Monday, February 15, 2010

Lucky Me!

The kitties aren't the only ones to get wonderful surprise gifts in the mail! Last Tuesday I came home from work (as yet another snowstorm was starting) to find a mystery box on my front steps. The address was from nearby, but i didn't recognize it. I opened the big box and inside was an attractive kraft paper box from Valley Green Naturals. Hmm, i didn't recognize that name either. Food? Plants? Organic cat treats?

No, it was full of wonderful spa products, for me: bath and shower wash, organic soap and honey facial therapy mask (made with honey right from the Valley Green farm), sugar scrub with a scoop and washcloth, and bath and body oil.
There was a sweet note inside saying "Please enjoy a "Spa Day" on us!" and it was from Danica, Britta, Virginia, Trine and Tom--all of the wonderful cat parents who had gone in on the lovely "hairy blankie" that the kitties received the week before. Wow! And perfect timing, too, since i spent an hour or so the next day shovelling more snow and really enjoyed taking a warm soaking bath afterwards.

On Wednesday and Thursday, i was actually able to stay home because work finally joined the rest of the federal government in Washington in closing due to all the snow. However, mail service continued here, and my great letter carrier left a box on my porch on Thursday (so glad i had shovelled off the steps and the front path!). This was from an address that i recognized, my friend Karen from Sew and Sow Life. I read the enclosed note and knew that there was catnip inside for the cats, so i hurried off to get my camera in order to record their response. While i was in the other room, i heard a thump, and came back in the kitchen to find the box on the floor and Fuzzy halway into the box, searching out the catnip!
The catnip was in individual sachets in Valentine colors, each stamped with their initials so the kitties (or the mom) would know whose was whose.Here's a very sleepy Louie sniffing his:

And for me there was one of Karen's beautiful pillows (gorgeous colorful floral cotton squaress sewn into a bigger square and then appliqued to an elegant linen backgroud)and a handsome pouch full of balsam needles from their place in Vermont, smelling wonderfully of the deep woods. Lucky me!

Monday, February 8, 2010

Digging Out

Here's Trucklette, my faithful Subaru Forester, almost completely buried in snow as the digging out process began yesterday (Sunday).

The little engine that could...sort of. This is the "driver's" view of my snow blower, with the length of the driveway stretching ahead of it. You can see that the snow is higher than the cowling on the augur...with heavy, wet snow, this was disastrous. I kept bogging down every few inches on the way out of the shed and up the backyard, with the snow forming a solid plug in the discharge shoot...finally gave up and shovelled by hand. Then i started the driveway, and for a bit it went o.k., then when i got to the lower end of the driveway the snow was wetter and the clogging started again. Fortunately for me, my next door neighbor had a BIG snowblower (it turns out it's his wife's grandmother's) and did his driveway, his across the street neighbor's driveway, and was starting on his next door neighbor's when i walked down there to see what kind of snowblower he had...and to ask for his help. He did the rest of my driveway in about 15 minutes!
After he finished, i went over to his house to at least give him some gas money...i had barely put my hand in my pocket when both he and his wife said simultaneously "no you don't!" They said i was a good neighbor and would do anything to help them if they needed it (of course) and it was Sunday...hadn't had a chance to go to church so was doing this instead. Great neighbors!

Their daughter was messing around, throwing snowballs at her father, so he picked her up and dumped her in a big drift. She did it again, he picked her up and tossed her in another was very funny, and reminded me of my father tossing my sister and me into the waters of Lake George when we were little kids. Here's Allie peering out of the second snow drift she got tossed into.

"All" that remained was to clear the corral of snow out from around Trucklette and shovel off her cap...left that task for today.
I also cleared a path from the shed to the bird feeder...discovered the snow in that part of the yard was much deeper...up above my knees! I didn't have my camera with me but took this picture with my phone of the interesting patterns in the snow near the feeder...lots of pairs of bird foot prints...and interesting sharp sweeps that i think are from the doves taking off from the ground.
We have another storm warning for tomorrow...another 8 to 14 inches of snow due between tomorrow afternoon and Wednesday afternoon. Yikes!

How to Spend a Snowy Day

Perch on top of the magazines in the sewing room while taking a bath...and supervising Mom working at the ironing board.
Make a new nest (Gingy on top of the banker's box full of pillowcase kits.
Spend quality time with friends (I'm telecommuting, Louie is on my lap and Sylvie is up on the desk, giving Louie a bath).
Try to mail yourself to where there's some warmer weather...Gingy on top of a Priority Mail box that she has turned into one of her favorite places to nap.

Quilting Projects

I'm going to be doing a demonstration and workshop for my quilt group on Tuesday night about Prairie Points and realized i really need a project to show what they look like. You see, i've never made a quilt with Prairie Points! I've only figured out how to make them *g*. I started a quilt in June at the Vermont Quilt Festival (VQF) that i plan to finish with Prairie Points (i posted pictures of the work in process here) but despite a good start, it's still not done. So i needed something else. What to do? I remembered some blocks that i started in a workshop at VQF quite a few years ago, and thought i could finish one as a mini seems unlikely i'll ever finish the quilt that they were supposed to be part of, especially since i've misplaced the directions for the project!

Prairie Points are triangles of fabric that are folded (several different ways to fold) and traditionally applied to the edge of a quilt instead of a regular binding. Here's the 13" square (from brushed cottons), quilted like a mini-quilt, with Prairies Points sewn down on three edges and pinned on the fourth to show how it's done.
Another thing i've been working on is getting ready for this year's quilt retreat, at the end of April. My friend April volunteered to help out on the committee and i told her i'd be glad to lend a hand, just not get too involved. Famous last words! I got the idea that given the theme (shhhhh...don't tell anybody, we won't be making the announcement until Tuesday, but the theme is "Sweet Treats Retreat"), it would be fun to make pillowcases for the Friday night project. I'm calling it "Sweet Dreams." I've been making kits for each person at retreat, with a main fabric, cuff fabric, and trim fabric...gave me a chance to purchase a lot of interesting cupcake and other "sweet" fabrics!  It was perfect timing to decide on a pillowcase project, too, because American Patchwork and Quilting is sponsoring a Million Pillowcase Challenge to encourage quilters and crafters to make and donate a million pillowcases locally. Each person will have a colorful and cheerful pillowcase to remind her of retreat, and i'm hoping that everyone will then turn around and make pillowcases for the challenge. This box is filling up with pillowcase kits.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Lucky kitties!

On Friday there was a large box on my front steps--my big Stampin' Up! order  had arrived! and my mailbox was full....some fabric that i had ordered, the local paper, some other stuff, and a Priority Mail box from Florida. I couldn't remember ordering anything from Florida....oh wait, it wasn't addressed to me, it was addressed to Sylvie, Louie, Fuzzy, and Gingy! I opened the box for them, and there inside was a gorgeous, soft, fluffy "hairy blankie" from  Peggy's kitty blankies. The really cute note with it said this little cosy something was from all of their feline friends at  Cliff and Olivia, Cat With A Garden (Chilli and Siena), Sumac Stories (Banshee, Shade, and Goldie), and The Pouponette (Tama-Chan and her kittens, Yuu-Chan, and Sei-Chan)....and that for the hairy blankie, a donation had been made to the Cat Blogosphere to help kitties with their Vet bills. Isn't that nice??!!

I resisted the urge to wrap the blankie around my own shoulders and instead put it on the foot of the bed, over the cat towels, and Louie immediately came in to "test drive" it...he loves it! During the night, Gingy said she'd like to sleep on it, too, and Louie said "no, there's not enough room on this blankie for both of us." I had folded it in half--tonight it's unfolded, so there should be enough room for both of them with no squabbling. Thank you, friends!

Yet another snowstorm!

The weatherman has so underpredicted our last three or four snowstorms, when they said this one would bring one to two FEET of snow, it seemed like either they would be right...or there would be all this pre-storm hysteria and then nothing would come of it. Friday morning the snow started, as predicted, but the temperature hovered around freezing, so the snow kept melting and took a long time to start accumulating. But once it started accumulating, it really stuck!

By late Friday evening, it was snowing hard and the boughs of the cedar tree in front were weighed down by the snow.

Looks a lot like our snowstorm from December, doesn't it?! It kept snowing hard all night and for most of Saturday as well. This is Saturday morning.

And this is what the cedar tree looks like in daylight, with a lot more snow on it.
Fuzzy was interested to see what i was doing and what the snow looked like, so he stood up and peeked out the storm door. You can see the reflection of the snow on the front steps...the steps are completely covered and filled in with snow!
Here's my measure of how deep the snow's up to the level of the seat on my garden bench, which is 18 inches! (a couple of inches more of snow fell after this picture was taken.) You can't see it well but there are birds on the there was a whole flock of mourning doves on the "ground" below the feeder, plus at least three male and two female cardinals, several blue jays, a red-bellied woodpecker, several white-throated sparrows, but none of the little birds (maybe they were all sheltering 'til the snow stops falling).

To take the previous picture, I had to use the storm door to push the snow out of the way so i could get the door open--the snow had drifted right up against it. Gingy thought she might like to go out on it, after all it was right there at foot level, but then decided against it.
Finally in late afternoon it stopped snowing and the clouds lifted enough for there to be a faint rosy sunset. The snow plows have been through several times and the street pavement is actually visible...along with the very tall piles of snow that the plows have pushed up, including right across the foot of my driveway.

One of my favorite sounds from my childhood in New Jersey was the sound of the snowplow! The big diesel trucks would come down our street and you could hear the plow blade scraping on the road and the jingle of the tire chains...a song that usually meant no school the next day! During this storm, my town seems to be using its own pickup trucks with snowblades on them, rather than the big dumptrucks that the highway department uses. I guess the pickup trucks have more maneuverability in our older residential neighborhoods and maybe are cheaper than contracting for the bigger trucks, but i miss the big truck's sounds!

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Yet another snowfall

This is the view off my back steps this morning. A very wet snow fell heavily last night, with no wind, and it just piled up. Don't the newell posts look like fashionable ladies with fluffy hats and stoles on their collars?

To those of you who live in more northern climes, i'm sure it's no big deal to have a new snow storm roll in before the evidence of the previous one has melted. But to those of us who live in Virginia, it's pretty big news! Especially after we had about one measurable snowfall all last winter. This winter, we've had the big snowstorm on December 19, a few inches of snow on Saturday January 23, 4-6 inches of lovely fluffy snow on Saturday January 31...and then about 5 inches of wet snow last night!

Such an interesting contrast between last Saturday's snow and today's...Saturday's snow was so light and fluffy (the temperatures were quite cold, in the teens and twenties) that i removed it from my steps and walks with a sturdy broom. And had lots of fun blowing it off the driveway with my once-again-functioning snowblower. Today's snow was wet and heavy and had to be shovelled. The fluffy snow was way too dry even for snowballs; today's probably was great for building with, if you didn't mind getting your gloves wet.

And beginning mid-day Friday, we're supposed to get a humdinger of a storm, with anything from 10 inches to several feet of snow predicted, depending on whose forecast you listen to. I'm planning on heading to Petco tomorrow evening on the way home from work to stock up on kitty litter 'cause we're almost out of World's Best and all out of clay litter...and then we should be ready for whatever Mother Nature plans to toss our way!