We sure are taking our hibernation seriously in January. We really have been snuggled in and not doing much. Sorry, I let this blog slide for three whole weeks before I realized I haven't posted!
In the middle of the month on the 17th I held a meeting of our Home and Community Education group here at our home. It's a County Extension group commonly called The Homemakers. Steve calls it The Homewreckers! LOL Our membership numbers are down due to some people not feeling well, and doing social distancing to prevent the spread of covid. A few of them have traveled to the South as snowbirds, and one of our members happened to break a leg and now is at a rehabilitation center!
For the six who had made it here to our home, we had a delicous potluck meal and I had set up the dining table for our meeting after our dinner. It was a nice social event afterwards and it was really good to see some people again. Steve escaped to his brother's house down in Menasha for the day. Everybody is fully vaccinated and boosted, and practicing as much social distancing as possible. Hopefully, the numbers are falling now in Wisconsin and we can start doing things again. I had still kept all of the Christmas decorations up both inside and outside to have the house look it's best during our meeting. (plus it had been too danged cold outside to take them down yet).
The next day after the meeting, Steve said it was time to start taking things down. We came up with a different idea this year for our 9 ft tall artificial tree. Instead of taking it apart into five individual pieces, which take up a lot of room on the shelves in the garage, we came up with a different idea. Someone else had mentioned doing this and I looked it up on YouTube. A lot of people have tried different techniques to do this, but we came up with a few of our own.
First we wrapped from the base of the tree stand up around the top and back down the base again in quadrants around the tree. About 10 good strands of this plastic rolled shrink wrap. It took two of us to get around the base and through the openings and back up again over the top.
It also took two people to do the next part. One to hold the tree and keep it from rotating while the other one used the wider roll of pallet shrink wrap to go around the tree. Around and around and around we went. Working as a pair to get the tree completely wrapped. The tree still has all of the ornaments and lights and ribbons all in place. We did remove a few precious glass ornaments, but the rest of them are wrapped right into the branches of the tree.
We squashed it as tight as we could around the bottom to get it narrow enough to fit through our 36 inch wide door. It was a squeeze, but we managed to get it out. By wrapping it from top to bottom first, that secured the tree to keep the center trunk pieces from coming apart as we brought it out to the garage. Once we got it into the garage, we stood it up right again and tucked it back into the corner. Hopefully it will stay nice over the rest of the winter and throughout the summer months. Next December we can carry it back in and carefully snip away the plastic with a scissors and be careful not cut into any of the wires or ornaments. A little fluffing to the branches and rearranging a bit and I think it will be just fine! Sure beats having to undecorate it all, take off the lights, then store everything away in totes.... Then take the tree apart in sections, wrap them all up in huge contractor garbage bags and stack them out on the shelf. The added plus is now there's more room on the shelves to put some of my other totes and organize the garage a little better! It's kind of the "overflow storage" for a lot of my weaving fabric and supplies.
(notice Steve's insulated ceiling in the garage!)
We had one warm day before the weather turned blastedly cold. It was about 35 degrees so we were able to get out and get the decorations off the front of the house. It was warm enough we really didn't even need to wear gloves so we could snip all of the ties that held everything into place.
Our son-in-law, Jesse, does a lot of 3D printing. The raw material he uses comes on these big plastic spools. He saved us a bunch of them so we could wrap up our red velvet ribbons to save again. That is a lot better than just throwing it away and buying new stuff next year?
We carefully unwrapped all of the ribbon from the pillars and removed all of the lit garland from the railings. Everything is carefully layered in big boxes. The big snowflakes came down and were packed in a large flat box. The house looks so plain now!
The plastic spools even worked good to take off the outside lights that we had on the pergola and tiny tree. What a nice way to store them and they are tangle-free.
Now all of the decorations are stowed away and it's time to look ahead for the rest of the upcoming winter. The holidays are over and the dreary winter weather is going to set in. We have considered maybe going away to the desert for the rest of winter, but instead we are going to hang closer to home. I think we are going to plan on a trip this summer across the United States may be heading out west on US 2 and go all of the way to Washington State. In the meantime, we will hunker down and work on some winter projects.
I am pleased to say that our removal of our electric water heater and our Christmas Present installation of our tankless natural gas water heater resulted in a $30 decrease in our electric bill last month! That is almost 33% of our entire monthly electric killowatt usage! We will get an even better figure on our savings by the next bill without the added Christmas lights on it. We didn't see much difference in the natural gas therms usage from last years bill, but we will compare them again on the next bill.
The pineapple quilt that I was working on is finally fully assembled. I got it rolled up onto my big quilting frame with the backing and the batting in place. I wanted to pick up some variegated purple / pink / blue thread for the quilt so I'm waiting to get started until the new thread comes. This is a queen size that will be for sale in my Etsy shop soon.
I really try to discipline myself that I won't start another quilt until I finish the one I'm currently working on. It keeps me from getting too many projects going at the same time. Because I wasn't going to get the thread right away, I did start on the next quilt. Shame on me!
If you've been reading my blog for a while you know that all around my house I have stained glass light fixtures. Most of them are from the same line called Belle from Menards. I have 2 bedroom ceiling fixtures, a 5 shade chandelier in the kitchen, 3 wall sconces in the She Shed, 2 reading pole lamps and 3 table lamps in the bedroom and livingroom. They are throughout the house and I really enjoy them. I even have one hanging down as a pendant over my kitchen sink.
they are all like this:
I had decided that I needed to make a quilt to match the light fixtures in the bedroom. Last summer after we installed the large window, the beautiful blue and white quilt on our king size bed looks out of place. So I decided to go through my stash of fabrics and pick out everything that was coordinating colors with this stained glass. I did have to make a run to a little quilt shop up in Marinette to pick out a few more coordinating fabrics. Other matching fabrics I had picked up last fall on our trip out to the Mississippi River along the western edge of Wisconsin. I had this quilt in mind, so I had set those fabrics aside as well. Now I had enough to begin. It's a very simple pattern, only utilizing these two blocks. It's how you put them together in a big array that makes the difference of the quilt!
I started cutting out squares, carefully measuring and arranging my supplies. I like to have everything pretty much arranged at my fingertips while I start creating. I'd rather have it all there then fly by the seat of my pants and run too short later. That way, if there's extra fabric I can always make some into throw pillows to put on the bed after the king size quilt is completed.
I got about 60 blocks sewn already. The littlest granddaughter Claire was over the other day, and she helped me arrange a few on the floor to get an idea of how it is going to work out. Of course, Binney had to oversee the whole process.
I won't start sewing them into strips until I get them all laid out. I am trying hard to not let any two of the same colors touch at any of the seams. So once I get it all laid out, I will carefully number each one by row and column before sewing them together.
It will eventually end up looking like this... but king sized with a lot more blocks. Some nice borders and trim will round it off. I think I am going to like it. Then my sister wants my blue one for her king sized bed!
The weather has been terribly cold, well below zero with awful wind chills. Claire's parents were going up to their cabin for the weekend, but they asked if she could kind of hang out here and stay warm with us. There would be no outside fun playing in the snow for her when the wind chills were twenty and thirty below zero!
It was nice and cozy warm in the She Shed and she was helping me weave on the big Sanna Kangas Finlander Barn Loom. She sets her little butt on the bench right next to me, just like many many years ago when Ron Kangas sat his little butt next to his grandmother Sanna, and wove rugs during the Depression.
One of my fellow members of our Home and Community Education Group, Charlotte, (who is also my dear old neighbor from when we lived on the river) gave me two white chenille bedspreads. They're absolutely wonderful to weave into thick rugs, after they are cut into long pieces. The only problem is the chenille is fluffy and makes a bit of a mess. But we don't care. The design of this rug is strips of the white chenille and interspersed throughout the rug are laid in pieces of knit fabric we call "Caterpillars"! They are very similar in color to the book about The Very Hungry Caterpillar. A rug like this makes a great baby shower gift when accompanied by a copy of that very popular book. I plan to weave up 2 rugs, and give one to Charlotte. The other will be for sale in my Etsy shop.
The caterpillars are actually knit pieces of surplus sock fabric that a friend buys in bales from a company out in New York called Soulmate Sock Company. These are the defective socks that are sliced apart and sold as scrap. My friend Hilary at www.crazyasaloom.com sells these by the pound. I have a box full, and I cut them a little bit smaller than how they are originally shipped. I lay them in each open shed as I weave, and they create perfectly colorful caterpillars!
Here is a little YouTube that Steve shot of us while we are weaving. You can see how it's Claire's job to pick out the little caterpillars and decide which color is next, while I take care of the beating of the overslung beater on the heavy rug loom. I am so glad that all of my grandchildren enjoy helping me with weaving, spinning, quilting, or other fun projects in the She Shed. We are making memories.
I did go to an antique sock cranking meeting last week.... It is held four times a year over in Oconto Falls. I'm glad that I did go, because a gentleman arrived from Escanaba for a first-time visit to our group. I had met him last fall when we were up there camping near the Escanaba State Fair. With the help of my sister, I had purchased my Singer Featherweight Sewing Machine from him. He restores them, as well as repairs other sewing machines. He has a fascination for the antique circular sock knitting machines and has restored a couple of them as well. I had invited him to come down from Escanaba which is about an hour and a half drive away to attend one of our meetings if he happened to want to join us. And he did! He brought along a very interesting friend by the name of Joanne who is also a very accomplished spinner and knitter. We had a great time visiting and he shared some projects with us.
He knit these sleeves on the sock machine
and stretched them over Christmas Ornaments!
We were able to share some patterns, sources, insights and ideas. Plus laugh a lot and go get some lunch nearby. It's a whole day spent with our circular sockknitting machines.
He also was able to repair one of the other member's malfunctioning sock knitting machine for her. She was delighted that he could just fix it on the fly and she was off and running again in no time with her cranky machine.
Here is my sockknitting machine. It's an oldie but a goodie. I can get a pair of socks done in about an hour, with no interruptions. But of course in a room of other knitters, that isn't so easily done. But we learn a lot and share sources of good yarns or parts or patterns.
I got a couple socks cranked up as well as a good day of fellowship and being out of the house for a bit.
So basically that is how I was spending the month of January. Working on a couple quilts, working on some rugs, doing some knitting, and enjoying the warmth of inside of the house.
As for Steve, he was fiddling around with a few things in his garage and installed some new shop lights. He now has the entire ceiling of the garage insulated which makes it much warmer out there to work on things if we need to. The winds are no longer blasting in through the eaves along the soffits vents or the ridge vent along the top of the roof line. Nice! In the spring we will take care of hanging sheetrock on the ceiling to finish it off nicely.
So he was thinking it's time to start another project.
A couple months ago we picked up 18 bundles of new beadboard strips from a guy on Facebook Marketplace. They are 8ft long and we are going to cut them in half into 4 ft pieces. There is a section along the wall of the kitchen that we would like to cover in beadboard wainscoting 4 ft high. It will tie in the beadboard pantry cabinet we restored last summer and blend it more with the rest of the beadboard type cabinetry on the other side of the kitchen. I think it will draw it all together and coordinate it nicely. The top edge cap will have a bit of trim kind of like a plate rail and a bit of egg and dart molding underneath that will mimic the trim around all of our old fashioned window and door frames in the house.
He brought in a couple pieces to lay on each side of the pantry cabinet. Of course they will be about 10 inches higher because they will start at the edge of the baseboard molding. Also they will be sealed with shellac on all of the knots to prevent bleed through and then painted the same color as the cabinets and trim in our kitchen.
Then---- in the bathroom we are going to do the beadboard all around 4 feet high as well. I love a beadboarded bathroom. We had done beadboard in a varnished and stained type in the bathroom at our last house in Chilton. It gives such a beautiful old fashioned look to the bathroom.
This bathroom, we are going to install it and it will be painted to match. I think we're going to pull off the wallpaper on that one wall because that's too busy. I think I will like the plain clean lines of the beadboard. It will be good to get something on that wall along the side of the tub. When using the handheld shower, sometimes a tiny bit of overspray does hit the wall. I would rather it hits beadboard than the wallpaper. I'm not a fan of any wallpaper, especially in the bathroom. The wallpaper is starting to pull up a little bit on the corner near the window and I think I would prefer to get rid of it.
I got up my figures and Steve got out the tape measure and we figured out how many pieces we will need. It looks like we will have more than enough! That way if there are some pieces that have cracks or splits or big ugly knots, we can kind of cut around them and set those aside.
Steve started with one piece just to cut an outline of the lip edge of the windowsill and work to the right and then to the left. That is best to start with the hardest piece first and then work in each direction. The slabs of wood fit together with tongue and groove. We will be putting a white adhesive on the wall and then nailing them into place with his trim nail gun. Once all of the boards are up, I will shellac the knots and then give them two coats of my primer paint mix to make it all come together and it will look custom made!
That's as far as he got today--- one board --- because the football playoff games came on TV. This evening he is watching the second game of the day so I'd imagine we aren't doing anything more with the beadboard today or this evening. That's why I'm taking the time to write the blog while he is watching the TV.
Once the Packers lost last week and we're out of the playoffs, I kind of lose interest in any of the other playoff games. Although I will watch the Super Bowl, I'm just sad that the Packers aren't playing.
February is going to be cold and I don't see much of a thaw coming. I think we will stay snuggled in nice and warm, put our feet up, and look out the windows of the She Shed at the snow.
We are starting the new year with some more wonderful snow falling today, the winds are going to pick up later with gusts in the 40 to 50 mph range. Right now it's coming gently straight down and looks very peaceful. We have some Sub-Zero temperatures coming up in the next few days as well. Winter is here.
We are not going anywhere; remaining snug and cozy and warm in the house. So I thought I'd take the time to write about our New Year's weekend with our Family Christmas Celebration. It sure was busy --- go go go. Now I'm finally catching up and enjoying all of the memories dancing through my head.
It started on Friday night (New Years Eve) with babysitting some of the grandkids while our grown daughters and spouses went to a wedding in Green Bay. It was a wedding on the other side of the family and it was nice to be able to take the grandkids so the adults could enjoy themselves. The kids enjoyed making their own pizzas for supper and afterwards I took the two littlest girls over to the sewing machine. They were each going to sew a pillow and stuff it. What a perfect thing to have for a sleepover, a pillow made by themselves. They are only 5 and 6 years old and unable to reach the foot control and feed the fabric through the machine at the same time. I carefully do the actual sewing while they help feed the fabric and pull out the pins as each one gets close to the needle. They carefully watch all of the stitching on each of their pillows so they really feel like they had a part in making it. They get to snip with the ends of the threads with my tiny scissors that is shaped liked a bird.
Once the pillows were sewn around on all three sides it was time to get out the stuffing to stuff them full. Grandpa had a little fun when he grabbed a hunk of the stuffing and started up some Ho Ho Ho mischief of his own.
Both girls were sure surprised and hopped on his lap and told him what they want for Christmas next year! And also pointed out what a silly Grandpa he was....
Bit by bit they each stuffed their pillows. It's much better to stuff them with little clumps than throw in one big hunk at a time. They used up that entire bag of stuffing!
We carefully pinned them closed and top-stitched shut the open end. Here are the girls posing with their finished pillows. What a bunch of silly little things --- all full of giggles and laughter and joyous bursts of exuberance.
Jameson hung out and watched a movie with Grandpa while we gals were doing the sewing. Jameson is 13 and really isn't into sewing pillows. But he was enjoying the one-on-one time with Grandpa while I kept the girls out of his hair. Later he got all cozy and set up on the living room couch to sleep with little Binney. She likes all the attention she gets from him when it's calm and quiet.
As New Year's Eve wore on, surprisingly, Jameson was the first one to fall asleep! Those two giggly girls fell asleep at 9 but woke back up again. They were still giggling and wiggling around in the grandkid's new playroom at 11 p.m.! I finally had to put my foot down and tell them that was enough that they needed to go back asleep. None of us really made it till midnight. Such partiers, hey?
The next morning, the girls were so eager and ready to help do things for our upcoming Christmas celebration later on that day. We put away all the sleepover stuff and made the beds. The house was in ship shape.
Now for pumpkin pies!!! They helped with the pie crust and crimped and pinched the edges around the pans and they helped measure out all the ingredients into the mixer for making pumpkin pie. They sure like measuring and counting and scooping in the right amounts.
In 45 minutes the house smelled great
with the aroma of
freshly baked pumpkin pies.
The girls were pretty proud of their accomplishment,
and ask me to take their pic with the pies!
Later on in the morning two more grandchildren joined us. The plan was for each one to help make a different dish for our meal that evening. That way I could spread myself out throughout the day and give each one some special one-on-one time (and not wear me out in the process).
Here is Chelsea who is making her Great Grandma Muriel's fruit salad recipe. After draining the juice from two cans of pineapple and two cans of mandarin oranges into a pan, we stir in two small boxes or one large box of Jell-O "Cook" type vanilla pudding, not instant. No milk. The pudding mix and the juice thickens into a really wonderful sweet sauce.
Then Chelsea carefully poured the sauce over the pineapple chunks, mandarin orange pieces, sliced bananas, and maraschino cherries. We set it in the refrigerator to chill for a couple hours and thicken. Her dish contribution to the meal was now done.
Early in the afternoon, it was Jameson's turn to help out. We had purchased two large spiral hams and he needed to get them out of the packages and set into the big Nesco roaster. Using a big kitchen scissors is the easiest way to get them out of the thick plastic wrapping.
Once he had them all into place and the packaging discarded, then he poured our secret ingredient over them. Sprite soda. Yes, Sprite soda. That was a secret I learned a couple years ago from our oldest daughter Erin. Then he patted dark brown sugar all over the tops of the hams. Every 15 to 20 minutes he would come back with the turkey baster and suck up the juice on the bottom and redistribute it over the top of the hams. Because they are spiral sliced, the flavoring soaked right into the meat. He also learned how to use a meat thermometer to tell when they were close to getting done, so we could turn the roaster down to warm.
Now it was Clayton's turn to work on a dish. He likes the green bean casserole. We used the long skinny frozen frozen green beans from Aldi and cans of cream of celery soup, which are lighter in flavor than the heavier cream of mushroom soup. He added the layers of the French's onions and some spices over the top.
Now it's ready for a layer of tinfoil and then it will go in the oven along with the pan of stuffing that his mom was bringing over in a little bit. It was his first time ripping off tin foil from a roll, and he did great!
Steve then peeled up a whole big bag of potatoes and cooked them up and made a pan full of mashed potatoes. The day before I did a crock pot full of my Calico beans. This way everybody brought something or helped to make something to go with the meal.
Each child got some one-on-one time with Grandma in the kitchen. The parents came at about 4 p.m. to enjoy our Christmas family celebration.
The kids helped set the table and light the candles. Everything looked festive and pretty in the dining room, perfect for our gathering.
Desserts were laid out on the buffet
as well as some trays of cookies
and we had Tom and Jerry drinks.
The kids all ate at the kitchen table, (a.k.a the kids table), while the grown-ups filled their plates and had a relaxing adult evening meal in the dining room.
Afterwards everybody helped clean up and we had a wonderful evening of family celebration, opening presents, and playing cards. A few of the kids fell asleep and spent the night. That's par for the course. So they had a chance to sleep over opposite the other ones were there the night before. Claire was lucky, she got to sleep over both nights!
One of the special gifts we had given the children was that each child got a card. Inside the card was a printed message:
Our Christmas Present
to the WHOLE Family
this year will be our….
Yes, tomorrow, Sunday, January 2nd,
We will all gather at 1 p.m.
THE GOOD PLACE
For an afternoon of all the bowling you want to do,
play games, ping pong, bean bag toss
We will have
PIZZA, APPETIZERS, & PITCHERS OF SODA
Beverages of Choice for the parents.
Bring you best attitude
to have fun for the day
with Grandma and Grandpa Pfun !!!
Lasts until 5 or 6 p.m. or when we all get tired.
Afterwards we can all go to watch the Packer Game at our house.
Boy oh boy, were those kids ever excited! What a way to wind up the busy Holiday Vacation, by spending the final day of Christmas vacation together with Grandma and Grandpa. At 1 p.m. on Sunday we all gathered at the bowling alley.
We ordered up pizzas and pitchers of lemonade, the adults had a few other beverages and the kids had appetizers, while we were waiting for the pizzas to cook. We started bowling and sure had a lot of fun.
Littlest Claire, the bowling diva in her little bowling headband sewn by her sister Chelsea on her own sewing machine, decided to roll up her sleeves and her leggings to add a new stylish flare to her bowling costume.
We were given lanes 1 and 2 down on the end and our own area with some tables that we could put our pizzas on and the kids could eat in between bowling frames.
I haven't bowled in about 20 years, but it sure was fun. We didn't get high scores but we sure got a lot of laughs. I think we bowled four sets of games throughout the afternoon. Here is a compilation video clip of all of the fun we were having. It even includes me getting a strike!
Here's a picture of our little group at the bowling alley. I think this is the first annual family epic bowling day, I think we will repeat doing this every year. It sure was a lot of fun.
I think everyone had a good time. We were pretty tired by the time we were done and headed on home. From there we watched the Packer game, which they won, and we flopped into bed, totally worn out.