Monday, December 22, 2008

All Ready for Christmas

Well it certainly will be a white Christmas, but not as white as had been forecast. Yesterday's snow storm was a bit of a let-down, we only got about 4 or 5 inches - even Plattsburgh got more than that.

Here is a picture of our tree and most of our presents. I have a few more for Damon, but we still need to sneak past the tree to open and close the blinds and there just isn't room at the moment.

I finally baked the cut-out sugar cookies and Damon helped frost and decorate them yesterday. So we are now officially ready for the holiday!

Thursday, December 18, 2008

A Shiny New Christmas - Faucet

I know, when you hear 'Shiny New Christmas ...' you don't usually end with the word 'Faucet'. But our old one in the upstairs bathroom was prone to developing a drip at least once a year and Damon was tired of replacing the washers, so he went out and bought a new one and while I was away last week he installed it. Maybe not as festive as the holiday decorations but still a joy that we will not need to fuss about dripping water.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Decking the Walls

I had this wall hanging done for a few weeks but I wanted to get it shipped to mom before I posted the photo - it might have spoiled the surprise.
The scene is of the North Pole, complete with Santa's house, the Toy Factory, the sleigh and a flying reindeer. The buildings and the trees come from a Piece 'O Cake pattern, the sleigh and reindeer are my own designs modified from images on the web and the Santa and elf buttons were found at JoAnn's Fabrics.

Monday, November 24, 2008

A Stoic Approach to the *%$#@& Cold

Some of us are handling the cold weather better than others. As you can see Boris has no problem sitting out in the cold (and being snowed on). For over a week now we have had temperatures about 20 degrees below average for this time of year. The snow is making it difficult to go out and rake up what is left of the leaves. On the plus side, I will be starting my holiday baking this week and spending more time next to a warm oven.
Happy Thanksgiving to all.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

A White Halloween?

Our second snow of the season has been much more impressive than the first (which melted the the same day). We actually had a full-blown snow storm this time around. It started as rain first thing Tuesday and by 7pm changed to snow. On Wednesday morning we had about an inch or two of slushy snow. The roads were messy and slippery. It continued to snow all day Wednesday. (But as you can see that didn't stop us from walking the dogs Wednesday afternoon). As of this morning the snow has stopped and I am guessing we have between 4 and 6 inches - its kind of hard to tell for sure since the wind drifted it around quite a bit.

On Tuesday (Damon's Birthday) we went out and he bought himself some new snow tires (along with everyone else - there was even a story on the news about how busy the tire places were that day). For his birthday I took him to lunch and bought him some storage cabinets for his brewing supplies.

We were actually pretty lucky, about 45 minutes west of us they got a foot of snow. The forecast is calling for temperatures in the 40s for Friday so we will see if it melts or if we will have a white Halloween.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

First Snow of the Season!

Well mom and dad beat it out of town just in time. They were here last week, and this week we have snow.

In the photo it is a bit more difficult to see the yard, but more dramatic with the white snow in the dark - The photo was taken this morning around 6:45 am. The White flecks all over the picture is snow that is still coming down. The big bushy thing in the photo is our raspberry plants, next to the greenhouse - by the way the raspberries are just starting to ripen - we will have to see how the snow will affect the fruit. It is supposed to be even colder tonight, but no precipitation is expected.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Frost on the Pumpkin & on Everything Else

Well here it is Oct. 5th and we have not yet turned on the furnace. This is not to say it isn't cold out, its just that we are roughing it to save on heating oil. Odds are we will likely start the furnace tonight or tomorrow. The house has been at 58 degrees for about 24 hours now.

In the meantime, some tips for staying warm: 1.) Layers and lots of them - wearing a hat indoors can be the next high fashion idea. 2.) Microwave heating bags - nuke them for 2 minutes and get about 20 minutes of heat, even better if you have a blanket and can keep the warmth in. 3.) Bury yourself under a fresh load of laundry straight from the dryer. 4.) Bake - and then hang out in the kitchen all day to soak up residual warmth from the oven. 5.) Eating warm stuff - Damon made a pot of homemade chicken noodle soup this week, and we have all the fixings for chili for next week. and 6.) As much as we are in denial about it, exercising is actually a great way to keep warm, you just have to get up the courage to get out from under all those blankets to get up and get moving.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Harvest 2008

Well we are starting to see the crops come in - and about time too. The wet and cool summer didn't help the tomatoes but I am still managing to get both regular and cherry tomatoes every few days. Damon held off on harvesting the peppers and the hops until the threat of frost was upon us this week. As you can see from the photo we now have a whole tub of peppers. Damon will be trying to pickle them before heading back to Toledo for vacation. He has already frozen the hops.

Still in the works out in the garden are the raspberries which usually make their appearance at the end of September, and our 1 pumpkin is starting to turn orange.

Friday, September 5, 2008

Getting Comfortable

Well the new sofa and chair arrived yesterday. As soon as the delivery guys left I snapped this picture and then promptly covered it all up before letting the dogs out of the kitchen. The sofa is a color called 'green tea' and I believe the chair and the pillows on the sofa are 'ivy'. They even have that wonderful new furniture smell. Yes, we must savor this picture as we will never again see the new furniture again unsullied by dog fur and goobers. We officially have more bedding in the living room covering up furniture than we do up in the bedroom. The sofa and chair are a bit higher than the futon so Boris is unable to plop down on them. But Ivan has had no problems jumping up to try them out. Besides the dogs opinions of the furniture, Damon and I love it - very comfortable.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Dyeing for Some Sun

Well summer it pretty much over - Classes start tomorrow. Which is probably why it has finally decided to stop raining - yes, we actually had 4 days this week where it did not rain (but showers are predicted for this afternoon). Last month a group of us were supposed to go out to our friend Trudy's to do some fabric dyeing but a huge storm the night before knocked out their power for about 24 hours and they had several trees down. We were re-scheduled and yesterday we were out on the lake shore in the shade of some Cyprus trees dyeing our fabrics. The photo is just some samples - we actually did a whole rainbow of colors - 24 in all. The fabric is stored in the jars with the dye mixture for at least 24 hours. Yup, the rest of the north country is busy canning produce from their gardens, but the quilters are canning fabric.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Summer Winding Down

Only a week and a half till the end of Summer. Well OK, maybe not the end of summer officially, but for me classes start up on August 25th so it definitely feels like the end of summer. Surprising how few items on the summer 'to do' list got done this year, but with great excuses like 'it rained just about every day' there is not much you can do about it. The priorities before it gets too cold is to do some touch up painting on the house and see about weatherizing as best we can for the winter.

In line with staying warn and getting things done. I finally finished one of the community service quilts I started months ago. That is it in the photo. It is a 9-patch pattern using scraps of blue and white fabrics.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

New York Beauty Block

The New York Beauty quilt block is a really stunner. I have seen several NY Beauty quilts in shows the last few years and they are always the ones I am most drawn to. Especialy the multi-colored scrappy versions. So I jumped at the chance to join some fellow quilters this past weekend to learn how to construct the block. The process involves both paper-piecing and sewing curved seams. I have minimal experience with both of these techniques but as you can see from my first blook (I usually have great beginners luck) it turned out really well. To make the block we are using a Karen Stone pattern.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Oh Look, Its Raining Again.

After a June with only 6 days without rain, and a July that was officially recorded at the 7th rainiest, can't say we are surprised that the first weekend in August is also filled with rain.

Instead of worrying about the garden growing we are now worried about it rotting. While the pumpkin is loving all the rain, the tomatoes are starting to get blight. The peppers seem to be holding their own.

On a brighter note we have a few 'volunteer' sunflowers growing in the ditch out front. Volunteers are what our local gardeners call plants that sprout up on there own (you didn't put out seeds or plant.) So the photo for this week - to battle the gloom of the rain, is one of our little sunflower volunteers. I did put a few sunflower seeds in one of the beds, and while they are now taller than me, they have yet to bloom - once they do I will take a picture and post it.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Summer Guests

Damon's Aunt Sandy and Uncle John came up for a visit this past week. While it was a soggy trip up, the nice weather kicked in and we went over to Burlington, VT for a day on the slow boat (i.e. the Port Kent Ferry). While several of us were shopping, John ended up being interviewed on the local news the video is posted at: .

Another first time visitor for us this past weekend was a deer. Yes, there are deer all over the place it seems, but this is the first time in the 8 years at the house that I have seen a deer in our own yard. As you might expect the dogs went nuts and were barking like crazy, but as I had already shut the windows for the day they did not scare it off. It stayed in the yard for a few minutes and then headed toward the woods at the back of the property.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Vermont Quilt Festival - 2008

As usual the VQF was great. I took 3 classes, attended the Saturday night lecture and even won a door prize.

The first class I took was Susan Cleveland's 'Piping Hot Curves' which included learning how to make pipping and applying it to curved shapes and making block. The first photo is the book and a few of the blocks I made in class.

I also took Judy Mathieson's 'Twilight Star' class. The star is a 20-point sort-of paper pieced project. I say 'sort of' because it really isn't the traditional paper piecing method, but I found it easier and very accurate so I am sure I will use it again. The second photo is a copy of Judy's book and the part of the star I got done in class.

Finally, I also took Susan Cleveland's half day 'Bold Needle Threads' class, which was great because it was basically a time to play with different threads and stitches on your sewing machine, and I hadn't had a chance to play with all the cool stitches since I bought the machine last year.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Minding the Gap

The problem with blogs (or any type of journal or diary) is that if you have a busy life you have no time for blogging, and if you have time for blogging your life is not busy enough to have anything to write about. As you can tell from the date of this posting there is a considerable gap - this was due to a conference and a vacation back home for quality time with the family.

Among the exciting events was the annual trip to a Toledo Mud Hens baseball game - that is Aubrey with Muddy in the photo. There was also the traditional shutney (checking the spelling later). And as an extra bonus this year Damon's dad Tom (who is a licensed taser dealer) let Damon tase him as product research - the video is on YouTube at:

Saturday, June 7, 2008

WIPs and UFOs 2008

For you non-quilters out there WIPs are 'Works in Progress' and UFOs are 'UnFinished Objects'. Every year in the fall my quilting guild encourages folks to select a WIP/UFO or two and then requires folks to bring the finished quilt in at one of the spring meetings. The photo above is my WIP for the year. Last fall all I had done was the four center blocks. The quilt is a 'Hawaiian applique' the shapes are created using the same method that you used to make snowflakes as kids - folding and cutting. Its difficult to tell from the picture but it is a pretty large piece - about 47 inches tall and wide. The red and white make it look a bit Christmasy to me.
Along the holiday lines I also finished a small Christmas themed wall-hanging. I bought it as a kit at the Vermont Quilt Festival a couple of years ago. I started it at a quilting retreat this spring and finished it last month. It was a quick and easy project.
Damon and I are looking forward to coming home for a visit, I just hope we are well enough to enjoy it. Damon came down with a sore throat about 3 days ago and it has developed into a full-blown cold. I started with a sore throat last night.

Saturday, May 31, 2008

Conference on Instructional Technology 2008

That tiny speck next to the podium is me. I gave my presentation "Students' Technology Literacy: Assumptions, Expectations & the Truth" at the 2008 CIT conference at Genesee Community College in Batavia, NY. I had rehearsed my presentation in a classroom, so I was a little unprepared for being scheduled in the big main theatre.
Turn out was good (I ran out of handouts and needed to post them on the web for others to access), I got great questions at the end of the presentation and later in the conference a few folks came up to me and said the liked my presentation. So over all I think the presentation went well.
The conference also included some great entertainment - a band called Fully Clothed Gents, which is a Bare Naked Ladies tribute band. And I picked up a few technology and teaching tips and tricks to try out.
Damon and the dogs survived pretty well on their own, and Damon was even able to kept the garden alive (except for one small pack of impatiens sitting in the shadows of the greenhouse). The Hops plants are doing well and the largest has already reached the top of the greenhouse.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Making Use of a Long Weekend.

Its been a busy weekend.

First, we have a new neighbor - a family of robins. They had been trying to nest on the back porch light about a month ago, but since its a high traffic area and the dogs are right there all the time we figured it wasn't the safest location for raising a family. We have discovered that by attaching some aluminum foil to the top of the light we were able to keep the birds from nesting there. To make up for the eviction, I built a bird house (of sorts) and attached it around the corner on the other side of the porch, away from both the doorway and the dogs. At first I was disappointed because the structure was not adopted by the birds, but they finally came around and this week and built a nest and are currently sitting on eggs. I took this picture from the upstairs window looking down at the back porch.

Other happenings this weekend:
Planted the tomato and pepper plants on Saturday.

On Sunday I joined Cathy, Cheryl, Trudy and Donna and we went up to Montreal for the Qu├ębec Provincial Quilt Show. Several friends from the Wadhams Hall Quilt retreats had quilts in the show. A wonderful show, took lots of pictures for inspiration.

Friday, May 23, 2008

The Start of Summer?

Its almost summer! Too bad it doesn’t feel like it yet up here in the north-country.
The basic getting-ready-for-summer chores are done, the rain barrels are set up, mowing has begun and the garage has been cleaned out.
While the flower boxes around the house are planted, the veggies are still spending the nights in the greenhouse. I hope to get the raised beds tilled and everything in the ground this weekend.