Monday, December 5, 2011

Brioche Knitting

Here's a scarf I'm working on - using Brioche knitting. I'm really liking the way it turns out the same on both sides!

Thursday, December 1, 2011

I'm getting excited!

Wow, it's been a whole month since I've updated this blog and so much has happened. I've been as busy as a bee and things are just picking up!

The first thing I want to do is thank God for watching over me, meeting all my needs and guiding things for my future. My house has been on the market since May and I had really expected it would sell quickly and I'd be in PA for most of the summer. That was not to be. But since the last update, I've had an offer on the house and things are moving along. The inspection phase is done and the appraisal was completed yesterday. It doesn't seem that the appraisal should be a problem but we won't know for a day or two if all is well on that front. I'm trusting that things will happen as God has willed. If all proceeds according to the contract dates, the closing for the house will be on December 16. The household goods will be loaded on the moving van on December 15. My best friend, Joel, from PA is flying out on December 13 to ride back cross-country with me! Yay!!

Valerie was a huge help in gathering information on storage units for me. Armed with all the info and details she put together, I've made arrangements for goods to be stored on the other end of the trip. That's a huge load off my mind. Kent & Kristine have offered to check out the units to make sure it's a good choice. I'm so blessed with a family that looks out for me.

In addition to attending to many paperwork chores and making arrangements and working on boxing up anything that's not already in storage, I've been doing some knitting. I made a sweater for Sam and discovered that I had used hand-washable wool while I was busy knitting it. I didn't read the label closely. I chose Cascade 220 yarn because I've used it in the past and it was superwash. Turns out Cascade 220 comes in both superwash and hand-washable versions. Ut-oh...
I've been told that Sam likes to wear the sweaters I make for him so I didn't want to send one that he wouldn't be able to wear if he was playing outside, cooking with mama, or eating something messy. So I made another sweater with some machine washable yarn.
I changed the pattern up a bit so they aren't identical and he can wear this one even if he's going to get messy!

I also saw some yarn that I thought would be nice for mittens. I bought a skein and whipped up a pair. They're light and comfy and I think the fuzzy yarn will make them warm, as well.
I was wondering how the variegated yarn would work out and was amazed to find that the second mitten started at a place in the variegation that matched the starting place of the first mitten. So without even trying, the mittens are nearly the same. If the mittens were a bit smaller or larger it wouldn't have worked out that way. Fun!!

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Fowl preparations for fowl weather

We had a beautiful, warm day yesterday but there's another snow storm on the way. Not just a bit of snow but another snow storm. It's not supposed to hit until overnight but we're already getting the leading edge with the low clouds and cold temperatures. The storm is expected to bring 6" to 8" of snow in this area, with blizzard warnings from Castle Rock to the eastern plains and up to the Kansas border.
Here's a shot of the low, cold clouds moving in.
I filled the bird feeders just before taking the photo. The deck was swamped with birds last week during the snow storm but I wasn't prepared for them with winter wild bird seed. They had to be satisfied with tiny Italian bread cubes mixed with chopped walnuts. This week I'm ready with milo, millet and sunflower seeds. I'd barely come inside from filling the feeders and taking the photo when the first visitor arrived. It wasn't one of the sparrows or chickadees I have in abundance. It was a female Steller's Jay and, despite her large size, she managed to hang onto the feeder quite well. I can't say the same for her mate. I didn't get a photo of the male because he kept flopping and slipping from the perches until he gave up and flew away. I was chuckling too much to be able to get the photo!

 Oh - and there's another snow storm scheduled for Saturday. Who makes these schedules? I'm not tired of the sun and warm deck weather yet.

Warm colors on cold days

I've only been working with stashed yarn lately and was running out of colors that reflected the season and projects that have caught my eye. I came across some new fall colors that I thought looked warm and inviting and would lend themselves well to a crochet pattern I liked. I decided to give it a go and here's the result

The knit pattern called Feather & Fan has always been one of my favorites and I was impressed by how well this crochet pattern mimics the knit pattern. Maybe I shouldn't put the picture out here on the blog - I'm thinking this afghan will make a nice Christmas gift for someone.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

A cozy fire...

And I'm toasty warm! Thank you, God, for taking care of me no matter what the weather!

Winter wonderland... and how elks prepare

The setting: The forecast last night said we could expect 7" to 13" of snow overnight and another 8" to 11" of snow today. The changing weather had brought the elk down from the higher elevations and there were herds totaling somewhere around 80 elk in the neighborhood by late afternoon.

The background: I mentioned in a post a few weeks ago that the berries on the Virginia Creeper were large and copious this year and I noted that deer like these berries but I didn't expect any deer to find them since they were inside the fenced part of the yard. The elk had been grazing fast and furious the past two days but I've not had an elk inside the fenced yard in the past.

The scarey part: I was sitting in my chair in the family room around 6:30 pm, knitting and enjoying an episode of Bones when I started hearing a bumping sound against the house right near me. The bumping grew louder and turned into rapid banging with a swishy sound thrown in. I got up and went to look out the door and discovered a large bull elk, sporting a tall 5x5 rack, ripping the trellis of Virginia Creeper off the side of the house. I'm guessing he had enjoyed all the berries on the front and decided to see if there might be a few more behind it. The elk was using his majestic antler prongs to sway and pull on the trellis. He spotted me looking out the door and immediately turned and moved toward me as if to make sure I didn't get any of his berries. Thankfully, the door was closed and he didn't try to push it in. We had a bit of a stand-off for a couple minutes, just staring at each other. Finally, I broke the staring contest first and went to fetch my camera. I was only gone a couple minutes but he had the trellis on the ground by the time I got back. He had either discovered there were no berries on the back side or had already dispatched them and started grazing on the grass again.

 Here's another shot where you can see his antlers a bit better. It was nearly dark when I took the photos so it's hard to see but it is a beautiful rack! It is very symmetrical when the camera isn't wobbling in low light :-)

I hope the elk had a good feeding the past couple days because here's what we woke up to today:

and this:

and my birds only have thistle seed for eating. I hope someone else in the neighborhood has a feeder out with millet and sunflower seed.

So I'm hunkered down to see if we really get another 11" today. I carried in wood yesterday so I can have a toasty warm fire in the family room after I finish my work. I've got my knitting and my Kindle. The only thing that would make it more cozy would be to fill the room with family!

Thursday, October 20, 2011

This and that

I don't have any cool photos to share this week but I do have a few updates I thought I'd share.

I had a great experience at the end of last week when I attended training to be a leader for Precept Ministries Inductive Bible Studies. It was an intense training session and I'm glad I was able to go. I hope to lead Bible studies with my sister, Kristine, eventually.

I've not participated in a group Bible study from PMI before because the ones in Evergreen have been held during the day when I was working. Now that I'm not working, there isn't even a PMI group during the day in Evergreen. I did find a PMI Bible study that's starting Oct. 24 in Arvada and I'm going to join that group. It is a study on the books of Ezra and Haggai and the rebuilding of the temple. The leader for the class is Diana and I had a chance to meet her yesterday. It turns out that this group of Bible study students has been together for some time and they'll be coming to class ready to start week 1, with their homework done. Diana brought the book to me in Evergreen yesterday so I could be ready with the rest of the class. That was so thoughtful of her. This is a short class of only 5 weeks so it will work well if the house manages to sell in the meantime.

I read a very good book on my Kindle recently that was recommended by my sister. It's called While We're Far Apart as is one of the best Christian fiction books I've read in a long time. I wasn't familiar with the author before reading this book and it made me want to search out more titles by Lynn Austin.

So... I went searching on Amazon for other books by her. I found another title that sounded interesting, Candle in the Darkness, and had a very pleasant surprise when I found I had downloaded it as a free title shortly after I first received my Kindle. I started reading it as soon as I had finished While We're Far Apart. I just finished it this morning :-(  This is book one in a three-book series called Refiner's Fire. I've got the other two books on my wish list. I'll have to save up my allowance.

Kristine discovered that there's another series by Lynn Austin called Chronicles of the Kings and it has five books in the series. Turns out, the two of us had downloaded book one of the series, Gods and Kings, when it was offered as a free Kindle download. Here's the weird thing, though. I went out on Amazon this morning to find an image of Gods and Kings for this blog posting and the book is no longer listed as available as a Kindle book. However, books #2 - #5 are available to purchase. How weird is that??  I would start reading this new book next, except I'm excited to switch to a new audio book I just got on Tuesday....
...the latest from Joel Rosenberg, The Tehran Initiative. This is the sequel to The Twelfth Imam that was released a year ago. Joel seems to have such insight into current events as they relate to Old Testament prophecies.

Speaking of Joel Rosenberg, There will be a simulcast event this Saturday called The Gathering Storm. It's only viewable at places that are sponsoring it, mostly churches, and I'm going down to Bear Lake Church in Lakewood to view it with others. Besides being a video presentation by Joel, it's also an "urgent call to prayer, fasting and repentance for America, Israel and the Church in light of Bible Prophecy." You can find a list of locations at the web site and there's still time to sign up if you're interested.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

My fuzzy fun

This post is a kind of mid-week reassurance tonic for my friends, Steph & Steve. You see, they're on vacation this week and I'm looking after their cats, etc. I visit once a day and freshen everything for the kitties and give them some lovin'. I'd been told that Zeus would most likely hide for the duration whenever I stopped by and it was normal. Well, it's not been that way at all and I'm loving it!

Fez is the outgoing cat. He came to see me the first day and was happy to hang out for awhile. Zeus came to investigate and decided I didn't look too dangerous so he stayed with us until I left. Ever since, they're both by the door to greet me each day when I arrive:

The two of them follow me while I refill the food bowls and get fresh water. As soon as it looks like I'm about done with chores, they head to the sofa because they know the lovin' and cuddlin' comes next. Surprisingly, Zeus is usually the one to get to the sofa first.

I usually give them some brushing time, too. Whichever one gets on my lap first gets the first brushing. Today it was Zeus. I think he was attracted by the paparazzi aura when he saw the camera. Fez sat patiently on the side while Zeus was on my lap.

And, eventually (I'm sure it felt like FAR TOO LONG,) it was Fez's turn under the "brush":

I hope Stephanie and Steve are having a great vacation. I know I'm enjoying my time with their kitties! :-)

Scarf substitute?

Here's a project I played around with over the past couple evenings. It's a patterned moebius - a continuous circle that is shaped like an infinity 8. This is done by the way the stitches are cast on and knitted. It adds a natural overlap and I think it could be a nice substitute for a winter scarf. It allows nice coverage of the neck, the overlap at the coat opening for extra warmth, and then there's no scarf left hanging down inside to add bulk. What do you think??  By the way... I had to take 8 or 10 photos before I came up with one I was willing to post. I didn't say I like it, but I'm willing to use it. And since I didn't think the detail of the moebius pattern showed up well, I enrolled my floor lamp to act as a stand-in neck so I could take a more accurate photo.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Our first snow of the season

Yep, it's here today. A white blanket is settling over our valley and is forecast to grow thicker as the day goes on. The ground is still warm enough that the most accumulation is on fences and grills and such. I love this photo - I took it when I got up around 6:30 and the flash captured the many snowflakes falling around me!

Here's another one I took just before starting my blog updates, about 20 minutes ago. It's been snowing steadily and is still building up out there. I think it may be a good day for a fire in the wood stove.

Catching Up - Making space for deck and tree

I love trees! I've had a lot of experience at not being successful at growing trees. It amazes me, here in the mountains, how trees planted by human hands and tended with great care can fail so easily but trees that grow happenstance on bare mountain ledges and among what appears to be nothing but rock will flourish.

Over the first half-dozen years of living on this property I planted at least a couple dozen aspen trees and none survived. About 10 or 11 years ago, shortly after my sister and niece moved to Colorado, I found a volunteer cottonwood tree coming up in the yard. Unfortunately, it was coming under the deck. I really didn't expect it would survive. The young shoot was in an area that would not get much light and would get even less moisture. Lack of moisture is the biggest challenge in getting new trees to grow and establish themselves in this neck of the woods. I let the little tree go and watched it closely, hoping it would survive. Low and behold! It thrived and grew year after year. The trunk arranged itself in a shape that would clear the edge of the deck and it has become a most handsome tree.

This year for the first time, the tree trunk grew too close to the decking. I didn't want to lose the tree and I didn't want the deck ruined. By the time I noticed the encroachment, the tree had lifted the deck about an inch off its base. I called fix-it man who knows trees and knows decks. He came yesterday and re-sculpted the edge of the deck to accommodate the tree. The finished results look to me just as I had hoped - a modification that was done on purpose to preserve both the deck and tree and let them live in harmony.

The face board had also been warped from the tree pressing on the edge of the deck. The repairs were successful on that front, too. I know cottonwood trees are fast growers but it's hard to believe this tree is only around 11 years old. God's creations amaze me every time I stop to consider them. I'm grateful for the shade and enjoyment this tree has brought over the years!

Catching Up - Bread baking on Thursday

Thursday was a beautiful fall day. It was a bit chilly in the shade with temps in the low 50s but we had lots of sun. If you know the mountain weather, a sunny day feels warm as long as you keep out of the wind and shade!

The aspen across the valley from the house had an especially brilliant golden glow on Thursday. I kept stopping to look and enjoy them while I was working in the kitchen.

I was down to only two slices of bread left on Thursday morning so set about baking a couple loaves. I wanted to try the soft oatmeal sandwich bread recipe that my sister found in an old cookbook and had said it turned out very well. My first go-round with it at high altitude was less than perfect but I'm happy with the flavor and will give it another shot. I think I let it rise too long, maybe on both the first and second risings. It wasn't intentional but the dough seemed to balloon way more than expected between times that I checked it, after rising very slowly just prior to the ballooning process.

The dough loaves were picture perfect when I took them from their rising spot and waited for the oven to finish pre-heating. But within less than 10 minutes, the dough dome began to deflate. The dough didn't fall any further after I put it in the oven so the bread isn't terribly dense but it must be a bit more dense than it should be. The flavor is wonderful. I shared a loaf with friends at dinner on Thursday night and they agreed that it is a delicious bread recipe. Thanks for sharing, Kristine! I'm going to make it again without any changes for high altitude, except to rise for a shorter time and see how it comes out. Here's a picture of the first results.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

More glorious fall colors

The Virginia Creeper is starting to turn to fall colors and is just stunning this year. There are about 80 shades of greens, reds, orange, yellow, maroon, and wine colors.

The creeper also has an abundance of berries this year. Although the berries are poisonous to humans, they're eaten by chickadees and woodpeckers, squirrels, chipmunks, mice and skunks. Deer like them, too, but the berries are inside the fenced part of the yard so I don't know if the deer will find them.

The cottonwood tree also started turning in the past couple days. It looks like the cottonwood is going to be the same brilliant yellow-gold we've been seeing on the aspens. So far, I don't have any leaves turning on the birch tree.

I finally got a photo of my helper nephew yesterday. We've had a fun week together but he's going home today. His papa called last night to say they were home from vacation, had a great time, and would be by today to get Snozzie. Thanks for keeping me company this week, Snoz!

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Tragical aspects of relying on technology

Despite my love of hand crafts and my yearning for Back to Basics living, I have to admit that I'm very much attached to some technology. Take, for instance, the Kindle. I love to read. (I love to hold a book and feel it in my hands and the Kindle still provides that experience in its own way.) When I first heard about eReaders, I was sure I wouldn't be enamored of them in any way. Then I spent some time with my brother and his family in Florida. They're all Kindle folks. My niece let me use her Kindle while I was there. By the time I came home, I was thinking on how to justify buying one for myself.

So... in February I did buy one and quickly became attached. So many books in my hand at one time! So many free books available for the Kindle! There are still some types of books I would prefer to have in hard copy but the Kindle is great for so many reasons. It has even been a big influence in falling asleep quickly and naturally so the benefits have extended beyond my reading entertainment.

Alas, this past weekend brought all of my dependency on the Kindle into a new light. I had been reading my Kindle on Saturday morning while I had my morning coffee. (Yep, there's even a free version of the ESV Bible for the Kindle - yay!!) I keep my Kindle in a cover so I closed it up when I was done reading and went about the housekeeping. Later in the day when my chores were done, I picked up the Kindle to enjoy some more reading. I opened the cover and this is what I saw:
Anyone familiar with a Kindle will instantly recognize that this is NOT a good thing to see.

I tried doing a forced reset and then turned it on...
Still not right. Hmm...
It turns out that Amazon has an amazing customer service setup for Kindle customers. I went to the Amazon website to research the support that was available. I've grown used to finding options of having a live chat, emailing support or calling their toll-free number. But Amazon has an option of "Call Me Now". Notice that's not for ME to call THEM, it's for Amazon Kindle support to call ME. I decided to try that option. I clicked on the button and my phone immediately started ringing. I thought, "what bad timing - I've asked them to call just at the same time someone is calling me." I picked up my phone and the Caller ID said it was Amazon calling me. How could that be? I'd barely clicked the "Call Me Now" button when the phone started ringing. I answered and there truly was a real person on the other end.

Long story short, Reilly of the Amazon Kindle Support Experience was very nice but was unable to rectify the problem via the phone. He said they'd replace my Kindle and it would arrive by Wednesday. He emailed me a label to return the defective Kindle via UPS at Amazon's expense. I'll have to spend time reloading books onto my new Kindle but that's small beans compared to my original fears that I'd lost it forever and wasted the money I'd spent to buy it. Happy Ending, indeed!!

Sunday, October 2, 2011

House update on a rainy day

Here's the latest on the house situation:
  • A young couple with two babes (one infant, one toddler) viewed the house on Friday. Their realtor said they loved the house. The official feedback is "Somewhat Interested - It would take quite a bit of work to get it updated and finish the upstairs."
  • There was a showing on Saturday and the feedback is "House too unusual for this buyer."
  • There was a showing this morning (with only 45 minutes notice beforehand at 9:45am!!) - no feedback yet.
Shortly after Snozzie and I returned from our vacating the premises for the showing, the rain clouds started to leak, slowly at first, and the finches began to gather on the (nearly empty) thistle feeder. The rain became quite a downpour for a few minutes and the birds stayed on the feeder so I decided I'd better refill it for them. Most of the birds flew to the other side of the railing when I reached for the feeder but there were two yellow finches that I had to nudge with my finger to get them to relinquish the precious hardware. I have one finch who is quite verbal with me, approaches me closely and seems to complain a lot and, on occasion, even seems to carry on a friendly greeting & conversation with me. I'm sure this was one of the finches who required the extra prodding.

As soon as the feeder was refilled, the birds were ready to go. In fact, two finches (probably the same two I had to nudge OFF the feeder) were sitting on the feeder bracket and had to be nudged into moving so I could hang it back up. I'm sure they would have landed and started eating if I had merely held the feeder up by my hand.
It took awhile for all the birds to either get their fill or find a place on the feeder. Here's the initial scramble. There are 18 birds on the feeder and 3 on the bracket....

...several hanging out on the bistro table... (aren't they just the cutest little guys??)

...and one on the chair
I do believe the one on the chair is the sassy/chatty one I mentioned earlier. He gave me an ear-full today, too.

Eventually, a couple birds vacated the feeder and the ones that were waiting to be seated found room at the feeder.

I took the Gazanias down from their hooks and set them on the deck floor so they could benefit from the rain. One of the plants has just burst again into bloom. The other one is still working on some buds so it may look as beautiful again in a few more days.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Fall Foliage - Colorado Rocky Mountain Style

Today is a gorgeous day and the house was scheduled to be shown for a two-hour time block. Hmm... what a great excuse to head to the hills and admire the colors of nature from the changing leaves. My "nephew" Snozzie is my companion this week while my brother and sister-in-law are in PA visiting friends and relatives. He accompanied me on the adventure but I didn't get a good photo of him, as he was not willing to sit still for long. Jack Russells are like that!

I'm praying and hoping that this is my last autumn in Colorado. I'm ready to head east at any moment. I just need to have the house be sold. I took the route most familiar to me for good foliage viewing - the route to my sister and brother-in-law's home before they sold it and moved to PA.

For almost a week now we've been seeing the yellow patches on the mountain side grow as the aspen trees have started to change. Here's the view from my house as I look to the higher elevations.
There's not a lot of captioning to do for the rest of the shots. I took a LOT because this is turning out to be a stellar year for the deep gold colors. Not a lot in the rusts or oranges so far but one of the best years ever for the trees being in all their glory at the same time and being such brilliant shades of yellow.

Enjoy the view. I'm looking forward to one of my PA bloggers posting fall colors from that neck of the woods! This panorama doesn't do justice to the breathtaking beauty but it's kind of cool, huh?