Thursday, January 19, 2017

The Sun Also Sets

There are times when I am seriously attracted to both the sun rising, and the sun setting. And then there are times that I barely notice their occurrence.  I guess for some, those two daily events are often overshadowed by clouds, so they definitely go unnoticed, a pity, really. In Florida we've got both most days, some more brilliant than others. After finishing the bookcase on Tuesday afternoon, I made a quick trip up to Goodwill around the time of sunset, and why wouldn't I pull over at the lake lot, and photograph the sensation?
Just now I've Googled why Florida sunsets are at their most colorful in winter because they seriously are. For my science loving friends, the answer is cloud placement and less humidity. Of course you probably already knew that, didn't you?

While I do love a good sunset, there's just something about the beginning of a new day that especially appeals to me. Yesterday morning, Wednesday if you read this in the future, as the dark of night gave way to day, the sky was all kinds of shades of pink, red, and lavender. I know it sounds crazy, but there was an amazing glow to the sky which came through the closed blinds. Had I not been still in my pajamas, I might have gone somewhere without so many trees, however, I was, so my backyard had to suffice. I hope you can see what I mean in this photograph with the waning moon.
While our summers may be brutally hot and humid, you sure cannot beat our winters!

I am well aware that people love a good rehab story, so let's get to that bookcase, shall we? Before Bruce left for Dallas on Monday morning, he insisted on putting some caulk on the bookcase to fill one of the cracks. I did tell you the bottom shelf was split in two, didn't I? It was, but now you would never suspect a thing.
As well, he glued the fabric on the back for me....I told you I had an idea for this remodel! Originally I'd thought to paint it some fun color, however, common sense prevailed and I used the same color as I did on the kitchen cabinets, Benjamin Moore's Simply White.
Actually, he cut a new back and then did the gluing. The fabric was some I'd bought just because I thought it was cute, not really knowing what it would be used for. So, after two coats of primer, and three coats of paint, it is now done! I moved the little one I'd been using into the hallway. Want to see it in the kitchen? Of course you do! Everyone likes a before picture, don't they?
Another thing Bruce did was to teach me how to use the drill for putting screws in after he'd drilled the pilot holes. As well, he drew lines so I could line everything up. In a first, I put in 24 screws all by myself!
See my guide line? Further you can see all those shoring up pieces he put in Sunday afternoon!

Actually, it is tricky getting a good photograph because the table is so close there is no place to stand! How about if I stand on the side?
Aw shucks...let's try it from the front.
You know how the saying goes--"it takes a village", well looking at this photograph, I can count more than ten people represented here, from our parents, to my sister Maureen who gave me the adorable swan measuring cups. I won't list them all, but isn't it remarkable to ponder? I'm certain it is the same at your homes, or so I hope!

Meanwhile, in between the painting, I've made two trips to the MINI dealership because the previous owners only had one key to the car, and everyone knows you need two!
A couple of posts ago I used the title Let's Motor, and now you know where it came from! Everything at MINI is just so darn cute!

Additionally, I finally met up with Bonnie and Bev, two wonderful friends who I met at the bridge center when I thought I was smart enough to be a bridge player. NOT! We went to the happy hour at Santiago's Bodega, during which time some of the wine, and tapas are half price. Score! For both the food, and the conversation! The wine was good too.
Just before I took this photo of Bev, she gifted me with another darling owl present!
By the way, Bev is from Bristol, Tennessee where my sister Nancy now manages a new Marshall's!

Not only is this the time of the year for beauty in the sky, it also the time of the year when golden leaves are falling...
and, my personal favorite...blooming trees!! Oh how I love trees with flowers. Our friend Mary Lou has an amazing Hydrangea tree with big, fat, pink flowers,
which are beautiful in both stages of their life.
Tremendous! As is another flowering tree I discovered...a pink dogwood in bloom! Although this shot doesn't show off the pink so much, I thought it was kind of cute.
I am so darn blessed to have the time to appreciate the beauty in my part of the world, and I never forget that for a moment.

As well, I feel blessed, beyond your imagining, to have a few faithful readers who are willing to spend time with me as I make this journey through life. I thank you from the bottom of my heart!

May your day be filled with beauty, this day and everyday,


Sunday, January 15, 2017

Putting the MINI to the Test

Shall we start with something beautiful? If I were you, I'd say Amen sister!
See, I told you it was beautiful, and yes, the camellias are blooming, and yes, it has been raining. Not a lot mind you, but more than it has in the past few months. Very welcome, I might add.

Just so you understand clearly that everything I do does not turn out wonderfully, I give you my blueberry loaf.
When I opened the oven at about the 45 minute mark, only to see that ragged top, I knew that I had done it again. What's that, Gail? Unbelievably, I have made this same recipe not once, but twice, without adding sugar!! How can that be? Beats me, but I've taken a step so that I might never ruin a loaf again, because, when made properly, this recipe is delicious!

Here is our little Baxie, soaking up sunshine while hogging my sewing chair!
He is desperate for a haircut which will finally happen on Thursday afternoon with a new groomer called Tom. Hopefully his talents will match his good name. Both my Father, and my awesome, and wildly talented, son-in-law, are named Tom. :) Come to think of it, my fantastic brother's first name is Tom, although he goes by his middle name of Patrick. He came by way of Regina's recommendation and she is known for her good taste.

Perhaps Baxie got in the chair while I was taking a break from making another basket...
That is how you get the sides to form, by turning the "bowl" up on it's side. Because I don't seem to be able to perfect something before I add something else into the mix, I put some handles on this one, and it looks like this:
Long time readers will recognize the coasters, another project that I failed to perfect before giving up. Using my photographs, well, actually, who remembers how I made them? It is safe to say I won't be doing so again because, although they looked decent, their functionality was not the best.

Finally I got my hair done in a marathon session with Monica. As in, four hours!
It was last April that she put highlights in, so you can see I was in no rush to update my look. As well, she lopped off about 3 inches, making my head feel lighter, especially after she thinned it out. Perhaps you recognize the quilt? That's the nice thing about hand quilting--it is portable.

We picked Bruce's car up on Thursday night after enduring an hour of traffic traveling the 9 miles to the dealership. Both of us are in a learning curve...for sure.
So yesterday, while Bruce was fixing something at the restaurant, I was bike riding when I came across a yard sale with something I'd been on the lookout for. A narrow bookcase that fits our home because it is small. The asking price was $7, however, in a rare moment of bravado, I asked if she would take $5. Affirmative!

I then told her, bummer, I'd only just gotten a MINI Cooper and I'd need to wait until my husband came home to pick it up, to which she replied that she would set it aside. Perfect. Continuing on my ride, it came to me that I'd once bought an easy chair and stuffed it in the back of my car, so perhaps the bookcase would fit after all.

Guess what? No problem at all! It fit like a charm.
There was a reason it was but five dollars; the back was coming off, and the bottom shelf had a huge crack in it. Not to mention, it was beat up in general. By the time I'd returned with it, Bruce was home and rolling his eyes, however, I told him I've not steered us wrong in the used furniture department before, and with his help, I just knew it would have a great second life. Plus, it is real wood!

"I'll help you tomorrow honey."

Yikes, I have to wait, instead of my usual plan of getting going with a project the moment it presents itself? Yes, I did wait.

For the last 45 minutes Bruce has been sanding away, after cutting the curve on the bottom off to update the look a bit.
Given the task of sanding it myself, I would have quit after probably 10 minutes, however, Bruce has an amazing amount of patience that is completely missing from my makeup. That's why we are so good together--opposites attract!

I heard the sander stop, so I just took a look at the progress...he's added seven pieces of wood for stabilization, and I'm thinking it is time to get out the KILZ. I've got an idea for it that I hope will work.

Then again, as this post clearly demonstrates, some of my ideas fall flat. Hoping this one won't!

Ready to paint,


p.s. Almost forgot that I wanted to end with something I find beautiful...

Thursday, January 12, 2017

One Way to Force an Under Refrigerator Cleaning

It is anyone's guess how long the ice had been building up in the bottom of our freezer, but I suspect it has been quite some time. While I was spending most all of my time in the sewing room, ice kept building, and building. And then, it started leaking out. Yup, one day I found a pool of water beside the fridge. Hmmm....I'll get a towel to soak it up. And so it went on for weeks like that. It is astonishing how much I can ignore when I don't want to deal with something!

Two things I made that were absent from this blog before Christmas are now making an appearance. I learned to make a fabric wallet with a key holder for Maureen, which I was pretty darn pleased with after this, my second attempt!
Seeing it in a photograph, I notice all of my uneven stitching, but I hope Maureen will find it useful. I used navy polka dot for where you put your dollar bills! I just love that fabric!

Then too, I learned to make a "needle house." What pray tell is that, you ask? Well, here's the inside of attempt number one:
When you have a son who lives an ocean away, making useful things for him is a good way to show your love, so when I discovered during Matt's visit that there are times you need large needles to complete knitting projects, I thought it might be fun to try making this after stumbling across it on some kind soul's blog. Kind, that's what I think of all the wonderful bloggers out there who share their talents with the rest of us! The front looked like this:
All kinds of wrong going on, not the least of which is that it opened on the wrong side!! When Bruce came home from his trip that week, I asked him about the scale of the door, which I also knew could not be right. He drew the dimensions on the one above, and I made a new one., A continuing theme, right?
The window fabric came from my stash of estate sale fabrics, the door button once belonged to Matt's great grandmother, and the blue rick rack came from his Grandma Peck. Now we are talking--three generations of women who sew!

I am working on something new which I'll show a little later, but when I could not open the freezer door without fear of yanking the handle off, I knew it was time to take action. Consulting Google, I learned it was probably a frozen, blocked line. Mr. Peck agreed to be dragged away from his desk to do what he does the show! Once again, kind folks, sharing their knowledge on the internet, helped him know how to remove the drawers, which, frankly, were a tad messy.
I was not only able to clean up the spilled corn, but also the overspray from an exploding can of Coke, so there were several benefits to this fix!

The door came off next...
This part was kind of fun...
It took about ten minutes, using the blow dryer on high, to dislodge a pretty sizable piece of ice.
This was just what I was hoping for, rather than letting it all melt on the towel. Turns out, he also had to take the lower panel off of the back of the freezer to get to the little drain which is all clean; we are now the proud owners of a very tidy freezer that opens just fine and dandy.
Yeesh--you should have seen under the refrigerator...that's tidy now as well.

I've neglected to mention how our little Baxter is having some troubles with his house training. Sunday, when we came home from the car dealership the first time, we found a big puddle on the new wood floor in the sunroom. Sadly, not the first time this has happened.

Before leaving to trade in the Honda, we placed his blanket in the hall bathroom, keeping him in there with the gate I use at the front door. The gate, while useful, is cumbersome to use on that doorway, so I went to purchase a new one. Would it fit in the MINI? Why, yes it did.
I am all about the errands this week, finding any excuse to drive the MINI! You may remember from this post, the photograph I shared of Alissa taking a photo while the muralist was working. Me and my MINI, while in the area, stopped back by to see the completed work.
Furthermore, there is a lot to get used to in my new baby car. The horizontal lines, arranged vertically, are the gas gauge! The "command center" has a super fun ring of changeable lights.
This old dog will be forced to learn some new tricks!!

We had that little cold snap, but now we are back in the 70's during the day. Out on my bicycle yesterday morning, I visited my owl, well make that two, the first I've seen both in a very, very long time. Can you spot both of them?
One of them, I think the female, was impossible to photograph, but I did get a shot of the male saying good morning Miss Gail.
That would be a wave in owl language! Speaking of owls, for Christmas I received a number of owl related gifts, including this adorable one Irene brought back from Prague. Standing proudly amongst my birdie stuff...
To my dear readers, the above photograph merits a quick glance. For me, however, it is filled with memories of people and places. The framed photo is one I took many, many years ago in Switzerland, the vase belonged to Bruce's Mom, the painting is from when I volunteered at the Polasek, the yellow vase on the left was purchased during a visit to Deland with Matt and Tom one Christmas, the orange birdies were a gift from neighbors, and of course the canoe paddles, purchased in Vermont, and used for many adventures. That pretty much sums up how I feel about life, if there is a story connected to something, I flat out love it!

This rope coil bowl might be my latest obsession...time will tell.
Finally, only in Florida, a water skier I saw yesterday on my ride!
Brave soul that boy, even with a partial wet suit on!

Here's hoping you have no reason to clean under your refrigerator any time soon!


Monday, January 9, 2017

Let's Motor!

Saturday, the temperature dropped some 30 degrees, finally, winter is making a showing. Finally, too, we were able to use the fireplace, however, with the dining room table now in front of it, Bruce brought a beach chair inside to soak up the warmth.
Friday, on the other hand, was still warm enough for a bike ride. It wouldn't be the first time I've seen the Tabubuea trees flowering in January, however, for most of the trees, including mine, blooms are a long way off.
For some of the week I'd been working on a half rectangle block for a mostly green quilt. Here is how you place the pieces, sewing down either side of the line, followed by cutting through that same line, to make the rectangles. 
Having made it, I now know why most folks don't make this block very often because it is fraught with error possibilities, of which I made many. It would be easy to tell you that I made this quilt very small because I planned to hand quilt it, but seriously, that would be a lie. Truth is, it just didn't turn out very well. Nonetheless, I generally finish what I start, so hand quilting it will be.
I was super excited that it was turning cold, not just because I was sick and tired of sweltering, but because I could now wear the beautiful blue sweater Bruce gave me for my birthday. What to wear with it? Rummaging through my fabric drawers, I discovered a pretty print with just the right shade of blue. Finally, a skirt that fits, unlike two others I've made of late. I did, however, have to run up to Wal Mart for a zipper, and just before I was to head out the door, look what was walking down our street!
Pretty much always a cold front is preceded by rainfall, and that we had, both Friday night, and most of Saturday. Because I had the zoom lens on my camera, and the peacock neighborhood is on the way to WalMart, I thought I might see how much those babies were growing. Well, there were peacocks aplenty! In very different stages of plumage I might add. Such vibrancy what with the wet feathers...
Sorry, there are a number of peacock photos upcoming...I cannot resist their beauty!
So, I said there was an abundance of peacocks, and in this tree alone, there were 13. This must be one of the parents, as the feathers are all intact. I stopped counting at 60!
Finally, there are a lot of astonishing things in nature, with a male peacocks "train" being one of them.
Saturday was good, but oh my, was Sunday better! Following church we were feeling great, having helped take down the Christmas decorations in the sanctuary. Slowly, we are making a place for ourselves. Leaving the parking lot, I asked B if he wanted to take a look at Fields because we were already so close? Sure, why not? Just like I had Jon boy take my photo to show off the sweater Matt made for me, so too, I had Bruce take my photo wearing the beautiful blue sweater because, well, I think you will like it as well. 
Super vibrant and pretty. Well, pretty much like the peacocks above, right? 

We roamed around looking at the used vehicles, with B focusing his attention on the X3, a small SUV. Unlike the other dealership, there were several to choose from, so that was good. What turned out to be even better, after meeting the "client advisor" Hugh, was the one we really liked was still available. The test drive was good, the sale was made. The delivery, after new tires are put on, should be on Thursday. While we were chatting, I mentioned that the reason Bruce was getting that type of vehicle is because we were planning on trading in the Pilot for a MINI. 

Now if you've never driven a MINI it is probably hard to understand the fascination with such a tiny vehicle, but once you have, you get it. Using the handy search on my blog, here is where I wrote about giving up my last MINI eight years ago. 

Back to the here and now, Hugh mentioned he'd taken a 2014 MINI in on trade during the week, would we like to see it? The previous owners only put 17,000 miles on it, trading it in for a bigger vehicle, now that they have a baby. 

Absolutely, let's see it.  And so we did, and now we have parted ways with the Honda family!!! 
Is this awesome, or what?? Here's the front, with the cute bonnet stripes (MINI speak).
We brought it home last evening, nearly dark it was, so I could not wait until the sun rose this morning allowing me to get some photographs. Here it is from the back with a super funky spoiler.
The previous post I linked to was actually when I leased the Honda Element, which ultimately proved not to be large enough. I noticed that I wrote about it being a funky car, and perhaps that is why I so longed for one again after driving such a gigantic boring vehicle these last four years. Don't get me wrong, a Honda Pilot is an excellent vehicle if you need something large, I just don't happen to need one any longer. That said, the MINI is pretty darn tiny, and I can't wait to drive it!! Here is the, cute as a button, interior.
As a matter of fact, I think I will just go motor a bit! 

Excited as I can be,


p.s. As I was looking out the glass door to see if it was light enough for photographs, I hollered out to Bruce...come quick, there is an otter running down the street!! Yup, an otter. Looks as if he was running from Lake Jennie Jewell at the end of our street, running across our driveway and front yard, continuing to Lake Gem Mary, three doors down from our front door. Fast, too. Remarkable!!