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

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

They Are Plotting Against Me

I mean for me. . . .
no, against me. . . .
well, whichever???
Over the past several months,
I have spent lots of time and energy decluttering.
Part of this process included going through my fabrics.
It a most cruel process having to decide which to keep
and which to be rid of.
The other day, I was in a thrift shop down town and
happened to run into someone and, as it turns out,
we know a few folks in common.
(Small towns, it's more uncommon not to know someone in common.)
We chatted a bit about what we were hunting for.
When I told her I like to just see if there are fabrics
that could be use for stitching, she asked
if I ever used wool.
Well, of course I love wool.
She asked if I could use some pieces so I said sure.
I've had folks offer a piece here and there.
It's usually just that - a piece or two.
She brought me two large garbage bags and a big box.
There were pieces like the picture above and others
that were wool garments that had been washed.
She said she thought she would make a rug one time
but has never gotten around to it.
When I asked her if she wanted any of it back if I didn't think I would use it,
she almost "Noed" before I finished asking.
I have about 3-4 garments left to get the zippers out of,
seams opened up, buttons off, etc.

I've now come to realize, it's hopeless.
I am a fabric-aholic.
I don't think this disease is curable:)

Until next time,
Nimble Fingers and Even Stitches

Thursday, October 15, 2015

A Big Project Completed~ falling trees

Sometime back,
I mentioned that I had difficulty in cutting trees on our place.
There was one in particular that Mr. LB was not fond of.
It's a pine (which I love) that happened to grow in a very unfortunate spot.
Behind our shop and lean-to where the wood is,
there is an area that once had a falling down, rotting, wooden garage/barn
and two still houses as well as various scruff trees and brush.
The still houses went shortly after moving in 15 years ago.
The barn went about 5 years ago.
Gradually, we have cleaned up the area in hopes to park back here.

The only problem was - trees.
There was a huge cottonwood on the neighbors side that would
drop limbs, branches, leaves, and those sticky pods.
Then there was also our crooked pine tree.
I don't have a picture of the cottonwood while standing, but
you'll see the large rounds.
Now, usually if I consent to fall a tree, Mr. LB is immediately there with
chainsaw in hand, zip-zip like you would see in a cartoon.
These were a little different.
The neighbor's cottonwood was at least 4 feet in diameter at the base and
leaned in the direction of our shop.
Our pine was not as large, but leaned toward the neighbor's house.

Long story short (sorta) with proper notching,
jacks, pully system, and tractors, the trees fell towards the river
with no injury to any structure or person.

Here is the cottonwood already fallen, and the pine fell right behind it.

Then there was some cleaning up so the stump could be removed, and
the trees could be pulled from the river.
If we were to leave them, they were big enough that they would
most likely cause damage down river - not what we want.

It took some doing as the tree was well rooted, but 'we' finally got it.
It left quite the divot.

There it goes.

 And here's what remains.  You can see the cottonwood stump in
the upper right hand corner.

The neighbor is great on his tractors and back filled pretty well.

Then came getting those monsters out of the river.
This is the base of the pine.

Deciding the best way to lift them up and pull them out at the same time.

After much maneuvering. . .

And by the time Mr. LB was packing up, here's what it looked like.
Over by the lean-to are the fence panels that were removed in order
to fall the trees.

After a couple evenings, of moving gravel around and bucking up
the remaining logs, we finally got to park back here.
I didn't get a picture of it cleaned up before we started moving rigs
back here.  And yep, we have old rigs.
We don't worry about scratches and such when we go get wood
or haul things.  (These are both 4WD & not our daily drivers.) 
We'll get one more load of gravel at some point since there is still a dip
where the stump was, but it's so nice to have it all cleaned up.
Out front can now be cleaned up since there's nothing parked there now.

Until next time,
Nimble Fingers and Even Stitches

Saturday, October 10, 2015

Dipping Beeswax Candles

It's autumn. . .
Isn't it just delightful?
The days are getting a little shorter at each end.
One routine around here that I absolutely treasure
is that we set the coffee up in the evening with the timer so it is ready
when we awake each morning.
Mr. LB goes downstairs and gets our coffee
while I brush my teeth, use the facilities, and light a candle.
With the exception of a month or so in midsummer when it's already light,
I light a candle every morning.
The candle light is so much easier to wake to.
We sit in bed and drink our coffee by candlelight every morning.
Perhaps that's a little personal,
but I love that line Meg Ryan had in "You've Got Mail,"
"If it's not personal, what's the point?"
(Do you have a morning routine?)
Anyways, I go through quite a few taper candles this way.
I often find them at thrift stores since many folks use them for decor only.
I figure that's better than buying new,
but they are still made of paraffin which is a petroleum product.
I've wanted to dip my own candles for some time
using beeswax of course.
I took this morning to do just that.
The first thing I do is get the beeswax melting since that takes a little while.
You will need a tall slender 'vessel' (or olive oil tin:?) and a larger one for water
so that the heat is indirect.  (medium heat)
Then I got my wicks prepared and paper spread.
Here's my meager yet functional set up:
I cut #3 wick to about 27 inches long then tied a nut to each end.
The little hangers I just made from wire then tapped nails into a scrap of wood
and hung it from the cabinet pulls.  It worked pretty well.
I used a stuffing stick (for stuffing craft projects) to make sure the wax is all melted since it's not a transparent wax.
I then dipped each set twice.
This makes a good start so I then trim the nuts off 
leaving as much wick as possible.
I actually laid them on the counter to cut them but showed you this way
so I could hold the scissors and take the picture at the same time:)
All trimmed.
You'll notice the little black marks on the wicks.
I measured from the nut up to 8 inches and marked it
so I knew how deep to dip them.
That was a tip I had heard so tried it.
I won't do that next time.  It's unsightly, and
it's easy enough just to gage by the level of wax in the olive oil tin.
After trimming the nuts off~
These I put in a clean tin can (veggie can) on another burner (on low heat.)
When the wax had melted off, I carefully poured it back into the large
dipping tin - no wasting good wax.
The bits of wick, I'll pull off and throw in compost and reuse the nuts.
After a total of 10 dips~
At this point I used an old crummy knife to trim the ends blunt.
If you've never used beeswax, be forewarned:
it is extremely difficult to get off of anything!
Please do not use your good paring knife.
I dipped them 8 more times (so now 18 dips) and trimmed the ends again.
This leaves two final dips to round off the bottoms and
make them look nice.
For 8 inches tall, I dipped them 20 times. 
If I were making 10-12 inch candles, I would go about 25-30 dips.
Just so they 'look' proportional to me but fit in the candle holder.
These turned out just as I desired and will be a great size 
for the little candle holder I use each morning.
I do have to admit one thing.  I didn't have extra wax today.
If you are making these, you should have some extra so that
as you dip the candles and the level of the wax declines, 
you can add more to keep the level up so the whole candle gets dipped.
In order to get the last 5 dips, 
I used the law of displacement:
(a great example/lesson for students)
I filled a narrow bottle with hot water and put it in the tin of wax
to one side in order to bring the level back up,
but then I had to be careful not to bump the candles over on the bottle.
I'll have to get more wax before I make more candles.

Until next time,
Nimble Fingers and Even Stitches