Sunday, March 19, 2017

My Name is Connie, and I Hoard Sinks

I thought I had this tendency under control ... the overwhelming inability to resist the lure of an awesome sink.  It's been years since I added one to my stash.  Perhaps it was the stress of having too much going on at once lately, or maybe I underestimate the depth of my problem ... but, whatever, yesterday I caved.

This was the listing photo in the Craigslist ad.  "Sink (cast iron) $50".  It is exactly the type of sink that I was looking for when we were planning the renovation of our basement bathroom.  (My husband balked at the utilitarian look of this type of sink, and we ended up with a sink/vanity combination that is a lot more civilized.  It looks lovely, but my heart still ached to have a sink like this.)  The seller assured me that almost all of the discoloration in the photo was dirt and gunk.

I made arrangements to meet yesterday afternoon to see the sink in person.  When I called to say that I was on my way over, the seller was on his way out and only had a minute to wait.  City traffic, and one minor wrong turn, and I was late.  Seller called to tell me that he had to go.  He left the sink on the curb and said that I could just have it if I wanted it.  (I should have taken a picture of it sitting on the curb, but I didn't.)

Cast iron sinks are heavy ... way too heavy for me to move by myself.  At that moment, a helpful-looking college-aged lad walked by.  Turns out that he WAS very helpful. 

When I got home, I gave the sink a not-so-quick cleaning with an abrasive pad and some cleanser.  Hard-water deposits were scraped off with a single-edged razor blade.  There's still a lot left to do to get the bottom of the sink clean and relatively stain free, but I can see that it's going to be just fine.

Where am I going to use this new sink, you ask?  I have no earthly idea.  We already have the aforementioned nice sink in the basement bathroom.  None of our three remaining still-to-be-remodeled bathrooms are appropriate for something like this.  Maybe the laundry room, but we installed a new sink in there last year, and I'm not removing it just to have a place to use this one.  The redo of our Shack is a possibility, but I already have an awesome 42" vintage drainboard sink stashed away to use for that. 

It doesn't matter, really.  Eventually the perfect use for this sink will become apparent.  Until then, it will rest safely in our garage ... keeping company with rest of my hoarder's stash of sinks in there.

(If you want to see the post from 2010 about the final reveal of our basement bathroom renovation, click HERE.)

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Life, on a Bracelet

My friend, Goth Gardener, did a post yesterday about National Jewelry Day.  This reminded me that I had my own jewelry post in mind, to use a photo that I've had queued up in my photo file for a while.  This photo:

Modern charm bracelets are a big trend now ... mine is old-school, with charms that represent things that are important to me, collected over the years.  Let's take a minute to get to know me better, via the charms on my bracelet, starting at the top and working our way counter-clockwise.

Watering Can ... for my love of gardening.  Gardening used to be my hobby, then it became a profession, and now it is my way of life.

US Capital ... because I live near there.

Four-poster Bed ... represents the love of my life ... married to him for 37 years, come July.  

Baby Carriage ... for our three now-grown daughters.

Squirrel ... my spirit animal.  Squirrels gather things, lose them, and are awfully cute.

Leaning Tower of Pisa ... I lived near Pisa when I was in elementary school.

Camera ... self explanatory.  For as long as I can remember, I have loved to take photographs.

Heidelberg Castle and Coat of Arms.  I consider Heidelberg to be my second adopted home town.  Lived there for three years in the late 1970s.  It holds a very special place in my heart.

Perkeo ... famous Heidelberg character.

Windmill ... souvenir from a trip to the Netherlands.

Beer stein ... another Heidelberg memento.

Computer.  Computers have been a part of my life since I was a child, because my dad was a computer guy, and so is my husband.  With the introduction of public access to the Internet, and all its opportunities to connect with people all over the world, the computer has made my life so much richer.

Sunday, March 12, 2017

Kitchen: A Brief Before and After

Everything that we have restored and renovated in our old house has been planned to follow the original 1848 design as much as possible (with allowances made for modern life) and to use every scrap of original material that we can ... the exception to this is our kitchen renovation.  The kitchen is in the Manor's 1967 addition, and it was 1967 to the extreme (and in desperate need of repair).  I knew from first glance, during our initial real estate showing, that we would replace and modernize it.

In 2005, the plan came together, the old kitchen was removed, and the new kitchen was born.

First job was to remove most of the wall between the kitchen and dining room.  I would NEVER have done this if the wall was 1848 construction.  I owe the most respect possible to the original part of this house, and I renovate the 1967 part of the house to complement 1848 as much as I can.  ('After' photos are unstaged and were taken this morning, 3/12/17.  'Before' photos show the kitchen shortly before we dismantled it in 2005.)

The footprint of the kitchen itself remained the same.  Layout, for the most part, was good.  (Here is a floor plan to help you get your bearings.)

Only the range and microwave are out in plain sight.  Everything else is mostly hidden.

Trash and recycling are in a pull-out on the right of the range.

The old kitchen was cramped and dark.  Not anymore!

Do you see the dishwasher?

The only appliance that we moved was the refrigerator.  This gave us the opportunity to wrap the awkward outside-corner wall with cabinetry and to open up what had been a really cramped area ... with the sink, dishwasher, back door, and refrigerator all competing for space in a tiny triangle.

The white donut-looking thing on the floor is an a/c vent.

With the refrigerator out of the way, we now have this L-shaped run of cabinets and counters.

The whole kitchen was designed around this refrigerator ... 48" Subzero with custom faux-icebox panels and hardware.  Sometimes, newcomers ask, "Where's your refrigerator?"  It blends in THAT well!

This kitchen wasn't cheap, but it has turned out to be worth every $$$, because I love it even more now than I did when we built it 12 years ago.  I like to think that the house loves it, too.

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Harvesting Yarn from a Thrift Store Sweater

Good yarn can be expensive, especially if one is working on a large project like an afghan or a sweater.  An alternative source for yarn can be found by repurposing sweaters from your local thrift store.

I do this from time to time, whenever I'm out junking and find a suitable sweater ... rarely with a specific project in mind.  If the sweater is in decent shape, made of quality yarn (wool, cashmere, silk, etc.), and isn't abused or felted, I buy it.

The subject of this example is a 100% wool sweater from Goodwill, brand new with the original store tag, in a fantastic greenish-brownish-gray.  It's enormous ... which means that it will yield a LOT of yarn.

First thing is to disassemble the sweater by unraveling the seams.  I only buy sweaters with chain-stitched seams, which are fairly simple to identify and take apart.  

With the sweater taken apart, all that's left now is find the yarn end on each piece, work it free, unravel the pieces, and roll up the yarn,

Alice was helping.

When I'm unraveling, I roll each piece of the sweater into its own ball.  For this sweater, there is a yarn ball for each sleeve, the collar, and the front piece.  The back piece was rolled into two balls because it had a hole in it, which broke the yarn at that spot.  

How much yarn did I get from this enormous sweater, you ask?  Exactly 856 grams ... which equals seventeen 50-gram skeins, if I bought this at a yarn shop.

Before I use this yarn to make something, I will roll it into skeins and wash it ... to relax the kinks and make it easier to work with.  For now, though, it's stored away in balls, just like you see it, with the rest of my yarn stash in the sewing room, along with the label from the sweater so I remember the fiber content.  

If you're inclined to do this yourself, and you need more detailed instructions, you can find a really great tutorial HERE.

Friday, February 24, 2017

Flowers on Friday: Hellebores!

My second favorite flower in my garden (after roses, of course) is Hellebore. 

The foliage in the foreground is Colchicum bulbs that I have planted among the Hellebores.

Hellebore is a wonderful perennial that requires very little care and loves to live in the shade ... where it rewards the gardener in late winter with graceful flowers that last for months.

Most of the Hellebore plants in my garden are seedlings, because they can reseed with wild abandon.  While this may be a problem with other plants, which can spread and take over a garden, that's not the case for me with Hellebores.

Look at all these tiny new seedlings!  The larger leaf at the top of the photo is a seedling from last year that's large enough to move, if I want to.

Hellebores promiscuously interbreed with each other, and it's exciting to see what the new seedlings look like when they are old enough to flower ... usually when they are two or three years old. I leave the tiny seedlings in place to grow and get established, and I carefully transplant some of the larger, yearling seedlings to other spots in the garden.

This is 'Pink Frost', one of the few named cultivars that I have.

I want to pollinate some of the 'Pink Frost' flowers to see if I can make my own hybrids with it.

Hellebores are wonderful pass-along plants!  Many of my original ones came from friends and/or plant swaps ... seedlings of seedlings from their gardens.  I continue the tradition, sharing seedlings from my garden with others who are interested.

Weather has been unseasonably warm for us this winter, and my garden is incredibly confused.  Some plants are budding and growing right on schedule (like the Hellebores), and some are very, very early.  Many of my roses have broken bud are starting to sprout, weeks and weeks earlier than normal.  Others are still dormant, like they're supposed to be in late February.  It's going to be a weird garden year.

Tuesday, February 14, 2017


Winnie went to Mexico yesterday afternoon.

Her little old-dog body just gave out.  My husband and I decided that it was best to send her on her way.

My heart is broken.  Grief is as deep as the love that she and I shared, and right now it's pretty overwhelming.

RIP, and vaya con Dios, Bitty Dog.

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Women's March on Washington

I was there, with my sister and two friends.  Sit back while I share some photos that show what I saw, accompanied by a few thoughts that describe how I felt.

Pink isn't my favorite color, but I knitted a hat and wore it proudly ... to put myself and my head in the sea of pink for the March.

We took a photo in the Metro station as we arrived in DC.

That's my sister in the pink hat and black jacket right in front of me.

Both sides of the escalator exiting the station were set in the outbound direction, to move more people.

This was our first view of part of the crowd.

So many satellite trucks along Independence Avenue.

A sign propped in a rose bush ... you knew that I had to get a photo of it.

Video screens allowed those of us in the thick of the crowd to hear the people who were speaking from the stage.

Gloria Steinem

DC Mayor Muriel Bowser

There were so many people!

Other times, we had a bit more room.

Yarn bomb, quietly left behind by a marcher.

This was my favorite sign of the day.  When I told that to the man who was holding it, he put his hand on his chest and told me that it comes from his heart.

These two police officers with a PA system on top of this ambulance, were directing marchers at an intersection.

Madonna did not reflect the view of anyone that I spoke to during the day.

The 'After' photo, as we waited for the train to take us home.  

Exiting the station, on our way home.

This panoramic photo that gives a good look at the crowd where we were.

To see how much space 500,000+ people occupy in downtown DC, watch this video (which, coincidentally, appears to have been taken from the top of a building near where we were standing when I took the panorama.)

It was a l-o-n-g day ... I left home at 5:30am to be at my sister's house at 6:30am, and I got home after 9:00pm ... but it was profound.  I can't adequately express the feeling of being in a crowd like this, a peaceful, respectful crowd, who gathered to show what we hope is not a minority view of our country.  My United States respects all of its citizens, and is a melting pot for foreigners who come here to make a better life for themselves and their families.  We met so many people, visited with out-of-towners, local residents, young women, old folks like me ... I am very, very proud to have participated.

Been there, done that, ordered the T-shirt.  It was surreal.

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