Aug 5, 2012

Summer marches on

The middle of the country seems to be baking in the heat, just like we did here last summer.  We feel the pain - been there, done that, took off the t-shirt 'cause we were sweating too much.  Not that it hasn't gotten hot here, upper 90s with the occasional brush with 100+, but it's "normal" for us.  August is here and that's fine.

We haven't gotten a lot of photo-worthy work done on our DIY projects, although we are making progress.  DH has been doing more electrical work prep before we get the electrician out here to do his thing.  And he had a to spend last weekend mowing and trimming much of our property.  We're getting just enough rain to keep the grass growing.

We've been fighting flying-stinging-things and creepy crawlies in the house all summer.  With all the holes in the wall from the electrical project, Emma spends her days barking "alert" to wasps and "pointing" out scorpions (evil, devilish crawlies).  Wasps are swatted and killed.  Scorpions are grabbed with our very special scorpion removal tool (needle-nosed pliers) and flushed at sea where I'm sure they have a short life in our septic tank.  All this work made Emma tired so she took a break with her Purple Puppy.

Last weekend, I was accosted by a spider the size of Australia, Iowa, a pickup truck, a German shepherd dog, a grapefruit, my hand - well, it was darn big.  I usually wake up on the weekends before DH.  I was sitting on the porcelain throne doing my business when I noticed said spider lurking under the edge of the bathroom sink cabinet.  I managed to suppress my instinctive "spider yell" to avoid waking DH.  The darn thing was too big to swat dead with a shoe (which would have made a lot of noise and made a disgusting and yucky mess on the shoe), so I dug out bug spray and gave it a good dose.  The dratted spider took too long to die and thrashed and crawled around, so I upended the bathroom trash can over it and left it for DH to deal with when he got up.  It gave him a good laugh.

I am not stitching on the scheduled August block of "Crabby All Year" this month and may not for a while.  I'm rather tired of it interrupting my stitching and doubt that I'll ever participate in a stitch-a-long again.  Surprisingly, I am still stitching on "One Nation," albeit rather slowly, and will continue on with it until I am sick of it again.  I'll try to post a picture this week.

We've been spending our evenings watching the NBC coverage of the Summer Olympics.  Each time NBC does the Olympics coverage, we cringe.  They do such a horrible job.  You feel like you are getting little bits of this and that instead of coverage of an entire event.  For example, they will show the last half of the last set in a match of volleyball instead of the whole thing.  I guess it's better than nothing, but we'd love to see an entire event.  Oh well.


Jul 22, 2012

Men in trees

DH's work buddy, Billy, recently got a new fancy BBQ smoker.  He enjoys smoking ribs, brisket, and chicken wings.  Since his smoker uses wood, he was looking for a wood source.  DH struck a bargain with him; if Billy would come out and help DH with cutting and splitting wood, he could have a share of it. 

Yesterday they cut up a couple of downed trees and they will split it in another couple of weeks.  Due to last year's drought, we have plenty of dead and downed trees to choose from.  In one day, the two of them were able to get more work done than DH could have done by himself in two.  Here is DH cutting up a huge tree that fell down (we heard it!) this spring.

DH and Emma decided to take a break after lunch today.  She likes to lay on the couch behind his head - he calls her his "hairy headrest."


Jul 15, 2012

Making holes in the wall

DH and I had a nice week off together.  Projects got done.  We did some relaxing.  Then, as is often the case, DH had a wild week when he returned to work on Monday.  So this weekend we are doing a lot of relaxing in between minor projects.  

We are now ready to get the electrician out here to do the work DH can't do.  DH was able to set the new breaker box next to the old one, and the electrician will need to move the power from one to the other.  DH had to do some major construction on the wall to do this.  He cut a big hole in the wall and then made it bigger.  He replaced old, bad wood with new wood and then spent time patching the outside of the house temporarily to keep the rain and heat out.  As soon as the electrician does his thing, we will refinish about 15 feet of the front outside wall of our house.  We'll remove the shingle siding and replace it with Hardi-plank and paint.

Inside before (with the freezer still in the den).

Outside before.
Cutting the hole.
Emma supervises.
Holey moley.
A whole lotta wall gone.
Patching the hole.
Sealing the hole.
New box next to old box, ready for electrician!
On the stitching front, I finished the July square of "Crabby All Year."  Now I'm grudgingly working on "One Nation" or "that durn flag" as I affectionately call it.  I intend to stitch on it all through the month of July and then bury it in my stitching bag again.  It remains a boring and tedious stitch to me.


Jul 4, 2012

Is it Wednesday already?!

Happy Independence Day, America!

DH has taken the week off to work on the house and relax some.  I've intended to post every day this week, but I haven't.  

This weekend, DH was planning on getting up on the roof to install two plumbing vent pipes, some of the last bits of plumbing he has to do.  Of course, we had intermittent rain a good bit of the weekend which kept the roof just wet enough that he couldn't work on it.

It made him grumpy to have his plans thwarted by rain, so I sent him out to his shop to finish making and mounting the drawers and doors on his shop workbench, which he did.  

The doors and drawer fronts are made from old cabinet doors DH salvaged from a remodel at work.  He saved them from the dumpster thereby saving himself a bunch of money.  The drawer pulls and door handles we got on clearance from Lowe's for fifty cents each. 

On Monday, the weather was cooperative enough for him to get the vent pipes done.  The summer weather is definitely hotter now.  DH hates sweat running down in his eyes, so he "borrowed" one of my microfiber sweatbands to wear.  I think he looks rather jaunty, don't you?  ;-)

I've been stitching on the July block of "Crabby All Year" and hope to have it done by the weekend.  I plan to spend the rest of the month of July stitching on "that durn flag."  Hopefully I can make myself work on it enough to get a lot done on it.  


Jun 28, 2012

What do you like?

Some days when I have a bit of extra time, I like to go blog hopping.  I'll read a favorite blog and then check out blogs they may have linked to.  When I first started reading blogs, this was the way I found most of my favorites. 

What do you like in a blog post?  I know what I like and most of my "likes" have to do with formatting.  

For me, the font must be readable.  There's a reason most blog templates use old standbys like Arial, Courier, Georgia, Helvetica, Times New Roman, Trebuchet, or Verdana.  These are all very readable fonts that are easy on the eyes.  Some of the fancier blog templates use fancy fonts - you know, the ones that look like calligraphy or a kid's writing.  These are very hard to read in paragraph form.  If a blog has a hard-to-read fancy font, it won't make my blog list no matter how interesting it is.

Another thing I look for is justification.  Is the blog text aligned to the left (which is normal)?  If the blog writer centers his/her text, it makes it very hard to read as the eye has to find the beginning of each line.  It also takes more time to read.  So if the blog's text is centered, that blog won't make my blog reading list either.
Then there's the color of the blog.  Recently, I came across a blog whose primary  background color was black with a bright purple colored fancy font.  ACK!  I couldn't find the back button fast enough!  Reading white on black is hard on the eyes. 
And last, but not least, is music.  Just because you like to listen to Metallica doesn't mean that I like it.  As my internet connection is slower, sometimes the music doesn't start until I'm halfway down the blog post and it startles me.  Being startled does not endear the blog writer to me so the blog won't make my blog list.

Jun 25, 2012

It's bigger now

DH got installed the new window in our utility room this weekend.  The room had only one window in one wall, so we added another on another wall to give the room a lot of natural light.  And boy! I can't believe how much bigger the room looks now!  It's amazing what a little light will do!  The window is on the wall beside my stacked-for-now washer and dryer.  Now I don't have to turn on the overhead light to see to load the laundry soap dispenser.  (That little "window" by the floor is actually Emma's dog door.)

Getting ready to frame in.
Framed, ready to cut the hole.
Hole cut!

Finished, ready for trim molding.
We had our first triple-digit heat days this weekend.  Summer is here for sure.

On the stitching front, I seem to be making poor choices.  I started stitching a JBW design on some raw linen stitchband with DMC Variations floss.  The floss faded into the linen; the colors weren't popping off the fabric.  Exasperated, I frogged it all and went in search of another color of stitchband in my stash.  Alas! I don't have anything wide enough.  So I rummaged around in my stash and came up with "Summer" by Redbird Designs which I'll stitch on light blue Jubilee.  

Emma spent the morning barking at deer around our house.  Some of them will wander right up to our fenced-in yard and simply stand there watching her bark her head off.  Silly dog.


Jun 24, 2012

Possessed mower

DH had to mow this weekend.  As usual, the riding mower needed maintenance.  When we bought this durn mower it was on the advice of several friends who had a Cub Cadet mower and loved it.  Consumer ratings were high on it.  Apparently, we have a lemon.

This mower has been a pain since we bought it.  Constantly deflating tires, the belt slips off, battery always dying - it's not reliable.  At any rate, DH had to work on it and Emma helped.


Jun 18, 2012

Windows and poison ivy

This past week, DH took Monday and Tuesday off.  He was planning to work more on the utility room, but instead had a much-needed mowing frenzy with the tractor.  He also cleared out some brushy areas with the chainsaw.  And got into poison ivy.

So he had to go to the doctor and was given cortisone to take for six days.  Cortisone keeps DH awake at night and makes him feel antsy.  He doesn't like taking it but likes itching madly even less.  Me?  I'd just take care to stay out of poison ivy.   ;-)

So on Saturday, DH replaced the old window in the utility room with a new one.  We moved it over six inches, so he had to do a bit of patching.  On Sunday afternoon, he was going to install another new one in another wall (so we'll have two windows in the utility room for some great natural light!), but the lack of sleep from the cortisone finally had him napping the afternoon away.  This suited Emma just fine; she likes to nap with or on her humans.

Removing the old window: Emma supervises.
Old window removed with patching finished.
New window installed with new framing.   
Sealing the new window with barrier tape.
Finished but needing trim boards.

I've been in a bit of a stitching slump.  I've totally lost interest in finishing the birdies.  This happens to me on occasion.  Not often, thankfully.  I've learned to just go with it.  So for now, "Birds of a Feather" is a UFO, tucked away in a deep drawer.  

I picked up a piece I've wanted to stitch as a bell pull for the kitchen for some time now.  On natural linen banding I'm stitching "Pear" by JBW Designs.  I'll add "Apple" and "Pumpkin" to the banding and each will be stitched with one of the DMC Variations floss in the appropriate fruit color. 

The weather here in my part of Texas is summery.  It gets up to the mid to low 90s during the day, and stays in the low 70s at night.  This means we can sleep without running the air conditioner at night, the doors/windows can be open during the morning, and the AC only runs part of the day.  Great weather!  I love it!



Jun 11, 2012

Finally floored

DH was busy this weekend tearing up the old (what was left of it) flooring in the utility room all the way down to the piers and beams and replacing it.

First he moved everything out of there including my washer and dryer.  He dragged them into the den.  Notice the freezer in the corner.  Yeah, it's been there awhile.  What - you don't have a freezer in your den?  I'll be so glad to get it back in the utility room where it belongs when everything's all finished.

Then he tore up the rest of the old floor.

Then he replaced the primary sub floor with 2" x 10" planks.

Then he rolled out tar paper over the planks and then laid the secondary sub floor.  Once we get the walls finished, we'll put down either vinyl tiles or vinyl sheet flooring.

Emma inspected all the resulting holes and supervised.


I've finished my birdies except for the backstitching.  As the backstitching is "UK" style, I get cross-eyed after a while and have to stop.  I hope to get it finished within the next couple of days.


Jun 6, 2012

Crabby June

Here is the finished June square from "Crabby All Year."  I stitched a few things different than the pattern and stitched the spider instead of using a button.  It made it less scary to do it that way.  (Spiders - *shudder*)  The ladybug and worm buttons are just sitting on the fabric; I'll stitch them on after the whole thing is finished.

Here is the entire piece up to this point.  I'm half-way done!


Jun 5, 2012

Dirt works

When DH started working on the plumbing in the utility room, one of the things he had to do was unearth the pipes in the ground under the floor.  (Digging with a shovel, his "favorite" thing to do!)  Not wanting to toss the dirt in the corner on the floor in the utility room - he thought I might object to this - he stored it in a couple of empty trash cans in the corner of the utility room.

As he is finished with the under-floor plumbing, it was time to rebury the pipes.  So he tackled that one afternoon this weekend with Emma's supervision.


I started the June square of "Crabby All Year" this weekend and am nearly finished with it.  I just have a spider (full body shudder!) and a bunch of orphan stitches that are supposed to represent gnats or no-see-ums left to stitch.  I'll post a picture soon.  


May 31, 2012

Birdie WIP

I've been going to town on my birdie WIP.  It's been a fun stitch.  Here is "Birds of a Feather" stitched on linen with DMC.  I have one birdie to finish and then I've got a few orphan stitches, all the backstitching, and then a bit of beading to do (no French knots for me!).

DH got 95% of the plumbing done over Memorial Day weekend.  His next project is completely tearing up and replacing the floor in the utility room down to the piers and beams.  While he is doing that while the floor is completely open, he will finish the other 5% of the plumbing.

Tomorrow - as it will be June 1st - I'll start stitching on the June square of "Crabby All Year," even though I'd really rather finish my birdies.


May 28, 2012

Pole vaulting

DH has been wrassling with the plumbing in the utility room all weekend.  He got a good start on Saturday (with no unexpected sewage problems).  Sunday afternoon was not good.  After making two trips to Lowe's, he finally decided to quit early.

He went out to his hunting blind to put out some wild pig attractant near it.  (He's yet to shoot a pig this year and we'd both dearly love some fresh sausage.)  He also took the pole pruner with him to trim some branches on the trees near his blind.  I settled in to stitch in his absence.  

A little while later, DH came in the door with blood all over him.  No, it didn't belong to any critter, it belonged to him.  Apparently he managed to whack himself on the forehead over his left eye with the pole pruner handle.   He was sawing on a branch that unexpectedly gave way and the pole pruner rebounded off another branch and then rebounded off DH's head.

After cleaning him up and getting a good look at the wound, we decided to go with butterfly bandages instead of trying to go to an after-hours clinic for possible stitches on Memorial Day weekend.  DH spent the remainder of the evening with an ice pack on his head while we watched reruns of "Law & Order" on the boob tube.  

As an aside, this particular station has started rerunning L&O from its beginning.  We watch episodes on the weekends occasionally.  It's funny to see show from the 1990s and see how well people coped with life without cell phones, let alone smartphones!  And the computers!  HUGE monitors crouching on the desks.  Some of the earliest episodes show monitors without MS Windows.  And yet we all managed to survive and live in such primitive times.  (Yes, Virginia, that's heavy sarcasm.)

I've spent a lot of the weekend stitching.  I'll post a picture in the next couple of days.  I don't think I'll ever do another SAL as the one I'm doing for "Crabby All Year" is annoying.  While I like stitching on "Crabby," I find it annoying to put down my current project at the start of every month to work on that month's "Crabby" square.  Oh well.


May 23, 2012

Sunny days

My sinuses and allergies are still kicking me in the pants.  Rah.

While my favorite flower the Texas bluebonnet is long gone, other wild flowers are now in bloom.  We've had this yellow wild flower growing on our property in various places for the last couple of years.  I have no idea what it is, but it reminds me of Black-eyed Susans.  DH knows I like them, so he has not been mowing this small area near our loafing shed which is full of them.

And I haven't been stitching as much as I'd like.  I stitched two mornings this week on my "Birds of a Feather" WIP, and then spent this morning frogging everything I'd stitched.  Phooey.  Instead of stitching two over two, I stitched one stitch two over three and didn't notice what I'd done.  Of course this messed up several other stitching areas, hence all the frogging.  Durn amphibian.

You can't tell much, but I've stitched a bird tail, the tea cup handle, and the outline of the saucer.  It's stitched on 28 count flax linen with DMC.  This pattern will really come to life when I do all the backstitching at the end.

May 20, 2012

It just wasn't his day

DH and I have been battling our allergies/sinuses for two weeks, hence the lack of blog posts.  We've both felt lower than a snake's belly in a wagon wheel rut on a canyon floor.  Living in a valley in the spring does that to you, especially with a wet, warm winter.

DH felt well enough this weekend to continue his plumbing work in our utility room.  It was going to be an easy one day job.  He was doing some preliminary work before Memorial Day weekend when he would have more time to do a more involved project.  The job entailed replacing some pipe to the septic system, AKA "sewer" pipe.

It just wasn't his day.

About halfway through Saturday morning, I heard him shout, "DANG!"  Actually, it would have been more accurate if he'd have hollered, "CRAP!"  Literally.  Yeah.  A pipe fitting came undone that shouldn't have and DH had to deal with, well, "sewage."  

It just wasn't his day.

He had to make two trips into town to Lowe's for more plumbing parts and didn't get finished until this afternoon.  And I was without my washing machine during this time.  I didn't need it, but just the thought of not having it made me antsy.

It just wasn't his day.

And did I mention that he had to dig holes with a shovel, his least favorite thing to do?  Yeah.  He was not a happy camper.

And I haven't stitched much, but hope to have a picture tomorrow of what progress I have made.  


May 6, 2012

I'm not dead yet

I'm not dead yet, nor have I dropped off the face of the earth.  I've been under the weather here lately.  Living in a valley in the springtime with all the abundant pollens from a rainy late winter and early spring will do that to you.  

I haven't stitched as much lately.  I typically read more when I'm not feeling well.  I read the "Hunger Games" trilogy on my Kindle and I enjoyed them very much.  I also read the latest "nine-ology" of books in the Star Wars universe.  

I didn't stitch on my BAP at all in April.  For May, so far I have stitched the May square of "Crabby All Year."  This square made me laugh.  When I get all the stitching done, I'll add the buttons.  This square has two round brown buttons that will go under and behind the rabbit - you guessed it - rabbit poop!

A few weeks ago, someone posted a "help me find the pattern in this picture" request on the 123 Stitch Message Board.  Someone immediately knew that it was from the UK Cross Stitcher magazine, December 2011 (Issue #247).  I liked the pattern so I sought out my own copy and got one off eBay.

I'm one of those people that rarely buys a stitching magazine unless I'm looking for a specific pattern in a specific issue.  Once I get it, I tear the pattern out and then pass the magazine  along to another stitcher.  I see no reason to keep volumes and volumes of magazines just to say that I have them. 

So I started stitching on this pattern and after stitching two lengths of floss, I frogged it all and changed the fabric because the floss was blending into the original fabric.  One of the problems with UK magazines is that they aren't real specific as to fabric.  This one told me to use a "rustic evenweave fabric."  So I chose one and it didn't work, so I went back to my fabric stash and chose another.

And no, I won't be making a tea cozy with it.  I'm a southerner - I like my tea iced and sweetened.
DH has been working on our HVAC.  He has all the duct work done and won't have to be in the attic for awhile.  In between keeping the rapidly growing grass mowed, he is now working on some plumbing in the utility room.