Sunday, November 30, 2014

Christmas Inspiration

Even Mother Nature
is in the mood for Christmas.
She's already decorating.
This was last night looking out our back door.
And this morning out our front door.
It's all dressed in white at a whopping 9 degrees.

I usually don't start decorating until about the middle of December.
That's plenty of time to enjoy it.
The decorations aren't what it's all about.
If you want to feel really fortunate,
you might read 'Foxfire Christmas.'
(I borrowed it from the library.)
I won't ruin it for you,
but it is amazing how ungrateful we are for so much,
myself included.

Until next time,
Nimble Fingers and Even Stitches

Monday, November 17, 2014

A Family Activity ~ Bird Feeder

About a year ago,
I posted that around Thanksgiving
we make a treat for the birds.
You can see that post here.

This year, the feathered little tweeties
get peanut-butter seed cones.
This can be a bit messy so be prepared.
The supply list is rather simple:
pine cones
peanut butter
bird seed
jute twine
and scissors, spoon, butter-knife, and bowl.
In case you are unaware,
pine cones close in the cold and open in the heat.
I only mention that, because
I have met so many people who don't know it.
If your pine cones are closed,
bring them in and set them by the stove
or even in the oven on a cookie sheet lined with foil.
Your first step is to tie a string of jute
(about 18 inches long) onto the top point of the pine cone.
Then use a butter knife to put peanut butter
in all the little crevices.
(I did notice I missed a spot or two when I took the picture so had to fill them in.)
Next, set the covered pine cone in a tray of bird seed.
 Use a spoon to cover it with seed.
Also, tip it on it's side and make sure there is seed
covering all the peanut butter.
Now it is ready to be hung in a tree 
for our feathered friends.
I have done this as a children's church activity,
and it went very well.
If you do so,
you might want to take plastic sandwich bags
so the children can take them home.
If you make them at home,
you can take them directly out and hang them in a tree.
Warning: try not to hang them next to where
the cats can easily get to them.

Until next time,
Nimble Fingers and Even Stitches.

Friday, November 14, 2014


For some strange reason,
I was under the impression that November would slow down.
We just received our first snow
which was also our first frost.
(Out our back door)
Well, God certainly does have a sense of humor.
I am the only one in the family - 
including brother, bro-in-law, etc. who drew an elk tag.
Oh yes, me who does not like the cold drew a spike only tag.
That means last Sat. and Mon. (had a commitment Sun.)
So Saturday~
woke at 4:30 AM - not unusual around here,
drove up the road to where we would park,
hike up hill 2000 vertical feet,
look around at absence of elk,
sit on watch while being wind blown by frigid wind,
eat cold beef stick for 'lunch,'
decide there were no elk,
walk around ridges for a bit,
hike (descend) 2000 vertical feet,
get home about dark,
still need to eat so fix dinner,
shower then crash.

repeat, but now there is snow to hike through,
saw a few elk - cows and branch bulls.
There was a spike, but he treed-up and 
I could neither get him out nor get a clean shot.
This weekend~
now with snow down here where it's "warmer,"
we will repeat last Sat. and Mon.
My only consolation is that God is getting a good chuckle:)
If you are so inclined,
maybe say a little prayer that I get one first thing in the morning.
Then we have all day to quarter and pack it out.

Hopefully, next week, I will get back with the program
and be able to spend a little more time
actually in the house where it's warm.

Until next time,
Nimble Fingers and Even Stitches

Friday, November 7, 2014

Washing State Quilt Show

In the last post, I mentioned that 
we went to the Washington State Quilt Show
in Spokane ~ now a couple weeks ago.
Before we hop into details and pictures,
I have to say, "This was probably one of it not the
nicest quilt show I have attended."
There were quilt police
so that food and drink were kept completely out of the areas
where quilts and vendors were.
There were volunteers with cotton gloves to answer questions
and show the backs of quilts
if one desired to see them.
In all it was said that there were about 500 volunteers.
The quilts were displayed nicely and by category
which aided in viewers choice voting.  
That was just the quilts.
I haven't even made it to the vendors yet.
They were wonderful as well.
It took us the better part of a day just to make it 
around to see all of them.
I didn't get too out of control.
I did find a couple pieces of fabric 
to go with some I already had so I can
get going on a project.
My weakness is books~
These two in particular. 
"When the Cold Wind Blows" and "Autumn Splendor."
Both include lots of hand stitching of course.
And on that note, I will admit to being fully biased.
I prefer hand-stitching over machine-stitching.
This was my favorite in the whole show.
It wasn't a ribbon winner, but it had 'something.'
Those little yoyos were about 1/4"-3/8".
These shaped yoyos were maybe 1/2".

The artistry of this one was fabulous.
An obvious ribbon winner.
 Sorry this is a little out of focus.
The quilt was up high for me as I am a bit vertically challenged.
Then a couple of old tops that I just liked.
I love the secondary 4-leaf clover that this pattern made.
Below, a true make-do top. 
Can you see where they pieced within the strips
to make them long enough?
If you are in the Pacific Northwest next October,
I would strongly suggest visiting this quilt show.

It's amazing how the standards and quality of a show
or event of any sort seems to resonate
and be both seen and felt throughout.

Until next time,
Nimble Fingers and Even Stitches

Friday, October 31, 2014

Always Learning

This lovely little vessel of sorts
was given to me years ago
because, yes I am the one who likes old 'stuff.'
It was handed down through some extended family,
and was at a bit of an end so it came my way.
It is from Estonia.
It appeared to me to be a crochet set
for some very tiny/fine lace.

What I learned after all these years...

It is actually a tambour set.
Tambour was the precursor to crocheting.
What we now call crocheting
was once called tambour in the air.
It is frequently seen on such finery as wedding veils
or beaded pieces.
Fabric was stretched over a drum/hoop
which is in conjunction with the tambourine and snare drum.
The hook actually goes through the fabric where
the thread is wrapped around, hooked, and drawn
back up through the fabric.
It's really like crocheting through fabric.
(There are several good youtube videos if you're interested.)
There are various sized hooks for different threads.
This finest hook is about like a snag in your fingernail.
Even with a dime to reference size,
it is difficult to see just how small it is.
I can't imagine the works this set created.
It was so amazing to learn what it actually was.
I love those little bits of knowledge of history and tradition
that would otherwise be lost to modernization.

I tell friends, "I know lots of useless information, just
don't ask me anything important."
(Example: Did you know the zipper wasn't invented until 1891?)
This is just one more of those little morsels.

Until next time,
Nimble Fingers and Even Stitches

Friday, October 24, 2014

~A Time To Pause~

Last year by this time, we had been frozen.
Our green tomatoes were scattered on newspaper
to finish ripening and
the fire was lit nightly.
So far this year we've been pretty lucky.
We have lit an evening fire a few nights.
It won't be long.
The weather is turning ~ blessed rain.
I've filled the lamps and we have one by one
closed the windows against the chill of night.
They are now all closed.
The last was the bedroom:
to hear the river, the frogs, and the quail
both nesting and waking in the ivy trees
is something we relish.
(out our bedroom window & back door)

It is now time for a bit of reflection
by the warmth of the fire with a cup of 
something warm to drink.
And so begins the season of inside,
a time to pause
and take notice of the things within.

I've been away for a bit
and I thank you for your patience.
Sometimes there are just those things that need tending to.
There was a nice weekend in Spokane
that I will share with you soon.

Until next time,
Nimble Fingers and Even Stitches

Sunday, October 5, 2014

No More Gnats (or fruit flies)

Some folks are just a wealth of knowledge.
As Mom and I were complaining about fruit flies
and now all the gnats,
a family friend nonchalantly said,
"1/2 cup vinegar, 1/2 cup of water and a drizzle of blue Dawn dish soap
in a bowl will attract them, and they'll drown."
It really works!
Can you see the little corpses in the bottom of the jar?
She said a friend of hers mixed up a little batch and 
set it outside thinking it would be nice if they didn't even come in
the house.  Evidently moths are also drawn to the solution.
There were so many drowned moths that the gnats and fruit flies
were fluttering over the dead moths trying to get to it.
I wish I would have known this when I was doing pears
since there were so many fruit flies, and
they seem to enjoy hovering about two inches 
in front of my eyes.
This is so much more earth-friendly
than bug spray or tape.

(you can find instructions for the fall table runner here)

Until next time,
Nimble Fingers and Even Stitches

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Harvest Blessings

There has been a lot going on around here
as there has been for many folks.
I'm not entirely sure just where to begin today.
My last post included a partial to-do list
some of which has occurred.
Today I found my kitchen floor.
You know, I think it was under there all along
and was just playing hide & seek.
At least we can walk across it without
it pulling our socks off now:)
The forests are open so we have brought in,
split, and stacked a couple trailers of wood.
We probably need one more good load or a couple small ones.
That's quite the workout, but is so rewarding.
A few days ago as I was picking 'more' plums, and
this nearly hit me in the head before I noticed it.
This whole limb will be pruned off 
so I am going to rescue it and bring it inside for the mantle.
The river is low but still sounds beautiful as
my head hits the pillow at night.
Tomatoes! Wow!
They leave me speechless.
There were a bunch that came up volunteer (in the potato patch.)
They are a little later than the ones we planted intentionally.  But look what they are doing.  The vast majority of these little ones go on the dehydrator to become 'sun-dried' tomatoes.  The ones in the upper right bowl are all from volunteer plants.
This year in addition to 'real' tomatoes,
we had little purple tomatoes and big orange ones - both good.

If you have never canned pears,
first let me warn you.
And second, 
you don't know what you're missing.
I have canned as much as we will eat,
gave away six big grocery bags full to some friends,
and they are still falling.
My neighbor was over today and asked if I wanted any pears.
I just laughed.
A good year for pears evidently.
Some folks don't realize that they fall from the tree green
then ripen over the course of about a week.
This was fantastic thought on God's part since they
are too tender, would bruise, and directly turn to mush
if they fell when ripe.

They are easy to can (one of the first things I learned to can.)
Just peel, core, slice, and top off with syrup.
Hot water bath for 8-10 minutes and presto.
I prefer a light syrup so use 1 cup sugar to 4 cups water.
Bring it to a simmer so the sugar dissolves before
pouring over the fruit.
And last but not least...
evening before last we fiiiiiinally had a little shower
move through, and as we looked out our back door,
this is what we saw over the mountain.

I hope each of you is finding your own form of blessings
and enjoying the tail end of the harvest season.

Until next time,
Nimble Fingers and Even Stitches

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Sensing the Season

The race is on...
lately there have been some beautiful autumn posts and pictures.
(out by our gate)
What goes through my head is
"Waaaaiiit! I'm not ready yet."
The pears are on,
The tomatoes are on,
The plums and cukes are still on.
(one day's worth)
All of these need preserving.
The dehydrater is going full bore.
The canning pots are standing ready.
The pantry shelves are still receiving.
The tree with eating apples is not quite ready yet.
The celery is taking its own sweet time.
We had about 6 weeks of 100 plus degree weather
this summer and had to keep things alive through it.
I want to reap and preserve as much of the bounty as possible.
There is still so much to do.
We still need to:
begin pulling and cleaning up the garden
as certain things begin to fizzle out,
get firewood,
as trees finish up, prune them (this is their year,)
clean chimney / ready wood stove, and
deep clean kitchen after harvest which isn't finished.

Yes, I realize this just seems like some
crazy person's to-do list,
but really it's about living with nature.
I don't want to rush it.
Don't get me wrong, I love autumn,
the rich warm colours,
and the crisp cool nights.
If we take our cues from nature
and the critters,
late summer is for squirrelling away our winter store.
The chipmunks have been busy,
the quail nesting earilier in the evening,
the bear foraging on fallen fruit of all sorts,
and birds soaring to warmer climes.
This is where we find ourselves.
I mean really find ourselves.
It's living right with nature:
it's just what is here now and
making the most of the gifts we are granted.
It's not rushing forward into the next season.
Our society forces this upon us by putting
Christmas decor out in October
and St. Valentine's candy out at New Year etc.
Neither, is it grasping to what is gone.
You might try swimming in the river,
but you won't last long - the water is cooling down.
All of this said,
maybe just appreciate the sense of season,
the now season.
It's an in between season with no real name,
no longer summer and not quite autumn.
It's the gift of today,
and isn't today just beautiful?

Until next time,
Nimble Fingers and Even Stitches

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Six Bean Soup Mix

This is really a Gift in a Jar idea.
The thing is that it can be a gift 
for someone else or for yourself.
I like to make up three or four at a time
for our own use.
These are wonderful both to give and to receive.
It's something that saves time
and can be used up.

Six-Bean Soup Mix

1/2 cup each (dried):
red beans
navy beans
pinto beans
lima beans
kidney beans
Great Northern beans

Then in a small zip-lock bag:
2 bay leaves
2 Tbl. dried minced onion
1 Tbl. dried parsley
1 tsp. dried minced garlic
1 tsp. dried thyme
1/2 tsp. dried oregano
1/2 tsp. pepper
1/4 tsp. red pepper flakes

And on top:
1 beef bouillon cube
1 vegetable bouillon cube 

Then for cooking:
1 can diced tomatoes
1-2 lbs. cubed ham, bacon, or sausage

To cook, remove seasoning packet & bouillon cubes.
Place beans in large pot with seven or eight cups water.
Let soak overnight.
Bring beans to a boil - let boil 2-3 min.
Remove from heat and let sit 15-20 min.
Pour off water.
Add 5-6 cups water, spices, bouillon, diced tomatos, and meat.
Now you can either bring it to a boil then reduce heat
and simmer for an hour and a half to two hours,
or my favorite...
Put it all in a crock pot or Dutch oven with low heat and leave it alone
until dinner time.

This is one of the ways I use up left-over ham.
Mr. LB loves it and even likes to have them reheated for a second meal.

Until next time,
Nimble Fingers and Even Stitches

Saturday, September 6, 2014

~Old Bedsheets: the Re-possibilities~

They're hiding in the backs of closets,
the bottoms of drawers, and even
in storage bins in the garage and under beds.
Old bedsheets!
We keep them - just in case.
In case of what?
If you have a small store of these treasures,
here are just a few ways to bring them back
to usefulness.

*If you are a hunter or butcher your own meat,
you can fold them in half then sew the bottom and
up one side and you have a great game-bag.

*Cut or tear them into even squares and use as 
napkins, paper towels, or handkerchiefs.
(I really don't like using or paying for paper products.)

*Tear into strips and make braided rugs.
(I know, but if I didn't include it on the list,
someone would have yelled at me:)

*Cut small circles and use to top canned goods
when given as gifts - tie with jute or raffia.

*Make jelly bags (for juicing fruits)

*Use a strip as ribbon and tie up a present.

*Cut or tear into strips and make a rope.
You can use one strip and with only your fingers
make a long chain - like you are crochetting.
Start with a half hitch - like you are going to tie your shoes.
Then pull long strip through to make a new loop - if you pull 
from the wrong direction, it will just untie.  You'll get it:)
Reach through with thumb and index finger.
 Pull through.
Keep on going.
This would be about a 2" wide strip since I used
a 1" strip doubled over.
The diameter of the 'rope' is probably about 5/8".
If you want a heavier rope, just use wider strips.

A couple other notes:
I prefer all cotton sheets.
They might not last quite as long, but neither are they 
made out of plastic (polyester.)

All cotton can be dyed other colors if you have a light color.

I didn't include quilt-making above, because if they are worn,
the integrity of the fabric might not be what I would 
want to use in a quilt that I put a lot of work into.
If the fabric is in good condition, by all means,
use it in a quilt.

Lastly, don't use them as shop rags - that's what 
old teeshirts are for.  Sheets have too many better options.
Old teeshirts aren't good for much else.

I'm sure there are other things,
but hopefully this gets your 'ideas sector' moving.

Until next time,
Nimble Fingers and Even Stitches

Thursday, September 4, 2014

~Sentimental Clutter~(before and after)

Being the nostalgic one of the clan,
plenty of items seem to come this direction.
For the most part, I am really grateful.
Over the past couple years though,
I have been on a mission to declutter.
It has been getting better and better.
It's when it comes to family items
that I tend to struggle.
My Uncle Joe passed away about 20 years ago.
Somehow, two foot stools he made ended up here.
They have been moved from one spot to another
gathering yet another layer of dust and debris with each shift.
I have come to the point that these things
(not just the foot stools)
need to either be used or move on.
My memories of him do not center around these foot stools.
He was a kind man, but I think he would call me foolish
for feeling like I had to keep them as I have.
These two little gems are not identical.
(I only got a picture of one at a time.)
The legs are different and were evidently covered
let's see...maybe 1972???
What would your guess be?
I decided to pull the rusty floral off and recover them.
We don't have much white in the house
and would probably use these in the living room
so I applied dark walnut stain to the painted legs.
Stain over paint (low sheen) created a very suttle look.
One has a plain wooden top that will need to be recovered;
however, the other was a suprise.
It had a finished black top.
After regluing the legs that were loose,
I decided I liked that one just as it was.
Imagine, they have been floating around the shop
for a good ten years at least,
and all it took was about ten minutes to have a wonderful
usable foot stool.
After regluing the legs, it is sturdy enough to stand on.
I really just want to use it while sitting in my chair,
but I also like the idea of sturdy.

I suppose the real point to all of this is,
if you have something that you are saving to pass down
to someone, maybe see if they want it now.
Items that are stored for decades are not being appreciated.
If I would have been offered my great-great grandmother's
entire dishes set when I was needing dishes,
I might have enjoyed them.
Now that I have inherited them, I don't need them
but feel obligated to have them.
(Any ideas on that one would be appreciated:)
My latest goal is...
I want it all gone by the time I die.
I hope it's not "things" that I am remembered for,
but life and love.
How nice would that be for my kids - 
just to have the essentials to deal with when I'm gone.
Ma's dentures, coffee cup, and quilt.
Pitch the dentures.  Argue over who gets the cup and quilt - done.
I know it's not that simple,
but I'll keep trying.

PS: I liked the black top on the one foot stool so well,
I decided to do the other top black so they will sorta match.

Until next time,
Nimble Fingers and Even Stitches