Tuesday, December 31, 2013

~Tying Up Those Loose Ends.... & Some Super Glue~

I think I am ready for 2013
to be a page in the past.
The day after Christmas,
I was taking a plate from the shop fridge to the compost pile
which should have been done long ago.
Being careful not to get any of that compostable stuff on me,
I slipped on the ice, went splat & broke the plate to boot.
Not long after the slip,
I went to add a log to the fire & burnt a knuckle.
Yesterday, the all-star match between 
my paring knife and me ended with the paring knife
being named champion.
I still have my finger - it stopped at the bone.
Mr. LB grabbed the super glue he prefers
which is the liquid.  I prefer the gel.
By the way, you should keep this in your first aid kit.
It's the same thing as skin adhesive.
The glue ran down my finger and glued my wedding ring
to my finger as well as to my other fingers.
I immediately pulled my fingers apart,
and it took a little bit before I got my ring to spin,
but there will be no removing it to clean it
until my finger heals.

So, onward and upward...
The good news is that Mr. LB & I treated ourselves
to a wonderful day of skiing.
And you will be so proud of me.
I am no longer just a green circle; I am a blue square!
Not a good one, but one nonetheless.
(Mr. LB is a black diamond)
In case you don't ski, those are the levels of difficulty of the slopes.
Mr. LB was born with skis on~ my poor mother-in-law.

The other fun and yes, I do realize that I am the only one 
who would qualify this as fun, is that I have been doing 
more de-cluttering.
We have had or have been a part of 3 yard sales in the past 4-5 years,
and we will be having another this spring.
I cleaned out and am still sorting through a room full
of 'goodies' that have never really had a home.
You know...THAT room.
I also cleaned out (de-cluttered:) the refrigerator.
I know it doesn't sound like fun, but it is so nice when
I open the door, and it sparkles back at me.
Honestly, how many open jars of jelly does one fridge need?
One would think it should look like
"Sanford & Son" around here, but surprisingly,
it is the fact that I take a bag to the bargain counter
nearly every week & have the stack started
in the shop for the yard sale
that keeps it all under control.
If you have not been there yet,
there is an amazing blog in my sidebar
Jes has a fabulous and seemingly endless
supply of both knowledge and resources on the topic
of home and home organization.
Every home has its own character, and
there are so many ways that folks make it all work.
She has a way of simplifying it and
making it beautiful all at the same time. 
I am hoping to start 2014
on a slightly more organized footing~
in order to keep it simpler and
enjoy the harmony that nature provides,
and we humans mess up.
I don't make new year resolutions,
but I do have ongoing goals.
One of my goals at the moment is
A few things to prioritize:
stuff vs. space
relationships (enriching vs. draining)
time vs. events/obligations
sanity vs. rushing
health vs. convenience
There are probably more.
Feel free to add your own to the list.

I am looking forward to closing the books on 2013.
So to each of you, I wish a very blessed and prosperous

Until next time,
Nimble Fingers and Even Stitches


Sunday, December 22, 2013

*~*~*A Little Christmas Stitching*~*~*

No laughing,
but after I finished writing my couple of cards
(to those who would otherwise think I was dead,)
I actually spent a little time stitching.
It's just a little quilt
made from the scraps of a much larger Christmas quilt.
I have had the stack of scraps sitting there
in my way for ages so decided to get rid of them this way.
They aren't finished and aren't really Christmas fabrics
but will make a nice little doll quilt
or table topper.

Sometimes these weird little projects
turn out to be some of the most fun to do,
because they don't have to be 'just so.'
So far that's how this one is-
just a fun little thing.

I wish you all a very merry
and blessed Christmas.

Until next time,
Nimble Fingers and Even Stitches

Saturday, December 14, 2013

*~*~*Last Minute Gift Idea - Sandcastle Brownies*~*~*

This is great for those who have everything.
Also, it is usable so we are not
decorating someones house,
providing them with 
clothes they will never wear
or a gadget to dust etc.

Just gather up a few things.

Sandcastle Brownies
In a 1 qt. jar, layer

1/3 cup chopped nuts
1/2 cup chocolate chips
1/3 cup flaked coconut
2/3 cup packed brown sugar
3/4 cup sugar
1/3 cup baking cocoa
1 1/2 cup flour

Then on a tag provide the following information:

Additional Ingredients
2 eggs
2/3 cup oil
1 tsp. vanilla

Mix well then bake in greased 8" pan.
Bake at 350 degrees for about 30 min.

I just printed it up on a little tag and attached it with a ribbon.
You can do several at one time if you have 
the need to do so.

PS: I like to use pickle jars - washed and sanitized of course.
We certainly wouldn't want pickle flavored brownies.
If you use a regular canning quart jar, 
the layers will actually look a little better
or thicker, but these are jars that I'll never see again.
I think of it as a great way to recycle.
You can also add a piece of fabric over the lid
for an even more festive look.

Until next time,
Nimble Fingers and Even Stitches 

Sunday, December 8, 2013

*~*~*Just How Cold is It?*~*~*

Last night when we went to bed,
it was -9 & -23 with windchill!
It is so cold that the water is freezing on the rocks.
Then as more water flows,
it flows over the ice and freezes even more.
This is the same corner from up river.

When I make soap,
I do the lye water outside
because it is caustic & can get up to 200 degrees.
I carried it in the house with my bare hands.
It was like holding a cup of hot coffee,
but there was no 200 degrees.

Now it's Mama Hen time.
If you have to travel - even just to work or the store,
carry a few things with you, please.
Small Shovel

It might sound like a lot,
but I just pulled a fella out of a ditch
Friday on my way home.
My tow rope is always in my rig,
but it was out for some reason.
What saved the day was
that the fella had one with him.

I will have another gift idea for you
here within the next couple days,
but wanted to encourage you all
to keep safe and warm.

PS - What's up with naming storms?  We used to have one name
for all the storms - Winter:)

Until next time,
Nimble Fingers and Even Stitches 

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Traditions, Ideas, & a Gift Tutorial

As many of you are aware,
we don't have television.
Over Thanksgiving,
we were at my in-laws
who seem to have it on for
all but a few sleeping hours.
On our way home,
Mr. LB said, "No wonder people act so stupid."
We couldn't believe what was in the shows
and especially in the commercials.
We didn't 'do' Black Friday &
find it abominable that big box stores
started their 'big sales' on Thanksgiving.
Yet we know - so be it.
There are things that are so much simpler
and for us at least, better.
When the children were just youngins,
they would string cereal on jute
and hang it out for the birds on Thanksgiving
so they could be thankful too.
It was great.
I love that memory.
The year this was taken was extra-special for the birds.
They also got bagels with peanut-butter and bird seed.

One idea I recently ran across
is to make little pockets for the Christmas tree.
When you are taking down the tree,
strip the needles from some of the branches,
and put them in the pocket for in your dresser drawers.
Then you can be reminded of Christmas
every time you open your drawer.
I thought it was a great little tradition
so here's what I came up with.

I made a very simple version
and will probably make a few more
just for a few friends.
(Just letting you know: I used some scraps I had.)
Also, I used a machine, but they would not be difficult to do by hand.
I like the more primitive look (in the real sense of the word)
so I tore a strip of tea dyed muslin at about 4 inches wide.
Then cut at about 11 inches long
Depending on the width of your fabric,
you can get 3 or 4 pockets from one strip.
Then tear an alternate color at about 1/2 inch wide.
You will need 2 that are about 4 1/2 inches long
and one that is about 4 inches ~ the width you tore your muslin.
I wanted the selvage across the edge so left it.
I used a small scrap of iron on interfacing.
This is where the button hole will be.
Also, on the second one (green) I stitched one of the
1/2 inch strips across this end and liked it better than without.
At the other end, I stitched under about 1/4 inch. 
Stitch a button hole in the end with the interfacing.
(Not done in the picture yet.)
Lay the two 1/2 inch strips along the sides. 
Fold her up and stitch along the sides
(after button hole is sewn of course.)
See below~ 
 Sew button in place.
Fill with pine needles and Christmas memories.

You could get as fancy or as detailed as you wanted.
I thought about stitching "NOEL" on one.
I may or may not do that.
I do like the one with the extra strip of color.
(The green along the selvage.)
If you know someone uses a fake tree,
you could stuff it with cedar shavings.

Other than a floral arrangement and using the Christmas napkins,
I don't decorate until a week or so before Christmas.
I do enjoy Christmas,
and like to keep the focus on the real meaning.
I know others do so differently~ 
it's all good.
Wishing you all Peace, Happiness, and Harmony
this Christmastime.

Until next time,
Nimble Fingers and Even Stitches

Monday, November 25, 2013

Decking the Halls with Nature

Here are some more sticks:)
I little different then the last 
I posted about.
They aren't difficult,
just a little messy.

You will need 5 sticks
roughly the same size,
some craft wire (or strip those little twist ties,)
and some needle-nosed pliers.
(Never mind my tea)
I chose mossy sticks for this star.
You could spray them white or silver etc.
to suit your decor.
Again, I prefer natural.
Lay them out in a star shape
before wiring anything.
You might need to put one over or under
another because they aren't perfectly straight.
Then wire the points together (using the needle-nose pliers) 
wrapping any of the wire tails to the back.
Once you have all five points wired,
wire at least a couple of the places
'in the star' where the sticks cross.
I made two different sized.
The taller one is about 16 inches tall.
The smaller one is about 8 inches tall.
I might have to do a really big one.
We'll see how ambitious I am.

Until next time,
Nimble Fingers and Even Stitches

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Company Coming for Thanksgiving? Inexpensive Memento Idea

These are simple and add a bit of sparkle to the season.
All you need is:
Borax, boiling water, pipe-cleaners, and a jar.
(oh and a pencil and scissors)
If you have company spending the night,
you could have them twist up their snowflake
of pipe-cleaners at night.
There are a ton of possibilities:
a simple asterisk, a star, or something more detailed
like the one above.
Hang the snowflakes in a jar
supported by the pencil across the top.
Boil water.
Add about 3 tablespoons of borax to each cup of boiling water.
I like peanut butter jars, because they have a wide mouth.
I let my borax solution cool for about 10 min.
so it wouldn't melt the jar.
If you are using a glass jar,
you don't have to wait.
Just pour the borax solution over the snowflakes.
Now... go to bed.
When you awake~
A couple of notes:
*You can use colored pipe-cleaners & it will add
a little tint to them.
*You can add a few drops of food coloring to the borax solution.
*Be sure that they are not touching the bottom
of the jar (they'll stick.)
*And lastly, be sure that the jar is filled to the top of
the snowflake.
Or it will turn out like this one - oops
I almost didn't show you,
but sometimes it's as helpful to know
what not to do as it is to know
what TO do.
I like this one, but the top wasn't submerged.
They are fun and sturdy for what they are.
Kids (& adults too) can take them home
with them and hang them on their tree.

Fun for the whole family.

Until next time,
Nimble Fingers and Even Stitches

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Gift Idea for Next to Nothing

I guess sometimes I get a little
not sure what word to use,
but let's just say not very merry
when I hear children wanting lists of
very big expensive items for Christmas.

The sad part is that often times
they don't know about some
smaller items that can bring
possibly even more fun
if the grown-ups would spend time
teaching them how to enjoy simple things.

all that said,
over the next month-ish
I will be posting some very
inexpensive gift ideas
for young and young at heart.

Today's Featured Toy~

Wooden Pick-up Sticks
There are only a few items needed
to make these:
25 Wooden Skewers
Food Coloring with a smidgen of Vinegar
(blue, green, yellow, & red,)
Black Permanent Marker
These are the longer ones, but I found them at
the thrift store for 89 cents.  Pick-up sticks
are only about 7 inches long so I just used
a pair of angle cutters to shorten these.
At the store, there are shorter ones available.
If you think the points are a little too sharp,
just use a pair of fingernail clippers to nip the ends.
Then, with just enough vinegar to make enough dye
to cover the sticks,
mix several drops of food coloring and vinegar
and roll sticks in it.
You should have 6 of each color.
I did this on a long serving plate,
then set them on news paper to dry.
I didn't use gloves so my fingers looked like Easter eggs,
but after doing up some dishes,
you can hardly tell:)
The last one is the pointer.
Using the permanent marker, color it black.
I used a rubber-band then
tied them with red jute and a little points tag.
Believe it or not,
until just a couple years ago,
Mr. LB had never played pick-up sticks.
The kids and I taught him how.
He was pretty good at it.
We talked, laughed, and tormented for over an hour.
Family time is a real gift. 

In case you too have never played:
Keep the black stick out (this is the pick up stick.)
Hold the others together &
let them fall in 'a pile' on a table or flat surface.
Usually, the youngest player starts & play
moves to the left.
The player uses the black stick to try to pick-up
another stick without moving any others in the pile
(so only the targeted stick should move.)
If any other sticks move, play goes to the next person.
If the stick is moved away from the others successfully,
then that player gets another turn.
When all the sticks are picked up,
add up the points as follows:
Yellow 10
Red 25
Green 40
Blue 50
The player with the most point wins.

Until next time,
Nimble Fingers and Even Stitches

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Eating in Nature: Do's and Don'ts

I will state right away
that I am not a pro at knowing
all the 'foods' of the wild;
however, there are some basics that
I think it would be wise to know
even if you were just traveling.
Last weekend, Mr. LB went
motorcycling with a friend.
I went along, dropped him off, then
went into town to get some groceries.

I returned way before they were back
so I began to get my camera and walk around.
I found a bush full of beautiful rose-hips
so I went back to the pick-up and got
a cup so I could pick some.


As I was picking,
there were several people who
asked what kind of berries they were.
One fella even said, after I had answered him,
"Are they edible?"
I told him they were.

I didn't think rose-hips were anything weird,
but evidently a lot of folks
don't even know what they are.
And just for your knowledge,
you are supposed to wait until after the
first frost to pick them.

So I decided to show just a couple
very common things.

Elderberries can be eaten just as they are
or made into such things as:
jelly, syrup, or of course wine.
They are a little seedy if you eat them just plain,
but the juice is very flavorful.


I only know these as coyote berries.
Do Not eat these!
They are poisonous.

Blackberries are common; however, 
there are two kinds around here.
The ones with the big fat leaves are good.
The ones with the skinny pointy leaves are bitter.
The berries look the same, 
but the flavor is reeeealllly different.

These aren't uncommon things,
but I sure get the questions
when I am picking them.

Until next time,
Nimble Fingers and Even Stitches

Monday, October 28, 2013

A Frugal Idea as Old as the Hills

I needed a little rug for in front of my sink
I had a couple sets of sheets that were
just for wrapping furniture or 
'just in case' moments.
I cut them into strips,
sewed the strips together,
then rolled the whole mess into
a bowling ball:)

The next part was the best part.
I gave it to my mother who crochets.
It was returned to me in the form of a rug.
How perfect is that?

This rug was made with 4 queen bed sheets.
The strips were cut about 1.5".
The finished rug measures about 17"X40".
I do have another one that is round so
your options are not limited to squares and rectangles.

If you crochet, this would make a 
great Christmas gift.
I try not to decorate other people's houses,
but these are to be walked on so
if it is getting muddy by the back door,
you know it's working.
One other tid-bit,
if you can find all cotton sheets,
you can dye them.
If they are cotton/poly,
the dye won't take so you should find
a color that you like as is.

Until next time,
Nimble Fingers and Even Stitches 

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Candied Citrus Zest Recipe (like Airheads)

Right in time for Halloween.

I have had this recipe forever
and finally got around to giving it a whirl.
They look just beautiful.

1 pink grapefruit
4 oranges
6 lemons
6 limes
8 cups cold water, divided
6 cups sugar, divided

1. Using a vegetable peeler (I used a paring knife) peel
rind from fruits trying to include as little of the bitter white pith
as possible.  In a large saucepan, cover the zest strips with
2 cups cold water.  Bring to a boil; drain and rinse zest
under cold running water.  Repeat procedure two more times,
using fresh water each time.
2.  Return blanched zest strips to the saucepan.  Cover with 4 cups 
sugar; add remaining 2 cups water.  Bring to a boil; reduce
heat to a simmer.  Continue to simmer until zest is
translucent in color, about 10 minutes.
3.  Remove from heat; cool and drain.  Lay strips on a wire rack
set over parchment paper.  Allow to dry for at least
4 hours at room temperature.
4.  Toss zest in remaining sugar, coating completely.
Transfer to an airtight container.  Store at room 
temperature for up to 1 month.

Warning: when I ate them, I made a
"Kodak face."  I am not the sweet/sour 
sort of candy lover.
My son thinks they are great.
(They resemble the Airhead candy)
Also, when I tried to use a potato peeler,
I had issues so just used a paring knife.
They also make a great centerpiece though
I think they might be gone by the weekend:)

Until next time,
Nimble Fingers and Even Stitches

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Do You "Prepare" for Winter?

Around here, we prepare for winter.
Though there are a few more things 
I would like to see finished up before the snow flies,
I am beginning to ease up a bit.
Over the past couple months,
we have been working in the garden
in order to stock up.
And I am actually glad to say that I think
my love affair with my pressure-canner
has come to an end for the season.
I finished stacking the wood this morning.
There is still some bark mess to deal with,
but the wood is in order.
I dug a few spuds this morning as well.
I'm not sure why it is that digging spuds
makes me feel so successful.
Maybe it's because you have to trust
that they are there even when you can't see them.
Most of mine still have green plants 
so it might be November before I get to dig more.
I also pruned my tomatoes,
having just learned about that this year.
A dear friend told me she had finished
pruning hers.  It sounded so funny.
I told her my plants were loaded
with green tomatoes.
She said if you prune all the 'tops'
and any new growth,
the plant will feed the tomatoes better.
We will probably get one more salad
worth of lettuce from the garden
as it is beginning to bolt.
I feel pretty fortunate.
We haven't had to buy lettuce since June.
I just planted some in with a house plant
to see if I can get some to grow inside.

No matter where you live,
it's probably a good idea to be prepared
for at least a couple days
of no power, closed roads, or whatever
might come about.
If you have a barbecuer,
make sure it has propane (if it's that kind:)
It's still possible to cook on it in winter
~just not as much fun as in summer.
And last but not least,
don't forget water...
that one's pretty important.

All done?
Time for a cup of hot cocoa.

Until next time,
Nimble Fingers and Even Stitches