The rhythm of winter....

We are having winter full force..   I was worried about DH  getting home yesterday  as he had to take a group on the eagle watching cruise and it has snowed heavily nonstop all day. There has been a big winter road hazard alert posted. I have an anxiety attack when he is out on the road in this kind of weather.

But when suffering an anxiety attack I head for the kitchen....Last fall I was searching for recipes to use my bountiful supply of spaghetti squash from the garden.  I found a recipe for a frittata with spaghetti squash.  If you never have made a frittata, it is just a quiche without a crust... I actually think "frittata" translates to "clean out the refrigerator" So if you have eggs you can add anything...  This one has ham from Christmas morning, roasted red peppers, kale, goat cheese and 2 cups of cooked spaghetti squash..  Also started  a big batch of Italian meat sauce in  the slow cooker, baked a huge spaghetti squash ( partly for the chickens and partly to use in the ham and veggie frittata tonite) and tomorrow we will have the meat sauce on some of the squash and freeze the rest of the sauce. 
On Christmas morning I fixed Danish ableskivers for breakfast (a first for me)... a very light puffy pancakes which called for buttermilk.  I served them with blackberries and whipped cream.  Now I have 1/2 quart of buttermilk left over.  Found two buttermilk scone recipes which I will do - one lemon and one cranberry. I just hate throwing anything out so it is always a challenge to use up leftover bits -  a crazy quilter to the core.

Morris is all excited because there is a young coyote  in the barn...catching lots of mice I'm sure... Every time I go out Morris stands at the big  door of the barn and barks like crazy but doesn't try to corner it.  I can see it but not well enough to ascertain its age  or condition.  A few times over the years we have had an old coyote crawl into the wood shed or barn to die but this one seems pretty agile.   Keeping chickens in their coop while we have snow...they make an easy target against the white.    
So now it is full blown winter I have a big fire going and am doing the finish work on Madi's wedding guest book. Luckily we made our Christmas  trip to Seattle just before this storm but even still I held my breath over the pass both ways.  We arrived home safely but saw it all - snow, freezing rain, compact snow and ice, and flying slush from trucks.   We came across in the morning and by afternoon chains were required.  Won't see   that part of the  family until March now so glad we had a fun visit. 
 On the way over the left lens of my glasses fell out I saw it hit the console and disappear.  I looked as well as everyone and it could not be found so I was practically blind as that was my only sighted eye.  The youngest granddaughter appointed herself "grandma walker" and guided me everywhere.  I usually travel with an extra pair but forgot them.  As long as I am home with  heat and power I really love winter.. there is a whole other rhythm to my life.  In another couple weeks I'll start planning  my garden.... just about the time the poinsettias have wilted and the amaryllis in the kitchen have finished.


A Welcome Visit

 One of my Alaskan granddaughters, Leigha, came for a short visit and left today.. As a teenager she decided she wanted to be a geriatric nurse and has never wavered from that goal.  After 10 years of working and putting herself through nursing school, she will graduate this April.  I am so proud of her.

Because of unusual circumstances she and her brother  spent most of their early years with us and we became especially close.. .

But even though she is now a grown woman, educated and beautiful, every time I look at her I see her like this in my heart...my cheerful loving sweetheart.

She had an older brother, Aaron, (on the right). 

This was the last time we were all together and just before I rode my bike off the mountain.
I wish he could have been here this week also.

Even though he has grown into my ginger-haired gentle giant, every time I look at him now this is how I see him in my heart.

There is something so special about grandchildren...


Buttons out of control

I love to paint in miniature on buttons.  It is something I can do under my super magnifying lamp and I can get totally absorbed in doing it. Its relaxing and satisfying and I wanted to get back into doing it regularly.

  But I had barely painted for over a year and lost control of the whole process. Selling on Etsy really stretches my limits to stay disciplined and organized.

Just keeping track of an inventory of items as small as buttons was a challenge from the very
beginning.  I tried sectioned storage boxes, flat trays, plastic bags and they all left me frustrated.  But I finally found a workable solution.

This was a hanging earring organizer and it has worked really well. I can get 10-15 buttons into each pocket and find them easily.  The buttons don't get to this stage until they are posted on Etsy so you can see that I had very little inventory on line...pitiable little!
On the back side of this I have a hanging  shoe organizer with all the mailing supplies.

It's not that I didn't  have buttons...  I had little trays of  them everywhere in every stage if completion. Many were just drawn in pencil and others were partially completed.  I usually work in batches of five and would start a batch and get side tracked and start another batch.  I had literally stacks of trays of incomplete buttons.

Then I had trays of completed buttons just waiting to be put on Etsy which requires scanning, formatting, resizing, and the Esty red tape... all very time consuming.  They also need signing, shanks attached, put in tiny plastic bags and inventoried. 

Often I find a tray at some stage of this process and I can't remember just where or what I was doing with them.  Now I try to remember to leave a sticky note on the tray to help me.

Then there are all the odd piles that materialize while I am sleeping or in the shower.  There's always odd buttons on my desk and I can never remember how or why they are there.

And another pile on the upper left of  my painting
table..these are usually there because I am unhappy with some little detail and want to fix it... But I seldom remember what it was I was unhappy with by the time I get around to looking at the buttons.

I usually work in two or three batches at a time to use the same paint palette.  Here is a current batch of hummingbird in process.  It take about 5-7 days to finish a batch from sketching to sealing.

Then I have a pile in a basket from the last time I sold at a booth and they are still on cards.  I need to get them off and online.

I figured if I did nothing else for an entire week I could get it all under control again.  Well I did it for an entire week and now I am just finished the second week and realize that with luck and perseverance  I will be lucky to be able to accomplish this goal by the end of the year. 

I know you have noticed how often I admit I don't remember... I recently stocked up on sticky notes at the dollar store and am using them all the time now.  I have added a lot of buttons to the Etsy but have many more to go..  After the holidays stop by the shop and take a look. https://www.etsy.com/shop/olderrose  Once I get things back in order I can start painting valentine and spring motifs...



Projects everywhere


Projects everywhere... and making progress on all fronts.  I did finish the vine part of one side of the spider bag and it is getting a good stretch. I used a silk ribbon back stitch and wrapped it with more silk ribbons in different shades of green..

 Now ready for adding webs... fun part.

Making the jewelry is helping to fill the time I can't stitch and it feels good using all the stash I had accumulate over the years for "some day"  Well now is the "some day"  It starts with just adding bits and pieces to a pile on the table.  This time I especially wanted to use an old green brooch with sirens on it.  When the pile gets large enough I start fussing with it.  In this pile are 4 old necklaces, some filigree findings, a bracelet and assorted beads.

I have several of these forms that work great for draping bits and pieces to make final decisions.  I am close to actually starting to disassemble parts and reassemble them for a new life.

I had lost complete control of the Etsy button site and have finally tackled it.  What a mess of half-finished buttons, expired buttons, buttons to be carded and posted, etc. ..  It didn't help that Etsy made a lot of changes in the site.  Hope to finish that project next week and will feel redeemed as it has been nagging at me for literally months.

And somehow I have lost my phone... On a positive note I had some leftover duck in the freezer and am inspired to use it in some puff pastry that needs to be used.  Should go well with braised red cabbage and roasted beets...

Also today finishing up a secret project for granddaughter  Madi's wedding reception... can't photo it yet.


Everything falling in place...

Everything is falling in place and now all I have to do is relax and stitch and stitch and stitch.  Look at the cool fabric that I found for the lining.  How appropriate is this for a spider bag..
I've started on the velvet with the vines and it shows up so well against the black.  I'm doing a back stitch with silk ribbon and then going back over wrapping it with more silk ribbon.  I want to get all the vine elements and webs done early on when it fits easily into a hoop. 

I used potassium permanganate last night to antique a few  ribbons and laces.  I never have good luck with that stuff even when I use it really diluted it is too dark.
I got it all dried and ironed and put away.  I want to jump ahead to the ribbon but know I need to do the groundwork first.

I cut these bamboo handles off a thrift store bag and they are perfect for this piece..

As with any interest I have I always buy too many books and end up only using very few...  whether it is cooking, gardening, needlework etc. and ribbon embroidery is no exception.  I have a lot of ribbon embroidery book and if I could only keep one it would be this one....Ribbon  Renaissance by Helen Eriksson  For me it is how she builds her bouquets and the smaller elements are the icing on the cake.

Every page is eye candy.  Just look at the detail in the smaller flowers... delicious.  This book is still readily available, new or used.  See how she ruched the edging on this pillow.  I used that technique on one of my cottage books and want to use it on the top edge of the spider bag.  It's elegant but doesn't snag or catch on anything.


Defeated but flexible!!

DH left for Israel early Thanksgiving morning and I headed out to spend the morning in the barn.  It was one of those rare winter days when the sun is shining and no wind.  The sun heats up this big room in a jiffy and I went through a lot of bins pulling fabric and trims for the spider bag.

He was hardly down the road and I set up two tables in the living room.  One with all the small projects I want to work on while he is gone and this includes Madi's guest book, the giant green capris, the eyeglass cases, and a green necklace. Another table has all the spider bag materials. No cooking.... just going from project to project as the spirit moves me and eating turkey and dressing for breakfast on a paper plate.

Today I was going to actually start on the bag and I did.  I spent the ENTIRE morning cutting out all the pieces for the bag plus the lining, fleece lining, and the interfacings.  But try as I might I couldn't figure out a stress-free way to partially assemble it and embellish it.
Since this was to be a "no stress" winter project I finally gave up.  I put all the pieces in a bag and will finish it later for another project.  I don't even want to look at it now.....for months.
So defeated but flexible, I decided to just do a ordinary tote-like pattern for the spider bag  and luckily I had enough crushed velvet to do it.  I want to get all the vines on the bag before webs and flowers so step one was to sketch out the vine patterns on freezer paper.  This was all free hand and really loose.

Then I roughly repeated these vines to the back of the velvet (with fusible tricot).  If it were critical I could have transferred it with some transfer paper but since it was so rough and loose I just did it freehand.  Then I did a running stitch on the lines.

When I turned it over I had my vine pattern on the black velvet without any markings on the velvet.  Over the years I have worked many project designs from the back like this.  Especially if it is white, textured or dark material.  The spots you see are light reflections on the velvet.  It is going to be impossible to photograph.  I will work the vines in silk ribbon.  Then I will add the webs and   will add the flowers and leaves the last thing before I assemble the bag.

Again my friend Shirlee surprised me with a special package in the mail..  It was all this silk ribbon that she said she would never use...  What a treasure.  I have it all sorted by color and size and can hardly wait to use it.  This whole project is like a sweet treat and I will stretch it out and savor every step.

Another project that just slipped in my agenda unbidden yesterday  is this necklace.  I never wore it because I never had earrings and decided to make some and one thing led to another and it got a complete makeover.  I may still never wear it but if I do I now have earrings.

The winner of the bag pattern is Cyra in New Zealand... Send me you address Cyra to olderrose@yahoo.com and I will pop it in the mail...


Lost is found...and a giveaway!

My missing  bowl turned up tonight.  When the plumber was here a couple weeks ago, unbeknownst to me,  he used it underneath DH's sink upstairs to catch any leak while he was changing the faucet... DH went to put a mouse trap under his sink before he left for Israel and  found the lost bowl...  
 In the meantime I bought one on Etsy so now I have two...

And I had to apologize to DH because I kept accusing him of doing something with it...

Tonight I sorted through my laces and discovered I have enough lace leaves for 2 or 3 bags.  I swear that when I shut a drawer everything in it multiplies.  I also found I had bought this bag pattern some time back and now I have two of it so I'll have a giveaway.  Leave a comment if you would like it and I will pick someone at random on Saturday...

A mystery, my new pants, the lizard and misc.

First the mystery.  I had a bowl just like this.  I   had it for SIXTY years.  It was my "bread bowl", my "sour cream rolls" bowl, and my double batch anything bowl and it was huge.  Not only that, I kept it on the same spot on the same shelf for the last 37 years... And when I went to use it last week it was gone.  We have looked everywhere inside and out to no avail. Absolutely no idea what happened to it...a true mystery.

I saw this pair of capri pants on the internet and I thought they might go well with the lace jacket for granddaughter's wedding.  So I ordered them and decided to order one size larger because it is much easier to take things in a bit than to let them out.

I liked the look of the tapered leg and it was supposed to be a stretch fabric which would be comfortable and I loved the color and   they had pockets.

Well they came and here is what was in the package.  I still love the color, they are well made, and the fabric is lovely.. But obviously taking them in a bit is not an option and I would have to be six feet tall for them to be "capri."  I am going to take them completely apart and see if I can make them fit.

I finished the pet lizard button for Ella's granddaughter.  It was a challenge.  His name is Bask!

It has been months since I updated the eye situation.  The most important update is I have a new doctor.  The pain from the side effects of the treatments was almost intolerable and I knew I needed to find help  ....but changing doctors is not that easy at this age. 

First there are not all that many retina specialists around here and the good ones aren't taking new patients and the ones taking new patients may or may not accept your insurance. But my opthamologist used her personal influence to get me in with the retina doctor of my choice and all that pain is behind me now.

 I had high hopes for a while the retinal occlusion (blood clot) would dissipate and sight in the right eye would improve but instead it has worsened and although I have some sight in that eye the occlusion makes it   look like everything has gone through a shredder.

So I am left with only the peripheral vision in the left eye which is like on the left... Nothing in the middle and blurry on the outside.  But with lots of lamps and magnification I can do a lot...the hardest part is accepting what I can't do and moving on...  sometimes "moving on" entails a day I call a "wailer"... but they are fewer and further between


Now about the spiders!!!

Spiders have fascinated most major cultures for centuries. In Ancient China it was believed that seeing a spider drop down from its web  was a certain sign that you would be blessed with gifts and good luck from heaven.  Romans  had a favorite  precious  stone they carried for luck upon which a spider was engraved.  Egyptians associated  spiders with riches and carried spider charms at all times.. 

Throughout the history of crazy quilting spider webs have been used as embellishments on crazy quilts. During the Victorian era they were thought to bring good luck to the quilter and they became a necessary part of each crazy quilt.      It is  rare that I do a crazy quilt piece that I do not include  a spider and web on it somewhere.  I do it for tradition and to pay homage to every woman who has put her needle in crazy quilt in the last 100+ years.  And a little good luck coming my way wouldn't hurt either.

So many times embroidered spider webs look like they were laid out with a ruler and every part of the web is perfectly spaced.  Spider webs are not like that and I love it when they look natural.

For spider web inspiration I always look to Helen Stevens, renowned English embroiderer but on the bag I want to have every web be unique.

Another resource I have is a quilt I bought on e-bay several years ago.  It is entitled "Anachrophobia" and was stitched by award winning quilter Lisa DuCoing of Nevada.

I have tried often to get a good full size photo of this quilt but I gave up because the beauty of this quilt is in the detail.  The ribbon and seam work are exquisite.

There are spiders and spider webs in almost every patch and each is unique.
She combined a wide variety of fabrics mixing silks, cottons, fabric flowers, buttons and beads and top stitching on the rose fabric.

In addition to beaded spiders there are beetles, butterflies, dragonflies, etc

I love owning this quilt and find new delights every time I look at it.  There is just one thing that has always  bothered me.  If there is a masterpiece askew on the wall, no matter how beautiful the painting your instinct is to reach out and straighten it. After countless hours of detailed work on this piece it was finished with uneven machine top stitching around every patch and it detracts from all the other beautiful needlework..

Finally I've decided that a good use for my large supply of narrow vintage laces is to use them to frame these gorgeous squares and hide the uneven machine stitching.. A good deed to make my hands happy.

Now the next step is the modify the bag pattern, draw the vine work and to select the fabrics.  DH is taking a group to Israel and leaving Thursday morning so I will wait until then to drag out all the fabrics for my spider bag....

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