Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Are You Ready for January?

Are you there?
How are you doing?
Holding up okay?
(Mr. LB took this photo last weekend.)

The tree is down.
The lights and decorations are all boxed up.
Company has left.
The days are short, and nights are looming.
And the bills will begin arriving soon.
January is said to be the most depressing of months for several reasons.
We are experiencing the longest nights of the year.
So what can we do?
Here are just a few ideas.
SAD (seasonal affective disorder) is a very real thing - even among children.
The 'natural light' light bulbs are helpful.
I call them happy lights - to keep SAD away:)
Face the light ~ be it a window or lamp, get that light.
We have spent the last month on a sugar high 
from the cookies and cocoa to the wine with dinner.
What goes up must come down.
Be sure to eat your greens.
I'm talking green beans, dark leaf lettuces, brussels sprouts, chards, etc.
Move! Get outside.
Take a walk, shovel snow, go ice skating, whatever it takes
to get some of that fresh air in your lungs.
Exercise is one of the best mood lifters, boredom busters,
and health builders there is - and it's free.
Missing the family/friends?
Write them a letter.
I know, I hear you saying, "A what?"
Really though, not a novel or even a multi-pager.
Just write a note stating how much you enjoyed the visit,
the yams just the way you like them, seeing the kids, etc.
It appears to be for the recipient, but it's actually a very healthy
thing you can do for yourself.
It's win-win.
Bills.  Oh yea, those things.
Hopefully you were mindful and didn't go too wild.
Either way, look at your finances.
Plot, plan, and set goals.
This might sound like a funny thing to do, but 
I like to set 2 goals:
one is very realistic and attainable
the other is more of an 'if we can swing it' sort of number.
Usually, we hit somewhere between the two numbers
which is still better than the minimum.
Just having the knowledge of what is owed
and what your plan is will alleviate a great deal of stress,
thus the saying "fear of the unknown." 
And lastly,  the longer evenings allow me to stitch 
so I actually look forward to January.
Whether your hobby is reading, doing jig-saw puzzles, or checking your
dentures for cavities, consider this your retreat time.
It won't be long before we are starting seeds
and putting together our project lists for the warmer months ahead.
Remember all the times you uttered the words,
"if only I had a little more time to ____."
Here it is.

~Just trying to help keep us all healthy and happy~

*Happy New Year*

Note: I am not a doctor of any kind.  This is meant as information only.
You are responsible for yourself and your decisions. 
If you are in need of help either medical or mental, please seek it from a professional. 

Until next time,
Nimble Fingers and Even Stitches

Monday, December 21, 2015

Our Tree Has No Lights (& a mini tour)

Christmas is at our house this year.
Last year we were the ones to travel
so didn't do any decorating, tree, anything.
Since this year it's here, 
we went and found a nice little tree last weekend.
There were several 'bottoms' along side the road
where people had chopped down a tree then 'topped' it.
We also found several that people just topped.
That kinda gripes me.
We decided to stop and get one of the bottoms along side the road
to use for boughs and such.
One of our little traditions is lighting the candles on the tree 
Christmas eve, but we usually have lights as well.
This tree is so simple,
I decided we would just have the candles and a few select ornaments.
I have several sheep ornaments and since we are the lambs...
We don't leave them unattended.
Usually, we sit a watch them burn for a little bit and chit-chat quietly.
Our unfinished mantel has lots of boughs and a few simple splashes of red.
Instead of our regular stockings, I just hung a pair of old wool socks
that are in need of some darning.

The nativity scene where the TV used to be.
And a simple candle with pine always seems comforting.

Wishing you all many happy Christmas blessings.

Until next time,
Nimble Fingers and Even Stitches

Sunday, December 13, 2015

Starting Your Own Christmas Traditions

A little tale to inspire you.

When my children were wee little munchkins~
you know that age when blankets get dragged around,
and teddy bears are still being slept with,
and yes, they were much shorter than me,
that's when it started.
It might even have been a school night.
It's difficult to remember.
I do remember they wanted to watch a Christmas movie
and had half their bedding hanging around the living room.
Of course, this time of year it gets dark about 4 o:clock.
We had eaten dinner already so
I said, "Why don't we just have a slumber party?"
We (even me) made up a giant "bed" on the floor.
I made some tea or cocoa and popped corn.
We turned the lights down and proceeded to watch our movie. 
By the time the movie was over,
they were nearly asleep.
There was no fussing about bed time.

And we did so the following year,
and the year after that, and the year after that.
You get the idea.
It's silly really, but I miss having my 'little' kids here
to do such a silly thing as watch
a movie that we've seen multiple times
and sleep on a hard floor with someones foot in my ribs.

The kids of course remember,
after all, it was just yesterday right?
Perhaps someday, they will continue it with their own children.
(Not too soon - they're not quite thaaat old.)

Another thing that started before my son was even born
was the pickle on the tree.
The story is that long ago when there was little or nothing to spare
for gifts,
a father said he was going to hang a pickle on the tree.
There was but one gift, and
the finder of the pickle got the gift.
I loved this.
I would hang our pickle ornament on the tree.
Christmas morning they would come down the stairs excitedly
and begin looking.
They seemed more excited about the pickle prize
than their actual gifts.
The pickle prize was usually something small that required a second person.
Actually, I think one year it was pick up sticks - like I've shown.
So, they still both got to play/share.

We will go get our tree today.
I've had so many people say, "You don't have a tree yet?"
No we don't.
This is actually a little early for us to get a tree.
We usually get it about a week before Christmas.
There are little 'steps' we enjoy throughout the season.
Christmas doesn't revolve around the tree or decorations for us.
It's making each of those little steps special
as we look forward to that special day
and carrying that in our hearts even after the tree is out the door.

If you have endearing traditions, I'd love for you to share
a comment so we can all enjoy.

Merry Christmas
Until next time,
Nimble Fingers and Even Stitches

Thursday, December 3, 2015

About Gifts and Giving Ideas

Each year about this time, I struggle just a little.
Consumerism and advertising seem to be wearing battle armor
and are charging full force towards all of us.
Of course, this is no new song I'm singing here,
but it almost makes me want to hide.
I'm not stingy ~ I love to give,
but who wants to give something because there is a feeling of obligation
or give with the thought that it will be unappreciated and/or end up
in the trash within a month.
(Mom's gift wrapped in a dish towel ~ she likes "fat birds")

That said, the piles of gifts we unwrap are a little different in a couple ways:
first, they aren't piles and 
second, the items themselves might not look like gifts to most folks.
We have a rule in our family~
no gift (with the exception of the kids) can cost more than $10.
Yep, that's right, not $20 or $50, but $10.
After the first year or two of books and slippers,
it began to get more fun.
It's a whole different mind set.
We shop throughout the year thus thinking of giving to loved-ones often.
I have only a gift card to purchase for my grandmother
and a specific stocking stuffer for hubby.
(Grammy is nearly 92 and doesn't need stuff.  She enjoys being able to
go to the store for the few things she needs and having the card.)
We don't have to take out a loan for Christmas:)
Children no longer wish for a simple toy or sweet treat.
Expensive techno-gadgets of various sorts have replaced those things.
Children have no idea how to play marbles ~
you know, draw a big circle in the dirt.
Dirt! Heaven forbid! Get the hand sanitizer quick! (sorry)
They don't know about clearies or cats eyes or how to hold a shooter.
That makes me a little sad 
as do the expectations they seem to associate with the season. 
If you can at all follow me here to where I find myself and can relate,
(am I really alone here?) then here are some gift ideas for various ages.
Marbles~ and show them how to play.
A Jar of Color~ whatever the recipient's favorite color, fill the jar with items of that color: handkerchief, gum, treats, shoe laces, screw driver (or sm. tools,) you will be surprised what you find when looking for color rather than items.
Reusable veggie and grocery bags~ lots of options here
Food~ this one is obvious, but here are a couple gifts in a jar which are nice
because they don't have to be 'dealt with' right away: 
Wool~ various forms available: scarf, mittens, gloves, socks, dryer balls, hat
Not Paper~ We have several quilters in the family so those gifts are wrapped in fabric, but alternatives you might use are: handkerchiefs, dish towels, pillow case, cotton shop rags, etc. - use your imagination
And now my favorite~ an idea from the three wisemen
Gold: of course jewelry which isn't for everybody, but you can get creative and use candies in gold foil, hinges/hardware for a crafter, yellow stoneware, sports team items if gold is one of the team colors, 'dewalt' tools are yellow (gold:)
Frankincense: perfume or candles, spices - something fragrant
Myrrh: oils - either edible cooking oils or soaps/lotions etc (made with oils) 
I realize these are not the original uses and intents for the items, but they do serve as a reminder of what the season is really about.

There is a message on the reader board at the bank across the street from where I work offering Christmas loans.
To me, that seems a bit (read a lot) offensive.
I hope nobody I truly care about would want me to go into debt to buy them a gift.  The truth is Christmas is what we make it.  We have the opportunity to celebrate a very special birthday.  
The gift of love and friendship are all that we can really wish for.
Without those two things what are we?
I'll have more soon,
but for now, enjoy this Christmastime.

Until next time,
Nimble Fingers and Even Stitches

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Spicy-Scented Christmas Ornaments

That sounds much better than
"This year I want a smelly tree."
In addition to Strung Popcorn, our tree is going to don a variety
of natural fragrant ornaments including dried orange slices,
and these yummy smelling ornaments.

(This recipe is from 'Taste of Home Magazine' about 20 years ago.)
First thing's first:
gather items needed~
3/4 c. applesauce
1 c. cinnamon
1 Tbl. ground nutmeg
1 Tbl. ground cloves
2 Tbl. white glue
(I used homemade pearsauce, because that's what I had.)
In a medium bowl, mix all ingredients.  It will be a little 'glumpy' at first.
Don't worry, just mix it together like you would cookie or pie dough.
It will smooth out.
Then roll it out to about 1/4" thick using cinnamon as you usually would flour.
Choose cookie cutter of your choice.
I'm not sure why, but I thought the little squirrel would go well
with the star and rocking horse.
Maybe I just thought it belonged in a tree.
Mine ended up a little thinner than 1/4".
I'm not too concerned.
Continue to rework your dough, roll out, and cut until there is not enough
for another ornament.
I set the remainder in a tin can with a little water on the wood stove.
Once they are all cut out,
use a straw to make a hole for a ribbon, or
I used a toothpick to poke a small hole 
since I will be using wire ornament hangers.
Be sure the hole goes all the way through.
These are pretty small ornaments.
If you are using a larger cookie-cutter, you might go ahead with the straw.
You can then set them in the oven on warm and
turn them over occasionally.
I'm not sure how long that would take, because
I cheated and set them on the dehydrator :)
It took about 1.5-2ish hours.
I can't begin to tell you just how good the house smelled.
You can use craft paint to embellish them, but
I will be keeping these natural.

After the holidays, 
you can do as mentioned above and crumble in a tin can
with some water on the stove as air freshener.
If you have munchkins in your home, please
remind them these are not for munching on.


Until next time,
Nimble Fingers and Even Stitches

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Family Activity ~ Campfire Popcorn Popper

The holidays are approaching soon.
If you need a little project to keep the young
and/or young-at-heart busy,
here is a fun little project you might try.
There are some pretty simple supplies needed:
a tin can (with lid - see below)
a stick - appropriate length 3' or so
a small nail or a wood screw
a drill or screw-driver
a dab of butter
some popcorn kernels
salt (optional)
possibly a chop saw or small hand saw
a campfire (or suitable substitute)

 Go ahead and gather your supplies.
When I open a can, I leave about 1/2-3/4 inch uncut so I can use it as a lid.
And oh yes, wash can - do I really need to say that? But if I didn't:)
 Cut one end of the stick blunt.
 I tapped a hole in the side of the can to make it easier.
Then use either a drill or screw-driver to attach the can to the stick.

Now go ahead and add butter and popping corn.
Note: I found only one option for actual popping corn.  All the other
options were for the microwave which I think is a bit sad.
 Close the lid so the kernels don't pop out.
If you have young ones doing this, warn them about the lid and
teach them how to 'use' it so they don't get cut.
(My belief is to teach children how not to get hurt rather than protecting 
them from the possibility of getting hurt, but that's me.)
 If you don't have a campfire, you could use a wood stove like I did here,
a simple stove top burner, or the burner on the BBQ.
Be patient. . . hear it?  One popped!
Let it keep going.
I have to say, the little kid in me lit up when it started popping.
You may then either eat your popped corn or string it up for the tree.

I do have a confession to make.
I don't usually eat or make popped corn, but I think it looks great on the tree.
Keeping that in mind :) my first go round,
I put the can in the very hot coals/flame and burnt it.
So the second go round, I only added about a tablespoon of kernels
to the can to pop.
This time I just found a moderately hot spot and waited.
They popped up beautifully, but that's why there's not much in the bowl.
Nothing like the smell of burnt popcorn in the house.
Go ahead and laugh, and learn from my mistake, I would.

It is a fun activity for young and old alike.

Until next time,
Nimble Fingers and Even Stitches

Monday, November 16, 2015


Elk season is now over, and
I am elkless:(
I had a prime opportunity opening day and blew it.
I couldn't get it in my scope in the couple of seconds I had
in which to act.
Instead, I got to hike, climb, and crawl many many miles.
But instead of whining like I would prefer,
I will show you some of the country we covered.
Opening day it was so windy, we had to brace ourselves
against the wind.
In my infinite wisdom, I told Hubby, "This is why you see
those witches stuck to telephone poles.  See we're in the mts.
so it's hunter stuck to tree."
Okay, so I'm warped. 

Above and below ~ opening day.
Then. . .
yep that's the snow-line. Yesterday, covered all this in a blanket of white.
We did see about 75 head in this draw, but all cows and branch bulls 
- no spikes.
An idea of how steep it can be.
It was exhausting, and I am still without elk in the freezer.
I'm a poor hunter.  It's not something I really enjoy.
I only do it for the opportunity of delicious free range meat.
I don't like waking up in the middle of the night to hike in the dark
to where we are going to watch the sun rise while freezing to death and
remaining 'out' until dark, then come home to cook dinner,
shower, and crash.
It's beautiful, but I'm a fair weather hiker.  

Well, as promised, I will soon be posting some fun ideas
centered around the holidays.

Until next time,
Nimble Fingers and Even Stitches.

Friday, November 6, 2015

~Elk Season~

I might not get to post much this week.
It's elk season, and I'm the only one on the mountain who drew a tag.
I joked that I would rent it out a day at a time:)

(back of my coat)

At least it's about 30 degrees warmer than it was last year at this time.
Wish me luck.

Note~ I have some great activities and holiday gift ideas I am working on
for upcoming post so am hoping to get my elk opening day so
I will have more time to post those.

Until next time,
Nimble Fingers and Even Stitches

Monday, November 2, 2015

Spokane Valley Quilt Show~ Techniques

This past weekend was the Spokane Valley Quilt Show.
I thought rather than sharing pictures of the
oh-so many beautiful quilts,
I would share a couple that used unique techniques.
First is the Poppy~

It uses a couple of techniques.
Many small pieces layered then quilted give the background almost
a Monet-like appearance.

It was interesting to see how this was all quilted together.
There was another one that was more of a mountain scene using the same
layering technique.

Then there was a quilt that used so many techniques,
it's difficult to keep track.

I was somewhat flabbergasted to say the least.
Applique, ruching, embroidery, hand-quilting...
And do you see it?
It's fabric turning like the quilt I am still working on.
The entire thing was beautifully done.

This show has become one of my favorites.
The people are friendly - both those who are working,
and those who are viewing.
It is professional, and the quilts are well presented.
If you are ever in the area at the right time,
 I would certainly recommend attending. 

Until next time,
Nimble Fingers and Even Stitches

Sunday, October 25, 2015

When Things Were Built to Last

Of course we've all heard about 
"in the good ol' days" and
"when things were built to last a lifetime."
Weather it was a car or a good metal axe head,
the oldies just seem to last.
Here is a perfect example~
For some time, I have attempted to be happy with
my big expensive Rowenta iron.
It's fine for Mr. LB's work shirts,
but for smaller more detail oriented projects,
it is just too cumbersome and finicky.
I had kept my little old Rival iron that I purchased many years ago
from a clearance bin for $7.00.
It worked okay, but the steam feature had issues
which is why I bought the new
"bigger and better" iron.
Well, a week or so ago, the Rival died.
Me being me, I couldn't just pitch it so I ripped into it 
to see what might be wrong with it.

A couple of things struck me as I broke into the thing.
First, it was put together in a way that the plastic pieces
clipped so they would break when pulled apart.
This wasn't a concern for me but meant it was not made to be repaired.
Next, the plastic type number was on the inside.
This meant in order to figure out if any portion of it was recyclable,
one had to dismantle the entire thing.
And lastly, the thing was just made to be temporary overall.
I was somewhat satisfied at least that I could recycle a portion of it.
It had many hours on it, so I really did get my $7 worth.

this morning, I wanted to work on a couple of smaller things.
The thought of using the Rowenta did not bring pleasant words to mind.
Then I thought, "What about......"
"Yes, it's right there."
"Let's just see....."
I knew it worked as far as getting hot, because I plugged it in
before I purchased it at an estate sale several years ago - for $3.
I thought it would look nice next to some old quilts I have.
I got it down, attached the water reservoir, and plugged it in.
I tried it on a scrap of muslin, and
whatta ya know?
It works perfectly.
It's small, light weight and actually steams the fabric.
I then unplugged it to let it cool so I could dust it all off 
before I used it on a real project.
I am thrilled.
It just got me to thinking,
it's something I tend to do anyways, 
but if there's something I need,
I'll probably search for something old on-line before running right out
and buying the new plastic version.
I believe in the saying "buy quality and buy it once."
That's actually what I thought I was doing when I got the Rowenta.
Little did I know it was actually what I was doing when I got
the little GE at the estate sale.
I suspect it will last a long time.

Until next time,
Nimble Fingers and Even Stitches