Sunday, October 18, 2009

Home Projects Galore!

The weather is cool and inspiring here right now so we have been busy bees doing our respective projects. Since I covered Paul's major project last time, I am only including one picture here of him working on the same project. Now he is sanding and painting, hoping to complete this weekend.
I have been doing field work the last two weeks in Kinston, NC. So I stopped by my favorite antique store: Some Like it Old. I bought the cute blue table, coffee pot and oil lamp shown below.

And also the table behind the couch here..

And a piano bench and lamp. The deals were too good to pass up.
But yesterday, we had the most unique, impulsive experience. A furniture distributor showed up on our street with his 18 wheeler, selling boxed furniture right out of his truck. They had cabinets, coffee tables, dressers, couches and these beautiful grandfather clocks which excited me very much (I love clocks and old pocket watches). Well, we bought one, and I didn't even have to plead with Paul too much. The guy brought it in, got it started and gave us some operating instructions and we were proud new clock owners in about 15 minutes from start to finish.

Another exciting thing that has happened is that I finally finished the bedroom curtains. I have been working on them each weekend, doing only one curtain each week, and only portions at a time. For example, I did the side seems on one curtain each week until that was finished. Then I added the heading tape (which I had to buy online from England because I couldn't find it here) to one curtain each week. And lastly, I hand sewed the hems, one curtain each week. Finally a few months later, they are done!

Yesterday, I started painting the basic outline of my tree design on the dining room ceiling. I have been designing and contemplating this for a long time, and with the curtains finished upstairs, it was time to get started. I had drawn out the basic forms on graph paper to the scale of the ceiling and so it was pretty easy to get everything sketched on (last weekend) and then painted. I decided to do a rough outline in dark brown first, and then next available weekend I will do a blue wash of the sky with clouds. I'm hoping the brown trees will show through so then I can pick back up with the trees once the background is in. I didn't think it would work to do the sky and then try to sketch the trees over the paint.

Yesterday, after painting, I went to pick up a bushel of apples from a lady I know through church. She had taken orders from anyone that wanted some and was taking a trip up to an apple orchard to bring back everyone's apples (out of the kindness of her heart). So, being that this would be a big event, I also borrowed Shauna's steamer again and apple peeler/slicer/corer. Paul helped me with the peeler contraption and together we canned 14 quarts of apple slices for apple pie. The blueberry pies have turned out so well from our spring blueberry-picking extravaganza, we decided to give the apples a shot.
Earlier yesterday I put all the jars and lids in the dishwasher. Once I brought home the apples, Paul peeled, cored and sliced.
Then I had to blanch the apples for 3 minutes, one batch at a time, in hot sugar water to stop discoloration and preserve flavor.

The next step was to pour the water used for blanching into the jars.

Then, the lids that had been simmering in water had to be placed on the jars with the rings tightened finger tight. 7 quarts at a time were placed in the steamer and steamed for 20 minutes. The jars were removed and the rings were tightened all the way. Lastly, the jars were flipped upside-down on a towel, as per Marie's secret advice. She says this is the trick to making sure that none "pop" overnight (or become unsealed).

The last project that has been ongoing for a few weeks, is I'm spinning my very first 5-ply yarn. The yarn is a blend I've created on my drum carder from Merino wool, opossum down, yak down and soy silk. Each batch I've blended on the carder consists of 3 grams of the Merino/opossum blend, 1 gram of soy silk and 2 grams of yak down. I bought all of these from The Woolery online. I've spun a very fine yarn and wound onto 5 toilet paper rolls. I learned from my online research that to keep the yarn strands separate you need to use a template with 5 holes or a spice jar lid with the holes. I was excited about this because who doesn't have one of those in their kitchen? So, I have mine placed between my fingers on the right below (you can't really see it), and I'm gradually spinning the strands together while keeping a firm grip on the strands to keep them from tangling.

A few weeks ago I had fun time volunteering with Habitat for Humanity in Charlotte. My company was provided half the labor of volunteers and a local bank was providing the rest of the volunteers.
I was assigned to help with the roofing crew- very scary. The floor of the roof wasn't up yet, just the trusses. So my job was to partner with Joe to put the plywood flooring onto the trusses.
Joe was a banker and so none too experienced in roofing either. So we had some good laughs.
Actually, I was the only one from my company that was able to make it that day so everyone except me was a banker. But once Joe and I got the first row of the roof down, the rest was much more comfortable. The rest of the day was just swinging a hammer to get the rest of the kajillion nails in. I was moaning and groaning all the next day since I hadn't been this sore since I ran a half marathon in 1998ish.

Here I am above, and here is the house we were working on. The future home-owner was also there working on the house.
Oh my goodness, I forgot about these pictures. Well, this is one of our new dinner combos: Yorkshire Pudding by Paul and Zucchini cakes with tomato sauce by Yours Truly, compliments of the internet for the recipe. I had some zucchinis that weren't going to last long and Paul was wanting some Yorkshires something fierce, so we comboed the two into a surprisingly tasty dinner! As I've been blogging for a fair bit of time, I'm not going to post the recipe now, but I'll try to remember for next time.

An embroidery project that I'm working on for Darla. I'm making a sweatshirt with cheerleaders and football players for her dad for Christmas and this was a practice run of a few of the characters to figure out where the problems might be. I'm learning heaps on this project!