OFF SEASON BLUES – OR OUCHIES?

I love the winter season.  It gives me time to reflect, plan, and craft.  The last is my issue for this post.  When I get crafting, I get totally into it.  I get so involved in whatever craft I am working on that I can get a bit careless.  Well, it happened on this last Sunday.

I bought myself a new hot glue gun.  My old one is ok, but it does not have a fine tip.  The new one does.  What I was not prepared for was the more intense heat that was required to get glue through that fine time.  Working away on a fall project and my fingers slipped (yes, I blamed it on my half finger again – grr) and this:

Yep, that is a very unwelcome hot wax burn.  The white is actually dead skin now.  It’s not infected, just dead.  Can you say -IDIOT?  I had been working for years with the other glue gun and had no problem with a bit of hot glue on my fingers.

(Notice the different tip sizes)

Normally I would simply say “ouch” rub it a bit and move on.  Yes, it was hot but not that hot.  Well, not so easy with the finer tip.

I was working with dried flowers from a couple of years ago.  We tried an experiment in the greenhouse (before tornado era) to see if companion flowers would keep down some of the pests.  That experiment started four years ago, and due to the nature of the flowers we chose, we ended up with flowers everywhere.  Part of what we were experimenting on was for the purpose of drying.  Strawflowers were our first choice and proved to be our best choice.

dried straw flowers

They hold a perfect shape, have stellar colors (especially for fall crafts), and were interesting.  They actually fold down to create the above-pictured shape.  The other end is just left-over seed hairs.  Stupid me did not know that you need to remove those seed hairs BEFORE you try to glue them to your project.  That was my downfall.  I put the glue on the hairs, tried to stick them down, and that was when they fell out and got my finger.

I have gotten different types of burns before, but I must say this was one of my award-winning jobs.  I finally got brave and cut off the dead skin yesterday.  Funny how much better it felt with that removed?

Moral of my story dear children – WATCH WHAT YOU ARE DOING WITH THE STUPID HOT GLUE GUN, you idiot!

goofy cartoon

You can also check me out at:  www.lifelessonslived.com for all the fun things I have learned in life.

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ARE YOU A ROCKER?

I have this thing for rockers.  No, not the Rock-n-Roll type rockers (but yes, I am one).  I’m talking about rocking chairs.  I do so many things during the course of a day without realizing that I am doing them.  One biggie is movement.  I am a Yarnie (i.e., One who works with yarn crafts) and can be found working on a project almost every day.  I recently noticed that while I am working on a project, I am rocking, or my foot is rocking.

Rockin cat

The only rocker in our home that I remember as a child was an antique glider rocker.  It was so beautiful that mom would not let anyone touch it.  You could get an immediate slap just for playing too close to it.  We were farm kids, so our play area was not as important as the play itself.  Can’t tell you how many times my sister and I got a smack for getting to close to it.  Once we ran into it and that put us in separate chairs, staring at the ceiling for the whole morning.  It was excruciatingly painful just to sit!
old glider rockerI’m not sure where exactly my love for the rocker came from, I know I can’t go a day without one.  There is something so soothing about knitting or crocheting, while I am rocking.  My grandmother on my dad’s side was a baker (explains a ton about his love of cooking and my sister’s addiction).  My grandmother on my mom’s side died when I was very young.  I don’t remember what her passion may have been.  My mom insisted that I learn how to knit my very first year in 4-H.  She knew how to crochet and always wanted to learn to knit, but never did.  She was good at making sure her girls knew how to do things that she never had the opportunity to do (like playing the piano but that is whole other torture).

It may have happened because I was so young and it was something to share, just mom and I.  I think I have this thing about the way the yarn feels.  My hands are not very big, so manipulation of the yarn is one of the few things in my life that I can control (yes, I am a control freak).  I used to hold the yarn in my left hand, but when I lost half of that index finger, I thought I was going to have to give up my passion.  I taught myself how to use the other hand.  Takes a bit longer but it worked.  Since the amputation (6/2014) I have also taught myself a ton of different ways to hold the yarn.  I guess you can teach an old dog new tricks.

old dog new trick

There is a certain kind of peace that goes along with rocking.  On several occasions, I have found myself rocking to the rhythm of my yarn working.  Most times I do not even have to count or pay attention to the stitches I am working.  It becomes a type of “Zen” world for me.

My hope for you this new year is that you can find a comfortable old rocking chair somewhere, sit back in it for a bit.  Close your eyes and rock.  Try to rock to the rhythm of your breathing.  You might just save a ton on therapy by doing this simple thing?

zen stone n sand           =      cat in rocker

You can also check me out at:  www.lifelessonslived.com for all the fun things I have learned in life.

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HOW DID I MISS THIS SEASON?

I have discovered that there is a third season.

• First, there is planting season, which is on and off all year long.
• The second was school season, which is only from around the first of September until the end of May.
• Now I have realized that I have a third season. We are getting our first snow of the season which turned on all my crafting switches, so – IT’S CRAFTING SEASON.

DSC_0048    (This is one of many I have on Etsy.)

I truly hope that everyone who is reading this has their own crafting passion. It is something that no one should be without. It is one of the few things in life that brings me enormous amounts of pleasure, especially when I can give something I made to someone else.
I have known for decades that I am a craft-a-holic. I may slack off on it sometimes as the other seasons will take precedence. When we have to get things in the ground, or process foods, that must come first, or we will have nothing. When it is time to start school, supplies, clothes, and all other school things must take precedence. When it comes to crafting season – colder weather gives it the precedence.

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(Hand crochet crown choker cowl with deep bronze Swarovski jewels.)

Childhood on the farm in Wisconsin as a kid was forever fun. The huge snowbanks, ice skating on the pond, sledding with family and friends down our hills (and we had come goodies), and the warmth of shedding the snow-covered exterior layers of clothes on the porch, to go in for hot chocolate by the heaters. Thank goodness we had a huge, cement floor, porch. It had a large hanging rack just inside the door where everything outside was hung to drip and dry. Since it was a cement floor, it was easy to mop up the mess as it melted.

  • Even as I kid, I was always making things(Fair warning – some of this you may find gross.):
    • Snowmen and snow forts.
    • During the summer it was wonderful weed and grain pies from piles of cow poo (ewe-yucky but great fun to play in when we were kids).
    • Using fallen tree branches to make horse pens way out in the woods. This may not have been the smartest idea since we were at least a mile away from home, and the horses always broke out of it. They were the smart ones. They always knew to run back to the barn where they got grained. We would have to walk back.
    • The walking back also led to crafting ideas. Picking up leaves, twigs, dead things, and occasionally live things and bringing it all back to the house to make something.

    • The frog eggs led to frogs lose all over that wonderful cement porch.
    • The turtle led to turtle eggs, which led to the pet raccoon eating the turtle eggs and us having to take the turtle back to the river – boo hoo.
    • All leaves, feathers, odds, and ends, were always transformed into mega messy glue works of art (mom loved, dad questioned and laughed).

So, in conclusion, I believe that this is my most favorite time of the year. When the crafting bug hits me this hard, I just can’t wait to see who I get to gift too next.
Happy first snowfall everyone!

DSC_0006

(Simple knit ultra-warm hat. You can also see that I have so many different yarn things now they are just piled up on the table. Oh, and can you find the cat snuggled in it all? And yes, the cat chewed off the nose of my head display – stop laughing – LOL – if you can cuz I can’t.)
All-New Fire 7 Tablet with Alexa, 7″ Display, 8 GB, Black – with Special Offers

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WHAT DOES THE GRANDMA SAY?

Spring Break stinks!  It is hard enough for a Grandma of 57 to care for her Grandson of 8 using regular daily routines.  Then the school system throws in all of these extra breaks.

Every other Friday is only a half day.  Used to be the only “break” was during Christmas, now they have a Fall and a Spring Break too!  I have custody of him, so it is a never ending mental endurance just to keep up with him.  During the extended times off, I have to come up with things to occupy his mind even more.

Lucky this Grandma is a crafter and gardener!  The last three days have been really cool and rainy (of course – just because the kids are off-grrr), so they qualified for crafting days!  I come fully prepared to handle this battle.

This is the target:

n n max 3 29 17

My Grandson is holding his second favorite cat, Max.

The tools needed to complete the job:

 

The final product for today:

(It’s up to you to decide who did which project.)

One last bit of fun to share with you.  My cousin, who lives in Alaska, sent me this pic this morning:

Jeffys AK skyline 3-28-17

His skies are awesome, but check out the snow they still have – eeek!

Happy Spring Y’All!!

 

 

 

SO EASY AND SO FUN – BREAD IN A JAR!

We subscribe to Countryside Magazine. It is one of the few we actually enjoy and use!  It has everything for small farming, hobby or backyard garden/farming, recipes tried-and-true methods; you name it, they have it (have had it or will have it).  Perfect for anyone wanting to grow their own food.

A few years back they ran a series on “oven canning” which included several recipes for Bread-in-a-jar.  My sister and I were intrigued, so we gave it a shot.  Besides being fun to make, they were the perfect sizes to eat.  They made a fantastic gift for just about any occasion.  We did banana, blueberry, chocolate chip, spice, pumpkin and plain sweet bread.  Then, because we are so crafty, we added a sticky label with ingredients (for allergies), then decorated with bows, ribbons, and a tag.  We received so many compliments on it that we were amazed!

Well, with the house fire all of our saved and categorized Countryside issues were lost.  Along with those the bread-in-a-jar and oven canning secrets – UNTIL NOW!

I subscribe online to thewhoot.com.au it is out of Australia, but a lot of what I get from them can be done anywhere in the world (mainly recipes and crafts).  The latest wonder that they delivered to my email inbox was about Banana Bread-in-a-jar!  WOOO HOOO – oh excited me!!

This is what the completed plan looks like:

banana-bread-in-a-jar-600x400

I was so happy to find it I just had to write this up and share it! Hope you all give it a shot. The bread’s we made up (about 30 jars) sat on our pantry shelf for at least a year (maybe a couple of months more) and were still just as fresh and yummy as day one!

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SO WHAT’S WRONG WITH A YOUNG ADDICTION?

Don’t you just love a good addiction?  My first one started when I was only seven years old, and my parents put me into 4-H.  We had cattle, horses and lots of other farming things that I could have worked on and taken to the fair – but nooo – I chose to take a shot at knitting.  YES, with yarn – now how scary is that?

I have no clue what attracted me to it.  My mother would crochet once in a while (in a very long while), but it was not one of her passions.  I still remember the very first pair of needles I picked up.  I swear there was some type of chemical on them that the moment I touched them I became obsessed!  It was (and still very much is) an addiction.  The very first thing I ever created was called “The Pixie Slipper” – I won first prize – blue ribbon.  It was the ugliest thing anyone ever suggested for a pattern.  Real easy to do for a first-timer, but still ugly.  What brought all this up?  The pattern is back – EEEKKK!

You can find tons of all types of handmade slippers (and just about everything else) on eBay or Etsy.  I have searched and used both, but this one just made me giggle:

pixie-slippers

(you can click on the pic to take you to the site for more info)

Other than the major curling in the toes, it is pretty much the same old pattern.  Funny, the whole thing is just one big square?!?  If you go here: https://www.etsy.com/market/pixie_slippers  you can find a ton of variations to this project – who would have thought?

I remember putting such effort into that project.  There was just something about the feel of the needles that hooked me (yes, pun intended).  It then became the different feel of the yarns and fibers.  When I went to the fair after judging, I spotted so many other beautiful projects that kids just like me had done, and I was instantly drugged!  I would never be the same innocent me again – yarn – the culprit!

Now that I am older (notice I did not say wiser!?), I have come to realize it was not the yarn’s fault…it was the needles!  Well, it’s not really their fault either…it’s my tiny hands and fingers and MY PIANO TEACHER!!  Dun, dun, daaaa – the plot thickens!

hands-on-piano

Her method of teaching us (yep, little sis and I both had to take piano lessons – mom insisted!) was to wack the back of our hands if we didn’t reach an octave.  (Those that are lucky and have never had to, check out a piano some time – try to reach eight keys with your thumb on one and pinky on the other – that’s an octave.)  I couldn’t because of my short little fingers.  But, if I lowered my hand I could just reach the corners and make it – NOT ALLOWED – WACK! 

“You must pretend you have a golf ball stuck under your palm – this is how you must play!”  Wack – again…never did get that setup – BUT – I still tried.  Then on I was always sticking something in my hands, between my fingers (ok, sometimes up the nose – hee hee), working and trying to make them longer.  Didn’t work.  So, instead, I learned how to be more creative.  My favorite reading is “how-to’s” and love learning new things and techniques.  I love to write, draw, paint and all the other fun things you do with fingers…but the best, and most favorite, is still the original – KNITTING!

 

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IS THERE ANYTHING BETTER THAN A RAINY DAY?

There is just something about a rainy day that I just love.  I can’t quite pin it down to one single thing.  Maybe it is because I hold so many great reasons:

  • Rainwater is best for all the plants.  Veg, flower, bush and tree all look and act so much better with rain water.  Even more so than our well-water.
  • A steady rain (like what is going on now) makes me feel major creative!  Writing, sewing, knitting, crocheting, even cooking (SHOCKER – for me anyway, I normally do not do the cooking here, and it is not one of my passions – love the eating part, but my Sis does the awesome cooking in our household).
  • Something calming for me in the sound of the rain falling, especially on a tin roof (our outbuildings all have tin roofs).
  • The sound of the wind whipping up, rain pouring down, throw in some lightning and thunder and I can fall right to sleep (hee hee- I know, it keeps most people up but not me – so weird).
  • Then there is the childhood part of it.  When I was young, we couldn’t wait for the rain to come.  It meant fresh fruits and veggies to pick and eat, mud puddles to stomp around in, and the added benefit of hot cocoa when we finally came into the house soaking wet and cold.  It meant something warm and comforting for me.  Snow does the same thing.

I am much older now; I also have osteoarthritis (in all my joints) which can mean some painful moments on these types of days.  I believe my contentment overrides the pain.  Maybe it is also seeing something accomplished.  I used to work in offices and factories.  At the end of the day, I always felt like I didn’t accomplish anything.  There was still a pile of work left to be done on the next day, and it all looked the same.  Now I can work on a project and actually see that it is complete.  The next day will bring a new project.  Sure, I have some projects that take more time than others, but the overall feeling is of accomplishment.

So, this morning is time to finish a sewing project for a friend’s horses:

8-25 sew proj

Then vacuum seal some meat:

8-25 vac sealer

Maybe work some more on knitting projects:

8-25 knit work

Then later I have to fry up some chicken and cook some rice to put on zucchini boats to be grilled this weekend (notice, the least fav thing to do is last – hee hee).

Then I usually end my days by sitting in my recliner and working on the yarn projects again.  I never have just one going at a time.  Right now I am working on 5.  A couple of these are birthday gifts; a couple are going to be sold in my Etsy shop, and the other is one that I am actually doing just for me – woo hoo!

Tomorrow is supposed to be warmer and sunny (boo hoo), so I guess it’s time to do the “real work” – PROCESSING HARVEST  yum!

 

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I JUST HAVE TO BRAG UP SMART FARM/GARDEN PEOPLE!

The fact that these smart people also happen to be some of our dearest friends is purely coincidental.  We love to think- outside-the-box; you know, look at a stick and see a staircase type of thinkers.  Maybe this is why we have the best close friends in the world, we all think like this.

First example, our own greenhouse.  When we (my sister and I) initially thought about our new farm life, one of the things we knew we had to have was a greenhouse.  If you have the money and the space I highly recommend getting one.  It does not have to be as big as ours, but you need a place to grow your own foods. DSCF5121

I picked this picture to show you that we did build it ourselves (you can also check out my posts from 2012 for a lot more details).  This also gives you an idea of just how big it is.  The out-of-the-box thinking here (Kudos for our friend for thinking of this) is why it is 3 feet in the ground.  You actually have to step down 2 steps to get into it.  The friend also discovered a stellar insulated siding to pour the cement into that gives it a triple insulated side wall on all 4 sides.  The reason for this (for those asking) is to keep it warmer in winter and cooler in summer – on its own – with little to know help needed sometimes in the year.

Well the friend that helped us with this is ALWAYS thinking outside the box.  He came up with a couple of amazing simple things to help on their beautiful gardens.

HAIL – a harsh topic for anyone that loves plants.  You can spend days, months, and years working on your plants, trees, bushes, lawn, gardens and in an instant – HAIL – will destroy all or most all of it – grrr!  Fortunately, (knock on wood) we have not been in the path this year (yet), unfortunately our friends have been for the last several years (major bummer!).  So, Mister Think-Outside-the-Box came up with this nifty idea:

knj garden1

He is (they are) just so ingenious!!  (deserve many, MANY more exclamation points here but my writing checker won’t let me do it – boo hoo!)  Take a good look at this pic.  Not the raised beds, not the walk ways but the top and the slanted boards.  They placed wire hog/field panels (like this):

field pannel

The hole size in the squares is about 4”x4”, some have narrower holes toward the bottom to keep baby pigs in)

All over the tops of their garden spaces.  Then covered that with a finer mesh wire like this:

rabbit wire

Some people call it rabbit wire because the square holes are smaller than the holes in chicken wire and rabbit feet won’t fall through.  These are only about the size of a dime.)

NOW HOW BRILLIANT ARE THEY!!!

Then (like the top wasn’t enough smarts), check out the boards that are slanted in the raised bed.  They also have the hog panels attached to them – FOR THE VINING PLANTS NO LESS!  HOW DO THEY KEEP DOING IT?

They just keep coming up with these outstanding ideas.  How many years have my sister and I cried over lost crops to hail damage, but we never once thought of something so simple (almost seems like it should be common sense – LMAO), but so right?  We have hog panels all over our place, mostly for fencing.  There are some that have been damaged to the point of not hanging on a fence anymore, so they are just lying around – OH DUH!?!  (OK, can’t stop giggling at myself now.)

We have seen the panels used for gardening at this angle:

field panel in use

But never once thought far enough outside-the-box to come up with the perfect ideas that they did (yes, a bit of jealousy here – but just a bit because they are dear friends!).

I know that some of you (my Blogging Buddies) have seen some pretty nasty hail this year (maybe in past years also), so I wanted to share their smarts with those of you that have the same issues with your gardens.  I also wanted to brag up how beautiful their work is:

knj garden 2

Makes you want to just grab a lemonade, pull up a chair and watch the bees and butterflies do their thing.  AND THEY DID IT ALL THEMSELVES! WOW!!  This is not the work of a landscape specialist, it’s just them and their marvelous brains (more exclamation points – can’t help it – I’m just so excited for them)!  They work hard but they also work smart.  They deserve this Kudos!

I love my friends

I AM NOT A BIG FLOWER LOVER – BUT…

I am not a big flower lover, but I do love to look at them – when they are alive.  Never been too thrilled with getting cut flowers.  You want to get my attention, give me a potted plant!  Having said that, these crazy things have really caught my attention:

20160712_185525

The picture only shows their vibrant colors.  I just love how Mother Nature kicks our butts naturally when it comes to color.  AND – whatever did she think when she came up with these wild things?  I wish I could pass on a “touch here” pic so you could see how funky (yes, I said funky) they feel.  They feel just like stiff paper – but they are alive and thriving – what’s up with that?

They are a beautiful bright pinkish/purple but when those open up there is a striking yellow center to them?

pink w yell paper flowers

Who would have thought?  In the above pic, you can see how well the center is hidden.  I was actually very surprised to see this center.  Then to touch them – WOW – just does not seem real, but it is!

So, I said I am not a big flower lover, and this is true.  But these beauties have won me over to the cut flower idea.  They are meant to be cut.  This is why my sister grew them.  I do a ton of crafting and this fall I want to try some wreath designs.  These will make an excellent addition to the scheme. 

I also get to learn something new – how to dry flowers.  I have pressed flowers and herbs before – for my record keeping (yes I am OCD on organizing EVERYTHING!).  I like to press then draw them in my plant journal, so I not only see, but understand the plant better.  I am a very physical learner.  LOVE to read and see pics, but I have to touch it physically or do it to get it to sink in (whatever “it” is).

This is my birth month flower:

20160712_185500

It’s a Sweet Pea.  They come in a variety of colors, run like a vine (but do not appear to be strangling the peppers next to them), and would never make a good pressed or dried flower.  They are way too delicate.  HOWEVER, I do have ideas for paper copying their beauty.  Ahhh, another crafting thought to float around in my already stuffed brain of endless thoughts – eeek!  LOL

I swear, some days (or better most nights) I would love just to turn it all OFF!  Easier said than done.  I have journals, notepads, recording devices up the wazoo to try to help with these endless ideas, just no quick way to turn it all off.  Even worse, once I dive into an idea, it always leads to more ideas.  I think the ones I love best are the ones that are late bloomers.  We do or build something, then a couple of years later I get this “great idea”…this is inevitably followed up with the self-bashing “why didn’t you think of this X years ago Dumb Shit?”  (remember my Dad’s fav nickname for me? Still, fits this day! LMAO)

So, bottom line, I could use a bit of help here people…got any ideas, tricks, tips, techniques on how to dry these beauties so they will work in my wreath making?  All help/input is greatly appreciated!

<img class=" wp-image-1456 aligncenter" src="https://helbergfarmstories.files.wordpress.com/2016/07/dream-of-a-flower-wreath.jpg&quot; alt="dream of a flower wreath" width="256" height="256" Ahh, if only! Lol)

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