Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Post-Frankenstorm Halloween!

We made it safely through Hurricane Sandy!  We have been without electricity since Monday evening around 6:30, but we are safe and doing well.  Monday I managed to get everybody showered and the tub filled with water for flushing the toilets (we have our own well which runs on electricity), baked chocolate chip cookies, did two loads of laundry (washed and dried - I was afraid the power would go out in between!), cooked dinner and ran the dishwasher!  The house was still clean from the weekend and we froze bottles of water to keep the fridge cold.  We were as prepared as we could be.

We were fortunate that the only real damage we suffered, besides the chimney cap blowing off, was that our new trampoline blew into the far corner of our next-door neighbor's backyard.  Can you see it there in the far right corner of this picture? It started out to the left of the cleared square, behind the two trees and blew clear across our yard and theirs!

We're not sure how much damage it sustained, but it's a small price to pay!  We feel so fortunate that we have a dry home and we're all safe!  We've heard so many stories of tragedy and loss over the last few days.

Another way we've been fortunate is that our fantastic Mahopac Public Library did not lose power and has been open from noon to 5 since Tuesday.  Today the parking lot was already full and there was a crowd of people waiting to get in before the doors even opened!  People are coming in to charge their electronic devices, to get on the internet, rent movies, use flush toilets, warm up, and get a free cup of coffee.  There's practically standing room only on all three floors!  Here are some shots of the Youth Services area...
 the program rooms where we are showing movies...
 the computers in the Teen Zone
 and the Information Desk and Cafe area.
I wasn't even scheduled to work these afternoons, but since the house is cool and dark, we may as well be here, where it's bright, cheerful, and warm, and there's lots of company.  Keep safe, everyone and hopefully we'll be back on the grid soon...

Sunday, October 28, 2012

In the Midst of Many Projects...

... and trying to get some of them finished!  I haven't blogged that much about the various projects going on in the house right now, partly because I've been so busy going from one to the other, and partly because I haven't stopped to clear a space to photograph anything!  Time to catch you up a little on what's been going on around here.

Let's start with the charm bracelets.  I've been trying to craft a decent variety and quantity so I can submit them to sell at the Putnam Arts Council's annual holiday craft sale.  I've made at least two with a red and green Christmas theme, two with a pale blue and white winter/snow theme, and two of the retro 70s Bohemian denim and copper style.  I also have one with a spring "flowers and birds" theme and one of the ocean themed turquoise and silver.  I'd like to make one more of each of those and then take some great photos of everything, which I'll post.  Meanwhile, here's a group shot of some of the jewelry on a display rack with two cluster necklaces (which you can't see in the photo - I'll rephotograph them all individually soon!)

In addition to my ongoing projects, my daughters have also been taking their turns at the craft table.  One recently finished a large batik project using Elmer's glue gel and acrylic inks, but she gave it away before I had the chance to photograph it!  My younger daughter painted the black t-shirt below with the symbol of her zodiac sign, Libra.  We used freezer paper as a stencil and sponge-painted on acrylic paints.  It looks great and she's so proud to have made it herself!  She also created a cool sculpture of a dragon head using paper clay, and designed felt horns for a sweatshirt hood, which I stitched in place.  I'm so glad the girls see the value and pride in making things with your own two hands!
Friday after school they had a friend over for a pumpkin carving session.  Our town hosted a Pumpkin Fest this weekend and gave free pumpkins to any school-age child who promised to carve or decorate it and bring it back to the town park for display.  I'll post pictures of those another time, but meanwhile, here are the pumpkin spice cupcakes I baked in honor of the occasion.  The recipe is very simple:  pretty much just stir a whole can of pumpkin into a carrot or spice cake mix.   Add 3 eggs and 1/4 cup each of water and oil.  Mix and bake for 16-20 minutes, then frost with cream cheese frosting.  Delish!
Last Thursday, my FANE group met and we started a second round of Renga fabric exchanges.  This time, we each altered a half-yard of white fabric, then cut it into two fat quarters which each went to two different people.  Below are the two pieces of cloth I received:

 One group member added a design to her fabric using shapes cut from artist tissue paper, which bleeds when wet.  I decided I liked the blurry pastel colors that it produced and thought I'd give it a try.  I picked up this package of art tissue and went to work!
 I stuck with the raspberry and lemon color palette for the first piece of fabric.  I didn't want the shapes to be too angular and geometric, to match the tie-dye effect that's already there.  I went with irregular trapezoid shapes and scattered them around on the fabric like this:
 Then I spritzed the whole thing very well with water.  Sometimes air bubbles got trapped underneath the tissue, so I had to smooth everything down and make sure it was in contact with the fabric.
 Here's the finished product:   (I shot this in a different light than the photo above and it looks kind of washed out.  It really has more of a pale yellow color than this almost white).
 With the second piece of fabric, I chose to go with wavy lines in a teal green shade.  I like the look of this one (I really have some obsession with fabric that looks like water, don't I...?)
I managed to get the worktable cleaned off just in time for my DH to begin building a new wall in order to enlarge my daughter's bedroom.  Here are the studs going up...
 ... and here is the shelf I had to clear of stuff, which is now all over the worktable!  These cubbies will be turned on end and move against the second new wall, ...
 ... which will be several feet out from where this wall (with the door) currently is.  This room was originally his home office and he graciously gave it to her for a bedroom, but it had no closet.  When it's all done, she'll have a larger space as well as a closet.  This way, her room will be that much neater and more organized, right?  Right! (LOL!  I'll believe it when I see it!).  It better be worth all this effort!
Now all that is going on indoors, of course there are all the outdoor chores coming up.  I just cleared off this deck on Saturday, but the winds from approaching hurricane Sandy have already shaken enough oak leaves down to cover it up again!  If that's the worst we get from the storm, I'll take it!
Of course, we are all preparing for the worst but hoping for the best.  I stocked up on everything I could think of and made great efforts to keep up with the laundry and housecleaning this weekend.  I learned a lot from the two big storms we had last year and I know how to prepare now!  Since the brunt of the storm seems to be headed well south of here, I'm hoping we'll only get some heavy winds and rains - enough to close the schools but not enough to take down power lines!  (From my lips to God's ears...)
Have a safe week and see you on the other side!

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

A Dog's Life

 When we first got Cassie three years ago, it was a bit of an adjustment for me.  She required a lot of time and energy, and although the girls swore up and down that they would walk her and play with her, they were on the bus by 7 am and the morning routine fell to me.  At first it was difficult to give up the extra time, but now I've worked it into my routine.  Here's what our day is like:
 After the girls get on the bus, Cassie and I walk around to the backyard and enjoy the sunrise.  Sometimes she rolls down the slope and gets a nice back scratch on the way down.
 Then we sort of pootle around the yard a bit.  Sometimes I do some weeding or some exercise.  Cassie sniffs everything...
 and rolls a little more!
 Sometimes she finds a nice stick to chew...
 or we have a catch with a ball or a frisbee.

 Very often, Sophie and Sandy from next door are out sniffing about too.  Sandy is still a playful puppy and she always looks forlornly over the invisible fence to see if we'll come over to play.
I usually bring Cassie over there on the leash a couple of times a week so they can both blow off some extra energy.

 As you can see, they greet each other very enthusiastically.  No one says hello better than a dog!

 After hello, we all run around to the backyard.  Sandy loves to fetch so she usually brings me a ball.
 While she keeps me busy throwing, Cassie wanders around sniffing out chipmunks along the rock walls.  She usually makes her way all the way down to the water and can't resist a swim! (She can't do that at our house because of our Invisible Fence).
 After her swim, she smells like the lake!  Sandy doesn't mind.  They chase each other a bit...
 and then discover they can get up on the trampoline (a couple of trees came down on it last winter, so it's now pretty much defunct for jumping, but easier to climb on if you're a dog).
 As you can see, it's covered with leaves and still has a little lopsided bounce left in it.  They have a great time jumping and rolling around!

 I throw their balls up there and now it's a real dog playground!

That is one happy dog!
 Before we head home for breakfast, Cassie rolls a little bit more while I enjoy the scenery.  It's another beautiful fall morning.

Sometimes Cassie needs to be hosed off before we go in for breakfast, depending on how much dirt sticks to her fur after her swim.  Today she's pretty clean so I just towel her off and we head in.  In nice weather, I can leave her outside all day because of that invisible fence.  But if the weather is wet, she stays inside and naps...
We have one or two other short play sessions in the afternoon or evening.  She loves tug-o-war indoors or out.

Finally, it's dinner and bedtime.  What a life!

Friday, October 19, 2012

Amazing Autumn Leaves

 Look at the amazing leaf I found in our backyard!  Isn't it huge?  It's from a tulip tree.  We have many of these trees on the property, and at first I thought it came from the very top of this tree which dominates our backyard:

It's probably over 100 ft tall.  But then I found several of the leaves, and realized they were coming from this little bush-like tree way off to one side:
 I think that because it's so small and doesn't get much light down here under all these much taller trees, it has to compensate by making each leaf bigger.  (There's a lesson in there, somewhere, I think...) Funny that I never noticed it until they all started falling.  I have to admit, I do love some of the changes Autumn brings.  I love watching the variety of leaf colors and shapes collect everywhere, I love the way they smell and the way they crunch under your feet and the way they all come fluttering down at once when the breeze moves the trees.
Have a great Autumn weekend, everyone!

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

We Have a Winner!

Well, three, actually!  Kimmie, if you could send me your e-mail address, I'll contact you directly (I already have yours, Mary and Norma).  I'm looking forward to getting some more info from you and putting some thought and time into your surprises.  Thanks so much for playing!

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Pay it Forward Giveaway!

If you've been reading my blog but have never left a comment, now's your chance to speak up - and receive a hand-crafted gift!  I'm taking part in a pay-it-forward giveaway that I joined when I visited the blog of Christine Hansen, co-author of the book Making Mixed-Media Art Charms and Jewelry.   (You're probably familiar with the term pay-it-forward from the movie by that name.  If not, it means doing something nice for someone without any expectation of getting something in return.)  The idea is that those who have received something will feel like paying it forward to others, so the good deeds spread.

The first three people who leave a comment on this blog post will receive, sometime in the next 365 days, a special gift handcrafted by yours truly  (if you've never left a comment, scroll to the bottom of this post and click on the word "comments."  You can leave a comment anonymously or login with a google id.).  Then you return the favor by posting something on your blog, if you have one, and paying it forward to three others.  (If you don't have a blog but can come up with another way of paying it forward, then by all means, please do!).

It's as simple as that!  Leave me a comment, I'll contact you for your address, and then you can spread a little joy by paying it forward yourself!