Homemade Fire Starters

I love the chill of winter. The scent of snow and chimney smoke make me swoon. No matter my hurry, a crackling fire shifts me to pause if only briefly. I repurpose simple household items to make these useful goodies.

Fire Starters
paper egg cartons

dryer lint
cotton kitchen twine
bees wax or leftover candle bits

Place the wax/candles in an old can or jar with a wide mouth and place in a saucepan with water filled so it comes about halfway up the jar. Place over low to medium heat, to indirectly melt the wax. Meanwhile. cut the top off the egg carton, and then cut the egg cups apart. Tightly pack lint into each cup, leaving a bit of headroom, so you can close the tops, but folding the corners in. Tie into a bundle using kitchen twine, allow for a fairly long wick, so you can use it to dip the cup into the wax. Once the wax is liquid, dip each cup into it, allow it to be fully immersed. I use disposable chop sticks or skewers to shimmy the cup, to make sure it is fully covered. Lay on wax or kitchen paper to cool. Once cool, trim wick and you are ready to go!

the wax is used to keep the starters waterproof…which is great for campers and hunters. if you will be using the firestarter in your home, you may not want to add this step. i always do, because i love the smell of beeswax
if you really jam pack these with lint, they will burn for 10 minutes or so and smolder for quite some time as well. i find it enough time to get the kindle lit and the logs on their way

Pockets Full Of Gold

I‘m fresh from a long hot bath irresponsibly hot, irresponsibly long. Washing the day’s dust and doubt. You see, today Mike and I inked the deal. The Deal. The deal that moves us from the cloud side of the rainbow to the pot of gold. 1988. The year I graduated college. Freshly minted diploma in hand and the world at my feet. This same year I was certain a 100 year old farmhouse on 10 acres in small town Montana, found in the classifieds, was my perfect next step. You may have guessed; instead of the house on the range, I moved back home and picked up a dumpy rental with friends. I started my professional journey; a fabulous time with great stories, interesting triumphs, love. Mike and I have been talking about a different life since the day we met. The type of life imagined
as a fresh faced grad. These many years later, it is happening. Rather than a two story farmhouse, in a corner of Montana; we are closing on, a doll of a house, perched on a hilltop, presiding over 60 acres and a trio of yaks.
Today we walked the land with the seller. We crossed from one end to the next, down a sloping trail walked by natives, missionaries, herds of cattle, wild pigs, landowners, trail horses, and now us. Mike and I both agree we should make this walk daily; filling our boots with dust, our lungs with fresh breath, and our proverbial pockets with gold.

Shamrock Vase

This is a simple little craft using bottles, glue & baker’s twine
(about 50 yards per bottle)

Paint a bit of glue on a clean bottle and wind green baker’s twine

until you can’t go around any more

I mostly did mine in one layer, pushing the twine together to eliminate gaps. I added a bit of felt for a touch of whimsy and to make it st. paddy’s day-ish.

Cake Decorating Birthday Party

Yesterday was my niece’s 7th birthday. We threw a cake decorating party. She was very specific about the cake. White, one layer, vanilla frosting with rainbows, sprinkles and chef hats. There was also a request for the cakes the kids would decorate. Hot pink fondant and lots of candy. I aim to please.

Halloween Costumes 2011

Yes I know. Halloween is in the past and we have moved rapidly on to the next big holiday. Never-the-less, I want to share something. I am not a seamstress; although there was that one quarter of sewing in jr. high school where we made pillows and wrap skirts. Really, I don’t even know how to sew legitimately, but I do it anyway. I act unafraid and I improvise. I’m sharing with you, so you understand it is possible with little or no training, combined with a bit of creative thinking, anyone can make these costumes.

For the Child Catcher Coat
I used simplicity pattern 5386–closed the back and didn’t add the collar or cuffs. I cut the sleeve pattern as prescribed, then pinned parchment paper to it, and fashioned it around my arm to the desired shape…and cut the parchment to match. Opened it up..and had a new sleeve pattern. All of the colors and patterns, are added on top of the the original coat giving it heft. I made this in one afternoon. The glove is a black glove with a piece of oasis duck-taped on it. the lollipops are simply stuck and hot glued.
For the Planet of The Apes Costume
I used butterick pattern b4574–instead of an open collar for the shirt. I kept it closed and added a rolled collar, and hemmed the shirt cuff rather than adding elastic. From the same pattern, I was able to make the vest–eliminating the cap sleeves and shortening it to hit at the hip. The vest is made of pleather. I was able to make the ridges by taking strips of the pleather hot-gluing 1/4″ cording down the center, then sewing the strips onto the vest. The ammo belt is also pleather, with a covering of fishnet.

I know this all seems rather simplified…but it is to make a point. It ,em>is rather simple. Sewing is all about the preparation. Much like carpentry, measure twice and cut once. Prepare your materials, pay attention to the directions and don’t sweat it. I doubt anyone will criticize your costume while you are handing them candy.
I hope you had a great Halloween and aren’t freaked by the notion that Christmas is only 52 days away.

Halloween Wreaths

Guess who is getting Halloween happy. The mantle is nearly complete. Costumes are in full planning stage. And, the kitchen is awash in frightful projects. All that is excited, but for me, no holiday is official
until the wreaths are up. This year I went simple by starting with wreaths already aflutter in feathers. I just added a little bling.

Strawberry Harvest

This evening I worked my way through our strawberry patch delicately cupping clusters of sun warmed crimson fruit. Hunched like a greedy troll while on tip-toe, I may have looked like a mountain dancer. While in reality I was minding the space underfoot, careful not to crush those berries not yet at perfect pitch. Last year we planted 4 varieties of strawberry; two June bearing chandler and sequoia, one everbearing quinalt, and finally a variety we brought back from Italy alpine. The berries grow different sizes, at different rates, each with its own flavor profile. They are equally sweet, very sweet, with strawberry flavor that saturates your tongue. Our first harvest is strictly for eating one by one until our bellies are full and our lips rosy red. I’ll let you know if there are any left for sharing.

Vintage Suitcase Dog Bed

I don’t speak French, which is why it is slightly insane that I subscribe to French magazines. Aside from the few French words incorporated into the English language, I have not a clue if the prose is inspired or insipid. However, the photos
and creativity never fail to turn this punctual taskmaster into a daring daydreamer. A recent issue of Marie Claire Idees showed a small dog perched in a darling white-washed bed, fashioned from an old valise. At a romp through an overstuffed antique store I found this

With a bit of fabric, little ingenuity and sackful of patience (i am a horrible seamstress). We now have our own darling version.

the little girl in the bed is Dharma.

How I Celebrate

Today is my birthday. Kind of a big one, but not a milestone. If I live a nice long healthy life; today is the day I hit mid-life. Not too long ago, I heard someone say mid-life is not for a crisis but for readjustment. I like the idea. Look back
see what worked well, what didn’t, and maneuver the next half of my life applying what I’ve learned. This year in celebration Mike and I slipped away. We are spending a few days on a sheep farm. Lambing is in full swing. Today the bleat of new babies is the only song I wish to hear.

The Newly Born

Mike and his new BFF

New Year, New Reflection 2011

As I bask in the glory of this year a new and begin to reflect
with the muddled mind of late evening revelry and early morning rise

This day brings an opportunity to reset my course, confirm those gathered goods, and decide the next step of this fabulous journey called life

With you, I share three truths which will satellite my year

-I will not judge in disappointment, as I am confident I too fall short of expectations others place on me
-Rather than toss the years of the past I will carry them forward both as fond memories and retrospective caution
and finally,
– I will eat more fruit starting with this lemon meringue cake

1 2 3 4