Monday, December 30, 2013

What To Do With an Impulse Purchase?

Sometimes I can get out-of-control crafty.  Here is a recent example:  A few weeks ago, when I received the monthly edition of the email newsletter from 'Crazy as a Loom', I ordered a  box of twelve pounds of loopers ... completely on impulse, without any concept of how many loopers are actually IN a twelve-pound box.  What are loopers, you ask?  

Loopers are slices of socks that some of us are most familiar with as the raw material for potholders woven on a small square loom.

I made this potholder on the evening that the box of loopers arrived in the mail.

Twelve pounds of loopers are WAY too many for one person to use to make only potholders, so I had to come up with another use for them.  (Hilary, at Crazy as a Loom, chains loopers together and weaves them into rugs.)  I don't have a loom, nor do I know how to use one.  One day last week, I had a brainstorm ... I could probably chain the loopers together and use them to CROCHET a rug!  

I am using a random mix of light and dark colors as I chain the loopers together.

You won't be surprised when I tell you that I have had a LOT of help while I chain the loopers together and crochet the rug.

Alice likes to sift through the loopers in the box, or sit in my lap as I chain them together while we sit on the floor.  (I do this on the floor because the loopers shed and it's easier to vacuum a spot on the rug than it would be to clean the fluff off the sofa.)

See the colorful bits of fluff on Alice's back?

Dorothy is not so helpful ... she steals the loopers, one by one, and carries them off to play with them ... eventually either stuffing them under the edge of a rug or abandoning them in random places throughout the house.

Maggie hangs out on the rug when I'm not working on it.

I estimate that I have used about half of the box of loopers so far, and the rug is about two-and-a-half feet wide and four feet long.  My plan (if you can call it that) is to keep chaining loops and crocheting until the box is empty.  I don't know how big the rug will be when I'm finished, nor do I know where I will use it ... this depends on its ultimate size, I guess.

I'm not using a published pattern to do this.  I am working single crochet in the back loops of the previous row, using a large crochet hook (size P) spiraling around and around, increasing stitches on the curved parts of each round as necessary to keep the rug flat.  (This will make sense to you if you crochet.  If you don't, I probably just confused the crap out of you.)  The green plastic clips you see on the rug are to mark the places where I want to work my increases ... it's either eight or ten stitches per round, and I evaluate the rug after every round or two to make adjustments as I go.  The spot with two clips marks the beginning of the round.

I am so happy with how this rug is turning out so far.  The random mix of bright colors makes me smile just looking at it!  If you are interested in doing something like this yourself, I will answer any questions and help you however I can.  (Anyone with basic crochet skills can do this!)

Crazy as a Loom is the name of Hilary Cooper-Kenny's blog and her weaving studio in northeastern New York.  She uses antique looms to weave beautiful rugs and other objects.  I have followed her blog for years, and I have come to think of her as one of the family.  (Click HERE for her blog, and HERE for her online store.)

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Sunday Snapshot ... The Other Coast

The Husband and I had breakfast with our friends Kim and Andy this morning.  While he and Kim were on the phone settling on the time and place, Kim asked him to bring our Sunday newspaper along with us.

Once we were at the restaurant, and the server had brought our coffee and taken our breakfast orders, Kim asked for the paper.

I figured that she wanted to have it because there was an article in it that she wanted to save.

She flipped through the stack of paper, pulled out the Comics section, and handed it to me to read.

The comic whose panels are in this post is what she wanted me to see.

Kim knew that our paper was probably still in the box when we pulled it out to take it to the restaurant.  She wanted to see my face when I noticed the special part of the comic.  

Did you see it?

Kim has become friendly with Adrian Raeside, the artist who draws The Other Coast.  He supports our work with Greyhounds Rock, doing what he can to help us raise money for canine cancer support and research.  Adrian contacted Kim recently to get some names of dogs she knew who passed this year to honor in today's comic.  Her TJ is there ... along with my sweet Daniel.  We also know Asher, Angel, Onyx, and Hopper.

I have put my copy of the comic in a safe place, so I don't mess it up before I can get it into a frame.

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Family Christmas

Everything is quiet in Hartwood as of now (9am on Christmas morning).  Later today, family will gather here at the Manor for food and presents and lots and lots of fun.

Family is also about our sister kitties, Dorothy and Alice.  Found them sleeping together the other day, in the ottoman that I had upended onto the sofa so I could vacuum the living room.

Two of our three daughters will be here, with the grandsons in tow ... along with my brother and sister and their spouses and children and some dear friends that we consider to be naturalized family.  I am incredibly thankful that I have both of my parents, who will also be here to celebrate with us.  

Thank you, all of you, for making my little slice of cyberspace such a comfortable place to be.  Without you, I would just be talking to myself.  Here's hoping that your Christmas is a special one. 

Merry Christmas!

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Are You a Morning Person?

I'm a morning person ... I know this admission doesn't come as a surprise to most of you.  I like to get up early, when the house is dark and quiet, to have an hour or two all to myself.

This morning's sunrise, as seen from my front porch.

It's time that I use to sit and answer email, read blogs, surf Pinterest, snuggle with Ruby and/or the cats, and get myself centered and mentally prepped for the day ahead.  

How about you?  Do you do best in the morning, or are you a night owl?

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Are You Kidding ... It Can't Be Wednesday Already???

Oh my ... where has this week gone?  I have been faithfully chipping away at my To Do list, day by day, paying very little attention to what day it actually is.  Since I was last here a few days ago, I have accomplished a LOT.  Settle in and let's get caught up.


Toured four beautifully decorated houses in downtown Fredericksburg during the annual Christmas Candlelight Tour.

Played hostess in the living room of one of the tour houses in the afternoon.

Spent the evening with our grandsons while our daughter and her husband went to her work Christmas party.

This is how our daughter found me (and Grandson #1) when they got home.


Met a greyhound hauler from Florida to pick up three dogs who were going to an adoption group in Maryland.

Missed the Greyhounds Rock meeting, because the hauler ran into bad weather on his trip north and was running late.  Participated in the meeting via cell phone after I dropped off the dogs.

Hung out with some very fun, very crafty women at The Empty Nest ... making Christmas decorations, eating, and lots of laughing.  Thank you, Janet, for hosting us!!


Bug out of the house while the cleaning lady is here, and continue to chip away at the Christmas Shopping List.  Made good progress.

Put lights on second Christmas tree ... this one isn't prelit, darn it.

This is our prelit tree in the family room, with shims under the stand because the floors in this old house are uneven in places.
I still have to put the skirt under it.

Edit and print Christmas Letter.  Letters from some people are nauseating brag fests, but ours isn't.  I tried to eliminate the letter years ago, but this was met with protests from everyone on our Christmas Card list.


Go to Shumate Auction tag sale.  It was the estate of a seamstress, and I thought I'd find some cool sewing stuff.  I passed on the machines, notions, and fabric (though there was one bolt of Waverly toile that I really, really wanted ... but had no use for.)  I left with a wonderful 6-board antique chest that will live in our guest/grandkid bedroom.

Address and mail Christmas cards and packages.  I only had two packages to wrap and mail, and about 30 Christmas cards.  The cards have glitter on them ... and so do I after handling them.

Make dog stew.  I supplement Ruby's commercial dog food with home-cooked veggie-meat-rice mixture ... cooking a large batch every few weeks and freezing most of it.  With only one dog to feed right now, this batch of stew will last for about 10 weeks.

Wednesday (today).

Finish the last few Christmas decorations and get the boxes and totes out of the entry hall.

Go to the vet to pick up a case of Dorothy's cat food.  (she eats prescription food to help with her tendency to develop urinary crystals.)

Write and mail Christmas cards that I forgot about on Monday.

Do laundry and pack for our trip to New York City this weekend.  This is a bucket-list item for The Husband.  We quit putting it off, and this year we have made time to spend a long weekend seeing the New York Christmas sights and a show with friends.  Ruby is spending the weekend with my parents, so I have to pack her things, too.

One of the other items on Monday's list was to de-shed Ruby, since I noticed that she was starting to blow her undercoat.

Even with all of this seemingly-nonstop activity, preparations for this Christmas are fairly relaxed.  I'm not stressing about shopping or decorating.  For shopping, I made a list and have stuck to it, for the most part.  The Husband did most of the house decorating while I was out doing other things over the weekend, and the place looks really nice.

Family room mantel

I love Christmas and all that comes with it!!  I expect that this year may be the best one yet!  (I say this every year.)

How are you doing with your Christmas preparations?

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Meeting Myself Coming and Going

This weekend is going to be a wild one, with multiple commitments on both days and very little time to spend at home.  Fortunately, every single thing that we have to do is something fun!

Saturday afternoon, The Husband and I will be hosting at one of the houses in downtown Fredericksburg on the Christmas Candlelight Tour.  Historic Fredericksburg Foundation goes all out every year, and the homes are always beautifully decorated.

photo from the house we worked on 2012 Christmas Tour.

Because we are working the tour in the afternoon, we are taking the tour in the morning so we can see the other houses. 

photo from the house we worked on 2011 Christmas Tour.

Saturday evening, we plan to go out for dinner somewhere to take advantage of the fact that we will both be nicely dressed and looking very Christmas-y, then we will spend the evening at our daughter's house to babysit the grandkids.  Now that I think of it, I should take a change of clothes with me so I can get on the floor and play.

Sunday morning, bright and early, I will meet a hauler to pick up three greyhounds who are on their way from Florida to an adoption group in Maryland.  Transporting dogs like this has always been one of my favorite parts of working with greyhound adoption!

photo from a greyhound haul in 2012.

As soon as I drop off the dogs, we have to turn right around to make it to a meeting for Greyhounds Rock Fredericksburg, our charity that raises money for canine cancer research.  GRF meetings are always full of food and fun.  Our benefit in November was a great success ... this is the meeting where we figure out how much money we can donate to this year's beneficiary, The Mosby Foundation, and we start to plan what we will do in 2014.

Sweet Daniel, who died of lymphoma in May ... he didn't mind wearing those bunny ears.  He was such a good boy!

Sunday afternoon will be full of even MORE friends and fun!  I will be with the crew at The Empty Nest for crafts and girl time (and more food).

Whew!  I'm already tired from writing about this ... can't imagine how it will be after I actually LIVE it.  That's part of what Christmas is around here, though.  It's a season full of time with family and friends, doing good for others, enjoying decorations and great company.  I wouldn't have it any other way.

Friday, December 13, 2013

Use Glaze to Add Depth to a Chalk Paint Finish

When we last left the story of the chalk paint makeover of my set of 1970s oak tables, their tops were stripped and stained, and their bases had been painted and wet distressed.  (Post about stripping the tops is HERE, and the lesson on wet distressing is HERE.)  Now it's time to use glaze to add dimension to the color and give the painted finish that little extra 'something'.

There are plenty of tutorials out there that show you how to use dark wax to do this ... I published one myself because that's what I used to do, and it's my most popular post to date (HERE).  One day, though,  I had a revelation ... dark wax sits on top of the finish and it isn't permanent.  That's okay for some folks, but I work hard to get my painted furniture pieces looking just the way I think they should look, and I want them to stay that way.  I do this by using glaze instead of dark wax.  Here's what I use and how I do it:

There are no special supplies needed.  Squirt some brown acrylic craft paint into a disposable cup.  Add water and stir until the mix is a consistency somewhere between cream and milk.  Grab your paintbrush (I use a disposable chip brush) and a couple of paper towels, and let's get started.

Here's what the table leg looked like before any glaze was applied.

Painted table leg, wet distressed, ready for glaze.

The idea is to brush the glaze mixture onto the paint, and to work it into the turnings and crevices with your brush.  Go easy with this ... you don't want it to drip all over the place.  I apply only enough glaze to wet the surface and I scrub it in good with my brush.

I work in circles or across the grain to get the glaze into every crevice.

The glaze gets all foamy when I scrub it in with my brush.

Then I blot my brush on a paper towel ...

... and smooth the glaze until it's just a haze on the surface of the paint.  If you need to, you can use a paper towel to carefully blot any place where you have too much glaze. 

All smooth now.  Final strokes in the direction of the grain, and around the turnings.

The glaze creeps into the nooks and crannys, and it adds even more to the appearance of age and wear on this table. 

Here, you can clearly see all three colors of paint (Graphite, Olive, and Aubusson), plus some raw wood.

I usually put on two coats of glaze, just to make sure that I haven't missed any spots and to even out any blotchy spots that may have happened during the initial coat of glaze.  See the places in the turnings of this leg that got missed while I was working on the first coat with the table upside down?  When the first coat of glaze is dry, I flip the table and apply the second coat with the table right-side up to catch all of these places.

Blotchy, with spots that I missed with the first coat.  I'll fix it!

For these tables, I was aiming for a streaky, smoky look to the final finish ... not as much as those awful old-school antiquing paint kits that many of us remember from the 60s and 70s, though. 

Wet glaze.

Once the glaze was completely dry, I applied two VERY light coats of Minwax Satin Wipe-On Oil-based Polyurethane.  If done with a light hand, and carefully buffed with a sanding pad between coats, I almost dare anyone to tell the difference between this and a clear wax finish.  (If you want, you can use clear wax after the glaze instead of polyurethane ... for myself, I prefer the durability and permanent nature of varnish.)

As soon as I get some decent photos of the tables in place, which means spending the rest of today completing the reclamation of our living room, I will be thrilled to show you the final result.

sharing at Miss Mustard Seed

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