Finding My Groove

fall is here

Well, it has been a month of adjustments around here. The kids are adjusting to school again. I am adjusting to having all three kids in school all day. And I am also adjusting to a new part-time job. I wasn’t really intending on going back to work so soon after school was back in session, but a nearby library was looking for someone for weekday afternoons. I interviewed and got the job. 

I’m working a lot more more hours than what I had been working at “my” library, and it is much busier. The time goes by quickly, but the vibe is very different — definitely not as personal. It’s just taking some getting used to. Since I work afternoons and don’t get home until after 5, I’ve been trying to get everything I need to do done in the mornings — cleaning, appointments, phone calls, dinner prep. My husband telecommutes, so for now it all works. He is able to get the kids off the bus and get dinner going. 

I’ve been ridiculously emotional lately — I think all these changes are causing it. It is strange to not have any little ones at home during day, and I think that is the hardest adjustment for me. I definitely miss it. Luckily, they all love school so the fact that everyone can’t wait to go makes it easier. But there’s also the realization that baby and toddler days are officially gone. And while I know our family is complete, and I really don’t want any more kids, there is a little part of me that is very sad about this.

Stupid things set me off, like driving by our local Friendly’s and seeing that it had closed. I immediately got all teary, remembering how we used to go there all the time when Jake and Noah were little. When we first moved up here, dinner at Friendly’s and walking through the mall was our standard Friday night out. 

Change is hard, even for grown-ups, I guess. Everything just feels different. I can’t explain it and I probably sound like a fruitcake. But like the kids, I will adjust. It only takes time.

In the meantime, I’ve set aside my Stitchcation Afghan and I’ve been working on an infinity scarf. Believe it or not, the yarn is by Red Heart! It is so soft, and the colors are just beautiful. I think RH gets an undeserved bad name. Their yarns (even the SuperSaver) have really improved since I first started knitting and crocheting 10 years ago.

infinity scarf

Outside, it is definitely starting to look like fall. My burning bushes are turning red. Leaves are falling. The days are shorter, and the evenings are cooler.

burning bush

mums

A couple weeks ago, Drew had the brilliant idea to take some extra bricks we had lying around and build a firepit. So on weekend evenings, we’ve been enjoying an outdoor fire (complete, of course, with roasted marshmallows). Saturday night we decided to do sparklers for no good reason other than that they are fun!

sparklers

My parents also visited this weekend. Dad helped Drew paint the back of the house (it’s a huge project, let me tell you), and Mom cleaned up my front garden because she actually enjoys doing that 😉 It looks a thousand times better! I would have gotten around to it (probably), but I am very appreciative that she just did it for me. After my last bout with poison ivy, I’m still kind afraid to touch anything green without wearing a hazmat suit.

So all in all, things are good! My weepies, I’m sure, will subside. I am fortunate to have (so quickly) found part-time work that works with our schedule (because really, the kids are only home for about an hour and a half before I get there — it’s not THAT bad). And really things are just moving right along.

How are things with you?

Country Living Fair 2014

Country Living Fair 2014

Guys, last year I had to miss out on the debut of the Country Living Fair here in Rhinebeck at the Dutchess County Fairgrounds. We had events that entire weekend and there was no way I could eek out the time to attend. But this year? I wrote it in my planner as soon as I found out the dates and I was not going to miss it again!

The weather was absolutely perfect for a day of walking around and being absolutely inspired by all of the creative ideas I saw. The fairground was transformed! I had just been there for CamporALL with the Cub Scouts, but it didn’t look anywhere near as pretty as this. Check it out — buntings everywhere! And I swear they were misting the scent of lavender and cinnamon because everything smelled wonderful.

Country Living Fair 2014

Obviously the vendors want you to buy their wares, but I couldn’t help but steal a few ideas for finished products that were out of my budget. This “Pickles” sign was one of them. The sign, while super cool, was not coming home with me for over $100. And while I doubt I could do a perfect lettering job, it still provided some inspiration.

Country Living Fair 2014

I loved these chairs with the ragamuffin strips hanging down the sides — kind of like a prim tutu, isn’t it?
Country Living Fair 2014

Here was another project I thought I could replicate with a shabby frame, some ticking, an old BINGO card, and a cute vintage image:
Country Living Fair 2014

And who knew that if I could safely take down a hornet’s nest I could not only use it as a home dec accent, but I could also charge $35 for it? (But I have to admit — it does look cool.)
Country Living Fair 2014

Here are a few more “this and that” photos of pretty things:
Country Living Fair 2014

Country Living Fair 2014

Country Living Fair 2014

Country Living Fair 2014

Country Living Fair 2014

Country Living Fair 2014

I am already excited for next year! I’ll have one more Country Living Fair post this week all about “glamping.” I’d never heard that term before, but if you love the idea of cute caravan/camper decor… just wait! These ladies had more style in their tiny little campers than I do in my entire house, LOL.

A Perfect Fall Day

autumn

I’d be hard-pressed to choose a better month: May or October. They’re both my favorites. Yesterday some stormed ushered in the most wonderful, cool, fall weather. And finally, finally, finally I was ready to open up that pumpkin spice coffee creamer 🙂

Autumn

After getting Noah on the school bus this morning I decided to snap a few photos. The rain brought down a lot of leaves, but really the colors are just starting to show up. I’m hoping that they’ll pop in the next few days. Saturday we’re having a family portrait taken and I would be thrilled to have some brilliant color in the background. Anyway, here are just a couple shots from the yard.

Mums & scarecrows:

Fall Decor

My Knockout Rose, still going strong:

Autumn Rose

My burning bush — I think this is the brightest I’ve ever seen it!

Burning Bush

In the meantime I’ve been puttering around, doing some detailed cleaning. Boy, are those circular knobs that are grooved a pain to clean? We have them on some cupboards and somehow there’s always something stuck in the grooves. I also caught up on laundry — hooray!

Tonight I think I’m making a simple Western frittata for dinner with a salad. Maybe I’ll throw an apple crisp together, too… just because I feel like a bowl of some apple-y dessert and a cup of hot tea would be the perfect way to end to the day. Might have to get peeling those apples now!

In the Garden

welcome to my garden

Well, this year my garden is overgrown and underwhelming. The one-two punch of some heavy rains and two weeks of crazy hot weather made the weeds go crazy and sadly I’m just not motivated to keep up with it. (Happens every year — I’m a gardener in my head, but not in reality, LOL!) But I figured I’d share a few snapshots of the plants that haven’t died!

First, there’s my knockout rose bush. This is one of the hardiest plants we have in the front! And what’s amazing is that a few years ago, I bought the plant half-head on clearance for $1, just to see if it would take. I love how bright the pink is.

rose

Then there are these Black-Eyed Susans that came from my mother-in-law’s garden.

flowers

And the Tiger Lily from my mom’s garden.

tiger lilies

Even though Queen Anne’s Lace might be considered a weed, I love having it around the house. It’s so pretty and delicate and when I feel motivated to cut some flowers to bring in the house, the Queen Anne’s Lace makes such lovely filler.

queen anne's lace

This one is called a Balloon Flower and I think we might have gotten it as a bare-root plant from Spring Hill. We placed an order when we first moved here and while a lot of the plants didn’t take, a few did! The flowers close up in the evening and look like little balloons.

balloon flower

And here’s the Spoon Flower my dad made. This one is pretty rare 😉

spoon flower

I found this spiderweb this morning and I never tire of how magical they look. I left it alone — I feel bad anytime I have to wipe one away. I know it’s silly, but they just seem like so much work and this web wasn’t in a place where it was bothering anyone.

spider web

 

 

And finally, my hydrangea. I had only one pathetic bloom last year and it doesn’t look like I’ll have any flowers this year (no idea why!). I did, however, find this adorable little toad hanging out on a leaf! 

tiny frog

Maybe in September I’ll put out some mums and marigolds and kale… I’ll try to take advantage of fall flowers and pretty things up for autumn. So, how are your gardens doing this year?

How to Clean the Glass on Your Wood Stove or Fireplace

how to clean wood stove glass

Remember how I just was asking about a January thaw? Well, the last two days were it! Sure, it was wet and foggy, but temperatures were mild for this time of year and I even had a chance to air out the house a little. Since we weren’t using our wood stove, I decided to take advantage of the burn break and give it a good cleaning.

After cleaning out all the ash and soot, it looked better, but I had to do something about that glass. Ugh, what a mess!

how to clean wood stove glass

how to clean wood stove glass

Soot really sticks to the glass and it can be a real PITA to clean… if you don’t know the secret. That’s right. There is a simple, easy way to accomplish this task. And best of all, you already have everything you need. And it is environmentally-friendly. No harsh cleaners, no ammonia, nothing of the sort.

Please note: ONLY DO THIS WITH A COLD WOOD STOVE OR FIREPLACE!!! Do not try to do this if you still have smoldering ash. Give your stove a good 24 hours to cool down after burning, and even then check to make sure there are no more embers. You do not want to burn yourself.

Here’s what you need:
how to clean wood stove glass

  • Newspaper
  • Water
  • (and the secret ingredient)… ash from your stove or fireplace

Simply wad up a sheet of newspaper and dip in a bowl of warmish water.

Then, reach into your (COLD, please!!!) stove and get a little ash on there. I know, I know… What? How on earth is spreading dirty soot on the surface of my already dirty glass going to help matters? Well, the ash is an abrasive, sort of like pumice, and really helps scrub away the residue from burning wood.

how to clean wood stove glass

how to clean wood stove glass

Depending upon how dirty your glass is, you’ll more than likely need to use a little elbow grease. This is just a secret… it ain’t magic, my friends. You still have to do a little work. But you should see results almost immediately.

how to clean wood stove glass

Change sheets of newspaper and repeat the process until you achieve your desired cleanliness. Then, get yourself a spray bottle filled with water and some paper towels to rinse off the wet soot and shine it all up.
how to clean wood stove glass

This whole project took me maybe 10 minutes and I am so happy to have a clear window again!

how to clean wood stove glass

how to clean wood stove glass

Ta-da! And now we get to mess it all up again as the cold weather has returned and we’re back to our regular use.

First Snow of the Season

First snow of the season

Thankfully it wasn’t enough to even cause a school delay this morning, but yes we got our first snowfall of the season! It looked so pretty as it came down late yesterday afternoon. Laura couldn’t wait to get outside, so we bundled up for a few minutes and I (of course) couldn’t help but snap a few shots.

First snow of the season

First snow of the season

First snow of the season

First snow of the season

First snow of the season

First snow of the season

It’s still quite windy, though. I can’t lie — I was pretty happy when she finally agreed to go inside to warm up!

{Tutorial} Country Christmas Crochet Garland

crochetgarland

It’s Election Day! I’ll be voting this evening, as my polling location is adjacent to the library and I’m working there for a couple hours tonight. Every year we have an election day raffle to help support our little library, so the hours are extended to correspond with voting hours. This year I decided to whip up this sweet country Christmas garland for the raffle. It’s such a fun project (not to mention instant gratification), that I just had to share it with you!

crochetgarland3

For the garland, you’ll need:

  • about 50″ of jute twine
  • homespun fabric
  • worsted weight yarn (I used acrylic)
  • “H” hook
  • darning needle, scissors

crochetgarland2

There are a few patterns out there for these granny-style crochet Christmas trees. I tinkered around to come up with a shape I liked, but by all means use your favorite!

Crochet Christmas Tree Motif

Abbreviations:

Ch = chain
SC = single crochet
DC = double crochet
Sl St = slip stitch

Start with a magic circle.

Round 1: Ch 3 (the Ch 3 always counts as the first DC stitch), 3 DC, ch 2, 4 DC, ch 2, 4 DC, ch 2. Slip stitch to the top of the beginning ch 3 st. (Three clusters of 4 DC and three ch 2 spaces.)

Round 2: Sl st over to the first ch 2 space of the previous round. Ch 3. 3 DC, ch 2, 4 DC in this space. *Ch 2, 4 DC, ch 2, 4 DC in next ch 2 space. Repeat from * in the last ch 2 space. Ch 2. Sl st to the top of the beginning ch 3 stitch. (Six clusters of 4 DC and six ch 2 spaces.)

Round 3: Sl st over to the first ch 2 space. Ch 3, 3 DC, ch 3, 4 DC in the space. *Skip three DC of the previous row. SC in the next (fourth) DC (this will be the DC immediately before the ch 2 space). 4 DC in the next space. Skip three DC of the previous row. SC in the next DC. 4 DC, ch 3, 4 DC in the next space. Repeat from * along the second side of the tree. Ch 1. 4 DC in the next ch 2 space. Ch 1. Sl st to the top of beginning ch 3.

Tree Trunk: Turn work. Sl st into first DC.  Ch 3. DC in the next 3 DC stitches. Turn so that the front of the tree is facing you. Ch 2 (counts as the first SC). SC in the next three DC stitches of the previous row and top loop of starting ch. Finish off and weave the yarn end into the back of the tree.

If you don’t want to use a magic circle, you can certainly start with a Ch5, and connect the beginning and end with a slip stitch and then work out of the center of that loop you create. I just think the magic circle makes neater work.

After you accumulate your little stack of trees, it’s time to assemble the garland. You’ll need 9 trees (you could also use 11 if you want them closer — that’s up to you). You’ll need 9 (or 11) 7ish-inches x 1/2 inch pieces of homespun fabric. And you’ll need your jute.

howtocollage

Take a piece of fabric and form a loop. Stick the bottom of the loop through the topmost hole in your tree (1). Lay the jute over the two fabric ends (2). Pull the ends through that loop (3). Then just tighten up the knot until your tree is securely attached to the jute (4).

Repeat this for every tree you’ve crocheted.  Then slide the trees around until you have the spacing you want and voila! You have a quick and easy Christmas garland to hang across your mantle, the front of your entertainment center, across a mirror, wherever!

crochetgarland4

If you make this project, be sure to post a link in the comments. I’d love to see your creations!

 

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