Friday, March 02, 2012

Independence Days Check In

So, for those of you who are following along with the Independence Days challenge, how did you do?
This week, I'm pleased to report that I did the following:
Plant Something: I sprouted alfalfa! Yay! Two new peas poked their greenness above the soil, and I sprouted three more. These last three have yet to come up, but I know they're in their. I sprouted four lettuce seeds, and they've stayed green and upright.

Harvest Something: Not yet.
Preserve Something: Not yet.

Waste Not: I redirected some banana peels and apple cores to the compost barrel, rolled it around the patio a bit, flipped it a few times for good measure and opened the lid to give it a sniff. It doesn't smell funky, or earthy for that matter, but it has two things working against it. The air holes are not big enough and it's been outside all winter.

Want Not: We've added a couple tins of coffee and a big box of tea to our pantry. A couple more cans of coffee are being picked up this morning. Any sale on coffee that allows one to save $10 is a good thing!

Eat The Food: We have a few apples that are in need of being muffins, so I think this afternoon I'll be making banana bread and apple muffins.

Build Community Food Systems: Right now, I just want to have enough for us. Anything else is overwhelming.

Skill Up: Added four new quilting books to our personal library this past week. These are instructional pattern books, not coffee table books. These will come in handy when I have the room to start making quilts.
Edit notes: I forgot, I did add to our community food system! We tried goat's milk this week and it was a hit! I not only enjoyed it, I had no nasty after effects like I have with cow's milk. Could this be a solution to lactose intolerance or merely a reprieve?

A much more productive week than last, I think. How did your week go?

Thursday, March 01, 2012

Natural Building Inspiration

As you've probably figured out by now, I love the outdoors, even though I don't enjoy being cold, I am still moved by the beauty of winter. My favorite season? I'm not sure if that would be spring or autumn. Anyway, I've been discovering that when nature is incorporated into buildings, they are more pleasant to look at, and I imagine they are more enjoyable to spend time in. I've been trying to bring "natural building" ideas into a garden shed design I'd like to build someday soon. The following video is for those you looking for a little green in this wet, damp season of not-quite-spring-yet, and those looking for a little inspiration, like me.


I'm always inspired by the unique touches others have brought into their homes. This "wallbraid" is sculpted right into the wall of a home. No sharp corners here!  

Finally, a modern piece of "cave art", a buffalo that is built right into the wall. This is apparently done in lime and clay showing some very old skills such as pargeting and sgraffito. Techniques I'll have to look into some more!

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Thrift Store Score!!

I love books. I always have. I blame my mother for this. (Gives a wave to Mom)
I was an early reader apparently, and would read anything I could get my hands on. I never lost that as I grew up. I think I can safely say that I've rarely borrowed any less than 10 books at a time from our local library. After having lived here 11 years, I'm exhausting the library's source of homesteading, gardening and self sufficiency books. So, as much as I hate shopping, I do like to hit the thrift stores in search of classics. Classic farm books, classic knitting books that most knitters would fight one another for, and old Mother Earth News issues.
Yesterday I got sucked into all kinds of possibility with a 50% off sale at our local thrift store, and while I can usually find a mason jar or two, or even a piece of cast iron, this trip yielded some other items that are just as valuable.
I came across quite a few quilting books, but the four pictured above were more along what I needed. From left (the big blue book) is "A Second Quilters Companion". Published in 1981, it has patterns for applique, half-pieced, four patch, nine patch, borders and quilting patterns. Once I get moved and have some room to start quilting, I think this may become a go-to book. A quilting friend up north may find this useful too. I paid $3.99 for this book.

The book to it's right is "Let's Make A Patchwork Quilt", published in 1980 by Farm Journal Press. It was a birthday present to someone, judging by the inscription on the inside. (I love little glimpses like this into a book's history. It makes it feel so much more alive). The book covers a basic history of quilts, basic techniques, shows how do pieced work and then offers a practical small scale working model of those techniques; a pillow. Applique is discussed after that, as is the actual quilting. Advanced work is discussed after that in the form of advanced piecing, curves, and paper piecing. with dozens of patterns and color photos, it seems to be both inspirational and instructional. I paid $3.99 for this one as well.

Shown just below that book is "Trip Around The World Quilt", a glossy-covered book that bears an original price tag of $9.98, but I paid just $1.99 for. Inside, all instructions and patterns are printed in red ink, which I found curious. The premise of this pattern is to choose colours and patterns that appeal to you and sew them together in planned strips. The pattern emerges in how the placement of those colors and patterns are placed. While this particular pattern is not my foremost choice, it is one I want to make one day, and even if I decide to pass this book on, it's still a valuable resource, due to it's simplicity in instructions and diagrams.

To the left of that book is "Celtic Animals Charted Designs". I have been looking for this one for years. It was published in 1996, and it is stuffed with exactly what it says, charted designs. I'm sure one could use these charts in knitting, crochet, needlework or even beadwork. It's one of those resources that the crafty Celt should have on their bookshelf. This one was $1.99 as well.

The little gold book on top is "Celtic Design Maze Patterns", first published in 1993. This was pure indulgence on my part. I love ancient Celtic art, and I've been trying to work up the nerve to put a Celtic maze in my knitting one day. The authors briefly discusses the history and classification of the maze, gives examples, in line drawings and where these can be found and then goes on to include patterns that one can draw or reproduce. It's fascinating, to me at least.
I paid $2.99 for this one.

That's the bookish highlights of that trip. We also got a piece of blue and white Corelle-ware, as well as an a lid that fits another piece of Corelle-ware. What made me nearly squeal though, and I don't normally squeal, was a heavy stone fruit bowl; sand colored with red apples glazed on the outside. It is the typical fruit bowl one thinks of on a country table. Did I mention it was heavy? I've been looking for one of these for years. I was thrilled to find one and only pay $2.99 for it. Also in the "cool score" department, knitting needles! I got a bag of knitting needles, four pairs in all. For $4.99, we got sizes 5.5mm, 5 mm, 4.5 mm and 5mm. All sizes we didn't already have. We also picked up a bag of circular needles, 3 in total for $2.99. 4 mm with a 9" cable, 3.5 mm with a 21" cable, and a 6mm with a 10.5" cable. Although we've made trips to that store before, it never occured to me to see if they had any knitting supplies. But this time, I was drawn to that wall. With my freaky-shadow-person of course. Oh, haven't I mentioned her yet?
I had taken my iPod with intent to film the cooler parts of our little expedition, but I was being shadowed by a woman who scooped anything I looked twice at. No kidding. This is why I hate shopping. She was literally scooping whole shelves of books into a cart, scooping armloads of any material I looked at, dishes I stopped in front of were snatched off the shelf...I kid you not. When her cart was full, she grabbed a basket-pullalong that the store supplies, and she filled that! Even when we went to find pajama bottoms for the boys she followed us! I wanted to go all warrior on her, but my gentle, patient partner was of the opinion that we would lose freaky-shadow-person soon enough.  Well, not soon enough for my liking, but eventually she found someone else to stalk.

So, thrift stores can be a great resource if you have the patience, the time and a list of the things you'd like to find. On our list is always cast iron, a bread box, mason jars, homesteading books, knitting get the idea. Make your own list of things you'd like to find for your home, raw materials such as piping, cloth, tools, whatever it is you'd like to lay hands on but are not comfortable paying top dollar, add it to your list. Don't forget resources like books too. Toys, games, craft items...the list could be endless.