Monday, May 16, 2016

Family Vacation At Last

We are off soon to a our family vacation.  So Exciting!  There was a lot of preparation to do as always with vacations.  But all is mostly done - just a few more details, and we're off!  I hope we will return with lovely memories, and lots of photos to share.

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Spring Gardening (Finally)

After a very cold start to April, we finally have temperatures warm enough to allow gardening. Paul has been very busy starting seedlings (mostly flowers) indoors in the early spring, and has been transplanting them to the garden.  Yesterday we went to buy vegetable seedlings, plus some annuals for color.  I planted them, and it was so easy because Paul had thoroughly prepped the square-foot boxes for me.  So it basically took less than an hour to have my vegetable garden started:

The first four boxes planted, another box in the way back has chives that return each year, 
and Paul's innovative use of old windows as a modified greenhouse can be seen in the back. 

While we were working, a very friendly duck paid us a visit.

We nicknamed her "Soccer Duck".

As I was photographing her, she mistook my phone for food and reached up and nipped me by mistake.  It didn't hurt thankfully.  This photo is right before that, as she is reaching up!

Sunday, April 10, 2016

Tackling The Mending

Today was the first Sunday in a long time where I was not working or otherwise engaged in the afternoon.  Tyler was at a friend's house, and Paul was (and is, still, at this moment) helping Robert with calculus.  I was inspired to take care of some new, and some long overdue, mending.  It started when I was ironing the creases out of the top sheet of a newer set of sheets I had gotten.  I did not notice when first using them that there was a defect in the stitching.  The zigzag that folded over the top part had caught some of the sheet.  This bothered me!  So I decided to fix it.  Paul also had requested that I fix his pants - the hem had come out from under the cuff.  While looking for some scrap muslin to test zigzag stitches on for the sheet, I uncovered a host of mending that has been patiently waiting for me.  Here's what I had:

  1. The top sheet
  2. A casual shirt that needed the neckline altered
  3. Paul's pants
  4. My dressy winter coat's two buttons
  5. A strap
  6. Two pair of Ty's pants that I had intended on turning into shorts (However, the Little Boy has grown so, these pants will never fit again, so they will be donated - less mending to do!)

First I sampled different sizes of zigzag, 
trying to duplicate the stitching on the sheet.

I did not take a picture before ripping out the defect, but you can see the crease and the old needle puncture marks in this photo after I had repaired it.  (In this close-up, the repair looks uneven, but from a few feet away, you cant't see.)

Here it is from a distance.  My ripper is pointing to the repaired area.

I bought this shirt on a sale, not realizing it how much of a boat-neck it had.  I cannot stand things against the front of my neck, should have realized before purchasing, but it was such a deal!  So I cut into the middle of the boat-neck, then turned down the front.  It is not a super alteration, but I can use this shirt for casual activities like gardening or cleaning.  

Paul's pants.

My old coat's buttons.  They had both fallen off.  I wear this coat to church every Sunday in cold weather.  It is a Halston that my friend found cheap in a thrift shop, gave to me because it was too big for her after all.  I have had it for at least five years, probably longer.  It is worn, but still looks nice, and keeps me toasty (very much needed in our area, especially this April, which has no resemblance to spring yet).  

The sewing machine all tucked away.  You'll note that it no longer resides in my dining room, rather Robert's unused room (although he will reclaim it for a month or so in late summer, before he moves to Portland for his graduate program).  

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Airing The Linens (CIRS)

I spent most of yesterday doing a task that is not so much in vogue anymore: airing the linens.  I like the idea of line-dried linens, but never did more than hanging sheets to dry. Yesterday included not only the sheets, but the blanket, mattress pad, mattress base cover, and the mattress itself to be aired.

Organ Recital (feel free to skip this part): But I finally received a diagnosis from my doctor on what has likely been causing all of my vague, and not so vague symptoms these past years (asthma, migraines, fatigue, depression).  In a nutshell, I have a problem with mold.  Leaf mold had shown up as something I was allergic to long ago, but I didn't think much more about it, since mold is everywhere, and seemed to only bother me in the fall.  However, one of my symptoms, the asthma, first showed up when we were remodeling our bathroom and showering in the basement in a deck shower.  The doctor found lab markers on me that indicated chronic inflammation in my body.  After running more tests, he determined that my body cannot clear mold the way the majority of people can.  Here is an analogy: when a biotoxin (bacteria, mold, etc.) enters the body, the immune system realizes something is wrong, identifies the invader, and sends in the troops to obliterate it.  In my case, the body recognizes that there is an invader, but can't identify it.  An analogy I read was that it is like a policeman witnessing a crime, taking a photo of the perpetrator, running back to the police station to inform the rest, but the picture is blurry and the culprit unidentifiable.  So, they are all running around looking for this guy, but can't recognize him, so they run around, sort of like the Keystone Cops.  So the immune system is roaming around trying to find it, but can't, and so remains inflamed.  Hence the Chronic Inflammatory Response Syndrome, or CIRS (pronounce "Sirs" as in "Dear Sirs").  I am now on a medication that will help chelate the mold accumulated in my body.  

We are now looking at reducing the amount of mold I come in contact with.  This is very difficult, because mold is virtually everywhere.  What we have done so far is to invest in an excellent air purifier, be more cognizant of keeping the bathroom ventilated and the towels and shower curtains frequently laundered, and started opening windows more, now that the days are warmer.  Future remedies will be fixing the portion of the basement where there is some water seepage ($$).  That's a big job, and fortunately our basement tested out "borderline" meaning I can live with it until such time as we can afford to fix the basement.  I also found a cute craft online for keeping shower curtains mold free (more on that when I get around to making it).  

Because I have read that bedding can sometimes harbor mold, yesterday's work included undressing our mattress from all of its coverings, and having it sit outside in the sunshine for several hours.  We also placed the base cover on the wash line for airing (we are not to wash that, according to the tag).  Then I washed our brand new "jelly head" as Kristin calls the puffy mattress covers, our blanket, and one set of sheets (will do the same process on the other sheets soon).  Thankfully, Robert and Paul were available to wrestle the mattress in and out of the house.  We placed an airtight, allergy-type zippered cover over it.  We also rotated the mattress when we placed it back in the room (can't flip these newer mattresses, because there is a definite top and bottom).  But the rotating was so nice!  Paul and I slept a lot better last night in our fresh, clean bed.  

The first batch: mattress base covers and the new "jelly head".

Second batch: blanket and sheets.
(P. S. Don't mind the little wood pile in the forefront!)

Monday, March 28, 2016

Vegan Muffies

So, this Easter I wanted to make a lamb cake again.  But Robert is vegan, so I thought I'd try a vegan lamb cake.  Long story short: the lamb cake didn't work out so well, but the muffies I made with the extra batter were pretty good.  I found the batter recipe here.

Monday, March 7, 2016

Organizing The Music - After

My music is now nicely organized, but I would not want to have to do that sort of project again.  I purged quite a bit.  I got somewhat stuck on the arrangement of the files. Alphabetical by composer or title?  A little of both?  What categories go in which file box?  I spent more time than I care to admit figuring this out.  I finally came up with the following categories:

  • Alphabetical Harp Solos - (loose copier copies from friends' books, etc. collected over the years)
  • Harp Collections and Methods - (for example, Daniel Burton's collection of Mozart Arias, and all technique books)
  • Piano, Voice, Flute, and Band Music
  • Harp Solos, Christmas/Church, Ensemble, and Miscellaneous - (the solos are ones purchased from publisher, alphabetical by composer, Miscellaneous are things such as harp repair, tuning, etc. books, programs from concerts I want to remember, and so forth)
I found that I had multiple copies of loose music, so I purged the extras.  I collected a pile to give to my teacher, and if she doesn't want it, it can also be recycled.  Then the "fun" began. Sorting and sorting.  Being that I have selective OCD tendencies, it was important to me that the files be arranged symmetrically.  I had five major colors of file folders.  Each color needed to be used in the same order, with the tabs fanning out uniformly across the width of the file box.  This took a lot of time, but the result was pleasing:

Everything managed to fit into the four file boxes I had designated for music.  I also condensed two broken down binders into one, containing only music that I would regularly play at church or at a cocktail hour.  The Christmas and Church music will at some point need to be subdivided somehow, but my brain was fried after this. The file boxes were then labeled, and placed on the shelves in the basement:

Paul and I moved the love seat and book shelf to the west wall, and the harp and my harp shelf to the east.  There is one pile containing music I am currently working on, the single white binder containing my "standards", and music that I am interested in working on once Easter is done.  It is so nice to be organized in this way:

Here is the new furniture arrangement, which looks so much better.  To the left of the harp, by the east window, will go my Little Oratory:

I'm so glad to have this done.  I now know where to find almost any piece of music, my harp area and sacred space are clean and organized.  The next step is the creation of the prayer table (to be constructed using vintage pew ends that someone gave Paul years ago, and he never knew quite what to do with).  My hope is to have the oratory by Easter.