.  The rest of the time he isn't the least bit demanding.

While I waited for The Tramp to appear I also made (gluten-free) Clementine-Cranberry Scones.  A success!

I glanced out the front window and spotted three crows squabbling over one of the luminaries.

I'm not sure what the attraction was, but they dragged the bag back and forth until the sand and candle dumped out.  They managed to get the leftover wax out of the little cup, discovered it wasn't food and abandoned it in the road.  Too funny.

My "loot."  Kaffe Fassett, Peanuts, James Taylor, chocolate, and a fancy new cordless iron.  I am happiness filled.  :-)

The Tramp was also pleased and put his chair together right away.  Actually there are new sewing chairs coming for me too, but they haven't arrived yet.

I used my new baking book from New Zealand to make a dessert for Christmas dinner at Mom and Dad's house.  When I first glanced through the book I realized I would need some Golden Syrup.  Our other Christmas Eve project was cleaning out the pantry.....and look what I found!  I already had two jars!  Guess the pantry really needed sorting.

I made Mom a set of spiderweb placemats to match her dishes.  (Yes, The Tramp is wearing one of his Grinch shirts.)

I made Grands #1&2 four-sided placemats with four superhero fabrics.  Of course this is the only picture I have.

We unearthed a box of Christmas crackers out of the garage that we've been meaning to use for about five years!

I also made Pavlova.  Yum!  The Ginger Crumbles from the new cookbook are on the right.

The Grands had new write-and-erase boards which the Sailor Son said kept them very busy on the long ride in the car.  They were very serious about their drawing.  Note the new cars they each have by their sides.  Noisy!  OMG!  This was an enforced "quiet time".

The Sailor Son was able to stay over night so on Boxing Day the boys and I made a house out of the chair box.  We "builded it" and taped on a roof and a door.

How 6'2" Sailor Son fit in there with them I'll never know!

Even though it was getting chilly we promised them time at the park on the "fwings" before they had to leave.

Oh to be young!  Especially at Christmastime.  :-)

Sunday, December 18, 2011


The big Ralph Lauren shirt quilt is done!  Yippee!  The borders are "Ralph Lauren blue" and navy.  I think it looks great.  I have to put two more of these together in January, but for now I'm on my own time and I certainly have a few things I'd like to finish before the end of the year.  :-)

I asked the Evil Stepdaughter for a recent picture of Grand #3 and this is what I got.  Too cute!  I'm told he shared quite a bit of that jelly toast with the dog.  That would have been fun to see.  (Grandmothers can say that sort of thing!  LOL)

Our big excitement of the week (decidedly not cute) was a broken water pipe.  Our water bill showed that we were hemorrhaging water.  Ouch!  We found a leak in the crawl space and had it fixed.  I got a credit from the town and thought we were all done.  Heh.  I got the next water bill and it was still very high.  So we had the plumber come back and look everything over again.  I went back to the town and they showed me the readout from the new wireless water meter.  We were losing gallons and gallons.  Almost 80 gallons during the night alone!  Yikes!  We had a swamp developing on the downside of the yard and the neighbor's driveway was wet.  So the leak sniffer man came and painted an orange circle right in front of the foundation, next to the front stoop.  And back came the plumbers.  (They're loving us and our money.  Sigh.)

I'm glad I didn't have to dig that heavy wet clay!  Hard, dirty work.

It turns out the polybutylene water supply line had split.  We thought we might have damaged the pipe when we yanked out the big azaleas.  The plumber assured us it was way too deep for us to have done the damage.  (Whew!)  The house is 25 years old and was built in the heyday of polybutylene, which is no longer available in the US and Canada, after many lawsuits.  We will probably be fixing leaks for years to come as it has passed it's life expectancy.   (*&%$#@*!)

The plumber was not pleased to see that they ran the water supply in the same trench as the sewer line.  Worse, it was underneath the sewer pipe.  You can see it there.  The polybutylene had become stiff and brittle.  The split was where it bent to curve around to the other side of the sewer line. 

So until we decide to have a new trench dug and a whole new water line installed, this is our fix.  Up and over, which seems to be working just fine for now.

I have to go back to the town next week for hopefully another credit.  I was told that sometime next year we will be able to access our water meter readouts online.  That will be fabulous.  We'll be able to keep tabs on our sub-par plumbing without having to regularly visit the crawl space.  (Ick.)

Water issues taken care of for now, I went back to my sewing machine and finished up all the Holiday Blocks for the December guild meeting.  I realize I missed putting one of them up for the photo!  Oh well.  I would have been glad to win a set of any of them, but alas I didn't.

Kathie had fun at the guild meeting collecting all of "our" holiday blocks.  We made the kits up back in September using Bonnie Hunter's Happy Scrappy Houses pattern.

It was a fun meeting, with lots of tables so we could enjoy all the holiday food everyone brought.  We had a long parade of charity quilts and later on a wonderful show & tell.

There were endless door prizes too (which I also didn't win) and we also presented the Heritage Day raffle quilt that I didn't win to the actual winner.  Sigh.  It's a lovely scrap quilt and I wouldn't have minded lugging it home with me.  Really! :-)

My secret pal gifted me with some chocolates and the 2012 coupon book for a local quilt shop.  Cool!

As if I don't have any other sewing to do, I have allowed myself to get sucked into enthused about a new project.  Not a block-of-the-month....but a block-of-the-day!  Yep.  Send The Tramp a sympathy card now.  Well maybe not.  At least I'll be using up some of my mountain of scraps.  He's bound to like that part of it.  :-)  Jeanneke in The Netherlands has started a weblog called Building Houses from Scraps and challenged us to join her.  I took one look and I was a goner.  Cute little blocks.  And they are houses!  What's not to like??  LOL  And Jantine has generously created and shared a foundation piecing pattern for those of us who don't want to sew 366 house blocks by hand.  Yesssss!

Last night I played around making myself cute little templates for all the cute little pieces and today I made my first block.  Woot!  Ever so cute.  I love the idea of using novelty prints in the some of the windows and doorways.  Cool.  Something to hunt for.  Hee hee!

No less my eye anyway....are the dogs.  In this case, Ngaire.  I was sitting on the floor with her at Mom and Dad's house and she had her nose right under the chair rocker.

Yep Ngaire, I'm playing with the camera again.

Clearly I'm being very boring.




Sweet dreams!