Sunday, August 13, 2017

Everything Looks Better with a Little Beaded Fringe

Several years ago I found a cast iron floor lamp at the thrift store for about $10. It was a bit bashed about and didn't work - but $10!!!

I took it apart, intending to repaint and rewire it, and then it sat in a corner of the garage. One of the things on my list of things to do this year is to finish one project that's been languishing and this definitely qualified. So, I busted out the Rustoleum Heirloom White and gave the pieces several coats, and then finished with a clear coat. I bought a lamp rewiring kit from Home Depot and put the whole thing together. This was a bit of a challenge, because there is a narrow tube that runs up through all the separate pieces, holding them up and together, and it was just wide enough for the cord to go through, but too narrow to actually push it through. I tried pushing string through and it just kept bunching up inside. So in the end I tied some sewing thread to a narrow nail and dropped the nail through the tube. Then I tied the string to the end of the thread and pulled that through, and then tied the string to the electrical wire and finally pulled that through. Rewiring a lamp sounds a little scary, but if you buy a kit it's actually fairly straight-forward. Everything is pretty much put together for you and the most technical part is screwing the wires into the socket, and the instructions tell you exactly how to do that.

Once the whole thing was together I had to find the perfect shade for it. I knew what kind I wanted - the old-fashioned fabric dome shape, to complement the old-fashioned style of the lamp. Unfortunately, it's so old-fashioned that it's out of fashion. Unless I wanted to pay many, many $$$$ to have a bespoke shade made for me (they are beautiful and I was very tempted), there were only two ready-made options I could find online, anywhere. The one I could have afforded was the right shape, but looked a little cheap. The other one was outside my price range, but, fortunately, I had a birthday coming up so my mom, bless her, ordered it for me and it's perfect. The right shape, lovely fabric, and dripping with beaded fringe.

One more tick in the "accomplished" column for this year. Yay!


Thursday, May 18, 2017

Gardening 2017

One of the things I promised myself this year was to expand my garden by getting another raised bed. We have really heavy clay on our property so, short of the huge effort of digging organic material into the soil, the easiest way to grow anything is raised beds. For the last couple of years I've grown various things, particularly tomatoes and peppers, in a single 8x4 cedar plank box full of municipal compost.

This year I ordered another box, put it together (inhaling the beautiful scent of cedar as I did) and set it out perpendicular to the first box. My gardening guru, Master Gardener Bob, brought me a pickup load of the most beautiful compost I have ever seen from the Howard County (where he lives) landfill, and twenty trips from the driveway to the back yard with a wheelbarrow later, I had filled the new box, topped up the old box, and filled three new patio planters. I also filled three of the four tires I've had hanging around since the last time we got the tires changed on our car. I've been meaning to plant potatoes in them.

Since we've been travelling so much this year I didn't have the chance to plant seeds indoors this year, so I went to a local garden center and bought most of what I wanted as seedlings.

In the new box, at the front, I have eight tomatoes (four cooking and four eating), four peppers (three bell and one hot), two cucumbers (for eating and pickles), a yellow squash, a basil, and two marigolds.

In the old box, at the back, I have planted four marigolds, a line of sunflowers along the back of the box, and a patch of beets (from seed) in the left half. It was a little late for cabbage so I'll plant those in July for a fall harvest.

I've also branched out in the herb department.

 In addition to my rosemary, thyme, sage, mint and oregano...
I've added lemon verbena, lemon balm, lemon basil, amethyst basil, dill, cilantro (coriander) and chives.
 I've also finally added parsley (in the middle) to my box of sage, rosemary, and thyme.
I felt a little adventurous and bought something entirely new to me - Sweet Woodruff/Sweetscented Bedstraw - just because I liked the smell of it, and because it's supposed to grow well in shade - of which I have a lot. It's supposed to make a nice sweet tea, too.

My favourite new acquisition is this:

The smallest bay tree in the world.

(I may be able to sneak a couple of leaves off this year, but I'm really going to have to wait till next year to start harvesting.)
I love cooking with bay leaves but the dry ones you buy in the grocery store really don't have much flavour, so I've wished I could have my own tree. Voila! Unfortunately they aren't hardy to Zone 7, but, fortunately, they do really well in pots, so when it freezes I'll bring it in and set it by the back door for the winter. It will be a bonsai bay.

Due to unforeseen circumstances I had to fly to California yesterday, the day after I planted everything out, and the weather forecast is for record-breaking heat. Thankfully, my dear friend Reiko has promised to keep an eye on them when she comes to feed the cats while I'm away, so hopefully they'll all be thriving when I get back.

I am so looking forward to having a few months of just being at home!


Sunday, January 22, 2017


This tweet perfectly sums up yesterday for me.
Any introverts (and/or Brits) will understand why this
was so hard for me.

Showing up to a crowd that ended up exceeding half a million people, alone, in a hot pink, knitted, pussy hat.

Only something truly serious could get me out doing something so silly.



I am a well-educated, middle-aged, middle-class, Protestant, white, American citizen who is becoming increasingly aware of my privileged status, at the expense of millions of others.

I am the mother of a twenty-something daughter.

I am the aunt of two brown-skinned girls.

I am the sister-in-law of an immigrant.

I have been an immigrant.

I have benefited from the welfare system.

I have benefited from the education system.

I am a Christian.

Because the new regime is targeting all the most vulnerable members of society and is clearly intent on pillaging the world for their own benefit.

Because of all these things, it is my responsibility to stand up. Even when I'm shaking inside.


Sunday, January 01, 2017

Not New Year's Resolutions

I'm not a very organized or ambitious person, and I tend to meander a bit aimlessly through life, going wherever the current takes me, and mostly I'm OK with this. Life has taken me in some really interesting directions over the years. But I got to the end of 2016 and realized that I didn't have much to show for the year. I certainly went to some amazing places, for which I am grateful, but I didn't feel very stretched as a human being.

Partly this was because of pain, fatigue, and depression, but also, as Evie kindly but firmly pointed out to me, I just make excuses. I'm very good at finding reasons why I need that extra slice of cake, why I can't go outside for a short walk, why I have to sit on the couch and play Skyrim instead of [insert activity here]. There are always lots of things I want to do, but inertia is like the gravitational pull of a very large planet, and I end up mentally kicking myself because I've let another period of time elapse and haven't done the things I want to. And it's not just hard things, or virtuous things, like cutting out sugar, or exercising more, or drinking more water that I fail to do - it's fun stuff like baking and knitting and gardening. Time just slips through my fingers without me noticing.

So, instead of making a New Year's resolution, I've made a list of goals for the year. Not things that I HAVE to do - things that I WANT to do.

And. so I have a bit of accountability, I'm posting them here. One of my goals is to post 12 times in 2017. I haven't even said once a month - I might post 12 times in January (but probably not). Hopefully this will give me the best chance of actually getting them done, since I'll have a structure, but won't be putting so much pressure on myself I chicken out. I'm not going to beat myself up if I don't accomplish everything either - at least I'm making an effort.

So, in no particular order (except that I thought of them in this order) here are the 12 goals I have for 2017.

Wendy’s 12 Goals for 2017

1.     Increase the size of the garden – buy and install another 8x4 raised bed.

2.     Build up my strength so I can walk 5 miles in one go.

3.     Try 12 new recipes – and make 12 favourite recipes.

4.     Repaint one room in the house.

5.     Read 12 of my books on medieval mystics.

6.     Send 12 handwritten letters to 12 friends.

7.     Do one thing I’m afraid of.

8.     Make and attend all necessary medical/dental appointments.

9.     Post on my blog 12 times.

10.  Start and finish one knitting project using a new technique.

11.  Finish one of my half-done projects.

12.  Try out one of the crafts I’m interested in that I’ve never done before. 

Hello 2017.



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