Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Tuesday ramble

It is dreary, rainy today, although much warmer than it has been. That works for me, though. Went to sleep late last night and got up early, too early thanks to Arther who decided it was time and persisted on pouncing on my belly until he succeeded in getting me out of bed. Damn cat! : )

I was so elated when I checked my email this morning… I actually made a sale on etsy! My first one, yay! A pair of garnet goddess earrings I made early in my jewelry making endeavors. Happy happy!

Tomorrow is my wedding anniversary. I couldn’t believe the whole month had gone by and our upcoming anniversary never entered my mind until today when I glanced at the date on my computer. Coop and I will be wed 26 years tomorrow…that’s half my life, lol! I can’t imagine any other man putting up with me that long! Granted, I have put up with him, too. But then, that’s what makes it successful, when you can accept and overlook each others shortcomings and love one another despite them. It takes dedication at times, but you build trust and life’s circumstances have pulled us closer together over the years. When you have commitment and friendship and practice acceptance and forgiveness in a relationship it generally works. Ya just gotta be willing to do that and roll with it. : )

I finally brought my polymer clay out of hiding. Now I have to check to see if it’s pliable enough to work with. Step by step…besides I’m still working on pumpkins! I told my daughter this morning that I get so scatter brained at times, actually quite often because I seem to constantly be thinking of things to create and making notes on ideas. It side tracks me from accomplishing other things like, oh lets say…housework. But then, it’s not like the housework won’t be there when I do get around to it. And to think I used to be so anal about my home…hard to believe. But, the fact that I’m not obsessive anymore is a good thing. In fact a very positive thing, a much mentally healthier thing for me which in the end makes everyone around me happier, too. Well, I guess today my blogging is really all about me! (Laughing at myself)

Actually, I did want to share something that gave me some perspective about doing good. It’s from journalist Peter Gorman’s blog, which I follow from time to time. Peter talks about how “doing good” may not necessarily have a positive impact in the end in regard to indigenous folk. It certainly gives one pause in considering the results of our actions in the name of charitable and missionary work as well as environmentalism. I suggest you check it out here.

Enough for now, this really has been a ramble.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Sunshine came softly through my window today

Some of you might remember that old Donavon Leitch tune. I am still lovin that folksy stuff from my childhood and teen years. Seems every day I have some tune or another stuck in my head. Actually the sun has come softly through my window today, a most welcome guest.

I was up early this morning. A pan of potatoes is simmering on the stove since I got the notion to make potato salad today. Thats one way to use up some of the eggs I boiled the other day. Now that we are purchasing all our eggs from the Amish, we seem to never have less than 4-6dozen in the fridge. So, needless to say, we eat a lot of eggs. Coop could eat them every single day, the man loves eggs and that's no exaggeration. At a dollar a dozen, it's cheap, healthy eating. And, I can vouch for the fact that free range, naturally raised, happy chickens produce superior eggs. They are richer and tastier by far than any commercially grown eggs I have ever eaten. I've read in Mother Earth that their cholesterol content is way lower,also, as well as being much higher in nutrients.

I am grateful for our Amish neighbors. They're also now supplying us with all our milk and butter at half the price (or less) than we were spending on organic. Talk about buying local. Don't get me wrong, I fully support organic, but when I can get eggs, raw milk and butter for a fraction of the cost while supporting my local community it's a no brainer. Plus it means no more trips to Wal-Mart, (yay!) since that is only local resource for organic milk, which by the way is ridiculous. Plus I just found out that even though Stonyfield milk is produced right here in Ohio, its transported to New York then back to Ohio before I can purchase it. So, I guess I have lightened my carbon footprint a little more by purchasing local.

My latest crochet project is pumpkins. I am working on a couple sets of three. I think they are adorable. I think Arther agrees. :)

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Birds Galore

Just last week we were finally privileged enough to see for the very first time a small group of about six cedar waxwings in the tree near our feeders. I was overjoyed as I had been hoping to see these lovely birds ever since we moved in about a year and a half ago. Finally!

Cedar Waxwing

(picture by christina010365 at photobucket)

This morning the back yard outside our kitchen window was its typical menagerie of birds, but just beyond the yard where the ground dips towards the creek we caught sight of a magnificent pileated woodpecker.

pileated woodpecker

(picture by shekk at photobucket)

We were beginning to wonder about the cardinals as e hadn’t seen them much at all this winter. The Ohio Farm and Dairy newspaper had a recent article that mentioned people’s concerns about their absence in Ohio this year. However, this morning they were here, three males and two females in all their brilliant glory. I love seeing them as they pose such a contrast against the drabness of January.

Along with the red bellied woodpecker showing up this morning as well, we also had the usual menagerie of titmice, junkos, nuthatch, blue jays, purple finch, goldfinch, downy and hairy woodpeckers. What a treat to have this incredible variety of winged ones gather on a regular basis outside our window. And people wonder why I don’t mind standing at the sink washing dishes. : )

Red Bellied Woodpecker

(red belliedwoodpecker by theologian100 at photobucket)

Saturday, January 26, 2008

bad night, good day

I had a bad night last night, waking up throughout the night from disturbing dreams. I hate when that happens because it’s difficult to get my head clear and get on with my day after a night like that. My last dream was about my brother. I woke up feeling sad because I miss him a lot. Today was his birthday so it’s no surprise I dreamed of him. I really believe those we love and who have crossed over do tend to visit us in dreams from time to time. Such has been the case for me anyhow. So I spent this morning reminiscing about my brother and all the special times we shared. I do so miss him and his music at times. Happy birthday bro!

They say it’s gotten up to 26 degrees today. I finally got out of the house after being cooped up all week. Let’s face it, it’s just been too darn cold to be out unless one has to be. But today I did have to make a tip to town for necessary items, so out I went and the weather was definitely more bearable than it has been.

Well, I certainly couldn’t take a trip to town without stopping at the neighborhood thrift store could I? We have this one little shop operated by a local ministry. I rarely leave empty handed. The prices are so good I rarely bother with a stop at the local Goodwill, whose prices have become ridiculous. We stopped at an out of town goodwill last weekend on our way to our daughters. Purses there were priced from $7.50 to $24! A bit much I think for items that are donated to them. Anyhow, I hit the mother load today! I found a box full of fabric. When I asked the clerk how much, she told me it would be according to the size of the pieces. As I was going through it I asked if she’d consider selling it to me as a lot for one price. She said yes, suggesting a $15 price. I suggested $12 and she agreed. Honestly I would have given her $15, but I just can’t seem to resist bargaining for a better deal on things. Just my nature I suppose. I came home with 34 different fabrics, from solids to florals, ginghams to geometrics. Most pieces are at least a yard, many are two or more. I am so set now on fabric now! Between that and the oodles of yarn I have received I am in a very good place!

Yesterday I received my order of herbs and spices, giving me everything I need to make a few new batches of organic herbal tea and some therapy items. Between herbs in the kitchen and yarn projects and fabric in the living room, come Monday I will be have to be doing some serious organizing.

I’ve really, really been craving working with clay recently. It’ been some time, a long time as a matter of fact, since I have done any sculpting. It’s just a matter of dragging out the supplies and making the time to get started. And for me it’s hard to get focused at times because my mind is always so full of ideas and inspiration. That can sometimes feel self defeating because I can become so overwhelmed I put off beginning anything new. Focus, I just need to focus.

I joined a new online networking group called Indie Public, a place for independent artists and crafty folk like me. I love it there already and have my own Indiepublic space up and running. As a result my etsy shop has been getting a lot more hits. That’s all good! I haven’t sold anything through etsy yet, but I just have a limited number of items listed and I have faith. I’ve added a few more items but have loads left to add…all in due time, all in due time.

For tonight though, I will be kicking back, snuggling into the loveseat with my afghan and watching a movie. Everything else can wait ‘til tomorrow..including the dishes. : )

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Being Green and Thrifty

I’m committed to the best of my ability to lightening my steps on the planet and living as simply and naturally as possible. In regard to the environment I believe what I or others do really does make a difference. I guess you could me an environmental optimist? Of course if one doesn’t believe it matters, then they likely feel there is less reason to make the effort. But for me it’s just part a part of life, so I decided to make note here of the steps I take to conserve and live simply and frugally with less environmental impact. I thought it might actually help me to see where I might make some additional changes and it might even inspire others.

Keep indoor light use to a minimum and use low energy fluorescent bulbs. Lights out completely at bedtime.

Appliances and electronic devices such as microwave, computer, tv are shut down or unplugged at night to halt electric usage.

Keep toilet flushes to a minimum. Flushing causes the water pump to run (electric) and flushing often uses unnecessary amounts of water. We also keep the toilet lid down to lower bathroom humidity levels in the summer especially.

We try to wear our clothes until they actually need washed. That means a pair of jeans can be worn several days or more depending on use. Wash clothes (only full loads) in cold water. When weather permits we dry them by hanging them on the clothes line. In winter I will hang lighter weight items on hangers and hang from hooks above the heat registers in the living area. We use environmentally responsible and natural products to wash and treat stains with. No fabric softeners. Most of our clothes are cotton so softener/anti static is not necessary. I do occasionally toss a lavender sachet bag into the drier.

Keep a compost bowl in the kitchen for vegetable scraps, peelings, etc. This gets set out for the ducks to munch from daily. What they don’t eat gets tossed into the compost bin. Other scraps when available are given to Shadow and Mr. G.

Keep a recycle bin in the kitchen into which all recyclable items go. This is taken to the garage when full and sorted accordingly. By purchasing consciously and recycling we keep our trash to a maximum of one bag or less per week. When bins are full, we drop at local recycling center, combining that trip with other necessary errands to save fuel.

Keep our trips in the car to a minimum to conserve gas, emissions and an affordable way of life. When fueling the vehicle, we try to do so when air is cooler to prevent evaporation.

Use hand cultivator in the garden when we can rather than use gas powered rototiller.

Avoid the use of pesticides or herbicides in our garden and yard.

Raise plants from organic seed, grow a garden and preserve as much as possible. This means eating fresh, nutritious whole foods as well as spending far less on food throughout the summer and winter.

Buy organic and purchase items from local small retailers and farmers as much as possible. We purchase milk, eggs and butter from our neighboring Amish.

Use energy efficient appliances.

Avoid doctors and prescription medicine as much as possible.

Make my own herbal teas.

Make my own natural deodorant.

Shower 2-3 times per week as opposed to daily and sponge bath in between.

Use our bath towels more than once before tossing in the hamper.

Cook from scratch.

Use dry beans instead of canned beans for soups, chili, etc. Much, much cheaper!

Mend our clothing.

Care for what we have.

Avoid buying plastic food bags, but save food safe plastic bags of all kinds (bread wrappers, baggies, etc.) and reuse. Wash large baggies for reuse rather than throwing them out unnecessarily.

Save and reuse glass jars and plastic containers

Use canvas bags when shopping.

Save buttons, fabric, old jeans to mend with, makes patches or recycle into other items.

Although we do have area rugs, we don’t have carpet in our home. This keeps dust, dirt and the need to vacuum to a minimum. I shake out throw rugs and use a dust mop or broom elsewhere and vacuum the big rugs when necessary.

Make my own items for gift giving.

Purchase clothing and household items second hand whenever possible.

Use cloth rags and natural products for cleaning rather than paper towels and commercial products.

Don’t own an air conditioner. Close windows and use blinds to keep heat out in summer.

Open blinds and use passive solar heat in cool weather and adjust thermostat to allow furnace to ignite less often but run longer when it does. Dress warmly, too!

Don’t use cosmetics, perfumes, air deodorizers (other than all natural ones I make) and other unnecessary and toxic items. (Witch hazel is a great and inexpensive facial toner and aftershave splash.)

We use an answering machine in place of extra phone company features like call waiting and caller ID.

Save our change. Once I had saved change for several years and when I finally got around to sorting and rolling it up to take to the bank I had over $400. That was a real nice chunk of spare change!

Rather than going out for coffee or stopping on the way for coffee, we make our own and carry a cup or even a thermos when out and about.

Dine out rarely and if we dine out we usually cut the bill by using coupons and ordering water.

Use scrap paper and the backs of used paper and junk mail and used envelopes for notes and lists.

Buy in bulk when it’s a deal we can’t pass up and we know we’ll use it. (I have 8 lbs. of pasta in my freezer!)

Freecycle…need I say more?

Other General Money Saving Tips

If you must borrow from your savings, consider it a loan and pay it back immediately.

When you get to the bottom of the shampoo bottle, rinse it out. The same applies to dish soap, cream rinse, laundry soap. You’ll be surprised how much is still in there.

Cancel your newspaper. Read the news online. The same applies to magazine subscriptions. Tap the wealth of info online.

Share and borrow when you can if it’s an item you need to use or loan only once in awhile.

Eliminate satellite or cable tv or opt for the economy package. Or, consider an online movie rental subscription like Netflix as an alternative to more costly cable or satellite.

If you take family vacations, gear them towards spending quality time together as opposed to spending lots of money (and energy). Keep it simple and you’re more apt to feel you’ve really had a vacation.

Avoid shopping altogether unless you have a specific need…not a specific desire, but a specific need.

Bring new life to old garments by embellishing and accessorizing.

Borrow books and movies from the library.

Never make spur of the minute purchases.

When it comes to gifts, tell others what you really want.

If you get a raise or income increase, act as if you didn’t and manage without it if possible. Put it away into your savings.

bags and now, fingerless gloves

I see a couple of readers have been gracious enough to log a comment about an upcoming give away. Thank you bunches!

In my last post I mentioned a bag or two I was working on. Since then I finished the green bag by lining it and now have it featured on etsy. Sometime today I should have a similar bag finished, this one in blues. I just finished embellishing it with some copper accents and have the lining made and pinned in place. A little hand stitching and it’ll be done! Yay!

In the meantime I started making hand warmers aka fingerless gloves aka wrist warmers. Like I didn’t have enough projects already! Well, I’ve made three pair now, the first being a trial pair for myself. I just love them and have worn them everywhere! Here’s just one of a pair I made the other night with some funky copper and green variegated (although the green looks teal in the photo). More justice would have been done had I not been trying to photograph my own hand, but you get the idea. I think I like them better in a solid color.

Anyhow…I didn’t create this blog to be a craft blog, but making things is very much an integral part of my simple, frugal lifestyle. So, I guess you’ll just have to bear with me.

: )

Saturday, January 12, 2008

my etsy store, possible contest???

Life seems as if it may be returning to a more even keel now that we are well into January. With the holidays over and me feeling like I’m finally over a lingering virus (or whatever it was) I am feeling a little more ambitious. I emphasize the word little because I just recovered the other day from a bout of stomach flue or food poisoning, not sure which. Either way I know when starting the new year feeling like crap, it can only get better…right?

Everyone I talk to seems to be on a sorting and clearing out kick. The same applies to me as well. January is a good time for that. For the most part inclement weather keeps us indoors, so what better way to put our time to use? I think it’s part of the natural cycle for us to want to unclutter and purge our homes somewhat at this time of year. Personally if I didn’t busy myself with those activities and my crafting, I would become more sedentary than I like over the winter months. Instead I have kept myself occupied with sorting and organizing things here and there as well as becoming immersed in a few crochet projects. And to think, I left the creative channel of crocheting sit by the wayside and go unused and neglected for so many years. What was I thinking? Well, you know what they say, there’s no time like the present. I think I am more than making up for it now anyhow!

Lately I’ve been on a bag kick, crocheting several new purses and bags in various styles and sizes. They are presently all waiting for linings. They are all woven s as not to need lined, but I think this would really give them a finished look and feel, so that is next on my “to do” list. Once finished I’ll be showing them off. : ) I’ve also made two new ponchos. One is for me, done in beautiful deep autumn red, a light wrap to wear indoors or out as a shrug. The other is a full size poncho for outdoors done in coral,, turquoise n sand colors for a very southwestern look. I still need to put fringe on it and then it will be featured in my etsy store. Speaking of which, I actually have that up and running now. So far only a handful of items have found their way there (and none crochet craft believe it or not) but, I’ll keep working on adding more as I go. I have the featured items showing on my blog site on the left sidebar, but for those who subscribe to posts I am including a thumbnail showcase in this post.

Buy Handmade

Now I can’t help wondering how many people are actually reading this blog. So, I’m thinking maybe I’ll plan a give-away in the near future, and gift a lucky commenter with one of my handmade items just to see who and how many may actually be reading this. Keep watching for that and if you’re actually reading this, let me know by leaving a comment. Just say hello or let me know what you think about that idea, k?

Have a great weekend!

Friday, January 4, 2008

cold, snow & photos

Seems our little part of northeast Ohio got hit with a lot more snow than the weather folk called for. We ended up with about 7" on wed., as it pretty much snowed nonstop. The forcaster said "maybe an inch" accumulation. Ha! Needless to say with temps dipping to 0 at night and highs in the teens during the day, we have hunkered down here for the duration, not willing go out and do battle with the wind and extreme cold. Well, with the exception of taking care of the critters and putting more seed out for the birds. It's gotten cold enough that the ducks heated water bowl has been frozen over with a thin layer of ice the past two mornings.

Shadow is loving it, though. Being a husky breed of some sort, he was made for this weather and wants to play every time one of us steps out the door. I have to laugh when I see him sprawled out in the snow taking a nap or wandering towards the woods covered in snow himself. He's certainly become a happy dog and I have no regrets in taking him in. We love the guy.

I finally uploaded some of the photos from the holidays. Here's a photo of granddaughter Destiny modeling her new poncho and hat. (Yeah, I'm showing off my handiwork, too :)

These are my precious grandsons Luke and Mike decorating the cookies Mom made . I might add, licking the icing, too. :)

Mike is very focused. I was quite impressed with the nice job they did for only being 4 and 6 year olds.

And here we have Luke showcasing his efforts.

And, I found this picture interesting for two reasons. First of all I noticed the perfect orb above the table. That isn't the first time one has shown up in a family photo. I like to think it's a relative from the other side joining in. The other novelty is I just happened to catch my youngest grandson Nick winking and didn't realize it until I looked at the photo. Too cute!

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

new year thoughts

Today is a new day, the first day of a new month that begins a new year. The year ahead is pure, full only of intent and unrealized potential. I lit a white candle as my small way of bringing my attention more fully to this moment in time…a time of new beginnings. White is appropriately representative of newness and purity, of wiping the slate clean. This is a time for letting go of the old year, forgiving any misunderstandings or disagreements and moving forward into the new. The candle rests in the center of a round plate, the twelve signs of the zodiac encircling the candle. It just seemed perfect and the thing to do to bring some sacredness into form…an act of appreciation for the continuing cosmic cycle of life, death and rebirth.

I am reminded by this small act that each day is a precious gift, a new beginning ripe with potential. And it is we, as individuals who can make of it what we will simply by our awareness of having that choice. I can ask myself each day, “What can I do to make the world a better place?” I may not always have a concrete answer, but the question alone will encourage an awareness that my thoughts, intentions and actions and their affects truly matter. In this way I may become more whole minded and considerate of the world around me. And that is my intention as I step into the new year.