Tuesday, January 29, 2013

The Garden Conundrum

Oh, yes, I am planning a garden, a small one and of course, ornamental. No useful gardens here! ;) But here's the rub, it has to be deer proof and fire resistant. Those two things seem to be almost mutually exclusive of each other and since this is all going right by the big wood deck, both attributes are important. Deer resistant plants are often the ones with heavy aromatic oils. Those same oils make a plant a poor choice for fire suppression so close to a house structure. It's quite the dilemma. Then lets add in the hot full sun location of a good portion of the front, the poor soil composition (which of course, can be amended), and the wish to have it fairly thrifty in the watering department. Not a good candidate for small trees that like wet feet like birches and aspens. Oh and the slope. We need a fairly aggressive root system on some of this to hold as much amended soil as possible. Shrubs need to be no bigger upon maturity than say 6 feet and it's best that they lose their leaves due to our winter snow loads. Trees no taller than 20 feet max, ground covers hardy and durable to foot traffic be it human or otherwise. And no poisonous or highly invasive plants.  And to top it all off, the elevation. Not all plants like being up this high for one reason or another. So, I'm starting my list and hoping I can find someone locally well versed in something other than what thrives in the valley. On it so far; redbud, native dogwood for the shadier side, bamboo, lavender, germander, jasmine, hawthorn and mock orange. It's woefully short and of course, not all of the plants meet all of the criteria but it's a start.

In the sewing closet, it's been a lot of organizing and not so much sewing.

I did manage to start and complete two corduroy shirts which were at the top of my list. I love corduroy and this is the perfect time of year for it. I'm not a fan of flannel so this fabric fills my need for soft, warm and washable! No new ground covered here. I used two TNT patterns (tried and true), Sewing Workshops Zig Zag top and Butterick's Connie Crawford blouse pattern which I never tire of making or wearing.

  In process is a new pattern to me, an OOP Vogue for spring/summer wear in a lovely silk matka.

 I did manage to do a quick muslin of the Decades of Style Salon pant and it looks like with very few modifications it will work. It's a fun pattern, unusual style and seems like it will be quite comfortable. I'm going to try it in a nice ponte knit.

I purchased my plane ticket for the annual trek to New England. Dates about the same as previous years, end of April to just before Memorial Day. For those planning trips, airfares are on the rise. The fare was about $60.00 higher than last year and I'm not counting bag fees.

In farm news, the pesky black tomcat has been back around. And Sunday, Gene got my feeding route well plowed out, enough to have a go with Bob the tractor. That was until we got a foot of snow Sunday night into yesterday and it's still snowing.  Given the slippery nature of the snow, the crazy grading that happened with the first plowing by the log skidder and now non-existent turnaround, I'm going to stick with the hand carry. I tried Bob yesterday afternoon. It was not fun, but he needed to be started and run and we managed to stage two bales of hay up by the donkeys. The backing back down towards the barn was interesting and something I won't be repeating in the morning dark any time soon.

Parting shot: Smoochie, our optimum napper.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Strictly Commercial 2012

Maybe some old Zappa fans will pick up on the subject title, assuming they haven't all moved to Montana to become dental floss tycoons! ;)

In case you missed the respective loud sobs coming from New England and OR, this years match up will be the Baltimore Ravens and the San Francisco 49ers.  I'll dry my eyes and put away the Kleenex and try not to be too miserable as the last game of the 2012 season is played out. After all, there is always next year! And with the Super Bowl comes the millions of dollars spent on new commercials and hype. Good grief, they are advertising a 100 hours of pre-game coverage. 100 hours!!!! That's a lot of flippin commercials. In fact I would go so far to say, they have stretched it all out just so they can sell commercial time. I wonder if anyone will be interviewing the towel boy?
I love to do this post because if I am going to watch any TV I'm going to see endless amounts of commercials and boy, do I appreciate a good one in the sea of mundane and stupid ones. 

For dog and cat lovers, 2012 was a banner year for commercials featuring animals. And I wasn't the only one that thought so. Dogster has listed their top 10 best commercials featuring dogs in 2012, and there are some good ones. Who could forget Weego, the beer fetching rescue dog. The bonus, Anheuser-Busch donated $250,000 to an animal rescue foundation as part of this commercial campaign. You can see them all here.
My favorite, Purina's "Inside Every Dog is a Great Dog". Just in case anyone needs reminding about how much dogs bring to our lives. And because it deserves a second look, don't forget Harvey and Rabbit by ThinkBox. Travelers Insurance is also wisely kept their cute dog campaign alive.

Now, cats were well represented in commercial endeavors in 2012, although I don't find them as compelling. It's obvious that cats usually think this kind of work is below them, but there were a few pretty darn cute ones and you can see them all here at Catster. Norman the Eco-Warrior has got to be my pick for best. It's clever and cute and I'll bet Norm had lots of fun making it!

The Kleenex Award goes to this video. It is not a commercial, but it was made by a rescue organization. It doesn't matter, it will make you cry. Fiona, you lucky girl, I'm so happy you have a wonderful new life.

Horses don't often appear in commercials I'm sad to say. There is no Horseter. But through the years Anheuser-Busch has brought lots of delight with their Clydesdale's. Serious or funny, I've enjoyed each and every one featuring these smart gentle giants. For all of you who wonder, "How did they do that?" This link will provide some answers and certainly a few tons of entertainment.  Michelle had it featured on her site a few months ago and I just have to pass it on as a best of. For the record, The Snowball Fight never fails to make me smile.

So go forth, click a few links and have a few laughs, see some beautiful animals. We'll catch up on the happenings around Runamuck in the next post.

Parting shot: Peter singing, no pre-recording needed. ;)

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

The Cellarette

Those of you who guessed it was a cocktail bar were correct! The word I was looking for was cellarette although narrowly it means a wine bar, it now is a term used to apply to many of these smaller home art deco bars. Popular in the 30's through the 60's. There are still beautiful examples of them floating around in mahogany, teak, burl walnut, rosewood and some fabulous blonde woods like birch. When you pull the top door open the lid also pops up and a light comes on inside.

 Our light is not working. This one from the England has the original light and fixture but the wiring has been cut as per UK regs for antique electrics. We'll be changing it over using a small gallery light like those used for paintings. For those that might be interested in one for themselves or some other wonderful English small or antique, let me give a shout out to Antika in Seattle WA.  Meridee and her husband Fevzi are a delight to deal with. Prices are EXCELLENT and shipping costs very reasonable. My little bar came UPS in a wardrobe box and packed so perfectly not thing was damaged.

Now for the drawing winners. Anna, winner of the yarn and Thistle Rose, winner of the pattern! Ladies, I'll be contacting you for addresses or you can contact me if you read this.
Congratulations!! I hope you like your respective prizes. Thank you everyone for the comments and participation. :)

Now, onto Lucy news! She is settling into her new home and well on her way to becoming a much loved and appreciated family member. I am told that along with the great hunting instinct she also has that terrier drive to dig and is going whole hog with it.
She is not missing the cold and snow here and snuggles down in bed, under the covers (where all proper small terriers believe they belong) with her new person nightly. Hooray for Lucy! And no they did not keep her either of her names but picked a new one.

The thaw has continued, the Jeep is back in happy service and our driveway has been groomed to almost perfect. I am still hand carrying hay to the Cooper and Dandy and we stage a bale of hay up by the donkeys but it takes no longer really than to use Bob. That part of our farm just has too much snow for the Jeep to do a good job. A lot of it is plowed but Bob is small and the way narrow and slanted and kind of scary getting a small tractor turned around on such a funky slope as it is.

The constant melting and refreezing of the snow has diminished it's depth ( from 3plus feet to around 2.), but also made it crusty enough for wildlife to travel over easily. Our turkeys just came back today!

 There is now a group of 7 or 8, and my lame old hen is with them.

 I didn't see the young Tom, but he may be with a boy bevy!

 We are expecting rain and snow tomorrow and into the evening. This will be the first storm we've had this season that everything we need is working. Gene worked on getting our generator back together today also. It runs!!!

Parting shots: Oh my, the camera's on ME!

 Shall I pose?
Okay, I'm over it.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Mini Mysteries, Guessing Games and Give-Aways

Ah yes, it's going to be one of those blender type posts. Throw it all in and see what you end up with! But lets get to the guess and give-away part first. This lovely little cabinet is from the UK and has a very specific purpose once you open it up.

 Can you guess what its secret is and the name sometimes used to refer to these antique cabinets?  This one is probably from the 1930's.

There are two items for give-away, the first is two skeins ( enough for a generous pair of socks) of Koigu KPPPM in lovely pinky purple colorway

 and the second is a Hot Patterns Miss Moneypenny Pussycat Blouse Pattern multi-sized from 6-26. The pattern has never even been removed from the envelope. I believe this is an OOP pattern. Certainly a pretty one.

When you guess, leave your preference as to yarn or pattern.  From the correct guessers, I will make two piles, one for each of the give-away items and hold a blind drawing. If there is only one correct guesser, they take all the spoils. The winners will be announced next posting, so you have at least two days and probably three or four. Have at it!

Now my little mysteries come in the form of footprints in the snow, or should I say body prints! The other night something, lept through the snow at about 5-6 foot intervals. Whatever it was it had some spring to it and where it landed, not a very big nor heavy body. My guess is a fox or a small bobcat. The distance was too great for the barn cats and there is no reason they would be leaping through the snow with all their little pathways.
Maybe a fox or cat tracking a mouse under the snow?  It was not a raccoon. Too far a leap and the body indentation was way too shallow. Raccoons are too heavy. Too small for a fisher or marten.

Now we did spy our resident Grey Fox on the front deck Thursday night. Gene saw him from the front door when he went to turn off the porch lights. They stared at each other for half a minute and then off he went. Gene says he is quite furry and healthy looking. No doubt looking for sunflower seeds as the birds tend to scatter them around from the hanging feeder we have off the porch. In general, tracks around the house and barn have increased. Raccoon, rabbits and squirrels, little mole and mouse paw prints here and there.
The January thaw is in progress. The valley is suffering under a strong inversion layer but up here, we have been having sunny warm days with temps climbing almost into the 50's and nights moderating around 20 degrees. It won't last and the snow is still way too deep for riding ( and now getting quite crusty too), but the animals are all enjoying the respite from wet weather and bone chilling cold.

In the sewing room, a simple pair of elastic waist black corduroy pants has been completed. This was leftover stash fabric and a try out on Connie Crawford pants. I wanted to see how the cut and fit was. Every designer has their own shape drafting the crotch area and some are comfortable and some are not. These were good although it also reaffirmed that I hate inseam side pockets in pants. I ended up just getting rid of them all together. Next pair I'll do my own pocket thing. On Rhonda I am doing a tissue fitting for a duffle coat.

 Classic camel colored cashmere blend wool that I scored off of Sewitsforsale list for a very inexpensive price and a 50's stole pattern has been cut out (line jumper in the sewing order I might add!), and is awaiting today's assembly.

 More progress to follow in future posts.

2013 certainly has gotten off to an interesting start.  January 7th marked the year anniversary of Dennett's passing. I still miss him, but am oh so grateful to still have Peter, who is now 18 going on 19 and Miss Bea who is no spring chicken at 16. This year, like most other years, will have its fair share of both joy and sadness. As always, I'm optimistic that the former will outweigh the latter.

Parting shot: The always happy (and wiggly when awake), Smoochie!
Now, get to guessing!

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Jerky jerky just TOSS IT OUT!

This is a quick post and mostly meant for dog and cat owners, who I know are abundant among visitors. This post concerns chicken jerky treats made in China.I know with all the news focused on Mali and weapons and debt ceilings, some of us may have missed this recent news. There have been voluntary recalls of these products and the FDA has updated statistics on reports of these Made in China products. Bottom line, if you have dogs or cats and any of these treats in your pantry, toss them out or return them. And I'd go as far as saying if you have any treats or pet food made in China, toss that too. It's just not worth the worry considering the number of problems and recalls involving Chinese produced edibles for our pets (and selves). There are many good products produced and sourced in the USA. Read your labels carefully. If you want to keep up with pet food recalls there are two places I often check. The Pet Food List on Facebook and Lucy Girl blog. Both of these sites you can also get to using the Pet Food List link that has been on  the right hand side of my blog forever. Go forth, give those dogs and cats a pet from me and a safe healthy treat! :)

Parting shot: TREAT?! Did you just type TREAT?  I'm sure I heard TREAT being typed....

Monday, January 14, 2013

The Bird is the Word

Seems we have our own little fly by these days. The flock of small winter birds has increased.

Temps have been down to zero for the last three nights and other than being in direct sunlight to feel warmth, daytime hasn't gotten much over 26F.  If you stand on our front porch,

 you'll feel like you are getting dive bombed by chickadees and nuthatches!

The lighted Christmas tree is still up outside. I'd have to dig it out at this point, but it's providing good perching for the busy ones. The Stellar Jays have learned to push/rattle the wire cylinder feeder by the wood boiler to make it drop seed, because the bottom pan is too small for them to perch at. With such cold weather, activity has been almost constant from sun up to sun down. In the pictures are: Mountain Chickadees, Red-breasted Nuthatch and Chestnut Backed Chickadee.

Besides bird and football watching (Go Pats!!!) there has been a frenzy of fabric cutting. I laid out and cut six patterns yesterday. A new vest pattern, two new pants patterns and some old blouse favorites done up in corduroy. In this weather you can never have too much warm soft stuff. One of the trouser patterns is a muslin for a Decades of Style pattern.

I bought two of their line and just couldn't wait to get this one out of the envelope. It's quite different from any other pattern I have or have done, so basically I'll do a pair of shorts for a muslin. This pattern uses a lot of fabric, almost twice what a regular pair of pants needs so when I go to nice fabric I want to be sure the fit will be good and the style flattering.

The other pattern is this wonderful vintage coat.

 I can see this done in some interesting outer weight choices, or as a beautiful robe done in charmeuse or drapey rayon or linen/rayon blend. Oh, the possibilities! I'll keep you posted on progress using these patterns from this indie company.

The Shetland wool vest has been completed and I am so glad I took my time on this one.

Making a lining for it was challenging, mostly because I had to modify the way facings and hems were done.

 The heavy weight wool dictated that I go slow with the machine, careful with my top stitching and really watch my fit around the arm holes. It all took time
and I wanted to enjoy the process and working with this lovely, old fashioned wool.

It's warm and comfortable and the bonus is the style looks great with a capelet thrown over it, almost like a Sherlock Holmes style Inverness coat.  Very practical for our climate too. I can't tell you how often I go to town bundled up because our temps are running 10 to 15 degrees colder than the valley, only to be too hot and shedding coats and sweaters when I get to town. Dressing for town would never do. What would happen if I got stuck or the car failed and I had to walk a distance or wait in the cold? But having a warm vest with a removable warm wool capelet dings a lot of bells. More on this type of style to come in the coming months. I've a had a request and am up to the challenge...I think. ;)

In farm news, not much going on. The horses are handling the dry cold temps well, the donkeys not so much. Even with blankets and shelter the single digits are hard for them. I can only keep heated water out for them, lots of hay and a little increase in the tiny amount of dry cob I give them. The night time temps are predicted to rise into the low/mid 20's and we'll all be grateful. This spring I will move the donkeys along to a new home, a valley home. I think they will be much happier as long as they can stay together. They are so very bonded with each other.

Parting shot: Sitting on the snow bleachers! (Robin's ear is doing its own thing, kind of like a bad hair day, he has bad ear days).

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Calling "Uncle"

There are some things in life that just are. Death and taxes are often mentioned, but I might also add to that list dogs that respect cats and dogs that don't. I will say that after 20 plus years of terrier experience (and many more years with dogs in general), that I have only had two dogs that truly were out for blood when it came to cats. The first was a little Cairn Terrier male that I fostered, the second, Lucy. I tried every training trick in my book
and made little to no progress. Lucy would just assume kill Rodger as look at him and that folks is a fact and not uncommon in terriers (and many other breeds), especially when they have not been raised with a cat who, just like the pups Mom, at a young age instills a certain healthy dose of respect. But fear not, Lucy's breeder, who has a beautiful breeding program with many champions and English imports stood behind this puppy and was able to come up with an ideal home for this winsome little girl. I made the pass off yesterday and Lucy will spend a little time in her home digs before heading down to California's central valley where she will be lavished with attention as the only dog of a single woman with a thriving seed growing business. Lucy and her new owner will spend every day overseeing acres of production. A perfect situation for this beautiful active pup. Let me also reaffirm that buying from a reputable breeder is so important. They will and do stand by their breeding. My hats off to Hans both for putting such a lovely dog on the ground and for happily taking a bad situation in hand and getting little Lucy a new home. Lucy's original owners should have done this from the get go. Rodger has free run of the house again and is curling up with his little canine family as he pleases. All's well at Runamuck!

On sewing news, I've been poky. I spent a good portion of my time with
Lucy and she was a marvel of intelligence. While here, she learned to stay and wait as doors where being opened and shut, to back up to give room, to sit and wait her turn at biscuit time and we had a good start on "Leave it". But I did get one thing finished.

 This is my favorite Indygo Junction Cowl Tunic pattern. I had this lovely piece of Japanese cotton just screaming to be made into a casual everyday easy to wear top and I couldn't be happier with it. Big pockets, longer length for either jeans or leggings, a cowl that looks great with a turtleneck or cami under it and not so low that you couldn't forgo either of those things.

 The print is actually a stylized Chinese "Year of" selection; rat, dog, rooster, monkey etc. and was a purchased early last year. Additional available yardage long gone.

 I ran a bit short on the fabric since at the time of purchase I didn't have a pattern in mind, but with some left over linen blend denim, I was able to coax this pattern into completion. And it might just work for Pretty Grievance's Jungle January. I mean it IS an animal print! :) But then again, with all the dog hair that seems to find it's way onto and into my clothing fabrics, it could all be considered "animal print".

Also in progress is a long vest being worked up in some good durable Shetland wool. This is not soft next to your skin stuff. Instead, hard wearing durable and warm come to mind, as does the need for a lining. The pattern I'm using is unlined, so I have drafted one and since I used a plain silky black muslin, I decided to spiff it up a little with some machine embroidery. I'll give you a peek.

 In seam pockets still need to be done before the lining is bagged, but I'm hoping I'll have it finished today.

The weather went from great to gawd awful. A day of rain on top of snow was not ideal.
The driveway turned into 6 inches of impossible to navigate deep slushy snow. Gene plowed but also had the benefit (and need) of chains on both his vehicles. The Subaru made it out yesterday but failed the last hill coming home and sits sideways about 20 feet shy of his parking space. I have been assured that it will be easy to move once we get a good hard freeze up today or tonight. If not, there is always the tow chain. More snow and colder temps are predicted through the weekend. I'm glad I got all my shopping done yesterday. The car may have been one dog shy coming up, but it was loaded with tons of food and feed.

Parting shot: Last day. Me, watching Lucy, watching Juno, watching birds!

Friday, January 4, 2013

Winter Gardening

Well, there are very few things that will grow in 30 inches of snow, single digit temperatures and less than 8 hours of daylight, regardless of cloudy or blindingly bright days. You all know we don't have a greenhouse, and even the inside plants suffer regardless of which window they are plopped in front of. But you can grow an amazing crop of icicles! And we have a good one this January. My view from the computer is punctuated by the long downward spires

 and looking out our downstairs bathroom window makes one feel they are living in an ice castle.  We have had sunny days this week, warming us up to almost above freezing and that has created melt on the roof, dripping down from the edges and then adding a little bit every day to the crop. No matter what it is it seems water is the secret! :)  I've seen them go all the way to meet the ground snow and it looks like this year they will again.

 Of course that also means the outside horse and donkey water buckets and tanks are building up ice too. Today, we'll try to tip them, chisel out the the ice around the rims and refill. The donkeys will get the horses 15 gallon heated water bucket and I've bought a submersible heater for the big pasture water tank. I had avoided this with Nick since he likes to play with such things, but Cooper and Dandy are pretty workman like when it comes to their water tank. Such exciting stuff I know!

In sewing news, the velveteen jacket is done and worn and liked.

 It is not a fabric I pine to work with again, it sheds like crazy in process, but it certainly makes for a warm, pretty little jacket.

I used snaps ( of course!), for the closures and back yoke decoration.  Underneath is the next project in process which I'll write about on the next post.

As always, I anticipate the new year with glee since my local fabric store puts everything on sale for most of the month of January. The more you buy, the more you save. 1 yard is 10% off, 2yds-20%, 3yds-30% and 4yds and up, 40%. I wait for this sale as I'm sure many
others do too. It makes that $34/yard Italian wool suiting that you need scads of for a coat or a suit, affordable! Yesterday was the first day of the sale (runs to the 25th of January) and I was there early.  I picked up some cottons for a quilt and a jelly roll of quilting cotton already precut into strips.

 And then the wools and higher end garment fabrics. The black wool is almost a carbon copy of the wool/angora blend I used for one of my little capelets. It has a deep charcoal grey glen plaid running through it, but this one is smooth and tightly woven and suit weight.

 It will last for years made into a classic fitted coat. The blue and dark brown/black plaid is an interestingly woven cotton blend. The horizontal black stripe is actually ribbon like and only woven in at the top.

 The final piece is an open plaid in a sturdy wool that I will use for contrast/trim on the next rendition of the jacket just finished.

It goes well with the cashmere blend. I am still on the hunt for lining material.

Around the farm, the Jeep is back from its spa treatment. We'll see how that goes!  He may need a new carb, but for now, we're seeing if a thorough soaking and adjustment of the old one will do. Gene went down and did the welding on the front for the new, larger plow blade. Boy, have I got work for him when he is back in service! The lazy hay burners are fat and rather sassy. Dandy squealed at me and took off up the path bucking when I was out there shooing them away while I broke ice and checked fencing. The donkeys just hate the cold and snow. It would be a hard call as to which species dislikes this weather more, donkeys or goats. They would all prefer some place a bit warmer. Which segues (can one do that with segue?), me into the big school maps. Gene loves geography, so when I saw this school map set for sale, I had to get it for him for Christmas.

 It's not terribly old, early 90's so fairly current and we both enjoy looking up where in the world things are happening. And it's colorful.

Parting shot: Lucy, getting the hang of down time.