Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Nancy Bariluk-Smith, November's Featured Artist

This month’s featured artist is Nancy Bariluk-Smith and her  I got to better know Nancy over a cup of tea at a small, informal gathering of women artists at the end of a show this last year. The event turned into a lovely communal sharing of the joys and frustrations we have as artists of different mediums. Nancy impressed me then and now.  Her humor combined with insightful comments made me want to learn from her extensive and varied experience as an artist and person.  I have learned even more about her through her website.

She is open, sensitive, introspective, philosophical and delightful.  It is clear that she is a seasoned artist of different mediums.  Despite her preference for doing lampwork glass beads and jewelry, art is an expression of her total person.  Her beadwork is unique, beautiful, one-of-a-kind, and imaginative sculptured art.  Whether worn as focal pendants or complimentary bracelets and earrings, they will catch the eye of the most discerning.  Each is an artistic masterpiece.
Her former talents as a textile artist have not been left behind in her jewelry.  Using hand dyed ribbons, waxed linens, threads and cords, she combines whatever compliments her exquisite beads. I am struck with her free-flowing color pallets, and limitless imagination.  They indeed reflect what Nancy is about, a beautiful artist that reflects the beauty surrounding her.

Don’t miss checking out her website.  She has some wonderfully fun and creative offers, like her Earring- of- the- Month-Club, and by simply leaving a comment on her website November 1st, 2nd or 3rd you are registering to win The Great Common Thread Give-Away for the month of November, a sample of her jewelry! Treat yourself to a visit to her website by simply clicking on the link to her Spinning Glass Studio and hope you win this month’s free give-away and better get to know Nancy and her work! 

Ready or Not It's Halloween!

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Thoughts and Prayers

My thoughts and prayers goes out to all of those whose lives have been altered by Hurricane Sandy and the Monster Storm of 2012! Our preparation seemed to be unnecessary here, and yet I couldn't help but think that perhaps the weather predictions that struck fear in us were useful to get many to prepare for the worst and evacuate as needed or perhaps the fatalities would have been greater! I do not minimize the largeness of the disasters of this storm!

In the tough times in my life, I have found God's grace sufficient for all my needs, and pray that that will be the case for each and every person facing what seems to be insurmountable problems at this time.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Reflections of Myself

Unlike Jon Katz, my blog will be about getting caught up in the hype of the Frankenmonster Sandy Storm that is revving up to hit us in Vermont. I have a TV in almost every room, thanks to my electronic minded husband and so I plug in many times every day and succumb to news hype on a regular basis! Storms generate real fear ever since marrying my husband. I have already spoken of his Irish luck. Lightening has struck him three times and our house has gotten hit by a tornado! I now expect the worse, pray for the best, and am relieved and thank the Lord when anything passes us by!

I have already sent my husband off to get water and batteries, and I have pulled out the emergency basket left over from Irene. With dreaded anticipation I await the expected attack and I have already resurrected memories of seeing Irene's damage in Vermont. Roads, buildings, homes, covered bridges and even mountains washed away in flood waters while my husband was in China on business reassuring me from afar that such storms don't happen here in Vermont!

I am not lulled into complacency by his false reassurance that he is "home" for this storm and that with his trusty cell phone he is connected to the storm's path and will provide for my safety! He is already denying that it will be as catastrophic as they are predicting, and so I am the "sole martyr" in my family, frantically preparing for the worst. I am filling all plastic containers with water and putting them into my freezer to fill the empty spaces, and am throwing all flashlights in the emergency basket. I will bake bread, and cupcakes, after all food is comfort and needs to be available for feasting while disaster hits and I have learned my catechism well; even Christ had a last supper!!

I will do my laundry and vacuum, and attempt to use every electrical appliance if I am do do without electricity for almost two weeks! I lost my power years ago and have learned well how to do without it, BUT doing without electricity is another story! I do like running water, and heat and other such conveniences. No, I was not the one that added an electric hair dryer to the emergency basket found on the shelf in our dark basement, found by flashlight in the middle of a storm one night, but I would add my electric sewing machine, and my 18 baskets of wool if I had thought that we would have to evacuate!!

I have an old treadle machine but it is buried or I would have an emergency sewing center set up and ready for such times as instead of tranquilizers for storms, I do plan sewing projects to divert my attention from howling winds. I am going to clear paths to get to all my projects without killing myself in the dark, though I didn't see that on any disaster planning lists!

I am counting on my husband and daughter to do the fall clean up in the yard, an effort procrastinated, waiting for white snow to cover everything. No, serious storm winds would likely propel flower pots and garden tools through our windows and being the control freak that I am, I need to calm this storm as best as I can!! For Irene, I insisted on tying the lawn furniture and our BBQ to our deck, perhaps hoping that if we floated away, my ark would have everything we needed!

No, unlike Jon Katz, I will turn on the TVs all over the house, as I vacuum everywhere today, and will heed the warnings and prepare for The Second Coming and I will post my last fall blog in case this monster storm drives us right into winter, making it, too soon, unseasonable. Coincidentally, it was titled A Reflection of Myself and fits right in with an updated reflection of yet another side of myself...and so I will simply continue the theme of this right into the next. I think that is what Garrison Keillor does when he tells stories? I had planned on keeping part of myself a mystery to my readers, but not now. I will be transparent and show all of myself in one blog!? Well, almost all of myself! I am thick and have many sides actually!

So, onto yet another reflection of my self, as seen during our annual fall foliage ride that my husband and I took right before Columbus Day Weekend, which is the peak time for leaf peeping in Vermont. Usually we are late season fall leaf peepers, finding time only after most of the leaves are already on the ground. No matter where the leaves are, we still enjoy our annual foliage fall ride in Vermont! Stopping for hot cider donuts and fresh apple cider and bringing home some fallen leaves to wax and display, we don't miss this annual event to enjoy Vermont's scenery every fall!

This year we got out to sight see the day after a craft show. We were too tired to stop to photograph much and we were just grateful to be seeing the beautiful leaves while they were still on the trees! Suddenly we passed a strange looking field of giant sunflowers. We couldn't believe our eyes and turned the car around taking time and energy that only moment earlier we didn't have to get pictures of this macabre scene. Clearly the state of what were once beautiful giant sun flowers, gone by seemed to resonate with us! This was truly our sort of foliage.

Though I have issues with turning my ankles on un-level ground, I jumped out of the car and waded into the rutted field to catch close up pictures. I related with these poor flowers that were clearly past their prime. I half expected them to be like the flowers in Disney's rendition of Alice in Wonderland and to raise their heads and suddenly complain about their ailments and conditions. Clearly all stooped over, they were suffering, like mysel, from some sort of rheumatism. Some even had their faces planted on the ground. Yes, I thought of them as reflections of myself, as I felt just like they looked!!

As I post these personal photos, and write about them, I am reminded of a homily by one of my favorite priests. He was a bargain shopper like myself and brought "home" a note-worthy bargain: an old weather-worn statue of the Blessed Mother. It had been outside in another church's garden for a few decades and was now pock marked and worn. Our priest had an artist in the church paint her for our church garden, but before putting her there, he placed her in the front of the church and gave a whole homily on her, focusing on the real life of Mary. "For all that Jesus' mother had gone through," he said, "this statue likely bears a closer resemblance to the real Mary for no matter how pure and radiant her life, she likely did show a bit of wear and tear after all she had weathered", he proclaimed.

It truly made me appreciate my life and appearance with a new perspective. No longer slim, or beautiful on the outside, yet my faith, resolve and perseverance is stronger than ever! Aren't many of us like these once beautiful sun flowers, perhaps a bit worn and droopy faced, faded and anything but radiant and glowing, but still standing, however bent, giving our gifts and stretching ourselves to weather yet another storm? I believe like these flowers, we can take new pride in our stretch marks and extra fluff, wrinkles and white hairs. Age comes to us all and we are not supposed to look like we are twenty forever, especially after surviving catastrophes and disasters and other such storms in our lives!

We can relax from all of the peer pressures of our youth. Growing deeper roots and gaining character that helps us to weather whatever storms come our way, even monster ones, with faith, confidence, humor, love, patience, and forgiveness?.....Well, OK, I still have some things to work on!!

Monday, October 22, 2012

A New Easy Recipe

Of course most domestic-sorts-of-blogs recommend new recipes to their readers.  Don’t we all struggle with doing the same ‘ol boring recipes, especially those that are easy to fix?  Well, I am going to recommend one today that I’ll bet you never imagined.  I know I hadn’t until the day it was first discovered!

Before telling you about it, I just have to give credit to my daughter, Sarah Kate for she is the one that created this new treat!  She is now almost 25 years old, and rarely cooks and to all of those that don’t cook much, this might be the dish for you.  Again, it takes little preparation and truly, even the most clumsy will find it easy to prepare.

My daughter is much like myself.  She seems to have an inner clock that has gone awry and it is constantly set for about fifteen to thirty minutes behind standard time making her race around every morning and scrambling to get out the door to get to work almost on time. She is also a creature of habit and her breakfast meals rarely vary. She fixes herself a travel cup of Earl Grey tea with lots of honey and a bit of milk, a cinnamon-raisin English muffin with lots of butter that she wraps for her lunch and to eat on the way to work, she fixes herself peanut butter toast with honey, and to keep the honey from dripping, she carefully swirls the honey into the peanut butter with tiny circular motions.  These details are critical in preparation of this recipe that I am going to share with you.

Before I get to the recipe, I must tell you that in my youth, our extended family reunions with twenty-one cousins (though rarely all gathered at the same time) were always eating festivals. As we had to make our own fun, simple conversation and inexpensive games were the bill-of-fare, and made up games were the best, as they were most affordable.  We were a creative bunch when we would get together and contests became games that would serve all sorts of purposes.  The winners were rarely awarded a prize, except for laud and appreciation and record in our memories of being labeled a winner by a large and unseemly crowd.

I truly think my mother and her sisters created “Make the Most Creative Sandwich Contest Game” so as to not be bothered at lunch time with having to think up what to serve, much less please this crowd. Out would come bread, butter, pickles, lunch meats, cheese, tomatoes and lettuce and most importantly peanut butter.  Other condiments and relished treats were included as well, canned pork and beans, honey, maple syrup, grape jelly, mayonnaise, mustard, catsup, celery, radishes and of course chips of various sorts. Basically emptying out the refrigerator of left overs was also part of the game and the only hard fast rule was that after creating the most creative sandwich, you had to eat it.  This may seem like a digression, but really isn’t for my new recipe would have surely won for the most original sandwich of the day…so original, but likely coupled with a disclaimer NOT to try this at home!

Our favorite sandwich combinations  that actually became family favorites were peanut butter and pickles (all sorts of pickles will work for this from dill to bread and butter, though the latter added sweetness like jelly with a nice crunch as well). Open face peanut butter toast with maple syrup was another treat! Peanut butter and potato chip was still another favorite.  Peanut butter was also tried with mayonnaise, and also with mustard, though those pleased only a few.

My mother’s specialties always included a lot of butter, I think it made whatever she ate slide down a little easier.  So along came bread and butter with sliced radishes or cucumbers or peanut butter with butter, never one of my favorites, but judging by the heart attacks in the family were not just favorites of my mother's!

There were of course the plain catsup and bread or mayonnaise and bread sandwiches. Traditional open face pork and bean sandwiches had to be eaten with a fork and plenty of beans (my mother, of course, added a rich layer of butter first). To this day I like jelly with my ham or turkey lunch meat sandwiches, and of course from that grew the post Thanksgiving sandwich of turkey, mayonnaise and cranberry sauce sandwich, though my cousin, Mary Margaret had little spirit of adventure and would stick with a fail-safe peanut butter and jelly sandwich, and skip the Thanksgiving dinner altogether. Yes, although quite and creative in every other way, her cuisine choices were limited as a child, and she stuck with her PPJ sandwich as an alternative to most meals. I believe that since she has grown up she now eats a traditional turkey dinner with her family, though a fact check should be done to eliminate false rumors.

My oldest daughter liked a plain ham sandwich without the bread, but never in my day did anyone come up with the combination that my daughter, Sarah Kate came up with—ever!!  Though her’s likely breaks the cardinal rule that one must truly eat it, for after its creation, it was merely left for discovery by others.

Here it is, revealed at last, a first to be sure.  But not before I tell you the secret behind the creation….a nagging mother!  You see, if rushed to get out the door and stacking your napkin-wrapped, English muffin lunch on top of your travel mug with honey-d tea, and then on top of that you place a napkin with your peanut butter toast with nicely swirled honey on top, and juggling your purse on your opposite shoulder while one-handedly opening the door, a nagging mother's admonition of “don’t you dare drop that” could jinx even the most capable juggler and you too might be lucky to make it as far as the car before you do just that, and there in the driveway is the final ingredient, driveway rocks…. There you have it, nicely cured in the hot sunshine for a day before discovering what even the birds will not eat…Peanut Butter Toast with Swirled Honey and Driveway Rocks (PBTSHDR).

No wonder we have an ant problem!!

This will likely be a meal that will sit heavy and might be a bit binding too, unless your driveway is covered with a fine gravel, in which case the fiber content will likely have the opposite effect. This recipe is designed for those that have to dine so quickly that  they need to swallow their meal whole, washed down with some nice hot soothing sweetened tea.  Chewing is actually contraindicated unless you relish dental work! My mother would have definitely added a thick layer of butter to help it slide down more easily!!

Another favorite of Sarah Kate’s seems to be a variation on this same theme, but if dropped while going out the door it will simply be a Peanut Butter Toast and Swirled Honey with Dirt and Dog Hair (PBTSHDDH).  Having to stop to clean the rug is really a drag however and definitely adds clean up time after, and causes tardiness for sure unless you plan for this extra time factor!

I cannot write this silly blog without adding a bit of warning that my oldest daughter, Hannah  revealed just recently that hating any sandwich made with bread, but especially peanut butter and honey, she once stuck this sandwich on the side of her babysitter’s house. She had been sent outside in her back yard to eat her lunch and was resolved to leave it for the birds.  Some sandwiches can have that effect, though likely if she had tried that at my house corporal punishment would likely have ensued! Now I know why she wasn’t the babysitter’s favorite child and is still working hard to compete with her sister for this honor and after Sarah Kate’s PBTSHDDH on the rug by the door, Hannah might be sliding, quite literally, into first place…and I wonder who they got their competitive spirit from?

So there you have it…what do you serve, when you have run out of ideas and want someone to take over in the arena of preparing meals? Perhaps Peanut Butter and Honey-d Toast with Driveway Rocks might be just the thing!

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Picture This

When I wrote about cleaning my refrigerator, I had a thought that turned out to be quite prophetic and so now I am writing to warn my readers to be careful about their thoughts, for they can be powerful indeed! I wrote "that if I procrastinated long enough, perhaps my gourmet-blackened-oven would just be carried out of the house" instead of cleaning it…Well, it almost happened, but just in the reverse, and today I am going to blog about it, so my readers may profit from my experience. Unlike my children, I know that you, my friends, will want to learn from me and NOT go through this yourselves!

Apparently I have decided that being the owner of Little House Home Arts should entail a certain domestic image, and so I have embarked on a house-cleaning frenzy. Documenting my refrigerator's disgusting condition and writing of my oven’s gourmet-blackened-bottom, was like a cleansing confession. With great resolve, I decided to tackle the job of cleaning my oven next and even had my husband purchase a can of Easy Off, knowing it would be anything but easy!

Too many quilts to sew as well as too many diets have caused me to avoid cooking which has led to my kids cooking instead.  Rule of thumb at my house, “if you make a mess, clean it yourself or better yet, call in mom or dad to clean it”—anything and everything, except the oven (and refrigerator).  Perhaps we have just acquired a taste for smoked foods, just like my husband has acquired a taste for burnt foods prior to my kids taking over the cooking! (I did not take pictures, and so this is when I ask you to picture the bottom of my oven-- all black.)

Mind you, I never raised my children to NOT clean up after themselves.  That is simply the curse that follows the declarations of someone so brassy as to tell everyone that “my kids would never__________”.  You fill in the blank.  My mouth was so hinged that I said it all, BEFORE having kids of my own, and I am now paying for it, though my kids aren’t kids anymore, but “alien adult children”, developmentally arrested when it comes to cleaning at home, though one is temporarily a professional house-cleaner. I do have pictures of my adult alien children, but just in case someone in our small town reads my blog, I had best NOT post their pictures, so again picture them big and above-average-intelligence (you can tell by the look in their eyes) and  one dressed to kill, with a mop in her hand! Yes, my youngest dresses up when she cleans others houses!)

But I digress—back to the oven.  After so many years of not cleaning it, I quite forgot that it is a self-cleaning oven and The Brycer reminded me when I proudly showed him my clean refrigerator and commented that the oven was next, and boasted of having my can of Easy Off ready to go.  “You can use that if you want, but I would simply push the self-clean button and open all the windows to keep the house well-ventilated.”

His helper added when viewing the bottom of my oven that looked like the bottom of a BBQ pit, “It might smell like the house is burning down, but just let it run its cycle and you will have a clean oven”! Then The Brycer smiled and said that if I did it while everyone was gone, I could brag about how hard I worked to clean it when they came home. (Picture The Brycer holding my can of Easy Off and pointing to my oven's self-clean button. Here again, I am protecting the real identity of The Brycer.)

It sounded perfect to me, a clean oven, a nap and bragging rights later!  This would indeed be my style of cleaning!  I wondered if there was a button that would work to clean my house?  Maybe if I got a big red Staple’s Easy Button, and push it when The Brycer comes, I could feel that sense of magical control over my house.  There are some things that The Brycer doesn't clean and I was sad to think that there were no self-cleaning closets, basements, or garages.  I especially needed that feature now in my craft storage room to make room for my new wools!  I couldn’t help but think of the possibilities, especially since I did, once upon a time, see a special built house that had whole walls of storage shelves and closets behind the antique looking paneled walls. Special bins were also included for collectors like me!  Dream on Jane girl! (Picture a big red Staple's Easy Button. I will request one for Christmas--do they still make them or am I, per usual, seeking the obscure and obsolete again?)

Still, there was something to be mistrusted.  A self-cleaning oven is simply too good to be true and how many times did I learn about things or people too good to be true?  Well, add my self-cleaning oven to the list.  Oh, it all worked well enough and my oven is now clean all right, but my push-a-button-clean-job became no secret or cause for bragging! The oven door wouldn't open long after it cooled down, and my husband had to trip the circuit breaker which only made my oven flash “lock” on its screen.  I also cannot set it to bake or broil and it doesn't heat, but it is nice and clean!! ( Picture this: my husband with smoke coming out of his ears as it wasn't safe to take his picture at this moment besides which it might have been all the proof that was needed to have him committed, but then how would he go to work?)

What is to become of my beautiful clean stove?  As yet there is no resolution to my story except to say that I have the perfect excuse for not cooking dinner now and unless my kids feel like cooking with sticks over a campfire in the back yard, no more pizzas baked on the racks that drip and re-blacken my oven! I’ll be making “quilt sandwiches” to be served with mini tomatoes or other fruit, with cakes and ice cream sundaes for dessert and all made with felted wool, stuffed with crushed walnut shell and a sampler on my kitchen wall that reads “Careful what you think, like silent wishes, they might come true”.  I could, however be onto the best weight loss diet ever--felted wool whatever with crushed walnut shell stuffing--easy, no bake, calorie free, stitch-only, recipes!

But the rest of the story has already been lived out.  Picture this: a Sears repair man, complete with white paper booties over his shoes so he didn't track in my house and leaving me with his repair bill for $75 for diagnosing the problem and another estimated bill for $404. Yep, the automatic door motor that keeps the door shut during self-cleaning burned up, and the repair man jury rigged it so I can cook with it, but it will never be a self-cleaning oven again....and there you have it, self-cleaning ovens ARE too good to be true, at least for me!!

Apparently the self-clean was a one-time feature and for only $404, it can be fixed to clean again, at least once?  Now it does seem that the next time it gets it gourmet-blackened-bottom, that can of Easy Off might be just the thing? And does anyone know where I can get paper booties to go over shoes in all sizes.  They would be perfect to keep my house clean for longer than a day AFTER I push the red button and The Brycer cleans my floors! (Picture my family: The Brycer (yes, he is adopted and now part of my family), my husband, me, my alien adult girls, the dog and the cat all in white paper booties.  Perhaps they could have a polish in them to make my floors shine?

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Computer Crash = Cleaning the Refrigerator

Every morning I go to my computer and check my e-mails.  It's my way of procrastinating.  I am not a morning person.  It is my substitute for a cup of coffee. Excepting chocolate, I don't do caffeine.  My computer is my stimulant.

But yesterday morning my computer didn't start right, and instead gave me a bizarre message in some sort of code.  The only readable part had to do with being unable to boot.  I called my daughter, Hannah, my computer guru.  I wanted to call my husband as well, for this was serious, but he has been too distracted at work and others have noticed.  We have had several weeks now of one crisis after another. Fortunately they are not health crises, just financial ones, but they too can take their toll, stretching us too far!  My husband always said that if it weren't for bad luck, we'd have no luck at all and it seems as though we had hit another streak of bad luck, except for the Labor Day Sale.

Hannah, my daughter directed me to shut off my computer and restart it.  I did as she said.  My machine made a whirring noise like it was going to start and then simply clicked itself off, and the screen blacked out.   Both Hannah and I concurred this was not a good thing.  "Try it again," she said and I tried it, not once, but three more times.  Insanity is when you do the same thing over and over, getting the same results.  I was no doubt, certifiable!

Hannah said, "I'll be home early today and will check it then".  My response was in keeping with my mental state--I panicked.  I had spent my week writing and imagined it all gone.  I freaked and whined into the phone, and then I tried to console myself and muttered something about having lots else to do.

My habit of procrastination means many things don't get done. I made myself a piece of toast and sat down to collect myself and made a short do-list from my master do-list.  I am a list maker in the extreme.  My short list, however was very short: sew a flower pot pincushion and clean out the refrigerator.

My mood was dark.  I was still freaked out about my computer.  It was brand new and my data had just been transferred over a week before, but still, I feared, days of work down the drain, along with my mood.

I couldn't help it....I called my husband, "Don't be distracted!" I commanded him, "but my computer just appears to have crashed!" I then added, "And don't panic!"  I felt better already.  Its an old trick I learned years ago.  When my broad shoulders cave in under pressure, call on him to share the burden. I had made a perfect choice in picking Tom as my life's partner. Except for his luck, he is my savior on earth and it is a big job! "It ain't me babe, it ain't me you're looking for..."  isn't Tom's song!

His response was predictable. As always, he'd do what he could to take his Saturday to work on rescuing my new data, and check into what was ailing my new computer!  With this burden safely resting on Tom's shoulders, I could now get on with my day with no more procrastinating. What's next? Still bummed, I was anything but creative and so at last it was the day to clean out the refrigerator...

"Think how good it will feel to have this job done," I reasoned, trying to psych myself up to begin the task.  I've learned that beginning any dreaded task is truly the secret.  Once I am committed, its as good as done. Cleaning the refrigerator has been on my list for years it seems.  I already felt too tired and thought of taking a nap....but it wasn't nap time! But a nap, I decided would be my reward and with that reward in mind, I jumped right in, clearing the counter tops, and pulling everything out of the refrigerator. I had given up waiting for the food to be eaten down first.  No, this was a serious job with lots left-overs that were now green and gross!

As I cleaned, I thought about all the jobs in the house that needed doing as The Brycer only does a monthly surface cleaning.  I wondered if prior to computers, people had clean houses?  What came to me is my mother and how she had tasks for all of us, and specific days for various tasks, just like the tea-towel, iron-on embroidery designs with the days of the week and their tasks to match: Monday, washing; Tuesday, ironing; Wednesday; dusting and vacuuming; Thursday, baking and so on until Sunday, church and rest. I don't remember not having to clear the table and help with dishes on any day except when we had popcorn and apples or popcorn or ice-cream sodas for dinner. I remembered my "Cinderella childhood" and remembered that resting didn't happen often enough, even on Sundays (good thing my mother is no longer around to consult on the accuracy of that statement)!

Yep, all sorts of bizarre thoughts like that crossed my mind, but then I remembered a TV interview I watched with my husband about an author who recently published a new book about procrastination being a good habit.  We were suddenly all ears. "Sometimes", the author said, "procrastinating leads to getting other jobs done and is good"...  "and some jobs just go away and don't need to be done if you wait long enough". I thought about the stove and wondered if I waited a bit longer perhaps its gourmet-blackened-bottom could be hauled out with the stove?  Then the author added that some jobs are more creatively done if the task is allowed to simmer in your head for a long while first?

Is there a more creative way to clean the refrigerator? I then  grabbed my camera...perhaps documentation of the before and after  of this task would keep me fully engaged, so strong was my temptation to step away from the task at hand.  Perhaps my pictures would qualify us for expert cleaners to come and clean our disgusting messes as on one of those reality programs, where they feature those that are challenged in the house-keeping department? We will, no doubt live a healthier life when I finished and the germs were eradicated?

I thought about all the tasks that I put off as I procrastinate on my computer.  I was missing it for sure and decided that I would order the new book on procrastination when it is up and running again. It had a lot of good things to say, and while I don't remember the author's name or even the title of the book, no matter with a computer.  Research is my hobby, and having a computer has made me a lot smarter, though any practical application of my knowledge is rarely used for I put off using it for a time and then forget.

After finishing the refrigerator and the gross things all disposed of and the food back in the refrigerator, I went over and pressed my computer's on button, and there it was, working again!  A total menu awaited me.  Clearly this new computer was smarter than the last and had read my mind and knew that by shutting down for a while, I would have to clean the refrigerator!

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Fall in Vermont

Living in Vermont is a real treat this time of year.  Fall begins slowly and then moves more quickly as the evenings get colder.  Leaf peeping peaks around Columbus Day Weekend or mid October, and then all gets brown for Thanksgiving and by Christmas it is usually white with snow.

I love the seasons and am typically ready for each one.  I wish winter weren’t so long here, but by Mud Season I am ready for spring.  Yes, Vermont has a fifth season called Mud Season, and we even have mud rooms here to step from the outside into a home and shed our muddy boots.  The door on the side of the house usually leads to the mud room as no one uses their front door here.  Some houses don’t even have steps to their front doors.

When we lived on the farm we actually had a wood-barn on the side of the farmhouse, which was really nice to keep wood in for the wood stoves, and we could leave our boots right outside the kitchen door in the wood barn.
Last winter was a very mild winter, but typically we have snowplowed roads with walls of snow on either side.  But I am ahead of myself.  It is only fall and will be for at least another few weeks, though I will be sad to see the leaves come down and many are already on the ground!

Friday, October 5, 2012

The Winner of the First Common Threads Give-Away is..

RACHEL--Congratulations on winning the handsome pair of potholder's created by Maria of Full Moon Fiber Arts.  The next Common Threads Give Away Contest will begin November 5th and will be a piece of Nancy's jewelry from Spinning Glass Studios.  Do check her out on line (just click on her box under my list of favorite places) and mark your calendars to be sure to be one of the first to leave a comment on her site on Monday, the 5th or Tuesday, the 6th for a chance to win! Thank you all for participating!!

Ozark Hens, an Ode to My Heritage

These past weeks I have been working on my doorstop hens.  This is one of my favorite patterns that I purchased when I took a trip to the Ozarks as a young woman some forty years ago now.

My best friend from nursing school drove with me to Kansas where her brother lived on a farm, and we saw fireflies for the first time. From there I drove myself to Branson, Missouri using a map.  This was a first and last experience to be sure, as with my map reading skills and directionality it was lucky that I made it to my destination and the trip brought more than I expected.

My mission of this side trip was to meet Mrs. Brown, my paternal grandmother and great grandmother’s friend.  My grandmother had died when my dad was just a boy and not many years after my dad’s father passed away as well.  He then went with his grandmother, my great grandmother to France to live for a short while. When she returned she placed my father in The Masonic Home for Children in Fremont, Nebraska.  Mrs. Brown extended her friendship to my father through these years and would have adopted him, but he was to carry on his father’s name.

Mrs. Brown was in her 90’s when I visited her in the early 70’s.  She was so pleased that I had made this special trip to visit her and surprised me by giving me my great grandmother’s thimble. When I got home I offered it to my father as he had so few things that had belonged to his grandmother, and he instead told me to keep it and gave me her little antique wooden thimble case that he had, completing this treasured set.

This was truly a special gift! My grandmother and great grandmother had been French milliners. Knowing that they made their living with needle, thread and thimble, along with my mother’s love of sewing and her teaching me to sew at an early age made me feel proud to have such a heritage.  I was convinced that I had the proper “genes” for needle arts (though I didn’t seem to acquire any special genes when it came to learning to speak French).

I now am privileged to have my mother’s special silver thimble as well, complete with a hole worn in it from quilting her beautiful quilts. These Ozark doorstop hens are special as well for their pattern came from that memorable trip when I became physically connected to my precious heritage of women who lived by their needles.