Sunday, December 4, 2016

Winter's here; Whipped Lotions & Soap

Snow is finally falling in northern Wisconsin.  Despite have a gloriously warm pre-winter season these past few weeks, the furnace has been running, burning up the LP.  Yesterday, however, Paul made sure everything was ready to get the wood-furnace set for the season, considering temps are expected to plummet this week :(
Last night = our first wood heat of the year.
But DRY!!!

Therefore, this afternoon, the humidifier was set up.
Also, since my lotion containers are just about empty, the afternoon was whittled away whipping up a new batch of lotion.

I've made lotion bars in the past, but once I cooked up my first whipped lotion recipe last summer, the lotion bars were all but forgotten; although I still have one of my cocoa butter bars left (it is wonderful for my elbows, knees and heels).

As a reminder...
Simple recipe for whipped lotion
120g (~1/2 cup) coconut oil
120g (~1/2 cup) Shea butter
4g beeswax
1/2 tsp Vitamin E
Melt oil, butter and beeswax together.  

Mix, add vitamin E, and then chill in fridge for ~30 minutes.

Whip to desired consistency...
Within a few minutes, it takes on a frosting appearance.

After whipping for about 10 minutes, a thick and creamy texture is reached; ready to pour.
This small batch fills 3 of my larger and smaller containers;  each container receives some fragrance (the rough measurement:  5mL or 1/8 - 1/4 tsp).

Since I was in the kitchen and had my ingredients readily available, a 2lb batch of soap was cooked up as well.

This batch used my simple master-batch recipe:
240g Coconut Oil
280g Olive Oil
280g Canola Oil
240g Yogurt/Water half-n-half (frozen)
113g Lye

At the completion of cooking, 1/4 ground oatmeal and 1Tbsp honey were added.  Additionally, it was enhanced with some Hazelnut Cappuchino fragrance.  The light exfoliating nature of the oatmeal is my ALL-TIME favorite!!!

Switching gears...

My quilting and crocheting world has been quiet, but while cleaning up some photography files, this image of our rooster, Sunset, inspired me to make up a color-card.  I haven't jump on-board Bonnie's mystery En Provence (yet), however Andee seems to agree that these colors may just work out.

Happy Sunday!

Monday, November 28, 2016

Cassie turns 16

Our dear Cassie turns 16 today

Therefore, I spent the evening editing a seemingly 'nothing spectacular' photo of her from a few weeks ago...

Straight out of the camera...

A crafty crop performed...

And after a few photo enhancements via photoshop... a lovely print-worthy image

The side-by-side

Yah... I'm enjoying this new life-long-learning skill ;)

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Amateur Photography - my newest hobby

     At the end of August, volleyball season got underway; Cassie's sophomore year on varsity.   Last year, a senior parent would often taken pictures of the girls during games and would share them out on Facebook.   This year, it was up to me to capture her memories of the season.
     At the pre-season scrimmage, with my Sony Cybershot in my hand, I was extremely disappointed (and frustrated) in the images taken.  My camera simply could not handle the low-light setting of a gymnasium in combination with the shutter-speeds needed for the action of the sport.

     After a week of obsessive research, both online and in-person with our local newspaper's photographer (it's so nice knowing the right people at the right time!), I ordered an entry-level camera: Nikon D3300.  While waiting for the camera to arrive, I read the owner's manual cover-to-cover via an online PDF.  A plethora of online photography tutorials and videos were read and watched, all to prepare me for that amazing moment the camera could finally be in my hands!

And... long story short... since then, I've continually improved my amateur photography skills.

Wandering around Ashland, WI in early October, practicing my continuous-auto-focus skills.

On October 10, I was honored to be an Honor Flight Guardian for my step-dad's Never Forgotten Honor Flight.  It goes without saying that many MANY pictures were taken on the day;  this image of a veteran's canes leaning on the Vietnam memorial is one of my favorites.

Before/After:  Two senior volleyball BFFs - honing in on my b/w editing skills and softening skin tones for females at the same time.

About 3 miles from my house is Tozer Springs -- a beautiful opportunity to play, play, play!
Above:  Tozer Springs, October 2, 2016
Below:  Tozer Springs, November 27, 2016

... and another location at Tozer Springs from earlier this morning

The youth hunt for Wisconsin was a success for Cassie -- her first buck!  And NATURALLY, mama was excited to grab her camera to document the wonderful memory!

Max (my brother's pup), looking longingly at a piece of ham that my brother was teasing him with at Thanksgiving.  

I have three lenses currently in my bag:
  - AF-S NIKKOR 35mm 1:1.8
  - AF-S NIKKOR 18-55mm 1:3.5-5.6 (kit lens)
  - AF TAMRON 70-200mm 1:2.8
However, while at the dollar store a couple of weeks ago, I noticed a $5.00 set of a fisheye and a macro lens for a smartphone.  Purchased... and played with!...

Although the subject matter isn't all that inspiring or intriguing, attempting to capture a macro photo of a FLY is no easy feat!!!!   (iPhone5)

This morning's frost had me eager to play with the macro lens some more.  (iPhone 5)
Eventually, I'd love to add a "real" macro lens to my Nikon camera bag.

With word getting around that I've taken up photography as a new hobby, those two senior girls from the Volleyball team hit me up to take a pre-season basketball team photo for a banner they want to display on the gymnasium wall.  NO PRESSURE, right?!?!?!?

My nephew wasn't planning on having Seniors pictures taken, however with a little prompting from family and friends, he changed his mind.  I was fortunate enough to be asked to shoot for him, adding to my amatuer portfolio.

So, that's what I've been up to!
And yes, I continue to have oodles of quilting and crocheting and soap-making projects underway.  Thank goodness gardening season is complete!

Thanks for visiting and viewing.

Sunday, July 3, 2016

Slow-Stitch Sunday & gardening

Wanting to use up some yarns that have been sitting around, a scrapghan was started a couple of weeks ago using Attic24's Cosy Stripe Blanket pattern.
Tonight, I'm kicking back, watching some Olympic Trials in Track-n-Field, stitching away and merely relaxing.  Nothing fancy, but functional.  It's time again to link up with Kathy's Slow-Stitch Sunday posts.

Our gardens are well into the growing season... 
corn fertilized with nitrogen to promote growth

weeding the upper vegetable garden with the family...

... and raspberry season is just starting to come into swing.

We broke away from the homestead for an hour so that Caitlyn was able to break in her kayak, "Bluejay."  The beach was packed with about 3.2 million people, however, the small secluded non-power-boat launching area was as quiet as could be.  Beautiful afternoon.

A five month catch-up...

Whoo-weeee!  Five months, to the day!
First, there is NO way to catch up on everything that has gone on during the last five months.
Second, I've come to realize the journaling time-log aspect of this blog is quite useful to document our year-to-year gardening, chicken-hatching, quilting, running, and 'other' activity.  The most recent example:  we started a new strawberry patch, but wanted to know how old our original patch was.  Logged in to the blog and found..... June 19, 2012's post.  

So, rather than be overwhelmed with the undertaking of catching up on EVERYTHING....
let's start small.
I AM still taking quite a few pictures and posting (excessively) to FaceBook.  (LOL -- if you're still a follower and wish to, look me up and send me a friend-request.)
Therefore, the last five pictures on my phone....

Time is very relaxed, but very full around the place so far this summer.  Three full weeks into summer vacation already;  it is simply flying by!!!
The only project I have underway in my sewing room is Bonnie's Allietare mystery that I finally broke down and started.  It's an amazing design, as always!  My color palette is of sea and sand, so "Vetro di Mare" ("Seaglass") will be my rendition.

The mug in the picture was gifted to me by a senior girl in my AP-Statistics class;  she knows me so well!!!

We continue to love our chickens.  We hatched out 20 in April, but sadly, all but one met a very sad end via predators!  I was sickened, and we took charge in reenforcing all of our brooder houses, box and ground coops.   The one that remained, Hector, has been hanging out with our meat-birds.
Then, five of our hens decided they wanted to sit on eggs, almost all at the same time.  So.... we let 'em!
All chicks are 3-4 weeks old:  Peckers has 12, Daisy has 14, Blackie#1 has 4 (after losing one), and Blackie#2 has 6.  I can NEVER tell these two black hens apart!!!!!
Our fifth, sadly never hatched any;  I have a feeling she left the nest too long from time to time.  We had set another incubator full of eggs, and we were hoping she'd hold off long enough to take an interest in playing Mama to them, but to no avail.  So, we have another 17 in one of the brooder boxes, motherless.  It is our most protected brooder, so they should be safe.

Most of my outside gardening time is spent in our vegetable gardens, however a wee bit of time was spent cleaning out my small perennial flower bed out front yesterday.   Some wild milkweed showed up last year, and after being scolded by child #2 for pulling it out last year, I left most of it be this year.  The fragrance of the milkweed blooms is amazing!  Candace says it reminds her of lilac blossoms.  Will wait and see if any Monarchs are attracted to it this year.

Summer school was underway for the first two weeks of summer.  This past week (third week of summer), Candace took part in the Prairie Fire theater production of Jack and the Beanstalk.  This was the first time she was able to take part in any Prairie Fire production;  she played Gabby, villager child #2 (bottom, second-from-the right, in purple).

While Candace has been heading off to summer school everyday, Caitlyn has been working in the local strawberry patch, picking berries everyday at 6 a.m.   Paul and I both wanted her to know she's working for her college savings and that 75% of anything she made was to be placed in the bank.  The other 25% was completely hers, if she cared to spend it.
For quite the longest time, she really didn't mention anything that she really wanted, but early last week, she said...."I know what I want now -- a kayak!"
She met her goal yesterday.  There were definitely a couple mornings when she gave me some puppy dog eyes, asking if she could have a vacation day, but.... she ended up persevering, and hopefully learned some discipline along the way.
We can't wait to try it out!!!!  (We also bought a second one for the family).

Today is forecasted to be absolutely gorgeous, so we're thinking of heading to the lake after dropping Cassie off at work (she's three weeks into working at McDonalds -- a whole 'nother new adventure for this growing family).

Happy Sunday!  

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Wave scarf & Shell scarf [Crochet]

This wave scarf originally started its life as an afghan, however the pattern wasn't a super-enjoyable one for me.  *shrug*  The pattern was found in my "The Complete book of Crochet Stitches - Schapper", number 493.

Red Heart Supersaver yarn was used, with the final size ~ 6"x56".

I find the pattern kinda cool; almost resembling a DNA-strand ;)
Another pattern attempted, however it will be placed on the "probably-won't-do-again" shelf ;)

THIS pattern [Shelly Scarf], however, is working up quickly, specially using Moda Dea Cheerio yarn.  It's so soft and enjoyable to work with!!!  A little tinsel sparkle is present throughout as well, resulting in a fun, lil' decorative scarf (once finished).

Most of Wisconsin received snow over the past 12 hours; school is on a two-hour delay this morning.  Hence, time to update the blog, all the while enjoying a relaxing cup of coffee ;)
Happy Wednesday!

Sunday, January 31, 2016

Boot cuffs & Country Cozy afghan [Crochet]

Seriously??  It's been two weeks since I last posted?  How on earth does that happen?  Honestly!  Today marks the end of January -- does time EVER slow back down???  I most definitely feel like it's a constant 'go-go-go' around here. 
Amongst the 'go-go-go' of yesterday, we fit in some time to shop for some much-needed jeans and boots for Cassie.  Having some left over yarn from the double-braided cowl, a quick Boot Cuff pattern was searched out on Ravelry in order to add some fun accessorizing to Cassie's outfit.

The pattern was written to have the ribbed portion at the top, but it was hugging her leg very nicely.  So, we elected to add another 2 rows of sc, the second row being a decreasing row, and now... she has two different ways to wear this boot cuff.  Score. :)

Friday night, I actually DID elect to stay home instead of venturing on the one-hour drive to see Cassie's basketball game.    Candace had BB practice until 4:45, and Caitlyn was having a friend say over for the night.  Therefore, once dinner was eaten and cleaned up, the feet were propped up on the ottoman, a movie was put in the player, and I relaxed with the Country Cozy afghan!

Fitting in hair appointments is kind of a laughable thing.  But Cassie has been quietly begging for a cut;  her hair had been getting quite shaggy.  SO..... OUT came the scissors Thursday evening, and I had a go at it.  THANKFULLY, we both were happy with the results.  Hair crisis averted!  Whew....

Next weekend, we're back to BB tournaments; nothing new there.  To be fair, looking through pictures on the phone, I guess I should admit to having some down-time while at the tournaments.  It's simply not the same as having down-time at home, though.  ;) 

I don't know about y'all, but..... have you noticed the extra moments of light in the evening????  5:36PM the other night, and there was still a fair amount of light coming from the horizon :D

No quilting or sewing going on around here;  just some crochet from time to time as it fits.  We're one week down of the new/final semester of the school year;  not quite the home-stretch yet (*LAUGH!!!*), but that dreaded Senioritis is starting to infect a few of our kiddos.  Ruh-roh, Shaggy!

Happy Sunday!

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Double Layer Braided Cowl [Crochet]

The morning began with a Soaping Sunday, making up a batch of hot-process yogurt soap, fragranced with Pomegranate, and as I was measuring out the oils, I received a text from a coworker via Facebook....

Is this something you could do? And if so, could you make one for me? I'd pay for the supplies and your time!{Double Layer Braided Cowl}
So, as soon as the soap was in the crockpot cooking, I read over the pattern to determine the difficulty.  Parts of the pattern weren't written using standard crochet terms, so I was confused for a few moments, but realized it was simply asking for Front-Loop HDC and Back-Loop HDC.
A response was sent to my friend, requesting she pick out the yarn and quoting a price.  An hour later, she responded that she was out shopping and found the yarn!  LOL.  
Since she seemed eager, and I really didn't have much going on today, another message was sent letting her know that if she was able to drop off the yarn, I'd be able to get a start on the cowl this afternoon....

The first layer took about 1 1/2 hours; I hadn't anticipated it would work up quite that quick.

And then the second layer just ended up working itself out during the next couple of hours. :D  

I truly had no intentions of finishing this up today, but it felt good to have a bit of motivation in the form of a new, fairly quick, project!

I'm not a big scarf wearer, HOWEVER, I like how this one lays on the neckline with ZERO bulk in the back.   My coworker is also pleasantly surprised that I worked it up so quickly :D

Happy Sunday.  Tomorrow, back to the grind.  Many of my classes have Semester Finals this week, so.... I'm hoping my week should be fairly relaxed (even if the students' week isn't)