Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Crocheting Christmas Pot Holders



The other day I picked up some red, green, and variegated Christmas yarn at Walmart. It's their kitchen cotton in worsted weight. I was there buying soap supplies. I make these hand crocheted pot holders every year as gifts. My family and neighbors love them. They are an easy and quick project. The pattern is here on my blog somewhere. I will have to find it and post a link.

Today I had my toilet fixed. It hadn't been flushing properly. The plumber said that the water level was low, and that the flapper was damaged from the hard water. He rebuilt the toilet for me, and did a beautiful job.  It's  working perfectly now. The suction is amazing.  It is such a load off of my mind to have it flushing properly again. I love home maintenance. It's so rewarding.

When he wrote up the invoice, he gave me a 10% discount. I was a little sad that I look like a senior at age 54, but really appreciated the 10% off of the bill. That saved me $25.00! I am determined to be happy and grateful about getting older. I think trying to look young is a waste of energy. I need to start getting used to being seen as a senior citizen. It's wild...everyone looks so young to me now. It's an interesting shift in perception. How do you feel about getting older and becoming, (or being,) a senior?  

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Monday, October 15, 2018

A Vintage 1940's Chair For $25.00


Yesterday my neighbor around the corner was having a garage sale, so I stopped by to see what she was selling. She had a couple of gorgeous antique lamps, but I really don't have the space for them. She was sitting on this royal looking chair, and I commented on it. It's such a special piece. The label says Grand Rapids Quality. She told me that they were a high end furniture store back in the 1940's, and that it still had the plastic on it when she bought it. It looks like new, and is very comfortable. I think the color scheme is divine. I love the detail, especially the little tacks all along the edge.


She sold it to me because she has two of them, and doesn't have enough space in her living room. Initially I walked away from the chair, because I didn't either.  I decided to make room. Deals like this don't come around that often, so I donated a small table, my television, VCR, and DVD player to the Salvation Army. The house feels so much better. It's a petite cottage, and I don't want it to feel cluttered or claustrophobic. My mom taught me that a small house needs small furniture. The chair looks like it was made to be here. What a gift.  She also told me that antiques go together. They don't have to match.


I made a loaf of cranberry orange bread the other day. The recipe uses orange juice, which makes the bread very moist. It only has a couple of tablespoons of vegetable oil in it. My neighbor stopped by yesterday for a visit, and we each enjoyed a slice together on the front porch. The garden was lush and green from the recent rain.


It was starting  to get chilly, so we came inside where it was warm. I was glad that I had been doing my cleaning projects each day. I had just oiled the vintage furniture and antiques. They look so much better now. The wood seems to really absorb the oil.  


I made another batch of Shea Butter Goat's Milk Soap last week. I am stocking up for holiday orders. I think the next ones I do I will scent with cranberry fragrance oil. I love that aroma.

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Saturday, October 13, 2018

Mom's Beautiful Bathroom



One thing that my mother did very well was to remodel rooms to still fit the period of the house. This is the master bathroom. I love the shade of green that  she chose, and the tile and wallpaper. It still fits into the style of homes from that time.  That little room in back used to be connected with a window, and we would have to climb through it. She always thought that it would make a good nursery.


I love this tub and the decor. My mother could even make grab bars look elegant. I love the towels, the candles, and the seashells. The faucet handles are a nice touch, too.


My father always referred to this room as The Solarium. He said it would be a good place for a sick person to recover. I always found that amusing. There used to be a bed in there. The shutters let in the light nicely. I think it would make a sweet knitting or sewing room, don't you?

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Friday, October 12, 2018

My Mom:An Extraordinary Homemaker



My mom and I share the same birthday. She died three years ago. She had an amazing gift for the home, and I wanted to share some photos with you. They show her remarkable talent and attention to detail. She was such an artist. She just knew in her mind when shopping how things would look in a room. I just love these old antiques.

I grew up in an old house, and so did my parents. I love the charm and character of older homes, and the styles of those times. When traveling, I prefer the boutique hotels to those that are new and modern.  My mother understood the art of placement. She kept everything so clean and orderly. I never saw our house get messy or dirty, ever. We were taught from a young age to put things away and to have respect for our things. It was expected.


My mother believed that you shouldn't change the windows and doors of older homes. She felt that once people started remodeling, the houses lost the touches and details that made them special. She had a real eye for decor.  She understood the spirit of a house. She could have been a set designer. She told me that she would have done well in real estate. I think so, too.

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Thursday, October 11, 2018

A Birthday Celebration


I just returned home after celebrating our birthdays with my dad. He just turned eighty-eight, and I am now fifty-four. This photo was taken at the Fish Market. We went there for dinner, something new.  It's exciting to try new places. It was a delicious meal, and we sat at a table overlooking the water. I am very tired tonight, but will post more photos tomorrow. It was a delightful visit. Lula was a hit.

The sweater in this photo is one that I made for my mom five years ago. I wear all of her hand knits now. We were born on the same day. There were lots of coincidences during the trip. I felt like she was helping me from the other side.

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Monday, October 8, 2018

Cleaning Your Windows With Bar Soap

my view from my desk

Today I cleaned my front window with a bar of homemade soap. I used to use white vinegar and water, but I wasn't really happy with the results. The windows looked far better after using dish soap, which I learned about from the book, How Clean Is Your House. My mother even noticed the difference when she came to visit me. She commented on how much cleaner an antique mirror that I had looked. I told her that I had switched to using dish soap and distilled water. We have hard water where I live. It leaves a film on things, and makes cleaning much more challenging. It creates a smeared look. It's depressing to see after working hard at cleaning your home. It makes the laundry dingy, too. Soft water pumps are illegal here.  Still, I try.  


Today I discovered my first baby Cinderella pumpkin. Once that flower opens, (which is a female,) I can pollinate it with a male blossom. I am hoping there is enough time for a pumpkin to develop. We shall see. I remember seeing them growing very late in the season at another house, years ago. It was in November.

green Algerian tangerines

  
tangerine turning orange


I have been making more headway on my deep cleaning. Sometimes it feels overwhelming, so I just do a few hours a day. I am amazed at how fast professional housekeepers work. I may update my windows, as these slats are very hard to clean. I have to remove each one individually. The more I clean, the more I find things that are dirty. (and I live alone.) I can't imagine how I'd feel with a husband and kids. I remember my mother cleaning like a maniac, all day long. Now I see why. It makes me feel kind of sad for her. She tried so hard to be the perfect housekeeper. How exhausting...

The garden is coming along well. When I see the weather in other parts of the world, and in the rest of the USA, I feel very fortunate. Gardening takes a lot of time and energy, but the results are worth it. I love how healthy the stalks of this zucchini plant are.

 
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Sunday, October 7, 2018

Watching The Sky At Dusk



The sun has been going down much earlier, now that it's October. I love to sit out on the porch at dusk and observe the colors of the sky.  They shift and change shape, like a movie.  It's such a beautiful and active scene. I find that I can take the most artistic photos at that hour. The one above is of my neighbor's house.  I took it the other night  when we were expecting a storm, but we didn't get any rain. I used to live there when I was thirty-three.  At that time it was a very old and simple cabin. I used to look at my current house from the window and think, "I wish I could buy that little cottage and live there by myself. It could be so cute."  My neighbor  and her husband built the home in the photo  from the ground up; I think it's very impressive.  


I am still harvesting zucchinis from the garden. I love how green they are. I've been boiling them in a small amount of water, and then serving them with butter, salt, and pepper. Yesterday I made an old fashioned casserole with tortillas, green chiles, cheddar cheese, and a couple of cans of cream soup. The recipe isn't very healthy, but I love the taste.   I got the recipe from one of my neighbors. It was popular during the 1950's. It seems that I like everything that was in style during that time. I sent the recipe to my mom, and she used to make it, too. My father and brothers loved it.  It reminds me of her. You layer everything, like a lasagna.

yesterday's hike

I am slowly adjusting to the Birkenstock sandals. Instead of wearing them for such a long time, I  just put them on for a couple of hours each day. It's made a huge difference. Thank you to those of you who commented about them. I appreciate your input. I did some more research, and plan to give myself two weeks to break them in slowly. My feet feel relieved today. As a dancer, I tend to push my body, and had I done that with these shoes, it would have been torture for my feet. I have a feeling that these will become my favorite shoes, in time. 

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Saturday, October 6, 2018

A Beautiful Hike


Yesterday I took Lula hiking at Vasquez Rocks. It's such a gorgeous setting. The weather was perfect. We started on the Pacific Coast Trail, and then switched over to the equestrian trail.


The sky was a bright shade of  blue, and  it was crystal clear. I let Lula run off the leash. She was overjoyed to be free. There weren't many hikers on the trail.  Everyone that we encountered was very friendly. I've got to take Lula hiking more often; the trails in this area are some of the finest in California. The Pacific Crest Trail has  been filmed in the movies. It was the setting for Wild, starring Reese Witherpoon. 


Today I went shopping and bought a few things that I needed.  I found a pair of brown clogs at Ross. They are good quality  leather and  feel extremely comfortable.  I love clogs because you can  slip them on easily. I also bought my first pair of Birkenstocks' sandals. I found them at T.J. Maxx. They only had one pair, and they were exactly my size. They were expensive, but the reviews say that they last for years and years. Everyone raves about how comfortable they are. My ballet teacher used to wear them. As a teenager, I hated the way they looked, but this pair is a very cute, casual style.

I wore them for several hours at home today. I'm sorry to say that my feet are killing me. I feel like I have been walking on marbles. Hopefully it's temporary. I think the cork has to form to match the shape of your bones. I can't believe how my feet feel now. They are practically throbbing. It's ironic. Fortunately I have plenty of other shoes that are broken in and fit well.  I hope that these become as comfortable as everyone says that they will.  Supposedly it takes a week.  Do any of you have Birkenstocks? How do you like them? They are very sturdy and well made. I love to buy quality shoes and clothing that last for years and years.

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Thursday, October 4, 2018

Cleaning A Dirty Window That Was Infested With Termites

the bedroom window, sans the dirt

Today I finally tackled my dreaded bedroom window. I was afraid to look behind the blind that used to cover it. It is a VERY neglected space. I have this bad habit of doing the housekeeping chores that I enjoy, (like vacuuming, washing dishes, and sweeping the porch,) repeatedly. (even if they don't need doing.) I tend to skip the things that I hate to do. I put them off, sometimes for months. It's a terrible habit. I should clean what's dirty. I know, it's obvious.

Cinderella Pumpkin vine meandering through the front cottage garden



I pulled up the pink window blind, removed the screws, and threw it away.  It was too far gone to clean it. I've had it there for twenty years, and I didn't take care of it. Oh well.  I cleaned the window with white vinegar water and an old rag. I vacuumed up the termites and the dust, then cleaned the windowsill with homemade liquid soap and water. I replaced the freshly washed curtains, and voila! What a difference. I can't believe I waited so long to address this mess. It's a huge load of of my mind.  It is now a functional window. I also sprayed some ant and roach killer in the crevices where the termites were. I will see if they return. If they do, I will look into getting some orange oil for treatment.    

storm clouds and a pretty evening sky tonight

Dealing with the housekeeping chores that I have avoided has been very liberating. I'm just glad that I don't have a huge house.  After finishing the window,  I pulled out the dresser, removed all of the drawers, and cleaned the inside and outside of it. I vacuumed underneath it and got out all of the dust, dog hair, and dirt that had collected on the carpet. It only took a few minutes. I don't know why I wait so long to do these things. It always feels like such a huge project in my mind, and then when I actually do it, it's easy.  I think I will just continue to do one unenjoyable housekeeping project per day. That way it's doable, and I feel like I'm making headway.  My mother would be very pleased. She never let her house get this way. How is your housekeeping going?

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Wednesday, October 3, 2018

The Healing Power of Rest


   This morning I woke up feeling like a new person.  Thank you for all of your comments and concern. Now that I am healthy again I realize that yesterday I had some nausea and probably a fever. All of that from a simple bee sting! I don't own a thermometer,  but now I think that's what it was. It also made me weak. I am normally a very strong person, physically. I had trouble unscrewing lids and even turning on a vintage light switch. It's so rare that I get sick, so I usually don't realize it at the time. I go into denial.  Once I feel better, I get a clearer view. I guess I have a sensitivity to bee stings. The first one was no problem, it was the second one that hit me hard. Body chemistry is so related to energy and health. I'm going to buy a thermometer to keep in the medicine cabinet. A good night's sleep really let my body  do its healing work. I am back to taking long walks with Lula and will do yoga tonight.


This morning I planted five artichoke plants. I still have to find space for one more, and plant the six pack of beets that I bought at the nursery. I fed the zucchini plants and the pumpkins some fresh compost. They are looking very healthy and lush. They love this weather. It doesn't stress them, like the heat does. I am training the chickens to take turns eating worms. They are so intelligent, and they really listen. I love watching them; they are so funny.


I started knitting another shawl. I'm using the remaining Scheepjes Whirl yarn from the last one that I made. Working with these shades of pink is so enjoyable. I love the La La Simple Shawl pattern, so I'm doing it again. This one will be for my little neighbor down the street.  I  think the color will be just gorgeous on her. She's so pretty.


I sauteed some fresh spinach in olive oil and garlic for lunch. I had it with leftover cauliflower cheese casserole.  Having a hot meal always makes me feel satisfied and nourished. It's still warm enough to eat outside on the porch in the afternoon. Dinner is now indoors, at the breakfast nook.  How is the weather where you live?  I hope everyone is staying healthy.

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Tuesday, October 2, 2018

Eating Well and Washing The Curtains


Today I removed the bedroom curtains from their racks, shook them out on the back porch, and washed them in hot water. I put baking soda and homemade liquid soap in  my Kenmore washing machine. It's a thirty year old top loader, and it works beautifully. I've only had to have it serviced a couple of times. After laundering them, I hung the floral curtains out on the clothesline to dry. The bedroom feels totally different now with fresh, clean, crisp curtains.

I was surprised at how swollen my foot had become from the bee sting yesterday. It was red and itchy, as well. It looked like an old lady's foot.  I took a bath in sea salt and baking soda, and that provided a lot of relief. After that I washed my hair and took a cold shower. Hydrotherapy always helps me release negative energy. I think since I've had a couple of bee stings in the past week my body had a little more trouble fighting off the venom from this one. It felt toxic.  I felt slightly queasy and almost had a hot flash, which I never get.


After watering the garden I made a salad with the lettuce from the lettuce patch and some spinach from Costco. I baked a few potatoes in the toaster oven, and fried up some bacon pieces that I bought on sale at Sprouts. There was enough salad for lunch and dinner, and I reheated some of the cauliflower cheese casserole that I made the other day. It feels comforting to eat healthy, fresh food. I gave Lula a potato as a treat. I bought a ten pound bag of them for three dollars.

It's interesting how our bodies have to regularly fight off things like infections, colds, flus, and inflammation from insect bikes. I took it easy on the couch, elevated my feet, and enjoyed a book called The Not So Big Life, by Sarah Susanka. I love her writing and philosophies on home and spirituality.

I watered the garden this morning. This is the lettuce patch.

I decided not to do our three mile walk today, and just gave Lula an extra bike ride in the evening. We chatted with the neighbors, and she enjoyed running alongside me. While I was laying on the couch, she kept placing her paw on my arm. She tried several times to climb up on the couch with me, which I don't allow.  She was very insistent. It's funny how animals sense when you have an injury or illness. It seemed like she wanted to lay on top of me. I never thought a bee sting would cause me to need rest, but this time I felt it was what I should do. All of the extra cleaning that I've been doing has made it a very comforting and peaceful place to recuperate.  

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Monday, October 1, 2018

Housekeeping and Mental Health



Since I have started   a bit of deep cleaning  each day, I am amazed at how much better and more balanced I feel. The refrigerator looks clean and organized, the washing machine is shining, and the stove looks much better than it did. There is still a bit of baked on grease under the burners that I haven't been able to completely remove, but the energy in my home feels calm and nurturing. Things are moving in the right direction.

Tomorrow I need to tackle the air conditioner and windowsill in the kitchen. It's covered with dust. Yuk. Those undone chores linger in our subconscious. I know where all of my messes are, even if they are hidden.

I made some liquid soap on the vintage stove  yesterday. I used homemade soap scraps and eight cups of water. I used it to clean the windowsills today. It does an excellent job. I like the non toxic cleaners so much better than the popular ones we used when we were kids. They take more elbow grease and effort, but they don't have fumes that hurt your throat, and cause diseases.  The soap feels simple and pure. I use it to clean my floors, too. It's so versatile.

This bougainvillea  is not mine, but I hope to grow some in my driveway. It's spectacular! (and drought tolerant)

I've been working on decluttering, as well.  Today I went through my books and put several of them in the car. I will donate them to the library next time I drive into town. I packed my back issues of Dance Magazine, as well. I'm working on paring down my living space to just the essentials. When you live in a small house, it can feel cluttered and messy very easily. I am going to continue to sort through my things and cull as much as I can. It feels so much better when there is breathing space in a room. I do yoga each night in the living room. I'm striving to make my house have the airiness of a hotel. It's working. I'm feeling lighter and freer.  I like the idea that someone can be enjoying the books and magazines that I have already read, too.


I have been stung by a bee twice in my home this week. It's very strange. Both times a bee was buzzing at the window, next to my desk. I must have stepped on the first one. Today, it felt like a stinger just dropped on to the top of my foot. Bee venom is amazingly powerful. My foot is still tender. I made a paste of baking soda, and that provided relief. Ice was helpful, too. From now I am not going barefoot. I have switched to homemade socks and slippers with a rubber sole.

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Sunday, September 30, 2018

Deep Cleaning In The Home


Today I did some intense cleaning in my kitchen. I pulled out the drain pans on my vintage stove and scoured them with baking soda. (bicarb) Some of the grease was baked on, so I heated up some white vinegar on the stove, poured it into the pans,  and used a knife to scrape off the stickiness. Phew! It's a satisfying feeling to take care of what you own.

The sides of my appliances were also splattered with grease, so I scrubbed those clean with a rag dipped in baking soda and hot water. I also cleaned off the top of the refrigerator. It was caked with a layer of  dust. I really should do these chores more often, and then it wouldn't feel like such a big job. I tend to avoid them. It's always easier than I think it will be, once I tackle the task. Oh well, it's done, and I feel very relieved.


Yesterday I bought a new set of sheets for the bed. My old fitted bottom sheet had started to rip. My foot was sliding into it. The threads  had worn from daily use. The new ones are 100% cotton. I had to check the labels carefully, because so many of the sheets at T.J. Maxx were 100% polyester. I prefer natural fibers. I was trying to remember if the sheets my mom bought us when we were growing up were cotton and polyester, or all cotton. I think they were a blend. I did a load of laundry today, and hung everything out on the the clothesline to dry. We have sunshine here year round, so I enjoy taking advantage of it to dry my towels, clothing, and bedding. I also washed a few of my sun dresses by hand, wrung out the excess water in my Nina Spin Dryer, and hung those out on the clothesline to dry, as well.


The soaps came out just as I had hoped. I unmolded (unmoulded) them this morning. I'm very pleased with the shade of green that I got from using just a half teaspoon of the green mica powder from Brambleberry. When mixed into  the milk soap batter, it makes such a muted, soft pastel shade. Goat's milk soap can be tricky, because of temperature. It turns brown and tan, depending on how hot your oils and lye/milk mixture are. I let my oils cools for a couple of hours before  mixing the lye with the frozen goat's milk ice cubes.


There were some excellent bargains at the grocery stores the other day. I found Jazz apples and a late variety of peaches for .50 a pound. I bought  this large watermelon at Sprouts for $3.99. I shared it with my neighbor. It's huge! I set it out in the sun for a couple of days, for maximum sweetness.  That's a trick I learned from another one of my neighbors. This is the old fashioned type watermelon, with black seeds. It's my favorite.  What's happening in your home?

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