Hey folks, it’s been a while. I hope this finds you as well as can be, considering the shitshow of a year we’ve all had.
Because I’m in a high-risk group, I am still basically sheltering in place. However, our four adult children work in health care and Mr. Wonderful’s job is essential, so I have plenty of time and reasons to stress tf out. I needed to do something to feel less powerless, per my therapist, stat. I decided to sew masks.
Before this year my only sewing experience was a brief obsession in the sixth grade. I recieved a nice Singer that Christmas, and Aunt Martha taught me the basics. I made a nightgown and a quilt and that was about it. I loved flooring the pedal, but the meticulousness of patterns, pinning, and ironing was beyond me and my machine ended up rusting out in the basement.
My first masks were sewn entirely by hand, including the ties, which took hours.
Then my cousin Shanna in California added me to Facebook group called Stitched Together. They match mask needs with sewists, entirely free, all over the country. I’ve learned so much about sewing in general and masks in particular from those amazing sewists.
Unfortunately, one thing I learned quickly was that mask-making supplies were almost as hard to find as other PPE. It took months to get my first order of elastic. Same story with bias tape, which can be used to make ties in a pinch. Getting aluminum nose pieces took even longer, so for a while I used wire. Also, my sewing machine was dead, so a friend lent me hers.
My productivity increased steadily. After spending a day at our house, Grandson Raiden told his mom, “Granny makes maskes. LOTS of maskes, really fast!! Buzzzzzzz!”
Now, over 900 masks in, I’ve decided to sell some masks to fund more donations.
If you would like to buy a cool mask and help fund more donations, here’s a link to my Etsy shop, Pajari Girls. All masks are 2 ply cotton with soft elastic ear loops and aluminum nose pieces. And of course, they are made with love. Most are $7 for adult size and $5 for child size, except the RBG tribute masks, which are $10 each since the lace is hand stitched on. And with every mask sold, we can donate even more to those who still need them. Thanks in advance, and stay safe out there.
Ok, my hands are killing me, but I wanted this post done before Halloween’s over. Here’s the Cliff Notes version:
Back in September, I covered my sunflowers with old white curtains to protect them from frost. My neighbor thought I was just decorating early for Halloween! Which was a great idea; I’d already tried coloring eyes and mouths with Sharpie but was a failure. I was muttering about the problem when Paul (aka Mr. Wonderful) suggested using fabric. “But it hurts to use scissors!” I whined. Then I remembered the cutting board and rotary cutter I invested in a few years when Cook got a quilt shop (Thanks again, Susan Covey of Cabin Quilting!)
Sewing hurts too, so Paul suggested fabric glue. Woohoo! We were business. I have almost no range of motion in my wrists lately, so he helped position the ghosts, too. One of the best things about making Halloween decorations is that they don’t have to be perfect! Get a kid to help. Or someone with crappy range of motion. It could be therapeutic. 😀
Another Halloween craft project that’s fast, cheap, and easy. Like my sister. Just kidding! Please Pin, Like, Share, or comment this project, or better yet, do it yourself!
A couple of years ago, youngest spawn was unexpectedly at my house for Halloween (it wasn’t my turn), without a costume. My sister came to the rescue and we took a quick trip to the closest store with costumes, 30 miles away. The plus side of shopping for a costume on the last day is that everything was on clearance, which worked great on the low-child-support budget! It felt so cheesy just grabbing something last-second, that I wanted to do something creative to the whole thing.
He chose a creepy werewolf mask and hands set that freaked me out. The clothing part of the costume was pretty cheesy so I got to thinking.
I wanted it to look like he was bursting out of his clothes, so we grabbed some jeans and a white button-down shirt from before the last growth spurt that were ridiculously small on him. Then came the hard part—talking him out of a toy that had similar coloring to the hair on the gloves and mask. No go.
Lucky for him, he has two older sisters, so I was holding out hope that I could find something…some doll or ratty stuffed animal no one would miss. I tore through boxes and totes from the basement to the attic, and the only thing I could find happened to be mine. Remember Beanie Babies? When the bottom dropped out of that market (thank you Ty, for flooding the market and thus reducing demand), Ty Co. created a line called Beanie Kids. They were homely yet cute in a Cabbage Patch kind of way. We ended up stuck with hundreds of the damn things, so I had one of each stuffed in a box in the attic.
When I got out the scissors, he bolted. When his sisters saw the remains they asked, “WTH happened here?”
I TRY to be a good mother, honest I do.
I scalped the dolls and sewed the pieces into holes we tore in his shirt and pants.
And he swears he wasn’t scarred from the experience since he didn’t have to watch me cut off the faces.
Not bad for $10 and an hour of work!
Here are a few other posts you may like: Feel free to Like, Share, and Pin away!!
What, you don’t name your trees? This is one of our favorite trees. Mine (Laura) shades my whole front yard in the summer. Lois’ shades the old wood shed/ice house at Cook’s Country Connection. Listen, if Pocahontas could have Grandmother Willow, we can have an Auntie Linden. And like Grandmother Willow, the Auntie Linden in our yard has smacked a guy or three in the head. So shush.
The last time I read Jean Auel’s Clan of the Cave Bear series, Ayla used Linden flowers to sweeten something. Finally! Something that grows in the near-arctic conditions of Cook, MN!! I searched Wikipedia to be sure it wasn’t just literary license, and discovered many other fun facts.
There is a Linden tree in Gloucestershire that is coppiced (omigod, I didn’t even know there was a word for that!! It means to harvest by cutting tree down to the stump, then letting its shoots start over. It’s technically the same tree) thought to be 2,000 years old. If you live up here, imagine a willow after attempted chainsawing.
The name of Linnaeus, the great botanist, was derived from a “lime” tree in Europe–what we Yanks call Basswood or Linden .
Linnaeus… You know, the guy who came up with a universal system for naming things. Binomial nomenclature. ie: Tilia americana. Ringin’ any bells??
There’s more. “The excellence of the honey of far-famed Hyblaean Mountains was due to the linden trees that covered its sides and crowned its summit.” Beekeepers love Linden/Basswood/Lime trees! The first time I noticed a buzzing noise coming from the tree I park under (Auntie Linden), and looked up to see thousands of honeybees I called my sister in a panic. “Don’t come over!! You will DIE!!” (She’s allergic to bee or hornet stings.) She laughed and said ” They’re just doing what bees do. Leave them alone, and they’ll leave you alone. Just don’t piss ’em off.” Roger that.
I read on:
“In particular, aphids are attracted by the rich supply of sap, and are in turn often “farmed” by ants for the production of the sap which the ants collect for their own use, and the result can often be a dripping of excess sap onto the lower branches and leaves, and anything else below. Cars left under the trees can quickly become coated with a film of the syrup (“honeydew”) thus dropped from higher up. The ant/aphid “farming” process does not appear to cause any serious damage to the trees.”
Well, that’s pretty awesome… and it explains all the ants in that area. And it doesn’t hurt the trees! Huh. Here I was all worried that the ants were a sign that one of my favorite trees in all the world was sick. Whew!
It’s also good for making guitars, and even clothing. You can eat the young flowers and leaves, too!
But coolest of all, it has medicinal properties that my body needs, like fighting inflammation and healing the liver.
“Most medicinal research has focused on Tilia cordata, although other species are also used medicinally and somewhat interchangeably. The dried flowers are mildly sweet and sticky, and the fruit is somewhat sweet and mucilaginous. Limeflower tea has a pleasing taste, due to the aromatic volatile oil found in the flowers. The flowers, leaves, wood, and charcoal (obtained from the wood) are used for medicinal purposes. Active ingredients in the Tilia flowers include flavonoids (which act as antioxidants) and volatile oils. The plant also contains tannins that can act as an astringent.
“Linden flowers are used in herbalism for colds, cough, fever, infections, inflammation, high blood pressure, headache (particularly migraine), and as a diuretic (increases urine production), antispasmodic (reduces smooth muscle spasm along the digestive tract), and sedative. In the traditional Austrian medicine Tilia sp. flowers have been used internally as tea for treatment of disorders of the respiratory tract, fever and flu. New evidence shows that the flowers may be hepatoprotective. The wood is used for liver and gallbladder disorders and cellulitis (inflammation of the skin and surrounding soft tissue). That wood burned to charcoal is ingested to treat intestinal disorders and used topically to treat edema or infection such as cellulitis or ulcers of the lower leg.“
Thus, last year I made tea from the flowers and the smaller leaves they were attached to. Honestly, I don’t know if it helped the Stupid Rheumatoid Arthritis. But I’m sure it didn’t hurt. 😉 And it tasted good. Want to make your own? Good. Here’s what I did:
when flowers are mostly open, gently pick them and the smaller leaf they are attached to from the bigger main leaves. This year, they are a month behind normal. Big surprise.
I spread them evenly on trays in my dehydrator and when crumbly I separated leaves from flowers and put them in old, airtight mason jars for winter.
Then, come January I added some Rugosa Rose hips for Vitamin C and voila! Yummy, healthy, tea for two.
As you can see, the tea has very little color to it. Go by taste- not color- to judge strength. 3 or 4 minutes should be fine for a cup to brew.
As usual, if you liked this article, please click “Like” “Share” “Pin”, or leave a comment. Thank you for reading! Loveyabye!
Visitors to the farm are usually surprised to learn that we water the entire garden and landscape with reclaimed rain water. Our system, which collects and stores rainwater from our barn’s metal roof, provides 100% of our annual watering needs. The best part, it was extremely easy to install, and can be inexpensively adapted to almost any home, shed or roof with a gutter.
We spent the past week hooking our tanks back up from winter storage – and within 24 hours – we had just over 150 gallons stored from a single rain. It’s been over a year now since we first completed the rain collection system – and I honestly don’t know how we survived without it.
It gives us access to free water, and with our two plastic tote tanks, can collect as much as 550 gallons from a single downpour. And that’s only using rain from…
Friday and Saturday, the winter blues were encroaching. Then my friend Kelly sent me flowers at work to thank me for helping winter suck less. 🙂
AWWWWW! How sweet is that?? Thanks, Kelly! You brighten my winter, too. 🙂
The big gravel pit banks looked kind of intimidating to the 5 year-old, so I broke out the food coloring and some spray bottles. Also reeeeeeeally brightened up the winter landscape.
Also, there was some awesome sledding on the gravel pit banks.
Hear the fire crackling in the background? We roasted hot dogs and marshmallows.
Everybody wants to kill that one bush in the gravel pit…
Also, Jill stopped by to model her newest in Funny Farm Fashion. 😉
All in all, it was the perfect day to ENJOY winter. 30 degrees above zero was reason enough to celebrate. On a related note, the Finns allegedly have more words for “snow” than the Inupiat. Check out the link…Finnish words for snow.
As usual, please like, share, or pin to spread the joy. 🙂
One of my latest self-discoveries was that hating winter doesn’t make it shorter, and it certainly doesn’t make me any happier. So, after making ice candles, candle rings, and ice gems/marbles, I went hunting for more crafty ideas on Pinterest and found this genius named Tracy Lynn Conway who had pinned ice sun catchers using a cake pan and/or muffin pans. I was inspired.
The best thing about this cold snap is that I can stand at my kitchen door and watch water freeze. Shut up–it’s verry interesting. Stop judging me!! Mr. Wonderful found it pretty chuckalicious too, until I sent him a picture.
This is a fast, cheap, and easy way to fight cabin fever, depression, and/or Seasonal Affective Disorder. This is also Parent of the Year stuff. Youngest Spawn is learning all about frostbite and how ice forms.
Tracy made her sun catchers in the freezer, but I had a blast watching the ice form outside. (And at -20, it was waaaaay faster. See her pin/blog for more on using the freezer.) My favorite effect is when the food coloring freezes while dissipating in the water…it looks like psychedelic snowflakes.
TIP: If you want to use multiple colors, wait until the water is almost ice. Otherwise, you will end up with brown sun catchers.
I’d tried making my ice marbles into hanging ornaments, but the curly ribbon always broke when I tried to remove the balloon. (And they were kind of heavy, which is tough on winter-brittle branches.) That’s where the muffin pan came in. I used magnets to hold the curly ribbon where I wanted it.
Like the other ice crafts, it’s all about catching the light. A Bundt pan has a ready-made hanging hole, as well as ridges.
We have these sets of 3 plastic heart containers at The Barn ($.50 per set), and I just knew they would be good for something. Adding lace (also on clearance), and some foofy colored ice cubes I made from silicone baking molds…
On the thicker sun catchers, my color didn’t go all the way through, so I finger-painted a quick heart on the back of this one.
Again, thank you to Tracy Conway for the great tutorial! Here are some other fun things to do with water in the winter:
Usually, our projects are like what we eat: fast, cheap, and easy. This is not one of those. The good news is that it’s way simpler than it sounds.
It’s fast if you have the supplies already and don’t have to gather the pine cones now and wait two days for them to thaw, warm, and open. Just collecting them was an adventure… (See that one here).
It’s cheap if you have wax and a few common kitchen tools that can be dedicated to wax projects.
It’s easier than making candles from scratch.
You will need:
A large pillar candle
Double boiler (or a small pot and a glass 2-cup measuring cup, OR a small pot and a wax pouring pitcher)
Wick from pillar candle or pre-waxed wicks
Muffin pan/s (disposable aluminum pans from the Barn would have been smarter than using my real pans.)
Scented wax (optional)
While the wax was melting in the double boiler thingy, I set up the papers and wicks.
To use: place under kindling and light the wick.
Notes: I did two kinds; the larger fire starters are made with leftover green wax from an unscented pillar and a few balsam scented wax tarts, the smaller starters are made with the already-scented coconut cake candle.
These are easier than real candles because you won’t need to have the wax at a certain temperature or monitor the stearic acid content. They were made with pillar wax so they will hold their shape longer without needing a holder.
As usual, if you found this useful, or have something to add, share, like, comment or Pin it!
Ok, so all my ice-cream buckets are toast. The ice pushed through the bottoms instead of the tops. 😦 And I have yet to master the five gallon bucket or garbage can methods. However, I did have one experiment that turned out great…an ice candle ring.
You will need:
A bundt pan
about three quarts water
3 drops food coloring (optional)
winter or a freezer
votive or tealight candle
long fireplace lighter thingy deal
This is almost too easy. I should check the Thrift Shop for more bundt pans and jell-o molds… Anyway, I just set the pan outside and filled it with water. If you want to add food coloring, rock on. The first ring I made popped right out of the pan, but the second one was tougher, so I asked myself,” What would Lois do??” She said to place the pan in a sink of hot water for a few minutes. It worked like a charm :).
Add a tealight or votive candle, and it’s probably best to light it with a long grill/fireplace/candle lighter. Unless you like burns and frostbite at the same time. (We usually have the candles, food coloring, balloons and lighters at The Barn if you’re local.)
Short video clip of candle flickering here. It was COLD out (-15 F), so it’s a short video. I recommend placing ice candles away from your house, yet visible from a window. It’s very possible they will freeze where they are placed, so make sure it’s not a tripping/shoveling hazard. Safety first, people! Or top five, anyway.
If you think this is a GREAT IDEA, like, comment, pin or share it. Please? If you know a way to make this idea even GREATER, let us know that, too! Loveyabe, Laura
This is northern Minnesota. Bitching Bragging about extreme winterness is in our Nordic DNA. When hell freezes over, Minnesota schools will start 2 hours late. There are four seasons in Minnesota: Early Winter, Winter, Late Winter, and Road Construction. The majority of cars and trucks have block heaters, standard. And on and on…
I used to hatedetestabhor dread winter. Winter can be cold, dark, expensive, depressing, and we love to complain about it. However, as part of my ongoing quest for better health, personal growth and general serenity, I have been looking for ways to be more positive. I have come to realize that hating winter does not make it shorter, dreading winter does not prolong its arrival, and preparing for winter internally and externally reduces my stress levels about it. Less stress translates into less physical pain and reduces depression. This may be first-grade stuff to most people, but for me it was a revelation. Winter may never be my favorite season, but I can accept hate it less and find its unique moments of beauty and joy.
You will need:
2 containers of Cool-Whip
2 plastic tumblers
rocks or sand
First, eat the Cool-Whip. If you are from North Dakota, mix it with Jell-O and cottage cheese. If you are in Minnesota, combine it with a can of fruit cocktail and Jell-O to make a “salad”. Wash out the Cool-Whip containers, after licking them mostly clean.
I brought everything outside, having had a VLE (Valuable Learning Experience) while making Ice Gems/Marbles . I centered the rock-filled tumblers in the Cool-Whip containers, then filled them with hot water* from a teapot and added a few drops of food coloring. *I was told that the boiling water would make the ice less cloudy and add cool bubbles, but with a project this small, and my overuse of food coloring, it didn’t seem to matter.
Freezing times vary, depending on climate. These small containers freeze faster than their traditional 5-gallon bucket counterparts. And I can lift these without hurting myself. Once frozen, I tapped the whole works gently and popped the tumbler out.
Tah-dah!! Add the tea light candles for another craft that’s fast, cheap, and easy. 🙂 And hopefully, something to make winter feel a little less…blah.
As usual, if you enjoyed this post, let us know. “Like”, share, or comment. Loveyabye.
PS: This is just another glowing example of how I am working ’round the clock to help Cook Dollar Barn. This is Employee of the Year stuff, if you ask me. Vote for me here. Or send my sister a postcard. Better yet, bring us a plate of Christmas Cookies and tell Lois in person that LAURA ROCKS!
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