A Crafter's Life

Not Your Traditional Thanksgiving

This past Thursday was Thanksgiving in the U.S. and traditionally it’s a holiday where family and/or friends gather and share a large meal featuring TURKEY.

Photo by Pro Church Media on Unsplash

However in 2020, time of the global pandemic, ongoing traditions likely did not work, especially with all the current COVID restrictions in place around the U.S.

In our region for example we are on “Level Red” restrictions and we are not supposed to congregate with people outside our immediate household. So that means no having relatives over for Thanksgiving.

My partner John has a son, daughter in law, and darling granddaughter in the area, as well as much of his siblings and parents in the Denver Metro area where we live. We could not gather with them for Thanksgiving due to the current restrictions in place.

I was not really in the mood for two of us to make and share a traditional Thanksgiving turkey dinner so we came up with the idea of John asking his son what his wanted to eat on Thanksgiving and John making it (he loves to cook) and dropping it off at his house. We decided to do the same thing with John’s elderly father and his partner who have been fairly homebound during the pandemic.

And what did John’s son choose for Thanksgiving dinner? He chose – CHICKEN STRIPS and MACARONI AND CHEESE, one of his favorite meals that his dad makes! John’s dad was happy with the same menu also so we made up several batches of homemade “mac & cheese” and chicken strips.

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John set them up for delivery and then did a door drop off to each household for their “Thanksgiving dinners”!

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We also included some ranch dressing for dipping the chicken strips.

John and I had the same dinner ourselves when he returned from dropping off the meals (which got rave reviews).

In a strange pandemic-times-way we “shared” a meal with family outside our household for Thanksgiving.

Here is Mike the Miniature Schnauzer asking for a sampling as the meals got boxed up for delivery.


Postscript

Speaking of Thanksgiving and cooking, if you like podcasts, head over to my blogging buddy, Portland based author Tammie Painter’s wonderful The Book Owl Podcast for the latest episode – Cooking Up Something Good – all about the history of cookbooks! It was another fun and informative podcast!

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A Crafter's Life

Morning Ride

Good Morning from my side of the pond. I thought I would share some recent images from my partner John’s early morning bike rides like I did in the post Good Morning and The Library Stack.

If in addition to making me look lazy with all his recent woodshop crafting projects, he has also been showing me up on physical fitness activities during the pandemic. Several times a week at 5:00 am in the morning he goes on a 20 – 26+ mile (32 – 42 km) bike ride (even in the chilly Autumn mornings).

He usually catches great sunrises on his ride, especially at the reservoir near our house.

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Here is John just returned from a morning ride (and I have just risen from bed to make my way to my 20 foot commute to my home office, ha!):


Postscript

Greetings from tierneycreates Beastie, she has not guest blogger posted in a while (Beastie Adventures). She might have a post in the future!

Well John is not early morning bike riding currently as it has snowed in the Denver Metro area.

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Here is tierneycreates Beastie in her Autumn/Winter outfit all ready for the cold and snow:

Thanks so much to Helen @crawcraftsbeasties for making her a scarf to go with her hat.

The scarf matches the scarf I knitted to match my hat I shared in this post – Scarf finally done.

A Crafter's Life, From the Woodshop

From the Woodshop

Crafting wise I do not have much to report as I am finished with the granny square blanket (see previous post Attack of the Giant Granny Square Blanket) and I am currently working on hand stitching Seattle Scrappy (see previous post and the post An Update on “Seattle Scrappy” – Haphazard Stitching… ).

So I am going to take this opportunity to share what the other crafty person in the house, my partner John has been working on.

A couple months ago we turned part of our basement into his woodshop (we had it professionally drywalled as well as electrical added, while John put in the floor and did all the finishing work), so he could have his own “craft room”.

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His workshop is a work in progress and evolving. For the first time in his life he has his dream of having his own dedicated woodshop beyond just tinkering in the garage.

John and I met in mid-2019 after suddenly each losing our long time spouses/life partners in 2018. We decided that since how long you have to live your life is unknown (when you become a widow/widower you think a lot about your own mortality in addition to grieving the loss of your spouse) we would not hold back from having our dreams (within reason and within financial possibilities of course!). One of his lifelong dreams was to have his own woodshop!

(One of our shared dreams is travel and pre-COVID pandemic we had many plans for travel in 2020, but you all know about “best laid plans” when it comes to 2020…)

Mike the miniature schnauzer did a guest blog post a couple weeks ago (yes, yes, stop your disbeliefs that my dog writes blog posts, ha, ha) on some of the projects John has been working on – Guest Blog Post: A Whole Lot of Remodeling Going On , but I thought I would share some of the projects since that post.

Wood Blocking Board

I saw on Instagram wood blocking boards for granny squares and asked John if he could make me one – and he did!

Here is an image of one I found online and texted him the image:

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He watched a couple YouTube videos and checked out some on Pinterest and figured it out how to make me one:

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It’s going to be great to use for making my next granny square blanket – I can stack my blocks pretty high with the long pegs.

Bike Holders/Storage

John loves Pinterest as a great source of ideas. He wanted to get our bikes off just sitting on the ground of the garage and found a cool design for a bike rack and made one for each of our bikes!

He made mine first so most of the images are of mine with some detailed images of the rack to include the little drawer he built for it also. 

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The little drawer is perfect to keep your biking gloves and other small items related to cycling. It is very easy to lift our bikes out of the holders.

Magnetic Board

I am obsessed with Scrabble letters. I have a collection of Scrabble letters from thrift stores and old Scrabble games. I’ve made gifts from them in the past like friend’s names spelled in Scrabble letters affixed to a magnetic strip. Recently while at a thrift shop I found a bag of Scrabble letters with individual thin magnetic strips attached. 

This led to the idea of creating a magnetic board for my home office where I could write inspirational messages for myself with Scrabble letters! I asked John and he made it happen!

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Currently up on the board I have the Maya Angelou quote:

Nothing can dim the light which shines from within.

Custom Tables for his Woodshop

The first table John made for his woodshop was a table/stand/storage for his Miter Saw:

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He used purchased plans he downloaded online to make this table and then made some adjustments for his needs.

Recently he made himself another table/stand/storage, this time without pre-purchased plans! He designed a table for his Planer with storage drawers with cool pulls he ordered online:

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Exercise Room for Water Rower

And the big project that John recently completed did not technically involve his woodshop as he did much for the work in the garage – he converted part of our unfinished storage room in the basement into an exercise room for our new Water Rower. This involved framing out and dry walling the room. A wonderful friend helped him with a lot of the initial labor related to framing,  installing the drywall, and pulling electrical for lighting and wall outlets.

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The artwork in the room was my idea and I found it at a thrift shop. John created the frame around the world map. I figured we can daydream about travel while we row.  We found a television on sale and an inexpensive TV mount online so we can watch rowing instructional videos (or Netflix) while rowing.

We repurposed an old bookcase for our “gym” towels and water bottles like they would have at a real gym. John also put in a vent for the room for ventilation while we break a sweat.

Well I better go work on my hand stitching so I can have something to show you in the future – John makes me look pretty lazy!


Postscript

Do you remember how in the post The Inpatient Schnauzer: Update on the Granny Square Afghan (Guest Blogger), Mike the miniature schnauzer was getting impatient for me to finish the granny square blanket? So it is all finished but he seems to have moved on!

He is now in love with a new fleece blanket we recently picked up and has become inseparable from it!

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I guess schnauzers are fickle!

Let me close this post with a sign/piece of artwork I discovered while thrifting that I put up outside John’s woodshop door. I think it goes with the aesthetic of a woodshop and also embraces how we are hoping to live our lives:

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Feature Image Photo by Joel & Jasmin Førestbird on Unsplash

Knit and Crochet Away!

Attack of the Giant Granny Square Blanket

It’s done!

Well sort of – I still have to weave in the ends from joining the squares.

“Tierney, what are you talking about?”

Well I am following up on the guest blogger post from earlier this month by my impatient miniature schnauzer Mike: The Inpatient Schnauzer: Update on the Granny Square Afghan (Guest Blogger).

Mike looking impatient

Yes, of course my miniature schnauzer knows how to write blog posts, why are you asking?

Well Mike no longer has to be impatient as I’ve finished my first granny square blanket. I used the word “finished” loosely as I have many yarn strands hanging about it waiting to be woven in.

I wove in the ends as I finished each block but I got lazy when I was joining the 90 blocks into ten (10) rows of nine (9) blocks.

It measures approximately 70 inches by 74 inches (178 cm x 188 cm) and it is much bigger than I thought it would be.

Here is Mike stretched out on it as I tried to photograph it for this post:

Here it is once I removed the miniature schnauzer from it:

After joining the blocks with a dark grey yarn, I added a single border around the whole piece.

I am pretty pleased with myself now that I’ve taught myself via YouTube videos how to crochet granny square blocks and to join them into a blanket. Here are all the posts if you really need something to fill your day (smile, wink) of my first granny square blanket journey. Some of these posts include links to the YouTube videos I used to learn.

Making My Own Granny Square Afghan

Granny Square Madness 

Update on the “Granny Square Madness” 

The Inpatient Schnauzer: Update on the Granny Square Afghan (Guest Blogger) 

Now that I’ve finished the blanket (except for the weeks and weeks of weaving in ends..ha..ahead of me), it is time to finish up hand sewing my quilt Seattle Scrappy (see most recent post on this scrappy quilt – An Update on “Seattle Scrappy” – Haphazard Stitching… ).

Seattle Scrappy waiting to be finished…

I notice a pattern – I seem to be really into grey lately (or is it “gray” I can never decided which one to use).

I want to start my next granny square blanket (I’ve been watching more granny square YouTube videos) but I should not start a new project when there are old ones awaiting some love!


Postscript

How about that pandemic thing going around. Oh yes it still sucks and I have complete “pandemic fatigue” at this point (I know you are thinking: “join the club”).

A couple of my friends were recently diagnosed with COVID (I was not exposed) and have been on quarantine for a couple weeks. I did drop someone homemade chocolate chip cookies on their porch. They are doing okay and their worse symptom was not being able to smell.

Chocolate Chip cookies have special healing properties

But I will keep on crafting my way through and I might have some news in the next couple of weeks.

Oh and Mike the miniature schnauzer has been concerned that since he’s been a guest blogger on this blog a couple times (The Inpatient Schnauzer: Update on the Granny Square Afghan (Guest Blogger) and Guest Blog Post: A Whole Lot of Remodeling Going On) he might be recognized by his growing fan base, so he’s asked to start wearing sunglasses when he goes out to keep a low profile:

Trying to avoid paparazzi…
Guest Blogger

Fun and Educational Activities to Drive the Indoor Blues Away (Guest Blogger Post)

Something for the awesome parents taking care of kids during the pandemic.

A couple days ago Carrie@thespencersadventures.net reached out to me and stated:

For those days when it’s too hot or cold for my kids to play outside, I’ve amassed a pretty great library of activities that keep them entertained and educated. I’ve got arts and crafts (aka learning in disguise) and even physical activities that give that (seemingly endless) energy a place to go. I’ll be sure to include some activities for parents to do as well – after all, we all need a creative and physical activity break! I’d love to compile some of these indoor activities into an article for your readers.” 

I took her up on her offer (thanks Carrie!) and here is her guest post – enjoy!


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Fun and Educational Activities to Drive the Indoor Blues Away

With the unfortunate spread of coronavirus, the kids are stuck inside and bored to death. Luckily, there are plenty of fun and engaging activities just a few keystrokes away thanks to the modern marvel of the internet. Look beyond the endless drone of news and cat memes, and you’ll find plenty for the young ones to do. Tierneycreates has got you covered with the following ideas:

Tech Time

If you own a tablet, you probably have access to a ton of educational apps that you can download for your kids, and the beauty is they can use them anywhere. Look for fun apps that cater to their interests or focus on areas that they need to work on. Tablets can power just about any app smoothly, so your kids can enjoy learning without issue whether they’re dabbling in art, geometry, languages, and so on. Consider investing in a new monitor so they can work on a larger high-resolution screen. Many models are suited for gaming, too, so your child can easily switch back and forth between learning and playing. Look for a monitor that features the latest tech for a smoother gaming experience.

A Cooking Session

Bring the tablet into the kitchen to learn how to cook — even children as young as three can participate. Not only will they learn how to slice, dice and mix up ingredients, the kids will absorb all sorts of information on the value of a healthy diet, which should be a big goal of your culinary lessons. A good way to start, especially if your children are really young, is to show them how to make healthy versions of their favorite snacks. Start with something easy, like popcorn. Rather than throwing a bagged brand into the microwave, add plain kernels into a microwave popper, and top your treat with healthy, homemade seasonings.

A Music Lesson

Playing a tune has been shown to help children’s cognitive development, so there’s no reason not to have a jam session right in your home. You’ll find plenty of songs you can download as well as lessons for a variety of musical instruments, from guitar to recorder.

A Science Project

Chemistry may not sound like fun to your kids, but that will all change once you see how the colors explode as food coloring, milk and dish soap all interact. Besides those ingredients, all you need are some cotton swabs and a shallow pan. What better way to get their little minds buzzing than with exciting new discoveries in front of their own eyes? Or, you can grab more items around the house to mix up some elephant toothpaste. Your little mad scientist will be thrilled with the results.

An Art Class

Art is often one of kids’ favorite parts of school, and it has many benefits including helping children reduce anxiety. So come up with some easy-to-do projects that will bring out their inner Rembrandt. Art for Kids Hub has a wide variety of tutorials that teach the little ones how to draw everything from gnomes to frogs to Garfield in a series of step-by-step videos that are as entertaining as they are easy to understand. Don’t forget to grab the supplies they need for their favorite artistic medium.

Storytelling

Now that you’ve got those creative juices flowing, keep it going by coming up with stories together. If you’re not sure how to start, the folks at Imagine Forest suggest writing some words on small pieces of paper, putting them in a jar to act as prompts, and having the first volunteer reach in and pick one out. Then, everyone else adds their own piece to the narrative to make an exciting group adventure.

A Trip Around the World

Learn about fascinating foreign cultures across the globe through a series of hands-on crafts, such as making an Indian wall hanging, a kokeshi doll or a mandala. You can find all the materials that you need around the house, then it’s off to an exotic land far away without ever leaving home.

A Foreign Language

Now that you’ve got their interest in life beyond the borders, it’s time to get the kids started learning Spanish, French, German or any of the other dozens of languages available for study. You’ll find a variety of activities involving reading, writing and speaking to get the kids ready for a life of travel and exploration.

After giving a few of these ideas a try, you may find that your days sheltering in place go by much quicker. Best of all, your kids will learn new things as well.

For more stories to brighten your day, head over to the Tierneycreates blog.


Image via Pixabay.

A Crafter Needs to Eat, The Library Stack, Thrift Shop Adventures

Curating a Home Library

I love public libraries and as my series of posts The Library Stack shows, I am always browsing them and borrowing books when I can. A couple of years of ago I studied and embraced Minimalism trying to live a simpler lifestyle and letting go of things that I thought cluttered my life. I decided to stop buying books and just borrow them from the library.

Then in December 2018 my husband suddenly died and things shifted in my life on a large scale. And in early 2020 the pandemic hit and more shifting occurred to include examining how I could redefine a “simpler lifestyle” and have the physical things I enjoy in my life.

Our local libraries closed for what seemed like endless months during the early days of the pandemic and when they reopened it was only for curbside pickup. Currently they have fully reopened but have many strict protocols (beyond mandatory masks) and there are not that many patrons in the library anymore. It feels like something is lost from whole public library experience (and it is strange to see the librarians behind glass).

Pre-pandemic I was really in to audiobooks. Something shifted in me during the pandemic and I began to crave reading physical books rather than listening to them. I also remembered my secret dream of having an extensive home library like the ones I see in the home decorating books I borrow from the public library.

Like this one below:

Image credit: insidehook.com

With all the above things in the background of my mind, a couple of months ago I decided that I wanted to proceed with curating my own home library. Nothing as extensive as the image above but a nice collection with books that I’ve read and loved (and want to read again) and books I want to read (and might read again).

So how to do this and not “break the bank”? Well I used the following sources to find books for my home library:

  • Thrift Stores
  • Garage Sales
  • Thriftbooks.com
  • Independent bookstores selling used books

I was able to buy books from 50 cents to $5.00 from these four sources. Most books I paid between $1.49 and $4.99. 

In addition to amassing a collection of second hand books over the past couple of months, my partner John also added an additional bookcase to the front room beyond the two he already built for me.

So here is the current version of my home library which used to be the front room/sitting room in my house:

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I had so much fun hunting for books at thrift shops (one local thrift shop has 1/2 priced Saturdays).

I’ve loved the books by the authors Douglas Preston & Lincoln Child and I’ve read at least 85% of their entire catalogue of books. So I put together a collection of their books of my very own (previously I had borrowed them from the library):

I do not have their latest books as those are not at thrift stores yet or reasonably priced on Thriftbooks.com but it was so fun finding each book one at a time while hunting at thrift shops.

At the beginning of my home library book curation process I thought about filling part of my home library with classic novels and books that might impress a book collector. But that thought lasted only a couple seconds. I have no need to impress anyone with my home library except myself. It is only filled with the kind of books I will read (and my partner too).

Like lots of Science Fiction and Fantasy (especially Young Adult Fantasy, I love it):

You might wonder what I did with my craft book collection. Well it is on the opposite wall organized by craft or topic (like art quilting):

All those books – got to have a cozy place to read, right? Here is Mike the Miniature Schnauzer sitting in my favorite reading spot:

And here is Mike and I snuggled cozy under a warm blanket on a cold Saturday reading (it was quite a delicious morning with my pot of tea next to me). I rediscovered the joy of reading a while, napping, waking up and reading some more!

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Note these images were taken before my partner put up the third bookcase last week.

In case you are curious, I am still occasionally getting a “Library Stack” from my local public library, though not as big as the ones I was getting (the ridiculously large stacks like in the post The Library Stack Is Back!) when the library first reopened. Here is my current linrary stack:

Speaking of libraries, some of the second hand books I’ve purchased over the past several months are former library books! I’ve gotten pretty good at removing the library’s plastic dust cover with all their library specific stickers so the books sitting on my home library shelves does not look like I stole them from a library – ha!

As I mentioned earlier in this post I used to listen to a lot of audiobooks. Current I am only listening to podcasts now, taking a break from audiobooks. I am currently enjoying holding a book in my hand and reading it. Quite a different experience. I am taking a break from multitasking in life and just enjoying a solitary task of reading a book!


Postscript

Over the past several months of going to thrift stores to find books for my home library, I’ve come across many curious items for sale at thrift shops. 

Here are my top 5 favorite finds that gave me the chuckle (and I promise you I did not buy any of them):

Number 5: If you need a lamp and a place to store your leftover yarn, would this not be the perfect solution?

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Yes it’s – YARN LAMP!

Number 4: Patriotic pants – they defy any further comment (but my apologies to you if you happen own these…)

My partner John is modeling them

Number 3: Donated photo frames with family photos still in them.

I could not believe how many donated photo frames I came across with family pictures still in them at various thrift stores, like the example below. Wouldn’t you perhaps remove your family photos before donating?!?!?

Number 2: An outfit for a very adventurous and crafty person.

Though it was on display way before Halloween, I think this was supposed to be a suggested Halloween outfit (hopefully as you would get a lot of stares should you select it for a cocktail party…)

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And Number 1 is…

Something that you absolutely cannot imagine living without…

A cattle leg (yes real cattle leg) with hoof attached Barometer!

Yes, now you can remember the favorite steer you raised on your farm and know the current barometric pressure!

My regret is I did not buy it and put it away as the ultimate future “White Elephant” Christmas gift! (Could you imagine the look on someone’s face when they opened their gift!)

Guest Blogger, Knit and Crochet Away!

The Inpatient Schnauzer: Update on the Granny Square Afghan (Guest Blogger)

My Human is Too Slow!

This is Mike the Miniature Schnauzer who lives with Tierney of tierneycreates. I am guest blogging on this post as you may have noticed Tierney has not blogged in a while and someone has to keep you updated…at least on my frustration.

If you saw this post like 3 weeks ago (maybe less, Schnauzers are not great with their perception of time) Update on the “Granny Square Madness”, she has been working on (like forever…or “fur-ever” as we say in canine) on a granny square afghan after teaching herself to make one via videos on YouTube.

Well I’ve been waiting a long time for it to be finished and I am getting very impatient!

(First I need to tell you that afghans and other cozy blankets are the “natural habitat” of Miniature Schnauzers)

I first fell in love with the afghan when it was just a couple of square she had made:

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Then she made more squares and my love of this afghan kept growing and I would sneak in to lay on them whenever I could:

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A Partial Afghan Will Do…I Guess…

Now that she finished 90 granny square blocks, she is SLOWLY (at least in the Schnauzer-Time-Space-Continuum perception) putting the afghan together.

And I cannot wait.

I’ve begun nesting in it, while it is in assembly, any time she steps away from it:

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I’ve even begun nesting in it while she is working on attaching the blocks together (note the crochet hook on the lower left):

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She’s tried to appease me by wrapping me in it, but I am not fooled:

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Do I look “appeased”?!?!? Nope. I want a finished afghan.

Unfortunately she only has 3 rows together and has 7 more rows to add:

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Unacceptable.

She has a system on the guest room bed where she has stacked the individual blocks for each granny square row (so I won’t topple over the rows and mess up her order like I was doing when they were laid out on the living room floor):

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She says she is working on it as fast as she can but has this full-time job thing going on and other life activities (poor excuses).

Absolutely Not Appeased

I know I mentioned somewhere in this post that a partial afghan might do but on further thought it does not. I want to nap in the full completed thing!

Here are some photos of me “not appeased” to close out this post: 

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Now get to work Human!