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Saturday, April 19, 2014

Some yard work

I know it's not RVing stuff today.... but I thought I would put together a blog anyhow.

I wanted to share a couple treasures I found that I mentioned in my last blog.  On my way home from the camphost orientation, the local thrift shop called me on my cell phone.  She had a couple quilts with wool battings (not polyester)  that they didn't know what to do with.  She was worried they would be ruined by washing them, and wanted me to have them.

I carefully soaked them in Woolite soap in the top loading machine, no aggistation.  Then I spun them out and added rinse water, again soaking them a while.  Added a bit of fabric softener.  Spun out again and hung to dry on the back shaker porch.

The one is rather plain with a blue floral print on a muslin looking background with red wool yarn ties.  But the other is an "eye-catcher" with four small sections that need a bit of repair.

I put them in the grandtots' bedroom as cuddle up quilts.  I will repair the one with a bit of vintage fabric scraps I have on hand and nobody will even be able to tell the difference.

Being a Saturday with NO plans---- we still woke up at 6 am but laid around till 8 or so and then Steve cooked up a big breakfast.  Well, that makes us even MORE lazy!   By 10, I finally convinced him to get up and out and about.  We needed to pick up a few more veggies for some trays for tomorrow's Easter Dinner with the Pfundtners.  We are travelling to Waupaca tomorrow to celebrate with Steve's family.  Will be seeing four of the five grandtots, so looking forward to that bonus too!

Once our errands were done, we decided to get a bit of yard work going.  The dogs were being silly playing with their ball.....  we keep Finney on a rope yet because he is not fully trained.  They had a blast in the yard and kept us laughing with their antics.
Here is a little video clip of them:

There are bits of spring coming up here and there around the yard....

The tulips and daffodils and snow glories are all poking their heads up along the south side of the house... I can not wait to see the riot of colorful yellows and reds and purples!

We cleaned out the garage and sorted and swept and condensed down things --- having a big load to go out on recycling day, and even more to haul to the city dumping area to take care of.  I had Steve drag out my big huge pot with the clematis vine and trellis... hope it made it through the winter okay in the garage.  The stems of the clematis plant seem flexible and I cut off the dead stuff.  Hope it comes back!  This one grows to a delicate light pale pink with deep maroon/fuchsia streaks in the centers of the blooms and petals.   The other clematis by the front porch is deep velvety purple!

Out back along the west side of the yard, the day lilies are peeking up. Not too bad considering our whole yard was covered in snow just a week ago!

Some tiny buds are coming up in the flower bed along the back and I don't know for the life of me what I had planted there last summer! Anyone recognize this?  I have to clear away the leaves yet and add some more mulch to the beds before too much gets away on me.  What are these?

Tossed burgers on the grill tonight and then took a long soaking bath
to ease aching muscles. 
Reading a good book and sipping on some wine, the evening passed quickly. 

Well, it's late here now.. 10 pm.

Ending tonight's blog with my ritual Easter Greetings...... 

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Camphost Orientation and some furniture refinishing

I have neglected my blog again, sorry.... but since coming back from vacation, I have not had much RVing stuff to talk about. I guess I could just fill it up with grandtot stuff and what weaving or knitting I am doing.  But I do like to focus on RVing stuff.

Well------ Today I do!

High Cliff State Park has a new Camphost Coordinator ....  Steve's job description of Facilities Maintenance Repair Worker Advanced has now has evolved to incorporate a new task since Ranger Rob transferred to a new park.  Steve took on the added job of working with the camphost scheduling and training.  He started out planning an orientation for all of the scheduled summer's camp host volunteers to come to the park for a day.  His Ever-Faithful-Non-Paid-Assistant... known as EFNPA ... (or "me") has prepared all the paperwork, gathered up a meal and assisted with the program today.

The summer schedule is filled with camphosts taking a month at a time as their shift in the park.  We went over new changes, policies, contracts and shared ideas.  Camphosts offered feedback and ideas based on their accumulated years of experience as campground hosts at High Cliff as well as other parks.

Some of the hosts took a power point presentation on training for various pieces of equipment being used in their month working as hosts for the park.

While we munched on a luncheon of some delicious pulled pork sandwiches from Hilde's Deli and Bakery in Chilton, a pot of my famous calico beans, and some veggies and fruit.... followed up by an assortment of cookies from Hilde's.

The park naturalist Cindy presented a program on the history of High Cliff State Park, the lime kiln operation and some of the preservation efforts by The Friends of High Cliff Organization.  Their newest project is to restore the historic building that housed the general store and post office in years that the lime kilns operated.  Now it's a museum and nature center but needs a lot of upkeep and renewal to keep it functional.  

Steve and I will be doing our "stint" for the month of August as camphosts, with myself doing most of the hosting as Steve works full time days.  It's a fun job, and the rewards are worth it for giving of time and effort and energy to the park.

In other news, we did some furniture refinishing around the house....

My kind neighbors in the back yard, RC and Laurie, had an antique rocking chair, known as a "sewing rocker" because of the style with no arms.  Makes it easier to sew in!   They had done some remodeling in their home and didn't have a place for it any more.  So she asked I could kindly take it off her hands!   I offered to pay for it, but she said consider it a house-warming present! Awwwwww!

The chair is known as a "press back" chair because years ago they would soften the wood with steam and then press a metal form with ridges to stamp the design into the back cross pieces of the rocker!  I just love this pattern, it's so pretty!

The seat had a crack across the width of the chair.... and the finish was worn and old.  So it was time for a little make-over.

I was able to find an EXACT replacement of the same design of the seat panel ---- I ordered it from a company called http://www.vandykes.com/   They are still using the original stamps that were used to make the seats in the old days!   The seats are made from the same material as Spaulding basketballs.  Who knew?

The instructions were very clear. One just needs to carefully remove the old seat, trace the shape onto the new one and cut it with a strong scissors.  Using the same upholstery nails, I tacked it back into place but arranged the nails a bit differently to make new holes in the wood.  Easy peasy!

Once the seat was in place, it was time for a spiffy job of adding some rubbed in stain to the seat material.  That went easy.  Then the chair got an all-over covering of colored polyurethane by MinWax called Polyshades. I gave it two coats and now it has more of a reddish orange tone rather than straight brown.  It matches our woodwork in the house better.  

Here the chair got tested by a couple of grandtots, complete with a story book and some cuddles and rockabye baby songs.  (yes, even at ages 2 and 4, they still humor me and let me do some rockabyes!) 

When I had these grandtots for a couple days this week, I wanted to do another furniture refinishing project.  It was time to teach four year old Chelsea how to do this!   I had bought this cute little doggie stool from the gal who runs Critter Sitters Dog Grooming and Boarding in Stockbridge.  It needed a bit of sanding ...... and a new coat of polyurethane. (low odor fast drying)

 (just look at that concentration!) 

Little Chelsea was quite pleased with her creation.
It was a rainy icky snowy night, and we did  this project down in our basement. 

She was soooo excited the next morning to go down to the basement right away 
before breakfast and see if it was dry. 

That sure was one proud little girl of her workmanship and learning how to make something useful again instead of just throwing it away.  The stool is just perfect for the wee ones in our house to reach the kitchen sink---


We had Clayton (2) and Chelsea (4) for three days this week.... and these are my most favorite pics out of the zillions that I took of them.  Please indulge me.

Hanging out in the front porch, sharing fruit snacks....

Playing in the "rainbows" 
on the stair case from the leaded glass window.+

And this one I REALLY like... they are exploring how the light plays off a blown glass flower paperweight and a leaded crystal snowflake paperweight I found at an antique shop in Florida.

I suppose that is enough for tonight.  I am planning on doing some weaving tomorrow.. or maybe some quilting.  Oh I will add some pics (as soon as I take them) of two vintage quilts I got from the thrift shop today on my way home from the park.  

Note-----  You know you are getting well known as a fiberholic when the thrift shop calls YOU on the cell phone to tell you of some fine treasure that came in ----- and could I use it in weaving or whatever fiber idea I might have for old quilts with real wool battings!   Seriously!  They called ME! 

Monday, March 31, 2014

Monday Monday back to routines

After such a nice weekend of good spring time weather, it was hard to get back into routines today.  Steve left early for work as he had some important meetings lined up.  Recently he has been interviewing the applicants for summer LTE workers (limited term employees) which will assist with maintenance, cleaning and customer service at High Cliff State Park.  The interviewing is an interesting process, complete with a few "head-shaking marvels" that apply.  LOL ...  but he will sort through them all to find his summer "crew".

Yesterday was so nice and warm, that in the morning we decided to give the dogs each a good bath... they still have Florida dust and sand in their fur, and both could use a scrub a dub dub.  Duke loves his baths, and now Finney is learning to like them too.  It's Finney's third bath since we got him in December.  We don't bathe them too often as it dries out their coats and skin during the winter months.

Finney went first and did very good but wanted to lick the bubbles!
Duke followed up second and he enjoys his baths soooo much, 
that if you hold his head up in your hand, he will fall asleep and float! 

Each one gets rinsed well and lifted out of the laundry sink and left to lay on towels on the floor.  Duke has never done the "shake shake shake" business like most dogs, and we hope Finney will follow his lead.  I rubbed them both down with towels and absorbed most of the moisture so it wouldn't be flung far and wide if they did decide to shake.  Duke did NOT want to get out of the bath, just look at his face!

We left the dogs at home to dry off in the kitchen and laundry room, but blocked them from running around the rest of the house while we were gone.  We headed over to Appleton to have a nice brunch with Steve's Dad and brother Peter.  On the way we stopped at Critter Sitters boarding kennel to pick up a cute little stool I bought, but I will show pics later of when I refinish it a bit.  

It was a nice afternoon to spend out and about. We went to Pete's for a while and the guys watched the Michigan playoff game... then we hit a few stores for errands and headed home. 

Our dogs were almost dry, so they were able to go out on the ropes for a bit in the driveway (but not in the muddy backyard!)  We did some training for Finney to sit, stay, come, and heel.  He is learning well and soon will be a good companion for walks.  It was such a nice day!  Snow is really melting fast now, and we soon will be down to bare ground.  But we won't hold our breath for Spring, because we have been known to get more snow or ice well into April.  Icky!

We relaxed for a while out on our front porch, and enjoyed the rest of the afternoon in our "second livingroom" out there.  The dogs settled into good spots for a nap, and we lollygagged around until it was time to make some supper. 

Two tenderloins had been marinating for a day in the fridge in some Andria's steak sauce (from St. Louis area... actually in O'Fallon)  http://www.andrias.com/sauce.html   Our RVing friends Jim and Dee introduced us to it several years ago.  It can be ordered on line, but last time we drove down in that area, our other RVing friend Donna went with me to a local grocery store that carried it.  We cleared out the shelf and stocked up my pantry!  LOL   It can be brushed on while cooking or marinating or of course while eating.   

Steve popped our steaks out on the grill while I made baked potatoes, wax beans, and .....

a special thing we have been making lately are these little packets of biscuit mix from Save A Lot stores... this is the cheesy garlic flavor.  They are 79 cents a pack.  Much cheaper than a tube of Pillsbury biscuits.... 

You quick mix them up in a small bowl with 1/2 cup of water, and drop them by spoonfuls on a tray (I like to bake with parchment paper)  Bake em for 12 minutes or so and they come out deliciously crispy around the edges and soft in the middle.  They remind me of the biscuits you get at Red Lobster! 

We only eat 2 with our meal, so I put the other six in a zip lock bag and toss them in the freezer.  Later we reheat them in the oven and they are just as good as the first time around!  

Okay.. enough about food! 

As I said, Steveio had to go back to work today, and so did I.  I worked on some sock orders this morning, and sent out some shipments of items.  The morning seemed to fly by, plus I was on and off the computer a lot today.  Had to slap my hands after lunch and set the computer aside.  

This afternoon I started tackling the cutting up of all of that denim fabric I washed up and dried that I had posted about in my last blog. 

I draped a 60 inch wide piece of fabric across the island in the kitchen. Each piece of the fabric is 25-30 feet long.  Although I am using a cutting tool that doesn't need a cutting mat, I put down my Olfa cutting mat to protect the surface of any accidental scrapes.  

Folding the fabric up in a triple layer, I start cutting into the denim ... making rows of one and a quarter inch wide strips.  Going through three layers of heavy denim is easy with the electric Rockwell Zip Snip tool, and I easily got a whole piece done in no time.  I did two complete hunks of denim, and never ran the charge out of the cutter. 

Next I will sew each of the ends of the 25 feet long strips to the next, making long strips of fabric to wind on the shuttles to weave rugs.

Of course, I had two assistants to oversee my process and make sure all of the strips were cut correctly and that the fabric now had the correct level of softness!
(their red doggie treat jar was on the fabric to weigh it down from slipping off the end 
so they were dutifully keeping track of that too) 


I had two questions on yesterday's blog:

Lona said...
Do you like the ZipSnip? I've been looking for an affordable motorized cutter to cut corduroy and denim... How long have you had it? Does it make your hand tired?

Answer:   I LOVE the Zip Snip. I have had it about a year now and am still on the first blade!  It doesn't make my hand tired at all.  The rotary wheel does all the cutting and it slides through the fabric like butter.  It has a 2 switch process to operate.  You need to depress the top button with your thumb and pull up the bottom lever with the rest of your fingers as you grip the tool to make it run.  The cordless design is nice so you don't accidentally cut the cord!  I did probably 50 cuts on each of the two 25-30 ft lengths and didn't run out of a charge.  Now it's back on the charger to be fully recharged for more fabric cutting tomorrow. 

Hazel said...
Washing your denim and carrying it outside sure looked like work! If someone hung the dry fabric and hosed it down, would that be enough to get the stiffness and /or sizing out of the fabric?

Your rugs are beautiful!

Answer:  Hazel, Thank you for the compliment!  Yes it was work to get it lined up on the washlines at 60 inch wide fabric, letting 30 inches hang down on each side of the line.  Not letting it touch the muddy ground either. Then of course, horsing up the length of 25 feet or more of heavy wet fabric the entire lenght of each clothesline!  It would have been easier with two people, I admit, but Steve was at work on Saturday so I did it on my own.    He did help me take them all off, and fold them over and over as we worked our way down the washlines to take each piece off. 

Hosing it down on the line wouldn't really work, but it's a good thought!   See, the fabric needs to be washed well in hot/warm water and have added fabric softener in the rinse.  This is a commercial grade fabric that is treated with very stiff sizing to make it firm enough to be run through commercial sewing machines and withstand being cut in multple layers with huge cutting tools.... and not shred or fray during the process where it's turned into a finished product.  This denim was originally used to make shop aprons for a custom order, and I bought the four leftover rolls of the excess not needed by the factory that was making the aprons.  This fabric is not like home sewing type clothing fabric you see in the fabric stores. (although they have some sizing in them too and should be prewashed)  But when using new heavy fabric in weaving, we need the fabric as soft as possible so it beats in tightly when on the loom, not stiff or unyeilding. 

And then there was a third remark, not really a question....

Merikay said...
There is a slight possibility we may be heading toward Wisconsin in August. We will keep you in mind. A week or two up North might bring back childhood memories.

My reply: Oh yes!  We would really enjoy meeting you Merikay!!! As a matter of fact, we would love to meet up with any of our blog readers!  If you ever find yourself in the eastern area of Wisconsin, between Milwaukee and Green Bay, we are always ready to welcome visitors!  There are five or six campgrounds nearby, (of course one special one called High Cliff where Steveio works)  But we don't have any clout on getting a camp site, you have to go through Reserve America to get a site or take a chance on driving into the park and seeing what is available.  But other campgrounds around are very nice too and not as busy on the weekends. 

Well, it's time to get a few more things done before bed... 
and maybe read a few other blogs yet tonight. 

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Sunny Sunday and some Rug Weaving Stuff

Ohhh what a lovely way to start a Sunday!  The sunshine is pouring in, and we might hit FIFTY DEGREES today!  I baked up some berry muffins this morning....   the house smells so good.

After church today we are going to meet up with Steve's dad and brother for a late breakfast/brunch, so these will hold us over until then.

Yesterday morning we were out on the front porch with our coffee... this morning it has to warm up a bit more before we head out there.  The outside temps are 25 and the porch is only up to 45 right now.  In another hour or so of sunshine, it will get much nicer.  The porch faces the east, so the sun will be doing it's solar thing and making it very comfortable after 9 am or so.

I just finished weaving that ten foot long runner rug for the porch, along with a six foot long one for between the outer porch door and the inner entry door.  I wove them from multiple strips of blue and white rags.  The random pattern is achieved by just winding all three strips of fabric onto the stick shuttle together and letting the colors lay where they come off as I weave.

Once the rugs are woven, I cut them off the loom.  Sometimes I have four, five, or six rugs in a roll on the loom to cut off at once time.  Then they need to be hemmed.  I fold them over twice, so the hems are three layers thick.  I sew them on my 75 year old Singer sewing machine that I got from my Grandma Groop before she passed away.  It's the only machine I have that is strong enough to handle the thick heavy hems of a rug. 

Speaking of rugs, earlier this week I stocked up on fabric for weaving more rugs.  A local organic clothing company in Oshkosh was having a warehouse sale of depleting some of their fabric stock.  I contacted my weaving friends to let them know of the sale and met with Jim and Norma of Pa and Ma Rugs in Beloit, WI to meet me there.  

Wowzer!!! We could check out rolls and rolls and rolls of fabrics for sale!   There was sooo much to choose from----  and I found myself dazed by the many types and textures.  The only thing keeping me in balance was the limited check book after our vacation and car repairs.  ACK!  

Here is Norma in the middle of it all, choosing roll after roll to be loaded into their truck.  (they weave hundreds of rugs a year so need fabric in large quantities) 

After we chose our rolls, we went up to the front of the factory to pay...  
this interesting fabric patriotic display is made of legs of denim jeans!  
(now THAT is Made in America at it's finest!) 

Jim and Norma got about a dozen rolls loaded into their truck to haul back to Beloit. 
Knowing Norma, these will be cut up into strips in no time, and Jim will have loaded shuttles setting there by his looms, ready to get weaving.  She does the prep work and he weaves.... 

My stash enhancement was not quite as impressive, but I did splurge on four huge rolls of 60" wide denim and a roll of burgundy wool, along with a smaller bolt of navy blue twill of about 5 yards. My expense was only $80.00   The sales staff estimated each roll to be about 10 yards (30 feet)   When I got them home and unrolled the smallest one, it was over 15 yards... so I would guesstimate the larger rolls at 20 yards?

Yesterday was such a nice day, I started prewashing the denim.  (to avoid shrinkage and remove the sizing and crispness in new fabric to soften for better weaving)   I unwound 2 of the bolts of denim and cut the portions in half, about 25 feet in each portion.  I stuffed them one portion at a time (that is 125 sq ft or so)  into my front loading washing machine in the basement.  Load by load, I did up only 2 rolls of the denim fabric and hung them out on my clotheslines to dry.  This is about 100 feet of 5 feet wide denim fabric on four wash lines out back!  Only half way done. Whew, what a job, but well worth it. 
Just imagine how many pairs of jeans I would have to cut apart 
to get THIS much denim to weave with? 

I cut them apart into strips with this cordless handheld cutting tool from Rockwell called a Zip Snip...  available for about $30 from Walmart, Amazon or Menards around here in the Midwest. 

We had so much sunshine yesterday that most of the snow is melted and we have grassy portions showing through.  Still some lumps of dirty crusty snow are sitting here and there, and big snowbanks leftover where it was plowed or shoveled.  But it gives us HOPE of Springtime....  we could easily get more snow, as it's still March.  So we are not holding our breath. 

The motorhome is patiently waiting for us to go camping again.  It is setting out among the melting snowbanks. We do have a few camping trips planned, plus a family camping weekend at High Cliff in the group sites.  In addition to that, we will be camphosts again for the campground at High Cliff State Park for the entire month of August. Come join us!  All reservations need to made through http://www.reserveamerica.com/ 

Well, my coffee cup is empty, and time to get a move on here. I am thinking two doggies still have Florida sand in their dusty fur coats and could each use a nice bath.  Now that it's warmer out, they can dry off all day while it's sunny and not be so damp when let outdoors to do their thing later. I am sure they will find a sunny spot in the house to stretch out and bask in the springtime sunshine.  

And special congrats to the Wisconsin Badgers for making it to the Final Four in the March Madness... Wisconsin is very proud and happy to have made it this far....  Way To Go!