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I’ve nothing to say, really. I just wanted to share a picture of my peonies and roses that I picked this morning.
The devil is in the details, as the saying goes and as a building project comes near its end, you realize just how many details there are yet to do. We have had multiple setbacks while building our cottage and a global pandemic only added to the chaos. But now, we are finally getting to those special details that really add character to a home.
Of course, my husband and I often differ on what those details should be. He’s the contractor and builder, so by the time that we come to this stage, he’s been at a project for a good, long while. At this point, he’s tired and just wants to get it done. I, on the other hand, am chomping at the bit and anxious to put some of my own creativity into it all. And so, we clash. However, because of this being our 4th house we’ve built together and the fact that we are celebrating our 40th year of marriage this fall, he’s learned that he should probably just let me have my way. If not, he knows that he will never, ever hear the end of it if he tries to go with his easier, cheaper way. He also knows that all of his arguments and feeble excuses will just fall upon my deaf ears.
It’s a delicate dance that we do. I now have him looking at wide, thick mouldings to go around the interior doors and windows. They’re expensive and yeah, he complained, but I’m willing to compromise by going with the very nice, but considerably less expensive, cabinet pulls, so I think that all is good. I’m also willing to paint the entire inside and outside of the house myself, along with my son-in-law, so long as we can go at our own pace, (slow,) and we don’t have to paint the very high, outside areas, such as the gables, (scared of heights.) That saves us about $9 grand. I think that my bargaining chips are piled high at this point.
My husband found an exceptional person to help me with the gardens. This guy has been staying after hours to plant trees, shrubs, water the lawn and roses and keep watch over the job site at night. He’s been amazing! He doesn’t always know just what to do with the gardening chores at hand, but he’s a good learner and a very hard worker. This season, he learned all about pruning roses, train espalier apple trees, and how to use different kinds of mulches. At the moment, he’s working on a couple of circular, vegetable gardens…so unique and pretty! So, when you walk, or drive by our cottage, please take a moment to admire his handiwork.
So…now we are near the end. The painting, tile and cabinets will be done next month and after that, the house will be near completion. However, the gardens will take a few, more years to mature. It’s a slow, but most enjoyable process that probably will never end. It just keeps going and gets better and better as time goes on. I hope that our newest guests will come back again and again, to see how the garden as grown and matured.
It has taken us way too long to do this project, but it has all been with family input and cooperation. I started this idea as a middle-aged woman and now I am looking forward to the possibility of receiving my first, social security check sometime soon.
And now you know why the place is called, “an old woman’s garden.”
I’m a quilter and during this pandemic, I’m less of a casual quilter and more of a demonic quilt-a-holic. Quilting keeps me busy and my thoughts in a good place. I turn on some music and sit down to the hum of the sewing machine. The senior dog plops down beside me. The cat climbs under the fabrics and creates his own kitty cave. Everyone else takes a nap on the couch. All is well in my little cabin in the woods.
This time has also given me the opportunity to browse the fabric stores in order to refresh the stash, get a few, new tools, organize it all and finally, to download some quilting design programs. The first one that I ordered was NOT free by any means. That was EQ8 and the cost was around $249. It’s a robust program and I’ve been having a lot of fun on it, creating my new quilting ideas.
There are also some free, or almost free programs out there that I’d like to check out. Quilting Buddy is one of them. It’s on the Microsoft site and costs only $1.99. You can also download a free trial.
Have a photo that you want to turn into a quilt? Here’s a handy, free tool just for that. Quilt Assistant is easy to use and what’s really nice about it is that it doesn’t have to work off of a rectangular grid. Besides creating traditional quilt blocks, you can make almost any shape of a block that you desire and it will design templates that include seam allowances. This feature makes it great for paper-piecing projects and art quilt designs.
Are you an applique artist? If so, you may like Quilt Fusion
Pattern Jam – fun, like a design wall on your computer.
Let’s face it; the year 2020 sucked. We have been dealing with a major pandemic, which has cost humanity hundreds of thousands of lives, not to mention job losses, isolation and an overall blanket of fear. We’ve also had the added worries about drought, wildfires and having to cope with a lunatic in the oval office. It’s been tough for all of us and sadly, some more than others. My love goes out to all that have suffered loss.
But, now, I am feeling a change in the winds. There is a new sense of optimism in the air. We have a newly elected president that will take office soon, along with his female, vice president. There are now vaccines for the corona virus that are in the final stages of production. The rains are now drenching a parched landscape, dowsing the persistent fires and I can literally see the trees spreading out their branches to collect the water. They are renewed. I now see the first, tiny blades of grass popping up through the soil, which happens each fall and is always my favorite day of the year.
I am now able to take a step back and try to see some of the positive things that came out the the events of this year.
Let’s face it…this pandemic has us doing tasks that we’ve all long ignored. Sheltering in place has people cleaning out their closets and garages, while others are getting creative in the kitchen, cooking up new recipes. There are some folks that are plowing through piles of books that have been on their, “must read,” list for years. As for me, I’ve been quilting.
Although I’ve been a sewer all of my life, I only started quilting about 10 years ago…a newbie by any quilter’s standards. Even so, like every quilter, I have amassed more than a few UFOs, (Unfinished objects,) and WIPs, (works in progress,) WISPs, (Works In Slow Progress,) and even a few WHIMMs, (Works Hidden In My Mind.) I figure that now is as good as a time as any to tackle some of them.
Yesterday, I finished one of my oldest WISPs…a traditional, pine tree pattern in various shades of green, on a white background, with rusty, red binding. I can’t tell you what year I started it, (I’m guessing around 2013,) but I can tell you what a relief it is to finally have it done, lumps, bumps, mistakes and all.
With this pandemic, you would think that I would have a gazillion posts, being somewhat housebound that I am. But no, unfortunately, I had some technical issues with my ISP hosting site and I was unable to log into the blog since last January. So, finally, here I am. No pictures yet, since I’m still having issues with uploading images, but I promise to have them soon.
The cottage is about 75% done now. We have a worker who loves, loves, loves to garden and so the yard and rose garden look amazing, thanks to him. It will be awhile before we can rent out the house to guests, but at least we’re a little closer to that goal. We’ve received a lot of wonderful comments from the local, passerbys, which is always encouraging and appreciated.
Today is the first day that we’ve had relatively clear skies and clean air. Fires…what can I say? It looks like they are here to stay. It’s a sad commentary on the state of our earth. I just thank God that those lightning strikes didn’t touch down at our place. We were lucky…this time.
My heart goes out to all of the people who lost their homes, or loved ones. Please, if you read this, take a moment to thank your lucky stars and make a donation to the American Red Cross. They do so much good around here and people are hurting right now. The link will take you to all of the current information about what the Red Cross is doing to help fire victims. A small, cash donation would be most appreciated.
I’m a poor and lazy blogger. I do not blog to make money, I don’t worry about SEO, I certainly don’t blog to become famous, I don’t blog on a regular basis, I’m not into taking photos and I hate sorting through super spammy comments that some idiots leave …really I just blog when something comes to mind that I want to share with others. I know that it could be better and maybe that will change in the future. But for now, it is what it is.
So, when I come across other bloggers that are really putting their heart and soul into it and I like what they have to say, then my total respect shines through for these people. I usually spend the entire morning pouring over their words, clicking through on their links, (even if I don’t buy the product,) and occasionally leaving a kind and encouraging product. It’s tough to make money blogging and I want to give them all of the kudos that I can. So, with that in mind, here are a few of my favorite blogs for 2020:
Small Footprint Family – Blogger, Dawn Gifford, has done a great job in organizing her blog. She hits on all of the topics that are near and dear to my heart such as environmental issues, home thriftiness, and lots of yummy, make-from-scratch recipes. I have not read her book yet, but it’s on my list of things to do. From one, “back-to-the-lander,” to another, Thanks Dawn.
Don’t Waste The Crumbs – I’m impressed with anyone that can save enough money through careful shopping and budgeting to by a beautiful house for cash. Yeah…as in NO house payment.
She has some great tips on how cut the spending and I loved that she and her family did a, “30-day no shopping for food,” challenge. I learned a lot from her posts and I’m sending her link over to my kids with hopes that they will appreciate the pointers on saving vs. spending. She has a boot camp which I just may enroll my daughter in.
Full of Plants – This blog was started by a teen, Thomas, who had some severe acne and bloating problems. He wanted to solve them by giving up animal products and yes, going vegan worked! Now he has a blog in hopes of sharing his recipes and helping others. I admire the youthful enthusiasm of Thomas. His blog is very good and informative, with hard to find recipes and he has a nice collection of curated products that are worth a look-see.
Fermentation Recipes – This is a good, informative blog on anything that has to do with fermentation of foods. There’s lots of recipes, including some unusual ones like Fermented Curtido, (hummm…what’s that?) and Cardamom Squash Sauerkraut. There are lots of how-tos and information on the art of fermenting, as well as a nice shop for tools and ingredients. I’m not exactly sure who writes this blog, but its worth a look non the less.
The latest buzz topic on the environmental scene is how to eliminate plastic from our earth. Honestly, I have been worried about this for many years and about 7, or 8 years ago, I decided that I was going to try to eliminate plastic from my life. Well…good luck with that. I realized that I could not even get out of bed without touching something made of plastic.
That has not discouraged me though to try to get rid of some of it. Here are some of my “recipes” for getting plastic out of my kitchen and home:
First, I’ll try to put the item in the fridge, or freezer without any covering at all, (eg: Baked squash goes straight into the freezer, skin and all, same with bananas.) If that Isn’t practical, I’ll try to use a plate, or pot lid to cover the item. If I need a different container (smaller one that fits in the fridge,) I’ll first go with a ceramic, or glass container, then I’ll go to a paper bag, or compostable, soy waxed paper covering, then go to my recycled, veggy bags, and finally, if all else fails, I’ll very reluctantly use a new, plastic bag. I used to use zippies every day and buy a box 2x/month, now it’s once a year, if that.
I’ve invested in mason jars, large gallon jars, various gasket sealing jars from thrift stores, etc.
I used to bring home everything in plastic bags augh! Now I take my jars to the co-op and go to the bulk foods section to fill them up. I have pre-weighed the jars so that the cashier knows the tare wt. and I bring a sharpie with me to label each jar. I still buy some things in packaging (more plastic,) but I’m slowly changing over to as much bulk items as possible.
I save bottles. I know, I sound like a crazy, cheap, old lady, but they do come in handy. I have to be careful not to over save…then it becomes hoarding and there’s just no room in my cabinets for that. Like I said, I also have a stash of mason jars of all sizes. Put it in a jar!
Plastic wrap irritates the hell out of me! Just one use and POOF, it’s in the landfill! I try now to cover my bread dough, marinating foods, etc. with a cloth towel instead of a sheet of plastic wrap. I’m also getting into eco-friendly, compostable, soy-waxed paper. I occasionally use parchment paper, but really, I don’t always NEED it and am learning to be more economical with it. Aluminum foil is something that creeps into my kitchen drawer around the holiday season. It sits there for several years, taking up precious space in my small kitchen. (Obviously, I need to “gift” it to someone.)
This year, for 2020, I’m changing over to bulk soaps, shampoos and detergents. I saved a couple of appropriate, plastic containers and labeled them with the tare wt. and fluid oz. They’re good for the shower area. I also have a glass, pump bottle for the dish soap by the sink.
I like cooking with all metal pots, pans and utensils. Wooden spoons are nice too. (I’ll admit, I do have some silicon spatulas that I’m not willing to give up just yet.) I have a beautiful collection of Pyrex dishes, casseroles, bowls and stackable, storage pieces that I love. They have been around since the 1930s and still going strong. I refuse to buy any plastic bowls, storage containers, plastic handled cookware, or even measuring spoons.
No more paper towels, no more polyester dishrags, or towels, no more plastic sponges, or scrubbys! For dishtowels and rags, I cut up our old clothes and make rags out of them. I’ve done that for years. I love our big, colorful basket of rags on our table…so pretty! There are some fabrics in the rags that are not made of all-natural fibers, but at least I’m delaying their trip to the landfill by a few more years. I recently got rid of the last, synthetic sponge at my sink. It never worked very well anyway and always harbored lots of germs. I use a metal scrubby that’s easier to keep clean and lasts a pretty long time before I have to buy a new one.
Last season I bought some lightweight, wooden baskets for storing and harvesting. My hubby still uses his plastic baskets, but I’m slowly trying to get rid of those and replace them with my biodegradable, wooden containers. I have some small, handled baskets that hold about 1-2 gallons of produce and some larger, 2-bushel baskets. Both are made from thin, pine slats that are woven into shape. They’ve just gone through their second season and are still holding up well.
Here’s to metal trash cans! Why did we ever switch to plastic ones? We have one, metal trash can that is over 30 years old and is still in perfect shape. We recently bought a couple more, because those plastic ones wore out after only a few years. I even bought some smaller 3 gallon size to keep our bulk beans and almonds in. Love’m!
I also love a metal bucket. I used to have one, but it got lifted when I brought some plants to a charity gardening event. I’ll have to invest in another one…or two. My hubby loves those plastic ones, but I’m hoping that I can convert him.
Several years ago, I finally broke down and bought a garbage bin with a foot pedal that is used to open it up. What a Godsend! Now, when I have any food, or veggy scraps in my hands, I just turn around and step on the pedal and drop it all in the bin. Not much goes down my garbage disposal anymore. As for trash, I’m now changing over to biodegradable trash bags that I’ve recently purchased from greenpaperproducts.com.
Plastic still lives in my kitchen:
The coffee maker is made of plastic. We do have a nice, ceramic, 1-cup, drip funnel, but frankly, it’s a hassle, since between my hubby and I, we can easily go through a whole pot of coffee each morning, so we live with the coffee maker. (At least it was bought used from the thrift store.) We also have an espresso machine, which uses plastic pods. I absolutely love espresso, so I’m looking into refillable pods. To be honest, the small amount of pods that we collect is miniscule in relation to the other plastic issues in the typical kitchen. However, after they’re used, I do open them up and scrape out the coffee and recycle the hard plastic that’s left.
There are some other appliances that are also made of plastic such as the food processor, ice cream maker and popcorn maker. However, we have some vintage appliances that are mostly metal, ceramic and glass such as our Oster Blender and Oster juicer. Our large juicer is also mostly metal.
I do try to look for items that have less plastic on them, but it’s hard. Some of my baking pans have a non-stick surface…a form of plastic. There are still some plastic-handled utensils, a couple of plastic to-go containers from the grocery store that I try to reuse as many times as possible and plastic packaging and labeling that I can’t seem to avoid not matter how hard I try. I think that we should all boycott plastic packaging and labels. I also have a pure disdain for those pesky, little, plastic stickers that they put on produce.
Next year’s goals:
There’s still more that I can do.I want to completely eliminate plastic bags and wraps. I can sew up some soy-waxed, veggie bags and colorful, bowl covers to replace them. I can also buy compostable baggies to use at home, or just save the ones from the grocery store after they’ve been used. The entire interior of my refrigerator is made of plastic and I guess I’ll have to live with that, but, I can change out the ice cube trays and storage bin to metal. I already reuse spice jars, but they do have plastic tops. I can’t change those, but I can put corks in the glass jars and bottles that I save, which lends to a very, natural décor in my kitchen. I’m tempted to buy a pack of eco-friendly, recycled paper to-go boxes for those times when I have to send food home with friends and family. I’m also planning to make some protective cozies for my bulk foods jars, so that they are less likely to break in transit.
If I didn’t already have 2, large vegetable gardens and an orchard, I’d shop at the farmer’s market, where you bring your own bags and containers. Speaking of shopping bags, mine are made of plastic, so I will be sewing and decorating my own, cotton ones this year.
When an item has lived out its purpose at my house, I will promise to recycle it in some way…take it to the thrift store, re-purpose it for some other use, etc. My goal this year is to cut our trash down by half.
I will continue to vote with my dollars at the grocery stores. If it’s covered in plastic, I refuse to buy it, or at least buy less of it. I suppose that I could write letters to the food companies too.
I hope that others who read this post will take this matter seriously and try to eliminate the plastic from their homes. One less plastic item bought, one less plastic item left in the landfills and oceans. If you have any tips on how to eliminate plastic from our lives, please send me your comments.
PS: I just realized that I’m typing this on a plastic keyboard. We will conquer this problem, one step at a time.
Sometimes, I think that we take for granted that we have some beautiful, endemic species of plants in our area. One is the Manzanita. While looking for a hedging plant for the cottage rose garden, I cam across many “hedge” plants that were not from our area s/a boxwood, cypress, holly, etc. All of them had their problems and were iffy choices for my hedges. Then I realized that good, old Manzanita would actually make a wonderful choice. It has low nutrient and water requirements, grows like a weed and can fill out quite nicely. It also has beautiful white, or pink flowers and pretty berries. It was the perfect solution!
I could have started my own plants, but I needed a lot of them and I needed them right away, so I opted to buying them from a California native plant nursery, Las Pilitas Nursery, in Santa Margarita. I chose ‘Louis Edmunds’ Manzanita, (Arctostaphylos stanfordiana bakeri,) because of it’s lovely, pink berries and appropriate size and height.
I plan to use it as a surrounding hedge and backdrop for the rose garden and also a privacy screen to divide the highway from the property.
Las Pilitas was great at getting the plants to me right away and in perfect shape. So far, I have planted about half of the plants, but have been delayed due to all of the rain that we’ve been getting lately. I’m also going to come up a little short on number of plants needed and Las Pilitas is completely sold out, so I plan to start some of my own Manzanitas for the back hedge. I don’t know what variety it is, but it looks very similar, only it has white flowers. They probably will have to wait until next year to be put into the ground, but since it’s the back wall and won’t be seen by many people, no problem.
The roses are on order and should arrive next month. The fountain is in place, (although still lying on its side right now,) and the paths and fences are designed, though not built yet. It’s going to be a long, rainy season, so I hope that we can get most of these things in place by spring.
As for the cottage itself, it is in “architecture purgatory.” We were told by the architect that it would take 2-3 weeks to get the calcs done and re-submit it to planning. It has now taken 9 months, with no end in sight. I’m not giving up hope.