Saturday, July 23, 2016

Green Grow the Rushes Oh

Our lawn is green! It's about darn time! It has responded to several years of TLC, including fertilizer, aeration, water and mowing.

When we first bought the house the front "lawn" was in reality a thistle field. The thistles were about 4 feet tall. We cut. We sprayed. We dug out plants. (We still fight the thistles... they aren't all gone!)


Because of all of the spraying, our "lawn" was more realistically a dirt field.
With a few patches of weeds and some tufts of grass here and there.

Moving Day
Even the deer passed our lawn by. 
Nothing there worth eating!


After about two years of spraying and digging out thistles, and other obnoxious weeds, I began to concentrate on making the area green. I decided to plant a dryland prairie mix of seeds, so it wouldn't need as much water once it was established. Each year I treated the little patch of lawn to soil conditioners, fertilizer, broadleaf weed preventative and lots of mowing. This year, although it is a lawn of "many colors" being comprised of a variety of native grasses, it is thick and lush and very green. It looks great!


Oh, and did I mention it grows incessantly and requires constant mowing? Perhaps I should have begun a new landscaping trend by leaving the front yard "in dirt"!

Saturday, July 9, 2016

Project: Tabled

This project has been in the works, seemingly forever! I saw a table in a local artisan shop on our travels that inspired me. The artist had created designs with a wood burning tool, and then painted, or  more likely stained the table in different colors. The colors were soft, and in my favorite autumn palette. I probably saw that table 3 years ago... maybe more!

I thought about it, 

a lot! 

I decided I wanted to make one, myself! 

I looked around for tables at antique stores, junk emporiums, resale shops and thrift shops. I never found any that appealed to me, at a cost I was willing to pay, knowing that I was going to try doing something to the table that might ruin it. So there I sat, drumming my fingers on the kitchen table. An old table. A cheap table. One we had purchased 30 years ago, paying something like $79 for the table and four chairs. You've all seen them... they had dark green or white legs and a blonde top. The chairs had the natural colored seat and white or green legs and back. 

Yeah, something like this picture from a catalog...

So there I sat, as I said, drumming my fingers, thinking.... and the thought I was thinking was, what's the worst thing that could happen? I could ruin our almost ancient, cheap, scarred, kitchen table. It was already kinda ugly..... why the heck not?!

I sketched a half dozen ideas out on paper. I searched online for other ideas. I finally decided what I wanted and enlarged the design, sketching it out on pieces of sketch paper taped together. Then, I folded it up and put it on a shelf, where it sat for a year or so. I was only a bit intimidated by the next step!


My son gave me a wood-burning tool. He knew that the plan for my table had been sitting on the shelf for months. OK, said I, let's try it. I grabbed some scrap pieces of wood and practiced wood burning. Oh, my. My attempts were horrible! I tried some more. I wasn't pleased. 

Here is one of my experimental boards

I considered other alternatives, but always came back to wood burning. I liked the look. I practiced some more. Slowly, my attempts came close to being acceptable.  I sanded the table. Oh, and I sanded some more. And now have discovered.... I didn't sand enough!! But, this is what the table looked like after hours of sanding.


I used large graphite paper to transfer my design, and I began working with the wood burning tool. My table lived under quilted table cloths,
for months!!


My next step was coloring the leaves. I experimented with colored pencils and water colors on my practice boards. I preferred the shading I could get with water colors, but I was concerned that the color might run when I applied the finish. I tested on my sample boards. It seemed to be OK. But.... I put it off for a few more months. I guess I just didn't want to know what might happen!! 


I ran out of excuses! 
We weren't on the road. The garden is planted. My dad is doing OK. 
It was time to stain the table and apply the finish so my project could be finished!!
It was time to seal the table so I didn't have to worry about 
what might happen if we spilled liquids on it. 
It was time!

I pulled out the wood conditioner and stain and went to work. 


I appealed to Mr. Dreamy, who used to repair furniture for a living.
He helped me apply the top coat. 

Oh, my.....
I LOVE my project!


I can only wonder why it took me this long?!


Thursday, July 7, 2016

Neither Snow Nor Rain Nor...

We have all heard the US Postman's creed: "Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds." And, we probably all know that it isn't really an oath of the US Postal Service, although it is inscribed on the John Farley US Postal building in New York City. But in my mind one could always count on the USPS to get your mail from point A to point B, albeit a bit slower than we like on occasion. But total dereliction of duty?

I received this email notification yesterday morning. Sounds legitimate enough, but why, asked I (with my enquiring mind) was the postman unable to deliver my package?


Was it too large to fit in my mail box?

No.

Was I not home to receive it if the guy wanted to put it in my hands?

No.

Was it something that required special handling?

No.

Curiouser and curiouser.

Mr. Dreamy wandered out to our mailbox to look for the aforementioned notice.  There was no notice in the box. There wasn't a slip of paper in there. Nothing.... except for two stamped letters I had placed in the box the previous morning so they could go on their way to destinations not so far away. The little flag, the one that tells Mr. Postman to stop and pick up outgoing mail, was upright. A silent sentinel keeping vigil over my documents. 

Curiouser and curiouser.

Mr. Dreamy wandered into town to the local Post Office to pick up the missing package, and to enquire as to why the postman was unable to deliver the package, and to enquire as to why the postman did not pick up our outgoing mail. And the reason? 

Are you ready for this?

The carrier quit!! In the middle of his rounds he apparently decided the heck with it, turned his little postal truck around, drove back to the post office, parked the truck in the back yard (still full of mail), walked into the inner sanctums of the office, proffered his keys and announced, 

"I Quit!"

How crazy is that? I hope the poor guy has some other job to fall back on. I am thinking he might not get very good recommendations from his former employer!

The outcome of the story from my point of view is that I did finally get my package, and thanks to the kindness of Mr. Dreamy,  my letters are on their way, and I had something I found to be a bit interesting to post on my blog today!


Monday, July 4, 2016

Highway to Heaven

OK. So, I know you can't drive to Heaven, but driving through the Colorado mountains, and taking Trail Ridge Road (Rocky Mountain National Park), the highest paved road in any National Park, is just about as close as you can get. The road crests at 12,183 feet above sea level, and as one of my best friends said, "There is a postcard around every corner!"

Come along on the ride we Dreamers enjoyed for the 4th of July:

Over the first range of hills as we head west on I-70,
out of Golden, CO

I've always loved this corner as we squeeze around the mountain 
near Idaho Springs, CO. Still on I-70

Heading up. Wow, it looks like a long-ago avalanche plowed down the 
pines and cleared the way for a stand of Aspen to spring up. 

A bowl forming above the tree line.
It looks like a mining operation, but at this elevation, I don't think so!

We are winding our way up.
What a view. 

Another corner. Another postcard.
See the rays? We must be getting closer to Heaven!

A panoramic view near the top

I loved driving through this cut in the rocks.
Mr. Dreamy wondered why they didn't route the road over the top!

This looks like a simple hilltop. It isn't. It's over 11,000 feet in elevation.
The first thing to realize is that trees can't grow here. Other things don't grow well.
The grass is only about 4 inches high, if that. It doesn't grow much more. 
It doesn't grow fast. The biome is very fragile. 
But what is really cool about this picture is....
look closely. Zoom in. There is a herd of mama elk and babies!

Mr. Dreamy was sad that the 15'-20' snow banks near the top of
the road had melted since the road was opened over Memorial Day.
We saw a lot of people stopping to play in the snow.
They are probably living in Florida!

Just a pretty shot of some of the wild flowers we saw. 

There were a number of small waterfalls alone the way. 

This is a shot of my Minnie, enjoying the mountains!
I recently purchased a Mini Cooper. A dear friend sent us
a Minnie Mouse antenna bobber to dress up my car!

We stopped at the SE side of the park for a picnic lunch before
heading home. Storms were brewing over the peaks we had just driven.

This was our route.
I had no idea we were driving for over 5 hours....
until I stepped out of the car!


Saturday, July 2, 2016

Allietare

Allietare means "to delight, gladden". 
It can also mean "to be delighted, rejoice."
It is also the name of Bonnie Hunter's 2015 mystery quilt.
Which, I am delighted to report, I have finally (almost) completed!

I am rejoicing, truly!!


This quilt was my first mystery quilt, and it was great fun.  Just after Halloween Bonnie posted paint chip numbers, and yardage requirements for the quilt. 

Lowe's had a run on paint chips!

Then, on Black Friday, the games cutting and sewing began. I posted about the first week of Allietare here. Each week we received new instructions, with the final reveal just after Christmas. I did as much as I could before we "flew" south for the winter, we being snowbirds. When we returned, I continued snipping, and sewing, and trimming, and sewing some more, until I finished the "flimsy". 

Then, Mr. Dreamy talked me into buying a longarm sewing machine. Oh. What. Fun! My Allietare quilt found its way onto the longarm after a few table runners and a small throw. It sure beats trying to push a quilt around my regular sewing machine!


I also had the opportunity to attend a HandiQuilter workshop, where our instructor demonstrated sewing the binding on with the longarm machine. Oh. My. Gosh! How easy is this?!! 


Sew, now I have to finish the binding. I haven't mastered doing that by machine! Time to pick up my needle and thread!




Friday, July 1, 2016

'Ears to the Red, White & Blue

Tucker and I are twins. 
OK, so he has a bit more hair than I do... 
and he's skinny... 
and he barks...

Well, with the cold I've had I think Mr. Dreamy would say that I have been barking, so that may actually be a similarity!

I hate colds. I hate summer colds even more. This one laid me low. It came on suddenly. I was fine, then I had an elephant standing on my sinuses. I couldn't breathe! Ugh! I doctored the cold with OTC sinus meds containing acetaminophen, antihistamine and a decongestant. I managed. Then my ear stopped up. I couldn't hear. It hurt. Ouch! I won't go into all of the gory details, but I finally decided with the weekend coming, and a holiday at that, I better go try out my brand spanking new Red, White & Blue Medicare card, and have the ear checked out. It's infected. I'm hoping after the next antibiotic pill that my ear will begin to feel a bit better, and that I won't feel like I'm listening to the world while underwater!

Then there's Tucker. 
Poor guy.

Ear at half mast
 I don't know if I suddenly noticed the odd tilt to his head, and the semaphore message he was sending with his ears because of my discomfort; misery loves company, or something like that. Had I not looked at him during the past days because I was so miserable (guilt, guilt, guilt)? Maybe his condition just got to the point where he couldn't stand it (kinda like me).  I looked in his ear and it was nasty and red. I flushed it out with some ear cleaner. He didn't seem to feel any better later in the day. So, off to the vet with him. He has a yeast infection. I have ear drops and cleaner for his ear.

Even with my goopy ear I can still hear you, bunnies and deer!
I wish Tucker had his very own Red, White and Blue Medicare card. His visit to the doggie doctor was darned expensive!!!

Have a wonderful 4th of July! I hope everyone is healthy at your homes.

Moving Day

Or... Things That Go Bump in the Night We let the moving company know that we were ready. We waited. Anxiously. Finally we ...