Monday, March 26, 2018


My friend Ania and I made a quick trip to Boston just before they got nailed with a huge snow storm. Great timing on our part!

We wanted to walk some beaches but didn't have much time so decided to visit Deer Island (which hasn't actually been an island since 1938) since it has views of both bay and ocean. It's now a pumping station (i.e.: waste water treatment plant) although its history is pretty grim (internment island, immigrant holding area, prison, etc). They've cleaned it up, repurposed it, and created a nice 2.5 mile walking path around the perimeter.
Pretty view across the bay 
Path and windmill
Beautiful sky
The station has solar panels, two big windmills, one weird windmill, and buildings that are concrete but look like brick and limestone. Nicely done for public works complex and there is no odor other than ocean smells. A very nice walk.
Eco in action
Lunch that day was at Belle Isle Seafood and it couldn't have been better. Cash only, alcohol served on premises, picnic style seating, and counter service. Excellent food. Truly. Had the crab cakes and they were stellar.

Dinner was at Atwoods Tavern. Live music, good atmosphere, yummy fish tacos, lots of craft beer, and absolutely fantastic scotch selection. Great way to spend an evening.

The next day Ania spent the morning in a business meeting and I killed some time drinking coffee, reading, and shopping for fabric (it's a tough life). Found an interesting fabric store called Sewfisticated Discount Fabrics. The online reviews were mixed but since I wasn't looking for anything specific I got to spent some enjoyable time browsing. A lot of variety here and it apparently changes inventory frequently. Lots of wool and blends, linens, home dec, and apparel fabrics (knits, silks, etc). Prices were quite low and I picked up some batik and some lycra-stretch-knit for future projects. I'd say it's worth another stop if I'm ever out that way again. Oh! And they had tanned hides and leather remnants too. Maybe for my new shoe hobby?

That afternoon we found time to run up to Nahant. Beautiful views up there but boy, they sure don't want you there unless you're a resident. Extremely little parking and limited to 30 minutes.
Lunch was a very nice meal at Tides Restaurant. Lobster ravioli in lobster and shrimp Alfredo sauce. Sounds heavy doesn't it? Nope - the filling was a pillowy mixture of lobster mousse, ricotta, and dill. The sauce was surprisingly delicate; not cloying like many Alfredo sauces. Gonna have to figure out how to make this one at home.

So a very pleasant couple days and we managed to get home before the storm hit. Not too shabby.

Sunday, March 25, 2018

Another installment of What the Game Camera Caught!

Jeez this coyote is big. A picture of Cooper in this same spot shows that she could walk under him. Plus he looks wonderfully healthy for a winter that's had deep snow. We haven't seen any evidence of kills but he's sure eating something!
Our resident coyote
We do move the camera around occasionally to see if we can capture critters in other parts of the property. Unfortunately it doesn't work too often - most of our game has pretty set patterns.
Cooper (just because she's cute)
And a non-game camera photo showing how much snow was sliding off the chicken coop. It was definitely a good year to take a winter break from chicken keeping.
So darn much snow

Saturday, March 24, 2018


I made shoes! Or mostly made them - the soling material is still on the way. So I guess, technically, at this point I made slippers. Slippers! That'll be shoes some day!

We looked at many free patterns on the wonderful world of internet but eventually decided to shell out the big bucks for a pattern (I can use all the help I can get when learning something new). Yes, we spent $15 to buy an Oxford shoe pattern from this site: She's got instruction videos and the pdf pattern included very detailed sewing instructions. Bonus - the pattern range included both our shoe sizes.

For my first attempt I figured I'd better use some fabric from my stash. I cut apart an old Tai Kwon Do uniform because it's a nice heavy canvas that had been softened by lots of use and washing, plus it was cool colors. 
Laying out the pattern (wrongly it turned out)
Fortunately I read the instructions before actually cutting anything (that piece on the left is to be cut from interfacing, not your actual fabric).

As is typical the first time you do something, it took forever to cut out and prep all the fabric.
Left shoe parts and partially assembled right shoe
I used a leather punch to cut perfect little circles for the shoelace holes. Then used embroidery floss to  reinforce and highlight the eyelets.
Oooh, coordinating colors
 Cooper helped as usual.
Spare fabric, comfy dog, sewing books. A mess.
Some small adjustments to the fit and I've now got a pattern that I can use to make Chris many pairs of shoes.
The soling material should arrive next week and we'll see how we do with heat molding and attaching soles. So cool!

I see many more of these in our future. I'm working on a pair in quilting cotton for myself (bright yellow and purple!) and the process is much quicker this time around. This pair will probably just have puffy paint on the bottom for light traction in the house. Slippers, shoes, and lots of variety. The fabric is inexpensive (I'm making mine from two fat quarters, which amounts to $2 in fabric), the process is easy, and the possibilities for customization are endless. Leather! Wool! Bright colored cottons! Oh, this is going to be fun. 

Friday, March 23, 2018

US Bathroom update - sink cabinet

Deconstruction of the sideboard progressed quickly (despite the delay in posting about it) though there were an awful lot of swear words involved in taking this thing apart. Chris said it was like someone's extremely skilled Grandfather cut all the pieces and began assembly, passed away, and the Great-Grandkid, who once read a book on furniture construction, decided to put it all together. With as many nails as humanly possible. But Chris got it apart with minimal damage and did the work necessary to put it back together. 
Perfectly fit sink water pipe
Next up was cutting the hole for the sink. Why don't sinks come with full size templates? They very kindly included a page with the hole template but since they didn't bother to depict the entire sink area we had fiddle around to figure out the reveal. I finally just drew the outer dimensions on the same page and cut that out first. Placed it with the desired amount of cabinet showing all around, tacked the corners, and drew in the sink cutout. Then I left while Chris cut through the antique top with the unmatchable layered paint. I just couldn't watch.
Of course he did it perfect. 
The nails in this old cabinet had gone through a lot of weathering. I'm quite sure it got stored in a barn or two along the way. Which means the wood got wet, got dry, swelled and shrank, and had a very tight grip on those rusted bits of metal. So removing them resulted in some tear-outs and many holes (note they had to be removed to retro fit this for the sink and plumbing and whatnot. Plus they were ugly). I decided to try to touch up the bare wood since they were small spots but glaringly obvious against the green/black patina.
Holes and tear-outs left bare wood
Acrylic craft paint in flat green and satin black, dabbed onto the brush as I painted, worked surprisingly well.
Imperfect mixing was the key
Chris got it plumbed and then went to work on figuring out the drawer configuration.
No drips!
The drawers were cool. Dowel joints and grooved bottoms (that Grandpa knew his stuff) were strong and Chris wanted to preserve them despite the fact that we needed to significantly alter the depth of the drawer in order to accommodate the plumbing. To keep the dowel joints front and back but still remove a good 12 inches from the drawer depth he had to take the drawer apart, cut out the center section of the side, rejoin the cut pieces and keep that groove perfectly straight. I just wish we had a picture of that join! This is the best I could do - see a join? Nope, me neither (Chris knows his stuff too).
Fitting it all back together
Curved the back to fit the sink bowl
Just deep enough to be useful
The rest of the cabinet is done and we're using the space (hooray!) while we figure out how to best use that itty-bitty closet area. More pics soon!

Friday, March 2, 2018

The Bunny Backpack

My Great-niece's birthday is in March and it was time to figure out what to give her. Last year I made doll clothes both for her Christmas gift and her birthday gift. Apparently I didn't do a post on the birthday clothes but I found a couple of photos.

Hat and coat
Party dress
Apparently Baby Hannah (the doll, not my GN) loved them and wears them often.

With that positive feedback, that was the plan for this year too. Doll clothes. So off to Pinterest I went to get some ideas. And instead I found an adorable bunny drawstring backpack. No tutorial and not even a good link, so just one picture. It was enough to give me inspiration to create my own version.

I used gray flannel for the outside and a gingham pink flannel for the interior lining.

Figuring out size
How big should the feet be? 
Adding pads - cut from knit and hand-sewn with a blanket stitch 
Feet? check. Tail? check. Time to sew the sides. 
Oh wait! Ears? check.
Cutting grommet holes
Banging in the grommet
The finished bunny bag
I had entirely too much fun making this.