How I Spent My Saturday

I really have to stop reading the Thrifty Decor Chicks blog. Her DIY decorating projects look so fresh and new and even affordable and doable. And it makes everything in my house feel “dated,” I kinda hate that word a lot. I thought I might tackle “updating” this small powder room. I’ve never stripped wallpaper before but, how hard can it be? The Golfer wasn’t keen, relating tales of gouged wallboard, rented steamers and equipment,  bleeding fingernails, yadda, yadda. So he left on a business trip to India for a week.

Heh heh!

I googled “how to strip wallpaper” and watched loads of videos that featured gouged wallboard and renting heavy equipment. Not to mention desperate scraping, scratching and peeling tiny bits of shredded wallpaper with fingernails.  Then I came across SimpleStrip. Buy the kit online. Score the old wallpaper, soak these interfacing-like sheets in solution and stick on the wall. “Dated” wallpaper comes off  with ease. I’m In!

 

Ok, maybe it wasn’t quite that easy…  the wallpaper did come down in big, satisfying pieces but it left the paper backing still on the wall. The SimpleStrip website mentioned this happens with some wallpapers.  Spray the paper residue, wait until it’s saturated and then pull that off. Well darn, I broke the sprayer that came with the kit in the first 15 minutes. I looked in the basement, garage and mud room. There must be at least 13 sprayers in this house.  The Golfer loves sprayers. But they all looked as if they had been used (and possibly never cleaned) for something lethal. So I made do with a couple of old, empty Windex sprayers. Sometimes the paper didn’t come off all in a piece but was easily skimmed off, no fingernails involved. 

 

 

This, however, was a huge frustrating problem. No matter what I tried, I could NOT get the screw out to remove this shelf. The first screw must have taken me half an hour, not counting rounding up every screw driver, electric, battery and manual, in the house. Bad words were said. Those sucker screws are 2 inches long, rusted into some kind of molly bolt thing and the threads are totally stripped. I was willing to sacrifice my manicure (what manicure?) even bleed, but it was No Go, No Way. 

I ripped the wallpaper from around the shelf as much as possible, it would just have to wait to come down. I cleaned up everything and hauled the  big bags of old wallpaper out to the trash. I stood in the bare powder room, pretty pleased with myself, contemplating the new (updated— dare I say Modern?) quilt I intend to make for the space.  Oh, for crying out loud. I missed a strip. Quick work to get rid of that. Now the hard part— picking a color to paint the walls. The Thrifty Decor Chick paints everything a lovely (not dated yet) shade of gray. I love those grays but they won’t work in my very beige house. This is hard. Maybe I’ll make the quilt first. I can select fabric with no problem. 

Withlacoochee Trail

Biking in sunshine. It just doesn’t get better. The Golfer would probably contest that statement but I’ve persuaded him to go for a ride with me.

My plan was to drive to Inverness, rent bikes and ride south on the Withlacoochee Trail. But when I called the bike shop, all the bikes were reserved– not just for the day, but the whole weekend. So I found Trailside Bike Shop in Floral City.  Uh, whaat? The shop specializes in recombent bikes– or trikes, as they’re called. I was amazed at so many different configurations of wheels on frames! I’ve been in lots of bike shops but I’ve never seen anything like these “rides!” It took the owner time to find some two wheeled, “sorta normal” bicycles for us. If it had been earlier in the day, I would have tried out one of those trikes, but they didn’t have half day rentals and it was too expensive for just a few hours.

 

The Withlacoochee Trail is part of the Florida State Park system and many sections of the 46 miles are wide and paved. We rode north from Floral City to Inverness, and back, about 14 miles, round trip.

Florida, like so many states, definitely including Pennsylvania, has reached a sweet spot in Trail development. Trail enthusiasts have worked tirelessly for many years and now are are in the process of connecting shorter trails into longer, even statewide trails. As a charter member of Rails-to-Trails, I am so excited to witness the awesome accomplishments of the master plan coming together.

 

Inverness is a pretty town and the bike trail is clearly a vibrant part of the community. We found a good place for a cold drink. Check out those bikes– I don’t know what to call them! You definitely peddle in a laid back position. Gary’s bike had skinny rode tires, mine were fatter, more like hybrid bike tires. So of course, he flew ahead of me, gloating on how “effortlessly” the bike rode. I’ve been lusting for a new bike, one with a more upright position. This bike would not be in the running. Still, a great day to be out on a bike and exploring a new rail trail.

 

After returning the bikes we drove back to Kissimmee and finished the day with a pint of Smithwicks at the Raglan Road Irish pub. This family of 3 sons played Irish music and did some step dancing as well. I always enjoy the relaxation as much as the bike ride. Florida is such a great state to ride a bike, lots of trails, mostly flat with interesting history and variety, connecting towns with Trailside amenities, not to mention perfect weather.

I hope to come back to Florida next year. My goal is to be located on one of the long bike trails and to bring my own bike. I’m telling The Golfer, no bikes– no clubs. That should do it.

Rain Day

I went to JoAnn’s, bought more interfacing, fused it to my fabric and I’m back in business. I think the rain will last long enough to finish my little zipper bag. 

 

It’s been quite a while since I put in a zipper. I didn’t do a perfect job but I don’t think it will matter after the pieces are trimmed up. 

 

I got the hang of it by the third zipper. Along with the help of an excellent online tutorial. The directions that come with the pattern have very few illustrations and are confusing. 

 

I wanted the outsides of each of the three pockets to be different green fabrics and the interiors to be turquoise. Got that wrong. Oh well. 

 

In addition to the three zippered pockets, you could use the four other divisions to organize your stuff as well. I think many quilters and sewists (I feel so modern using that word!) make the bag to carry their needlework supplies. 

I want to organize my travel items and replace three pouches with one bag. 

 

How cute is this! Isn’t it the perfect bag to “squirrel away” my stuff! I know, I know …but I just couldn’t resist! On a side note, I intended to make the bag for my Quilt Bee Christmas exchange gift but I got sick and couldn’t attend the lunch. So now it’s mine!

Ok, the sun can come back out now. 

No Mouse

Here is a thing I love about Florida. The state has preserved and continues to maintain the historical and natural areas within the excellent State Park system.  Even though the Army Corp of Engineers had its way with “draining the swamp” and controlling water flow in the early 1900’s, it’s possible to get a feel for the old Florida— pre Mouse.

We are situated in Kissimmee, the heart of Disney development, congestion and commercial extravaganza, but you wouldn’t know it, kayaking on the serene Shingle Creek.  

Shingle Creek, headwaters to the Everglades, flows for 23 miles, beginning near Orlando. Just after the Civil War, the Steffee family and other pioneers established a community here. Shingle Creek was named for the cypress shingles, hand split, milled and shipped to Kissimmee. The cabin was built in 1890 and probably used for recreation.  The family recorded that “there were so many deer, turkeys and smaller game for the table.  Panthers, bears and wolves were plentiful in the swamps.”

 

 

 

I don’t think we will see a panther but the ranger told us to look for an alligator just before the picnic area. 

 

I spotted her, sunning herself on the bank.

I paddled too close and she immediately whipped around to face me. And I did a fast backpaddle! The ranger told us that if a female alligator feels her babies are threatened, she will swim in the opposite direction to decoy danger away from her clutch. 

 

Just beyond these crossed trees we entered an old growth cypress swamp.

The river narrowed and the birdlife increased. I need to brush up on bird identification but I think this is an ibis. We also saw anhingas, osprey, and herons.

Yellow belly turtles don’t mind if you get really close.

I’ve never seen a stop sign on a water trail before. Time to turn around.

On the way back, mama gator was on high alert. We passed a group of kayakers and pointed her out to them. Their naturalist guide said that alligators are the only reptiles that care for their young. And that they are good mothers. She said to look for the yellow stripes to see the babies hiding in the brush along the bank. I looked as hard as I could, but I couldn’t find them.

Years ago, when we had small children, we paid a few visits to Disney attractions. How this area has changed with mind blowing development! I really wonder if anyone has statistics on how many days you could go to a different Disney theme park in this area — not counting other brands — without repeating yourself. Months? Also, what would it cost? Thousands!

I’ve had a wonderful day, connecting with nature, enjoying the outdoors, contemplating how folks used to live. I’ve happily relinquished all things Disney to my daughter Caitlin who lives in Santa Monica, and with two little boys, has a PhD in theme parks. No Mouse for Gary and I. Today it was hard to remember that there is crazy traffic along Florida I 4. I just drifted along the river, peacefully dipping an occasional paddle.

Happy Valentine’s Day

I found these two half-zip jackets on the sale rack just after Christmas and knew they would be perfect for Valentine’s Day. I cut some hearts from fabric scraps, ironed on Wonder Under and fused them to the jacket— taking care not to touch the iron to the fuzzy fabric! Then I zigzag stitched around the hearts. A quick embellishment I think my granddaughters will like.

I’ve been sewing here in Florida too. Yesterday was chilly and rainy, a perfect day to sew this bag. Ironically I bought the pattern two years ago on a bike ride on the Orange County Trail through Winter Garden. What goes around, right!

I love this Tula Pink fabric. I want those squirrels centered on both sides of the bag. Lucky for me, the pattern repeat is perfect.

I seamed the fabric so that the squirrels would be upright on either side, then centered the design and ironed it down.

A curved quilting line was all that was needed and then I trimmed to size.

The hardest part of sewing this pattern is deciding which fabric you want for each section. It really doesn’t matter though because all the fabrics work together. I tried to match my zipper color to the 3 inside pockets.

Ratz! Clearly I didn’t bring enough interfacing. I don’t think it is that critical so I patched every tiny bit I had on the last section and I’m just gonna “make it work.”

Nooooo! Something is wrong—all the pieces should be the same length. Arrrgh. Miscut! I have plenty of fabric but zero interfacing. I saw a JoAnn’s somewhere in a shopping area around here. A quick Google search reveals too far to walk. The Golfer took the car and won’t be back for hours. Does JoAnn’s deliver? Hah—even if they did— 1 quarter yard interfacing, 79 cents, delivery charge, $10 plus tip, maybe. Could I take an Uber? I guess not, for a quarter yard of interfacing …

I do have another project. But I was on such a good roll! And heck, it’s close enough to wine time anyway.

Relaxing

I have been looking forward to a daily walk. I just have so much trouble getting motivated in Pennsylvania when it’s cold and gray in winter. I admit it, I’m a fair weather walker and I’m totally enjoying my sunny, warm morning stroll.

Now this is what I’m talking about! I have either a 9 or 18 hole window of time to sew while The Golfer is out.

How about doing some laps in the heated pool? Vacation calories add up fast!

The screened porch is a lovely reading spot and I devoured this book. Maybe not the best written literature but the interwoven story of two women, one in present time and the other living in the 1880’s, was enjoyable. For me, the best part of the book was the setting. I’ve always wanted to know about the catastrophic Johnstown, Pennsylvania flood.

In 1889, after several days of heavy rainfall, the earthen damn failed, releasing water in the lake 14 miles above Johnstown and flooding the valley below. The water surge took less than 30 minutes to rush down the mountain and drain the lake. Over 2000 people lost their lives. The details and history fascinate me and the book has old photographs of the lake resort and downstream towns, both before and after the flood. Unbelievable.

When spring returns to the Allegheny Mountains, I want to visit Johnstown and learn all about this historical tragedy.

St. Augustine

This is where I should have started exploring St. Augustine, Florida. I didn’t know there is a lighthouse! This lovely old city has always been on my list of destinations. Quite by serendipity Gary and I decided to swing by on our drive to central Florida. There is never enough time to see it all and now I am planning to come back and climb those stairs and spend some time in the museum some day. From the looks of the mansion house, as far as lighthouse keeper posts go, St. Augustine Beach surely must have been a primo, cushy assignment.

We did get to tour the fort, Castillo de San Marcos. Those cannons could fire a shot and accurately hit a target three miles distant.


The fort and city changed country flags so often that I lost track of the history timeline. These soldiers might be Huguenots, they seemed to have a big presence, snappy uniforms for sure.

British redcoats occupied the fort as well. Two officers to a bunk.

St. Augustine is home to Flagler College, the former magnificent Ponce de Leon Hotel and the very height of luxury in the 1890’s.

I wish I could transport back in time and admire the Tiffany stained glass windows in the grand dining hall. Every pane is encased in thick bulletproof glass now.

I didn’t have enough time in St. Augustine but was happy to have a quick overview. The Golfer is anxious to swing the clubs and there are kayaks to paddle and bikes to ride and porches to relax on and hopefully more serendipity in store.

Half Good

I can’t resist showing this picture of my daughter’s new French bulldog puppy. Max is so cute and cuddly and a feisty little guy. Bella was not enthusiastic about having an addition to the family but Kira says she’s more tolerant now.

I’ve been pretty chatty on the blog this week. Not that many readers received the posts because they still aren’t being delivered by email. Apparently Blogger and other aggregate platforms are working and the blog posts are on my website, TerryKramzar.com. One thing fixed– I now get Comments delivered to my email so that I can answer individually. Whoop! Whoop! The gremlins are holding tight to the blog posts but Holly Knott has got’em on the run.

Hence the title “Half Good.” Blog repair status — not the little dogs! If you receive a post in your inbox, please let me know. I’m seriously ready for “All Good.”

Deep

We are deep in the Polar Vortex here in Pennsylvania. Alexa just told me the temperature is 6 and the high today will be 17. That probably sounds balmy to folks in the Midwest who are experiencing subzero temperatures. When I backpacked through the Smokey Mountains, one night the temperature dropped to 17 degrees. I was actually toasty in my big down sleeping bag. Crawling out of that cocoon in the morning was an eye opening, teeth chattering experience tho.

After my quilting and sewing marathon of the past few weeks, it’s time for a deep clean in my studio. I use a wire basket system to store my fabric when it’s not in piles and drifts all over the place. Watching the Netflix series, “Tidying Up” with Marie Kondo, I got inspired.

I didn’t think this rolled and folded “stand’em up” method would work for fabric like it does for socks, but wow! So much better! I can pull out the drawer and see at a glance every fabric in there.

I used to just stack the fabric in random piles by color and then root through the layers, making a mess trying to find the one piece I wanted.

I’d be jumping up and down doing a Snoopy dance of Joy if it wasn’t for the realization that I’ve Konmaried the two easy drawers– and have 25 to go. Well, while the enthusiasm lasts, it will be good!

If you are staying warm inside and need a good read, I loved this book. It reminded me of reading “The Light Between Oceans,” another book I enjoyed. Both stories involve lighthouse keepers but the setting in “The Light-Keepers Daughters,” is an island in Lake Superior, near the coast of Canada. Many years ago, (many…) Gary and I canoed through the wilderness waters of Quetico Provincial Park in Ontario, Canada, very near the tiny island in the book. I do have a fascination with lighthouses and it was interesting to read about the shipping lanes in Lake Superior. Lighthouse keepers there got a reprieve in winter months because the lake froze solid.

Keep warm!

Delivered

I challenged myself to create four new quilts and five, mini framed pieces for the Malvern Retreat Art Show. Everything had to be delivered yesterday morning. I finished the last quilt, Jacks, at 10 pm the night before. Whew! Just made it by the skin of my teeth!

I have a love affair going with Jack-in-the-Pulpit wild flowers that almost rivals my attraction to Trilliums. Jacks emerge in wet areas of the forest early in Spring when very little else is ready to brave the cool temperatures. Gotta love them for courage alone!

Then there’s the variation. I’ve seen tiny Jack-in-the-Pulpits, only an inch or two tall, and so lightly green they’re actually transparent. I wonder if I could use a sparkly sheer organza to capture their magic in fabric? The darker Jacks, sometimes called Black Jacks, range in color from deep greens and blues all the way to gorgeous purple stripes.

I wanted to create the look of a dark forest floor for the background of my quilt. All the fabric edges are raw and I stitch them down with glittery metallic threads and lots of variegated colored threads. In an upcoming post, I’ll show how I construct this “palette” for the appliquéd flowers.

My quilt “Jacks” is finished and delivered! I didn’t have enough time with this quilt before it left the studio and I actually won’t mind if it doesn’t find a buyer. I have to say, I’m longing to see Jacks growing in the woods but I’m ok with not making them in fabric for a while. It will take until Spring just to fold and put away the green and brown fabric I have thrown about and piled all over every single surface in my sewing room.

If you are anywhere near Malvern, Pennsylvania, come and see the Art Show at Malvern Retreat House. It’s a wonderful show that supports a good cause. And if you happen to love Jack-in-the-Pulpit wild flowers (or maybe Trilliums, Snowdrops and Ladyslippers!) You can enjoy a Spring preview.

Workin’ On It

I have been working in my studio like a crazy woman. But sewing and quilting hasn’t kept me from blogging. No. It’s been the gremlins. I received such an encouraging response to my question, should I continue with my blog, that I immediately followed up with a second post. But hardly anyone received it. Including me! I signed myself up to receive my blog by email so that I could make sure it was sent. Well, the gremlins got in there and published the blog entry on my website but failed to deliver to readers receiving by email. Wretched creatures, gremlins. Can you hear them snickering?

So I am trying to get this sorted out and it’s aggravating beyond belief and not easy. I had to bake (and eat too many) oatmeal scotchie cookies just to deal with the stress. Gary helped. Eat cookies, that is. If I didn’t have wonderful Holly Knott, website creator and technology wizard working with me, I’d be thumping around hunting for gremlins with a flashlight and gunny sack.

I have confirmed that the list of readers signed up by email is still valid. So this is a test post to see what happens. Hopefully those gremlins have crawled back into their dark lairs. I want to show the Jack-in-the-pulpit quilt I hope to finish tomorrow. And the lady slippers and snow drops and lots of other projects. Seriously, I can’t eat any more cookies.

Thank You!

Wow. It’s hard to write when you’re speechless! Thank you all so very much for your encouragement and kind words. Your comments have sparked my enthusiasm. I will continue to blog with this format. My Mom’s comment wrapped it up, “the yeses have spoken.”

I walked around Longwood Gardens yesterday and the Christmas display is up until January 6. How cool is this birdhouse tree! There are two evergreen trees on either side with treats for birds (and marauding squirrels) that Longwood volunteers replenish daily. So the whole scene is a-twitter with feeding wildlife.

At night the birdhouses are illuminated. Hands down, my favorite Christmas tree at Longwood this year.

There are over 200 birdhouses that will be donated when the tree is dismantled. Do you think they would miss one? I confess… I might have carried out the occasional fallen bloom or interesting leaf over the years. It would be very wrong to jack a birdhouse, I know! But I want one of those big owl houses at the bottom.

My daughter Kira has been waging war. Voles. These voracious tiny beasts devour the roots of every plant on the property. She has tried all kinds of things to eradicate the rodents to no avail. She recently put up this owl house to entice residents to belly up to the vole smorgasbord. Free food! Luxury accommodations! Sadly, so far, no takers. Owls are quite picky about their real estate. She targeted a specific owl (on the vole diet plan) but she thinks she may not have gotten the house high enough. For this mom, that ladder is waaay high enough- gulp. I’m really hoping some owls move in this Spring.

Please note, I really enjoy your comments. They make my day! I was so excited to see names I have been missing and new names I’m not acquainted with yet. For some deeply aggravating reason, WordPress will no longer send the blog comments to my email. So until I get this resolved I will answer from the blog. I appreciate your reading and I’m excited to reconnect with y’all and to share my ramblings. Thank you!

Staging a Comeback

I have not written a blog post since June 2018. I really wondered if I wanted to continue with the blog. Many bloggers have moved to Facebook or Instagram. I hate Facebook, I considered Instagram. I miss writing. I miss connecting with readers through their comments. So I’m thinking about reviving the blog. Will I have any readers or have you all moved on to other social media platforms? I love to share quilt related projects, books I’m reading, wandering and exploring or Longwood Gardens rambles. I’m always very contemplative at the start of a new year. What will the next 12 months be like? So please tell me. Do you still enjoy reading blogs? Should I continue my blog in 2019?

Happy New Year to everyone. I hope there will be good health, meaningful work and satisfying relaxation, bountiful days of enjoying family and friends and some amazing surprises to highlight your journey this year.

From “de Muck” to Diagon Alley

Do y’all know about this? I stumbled across the PBS television series on my iPad. I really don’t watch shows on my “devices” but I was on the couch…. so I pushed the button…. and wow, I was entranced. The series aired on PBS stations in eight parts but now you can stream the whole thing at once. If you love books you won’t be able to stop watching this documentary that “explores and celebrates the power of reading, told through the prism of America’s best loved novels.” Each segment features celebrities, authors and book lovers across the country telling how, we as readers, are affected by these stories.

Check it out, find the 100 Book List and watch the show here:

https://www.pbs.org/the-great-american-read/home/

Andra gave me a stack of books to read while recovering from the ankle break. This book was on the list! I’ve never heard of the book and it’s good to be motivated to read outside of your comfort authors sometimes. “Their Eyes Were Watching God” was written in 1936 and is the story of Janie, a black woman who strives to find her own place in life. The setting is the Everglades, referred to as the Muck, because the whole southern tip of Florida was a muddy, fertile swamp. The heart of the book is a love story between Janie and her third husband, but many view the book as a feminist novel and regard it as a masterpiece. Hard to read at times because Zora Hurston wrote the speaking between characters in idiomatic dialogue, I was challenged by the writing but engaged in Janie’s struggle and triumph and enjoyed the book. Check mark on The List!

Next up, something completely different. I’ve always said I’d read the Harry Potter series… some day. There are three books on the shelf left from my children’s collection. This is also out of my usual reading genre and I haven’t seen any of the movies. I’m on chapter six and still interested to discover why adults read the books for themselves. While I’m silently reading, the voice inside my head is reading aloud to my grandchildren. I’m also thinking about what I’m going to read next as a reward for checking two books off the list! I still have Kate Burkholder mysteries to fall back on for some porch reading recreation.

Isn’t summer reading the best. Just a warning– if you do check out The Great American Read, and I really hope you will– and tell me what you’re reading — be cautious in joining the FaceBook page. Book lovers are crazy committed posters and it’s easy to get sucked into the vortex. Someone will ask for suggestions on a good novel set in Africa, for example. Seriously, 300 people will answer with their favorite and exactly what makes the choice so great. It’s intoxicating and I have scraps of paper all over the place with list upon list and I’ve worn out my pencil. Sigh. Never enough hours in the day or days in summer on the porch.

Six Weeks

Yeaaaaa! Six weeks to the day, after fracturing my right ankle, I got in my car and did a test drive around the cul du sac to make sure I could brake and operate the vehicle safely. I got the green light from the doctor on Friday to re-enter the world beyond the couch. Over the moon delirious happiness!

My “maiden voyage” was a trip out to Lancaster County of course. Quilt shops! Serious fabric shopping! Well, my friend Christine really did most of the driving. She needed to take her sewing machine to Hinkletown for servicing, but the real excitement of the trip was to meet our West Coast friend, Sujata, who was in New Holland visiting relatives.

What a fun little cafe! That’s the owner in front of Lickity Split where delicious sandwiches and ice cream are on the menu. Also, Dill Pickle Soup. What? Yeah, that sounds kinda weird… was it ever good! It’s like a creamy potato soup with bits of dill pickles. The nice staff didn’t mind that we occupied the table darn near the entire day. So much to catch up on! Quilt Show and Tell, world travels mixed in with kids and grand kids — Sujata will be a new grandmom very soon. We spent all our time reconnecting and enjoying each other’s company. We didn’t have time for fabric shopping.

Not a problem at all, I’ll be back soon for a serious F.A.R.T. — Fabric Acquisition Road Trip. Christine and I did score some gorgeous strawberries and fresh asparagus. I was thinking champagne would be nice to celebrate getting back on two legs but a strawberry milkshake…..that’ll work!