4.30.2009

about those computer problems

I wrote this post while sitting in my car yesterday morning in a little notebook that I carry with me everywhere. You never know when inspiration will hit or when you'll need to kill some time. I was waiting in the parking lot for my appointment at the nearest Apple store which, unfortunately is an hour and a half drive from my house. I probably left too early but with traffic and construction, you never know.

My brand new laptop, that I'd had for only a week, was very ill. Actually, ill doesn't quite describe it—it was more like in a coma. I had this brilliant idea that I'd try to run Windows on my Mac and there are programs that can make that happen. I use Quicken for my business accounting and, while they do have a Mac version, it gets terrible reviews and you can't convert files from one platform to another. That means five years of unusable backup files and inputting all of 2009 all over again. No thanks.

So, I followed all the directions to load this new program and it didn't work. Not only did it not work but it totally trashed my original operating system. As in, all software, all files, everything gone. I spent an hour on the phone with support trying to fix it but nothing worked. So I set up an appointment at the store. And made myself sick worrying for two days while I waited. They couldn't do a quick fix either so I left it, drove back home, and worried some more.

I just got the call that they were able to repair it - yay! Not so good that I lost all the software I'd already loaded, but I hadn't gotten far and can do it again. And I hadn't transferred any of my files over so I didn't really lose anything that I can't get back. As for that program and running Windows, I think I'll pass. Brian says I can put Quicken on his PC and run it from there. I wish I'd thought of that in the beginning!

Now I'm off for another 3 hour round-trip drive. I swear, I haven't finished a thing work-related this entire week!

4.29.2009

thank you!

I seem to be very popular lately. I've received two blog awards in the past week and, unfortunately, I'm just getting around to thanking the persons who gave them to me. I'm swamped with work and having computer problems and feeling a bit overwhelmed with life in general. This appears to be an ongoing thing and I hope to be back to normal soon :)

First up is a nice mention of Stitch School and a Best Loved Blog award from Jenny Kerr over at The Kerr Family Blog. She mentions that she's one of a small handful of crafters on the planet not armed with at least one fully automated embroidery machine. I'm part of that group, too, and I'm not sure it's all that small either. There's nothing wrong with doing things the "old fashioned way" if the results are beautiful and the process is something you enjoy doing. For me, embroidery is about the process.

Second is a One Lovely Blog Award from Debbie at Blueberry Plains. This one has some rules, one of which is to link back to the blog it came from. That's done. The second is to pass it on to 15 bloggers who are new to me. This one is going to have to wait. I've been having trouble keeping up with the blogs I already read regularly and finding 15 new ones seems daunting right now. I'll try to do it soon though.

Thanks to both of you and to everyone who continues to read and leave nice comments even though my posting lately has been pretty sporadic.

4.19.2009

a walk in the woods

A walk in the woods this time of year doesn't seem like it would be all that exciting. It's only just starting to warm up and the woods are still very brown and gray. But, if you look very carefully and at ground level, there's lots to see.

Spring Beauty (Claytonia virginica) is one of the earliest flowers to appear and it's really tiny so it takes a sharp eye to spot it.

spring beauty

The Trout Lily (Erythronium americanum) has spotted leaves that are said to resemble the spots of a brown trout.

trout lily

Dutchman's Breeches (Dicentra cucullaria) look like little pairs of white pants hanging upside down...

dutchman's breeches

Partridgeberry (Mitchella repens) is also called Squaw-vine because Native-American women used it to treat irregular and painful menses and for pain during childbirth. I thought at first that this might be wintergreen but you can smell that by crushing the berries. These had no smell.

partridgeberry

This Nodding Trillium (Trillium cernuum) isn't blooming yet but I thought the flower bud was kind of cool-looking. I'll check next week to see if they've opened.

trillium

I'll be checking back often to see what else is popping up.

4.14.2009

...and bears, oh my

I have to apologize for my lack of posting lately. Sometimes I just lose my voice and can't come up with anything interesting to say. Most of the time I do okay with writing but it doesn't always come naturally and I've been busy with other things (the garden, sewing, taxes) and haven't put in the effort.

We spent a quiet day on Sunday. The friends we usually have Easter dinner with are in New Zealand for their son's wedding so we had a quiet dinner at home. After spending the day working outdoors. Brian made good progress on the stone wall he's building on the side of the vegetable garden. And I did battle with two extremely overgrown climbing roses that quite possibly have never been pruned in their lifetimes. They were twisted around dead tree trunks and some of the runners were twenty to thirty feet long. In spite of wearing long sleeves I still got scratched up, but they've been cut back to a reasonable height. And I can keep an eye on them in case they get out of control again.

Saturday wasn't nearly as quiet as Sunday. We woke up to scattered bird feeders with the poles they were hanging from bent to the ground. The bear that came around in the fall was back, or so we thought. But later in the afternoon our neighbor called and said they'd just driven past our house and saw a bear and two cubs in our front yard. By the time we got outside they had moved down to the creek that runs alongside the road across from the house. We were able to watch them with binoculars until they disappeared from sight.

But about a half hour after that one of the cubs showed up in our side yard. Mom and the other cub were still down at the creek and I have no idea how they got separated. Cars were stopping in the road to gawk and one guy was standing on the other side of our stone wall taking pictures. Needless to say, the cub was freaking out, crying pitifully and making that breathy huffing noise that they make when they're scared. He scurried up the tree and wouldn't come down for almost a half hour.

bear cub

The tree is just a couple of yards from our screened porch and I tried to take pictures through the screen but it just wasn't working. So, I went out and crept along the outside wall to the corner of the porch and managed to get a few pictures. Boy, was that scary. One thing you may not know about bears is that, although they look kind of fat and bumbly, they can run really fast! This one was more scared than I was.

bear cub up a tree

Finally, it got dark enough and quiet enough that he felt safe coming down. We watched him run across the yard (very fast, from tree to tree) and then across the road. But that's not the end of the story. Fifteen minutes later he was out by our front porch revisiting the scene of last night's bird feeder crime. We chased him off and he crossed the road again. Still searching for mom and his brother or sister.

We realized after doing a little online research about bears that these were not newborns but second year cubs (they were pretty big for babies). They hibernate with the mother over the winter and in the spring she cuts them loose to make their own way. Which may explain the separation from Mom and the slightly panicky behavior of the cub.

No sign of them since so maybe they've moved on. But, I'm not taking any chances—the bird feeders are coming inside at night!

4.08.2009

it's back

You've probably seen the flashing banner over in my sidebar and you may remember the contest from past years, but I'm officially announcing that the Happily Handmade Giveaway is back after a two-year hiatus. If you've participated before you already know how cool this is and, if you haven't, I'll tell you all about it.

Enter the Happily Handmade Giveaway

HHG started more than five years ago as a way for independent businesses to promote themselves. Sponsors paid a small fee to cover expenses and donated some of their handmade products to fill gift baskets that participants could win by signing up to their email mailing lists. I've participated in three of the eight contests they've had so far and I'm one of forty-three sponsors for the 2009 contest. I get my products out there and build my mailing list and that's good for me.

So how is it good for you? Well, you could be the winner of one of the 25 gift baskets and judging from past years, the baskets are really awesome. I donated ten tissue cozies but you'll also find jewelry, home products, bath and body products, and knitwear. Be sure to check the Happily Handmade website for news about and photos of the donations.

You can sign up at the HHG page on my website and you can also sign up at each of the other sponsor's websites (that's 42 chances to win!). But don't just follow the links to sign up for the contest—be sure to check out the sponsors products, too. There are so many talented people out there and purchasing from them is a great way to support independent business.

Signups end on May 13 and the winners will be chosen on the 18th. Have fun browsing the shops! Good luck!

4.07.2009

beetlemania

A visitor to my garden this past weekend...

green beetle

The light was pretty harsh when I took this photo so it doesn't quite capture how electrically green he was. But the metallicness of it shows up pretty well.

That may be the last sun we see for a while since they're predicting rain (and possibly snow!) all week. I'm glad I got the chance to get some work done outdoors. The strawberry patch and herb gardens are weeded and I'm making good progress on edging the shade bed along our stone wall. There's just sooooo much more to do.

4.06.2009

hostess with the mostest

I sometimes wonder whether my website is becoming too large. I do know that I need to redesign a bit to make it easier to find things because some of the items I'm selling get lost in the shuffle. Like my vintage knitting and crochet pattern books. See, I bet some of you are saying "I didn't know she sold those!"

I've always had a smallish section for these booklets but I've been finding more of them lately so the section is slowly expanding. Most are from the 1940s and 50s and there's a wide assortment of patterns, everything from baby clothing to socks and mittens. Lots of doilies and edgings, too.

I added about a dozen new patterns this morning and I love the one shown here. The 16-page booklet, published in 1956, includes about ten designs for embellishing hostess sets with crochet. Hostess sets are table linens (in this case placemats) with matching aprons. Several of the sets are shown in color photos and I love how kitschy they look. A perfectly-coifed housewife in a pretty apron arranges the dinner table just so.



There seems to a heavy use of vegetable-shaped serving pieces throughout. You don't see that much these days, although the dishes can be fun if used as accent pieces. I often see them for sale in antique malls and, while I don't collect them myself, I do have a relish dish shaped like a bunch of celery around here somewhere.

There's something very Stepford-wives about this photo. Her posture is so stiff and that vacant expression. I wonder what she's thinking?



Anyway, now you know about the patterns. And, if you thought I just sold pillows, sachets and tissue cozies you may want to visit the Vintage Finds section of my website. I found some gorgeous vintage eyelet trims over the weekend and getting them ironed, photographed, and listed is my project for today.