Monday, May 28, 2012

The One That Got Away...

A sign just like this was at the auction on Sunday, tucked away in a box of junk.  I mean, come on!  Hamm's Beer--could it be anymore Mad Men--retro?  I wanted it so-so bad.

So during this particular part of the auction you have to crowd around the auctioneer in this really tight, dirty space with people pushing and shoving.  It's pretty intense.  So I stood by my sign, waiting for the runner to start picking the boxes.  I told him what I wanted and started bidding.  It went up to $30.00 and the other bidder got angry and shouted "Who the hell am I bidding against?"  The auctioneer pointed to me and I dropped out.  Not because I was intimidated, but because $30.00 was my limit.  Well it turns out we were bidding on a box of moldy books.  I expressed my relief that I hadn't won.  The bidder heard me and started yelling about how I jacked the price up.  I tried to tell him that I thought we were bidding on the sign and he just glared at me.  Hey, that's the way it goes.  SO then the real sign comes up and again it goes up to $30.00 and I again, let it go.  Crap.

When I got home I looked on Ebay to see if I could find one.  I did.  It sold for over $600.00.  Did I mention, crap?

Crap.  Don Draper wouldn't have let it go.

Oh well.  I did get a box of creepy old dolls and a duffle bag full of vintage cameras, a whole lot of old sewing stuff and a box of old tinware.  Oh!  And a Ukulele!  No, I don't know why 'cause I have no idea how to play it.  If I did...I'd write a sad song about Jon Hamm and beer.  IT.  WOULD.  BE.  AWESOME.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

I'm a Dream Killer...

It may be because it's raining, but I feel frustrated today.  So I am going to give you a wonderful little rant.  I KNOW, yay..

Here's my issue.  Lifestyle Bloggers who post about their dreams of having a "little farm".

Then they get chickens.  They get chickens and take sweet little Instagram photos of their little hippy babies holding them and cuddling with them and giving them little kisses.  Sigh.  Would you allow Little Rainbow Skye to play with a piece of raw chicken?  No?  Why not?  Because when you allow her/him to snuggle with a live chicken you are doing just that.  LIVE chickens spread Salmonella.  Here, don't listen to me...listen to the CDC.

Your child could get seriously ill, possibly fatally ill.  But you've got some pretty good blog fodder, so there's that.

Oh and be prepared for the mess.  You can sigh over all the darling hen house pictures on Pinterest (the one with the upholstered chair and curtains?)  but chickens are nasty and smelly and kind of gross.  Their eggs are not perfect little packages of protein.  They are perfect little shit-covered packages of protein.

And be sure to watch for predators and your dog.

The next step they say they want to take is to get a goat or two.  A goat.  A goat.  Maybe two.  Goats are herd animals.  If you get one goat, that goat will be miserable.  And I don't care if little Flower Forest Rain-Thumper will spend every waking minute with the one goat.  You have to have TWO goats.  And now that you have your two goats, what the heck are you going to do with them?  Oh, you don't want to castrate the male, because OMG-NATURE?  Good choice.  Be prepared for the smell.  Be prepared to explain to little Flower why the widdle-sweetie pie goatie-umpkins is pleasuring himself on the fence post.  Have you ever seen a goat penis?  Yeah, that's something you never forget.  

Oh, you are going to breed your goats and milk them.  Good.  That's wonderful (no, really it is).  But please realize that to keep goats in milk you will be bringing more goats into the world.  How will you handle that?  Give the babies away, sell them, kill them?  Also things go wrong.  Are you ready to help deliver a goat?  Are you ready to deliver a stillborn goat?  Are you ready to repair a prolapse?  Are you ready to put your pet goat out of it's misery due to internal injuries?  Most normal vets don't do house calls.

You don't just get some animals on Craigs List and put them in a flowered field and walk away in your prairie skirt and fringy moccasins.

Ok, there.  I feel better.


Saturday, May 19, 2012

Be Forewarned, I Have Found a New Craft....

I have discovered how to stencil T-shirts with freezer paper and bleach and I won't rest until every article of clothing in this house bears an image.  I have started with these two.

THIS IS A VIKING.  My maiden name is Degerstrom and all of my life people have asked me where I am from. I sound Swedish?    My Norse ancestry has instilled in me a love of the following:  Swedish fish, ummm...Volvo's?, Oh----meatballs, Dolph Lundgren and the chef from the Muppet Show.  We are a prideful race.  (Is Swedish a race?)  Anyway my daughter likes vikings so I made this.  Ya.

Us Swedes have a strong appreciation for self-deprecating humor.  Therefore we must honor our hero.

Liz Lemon.

If you want to know how to do this....wait have you been reading my blog for long because I REALLY suck at giving directions.  But essentially you trace an image onto the non-shiny side of freezer paper (not wax paper) cut out the image with an X-acto knife and then iron the stencil-shiny side down onto your shirt.  I put another piece on the inside of the shirt to keep the bleach from bleeding through.  Then you take it outside-OUTSIDE and lightly spray with a 1 part water-1 part bleach solution.  Then you can leave the shirt alone and walk away and let it dry or you can pick it up immediately because you have NO patience and peel the paper off.  If you do this, the image will be a bit smudgy, but that's ok.  Also you may want to cover the parts of the shirt you don't want bleached or you'll get a tie-dye effect.  WHICH I LIKE-THANK YOU VERY MUCH.    It's fun and you could also use fabric paint which would be cool too.

Now if you will excuse me, I have to go bleach my face onto my husband's work clothes.


Friday, May 18, 2012

Bee Calm & Carry On....

I truly enjoy keeping goats and chickens, even though there are times when it is hard.  When a predator comes into the yard and kills a chicken, my first thought is to quit.  It feels like I have failed in my responsibility to protect my animals.  I have had to bury a tiny baby goat because I didn't check on him on a hot afternoon even though I knew he was weak.  Guilt pricks and stabs at me and I think about selling the entire herd because I am not a good enough steward.  The satisfaction of routine always wins over and I keep on.

A few years ago I was given an opportunity to try beekeeping.  Then the next winter, all of my bees died.  So, I  did what I always do and convinced myself to quit. Last summer came and I found myself missing my bees terribly.  As much as I love keeping goats and chickens, beekeeping is different.  I have never been what you may call an easy going person.  I tend to lean toward the dramatic.  With bees you cannot fake calm.  You have to be calm.  Before doing any work with bees you have to take a deep breath and reach deep down and find your confidence and strength.  I have never meditated but I think it must be the same sort of thing.  So this winter I ordered a package of bees, determined to try again.

They came yesterday.

I had destroyed a lot of the old bee equipment, since I was not sure if the bee's demise was due to disease .  The pieces that I kept were disinfected with heat.  I purchased new foundation and prepared the frames.

I had never introduced a nuc of new bees to a hive before, so I asked a lot of questions, re-read my books and watched a few You Tube videos.  Then I just did it.

First you remove the plywood covering the nuc entrance and remove the can of syrup.  The Queen cage is hanging from the same entrance.

I removed the cage and knocked her attendants off.   Then attached her to the frame.  There is a piece of sugar candy that her attendants will eat, this slowly releases her from the cage.  This allows the rest of the hive to become used to her.  I think if you just dump her in, they may not recognize her as the Queen and kill her.

Then I turned the entire nuc over and shook all 10,000 bees into the hive.  I can't describe the feeling of  exposing yourself to TEN THOUSAND bees.  I wore my gloves, but I decided to forgo the veil.  My husband stood off to the side taking pictures and saying things like, "Woah, wait...are you sure?"  I was.

Then I replaced the frames, carefully.  I placed the can of syrup and a protein patty in the upper super and put the hive back together.

I have bees in my hair.  BEES IN MY HAIR.  I am calm...I am calm...

If you are wondering, I did not get stung.

And I have bees once again.  I find myself sneaking down back every hour or so to check on them and I am happy.  And CALM.

Smiles from the farm,

Also here is a picture of The Other Duck.  He may be getting a new girlfriend this weekend.  And what is he sitting on?  You'll see.  Soon!

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Mrs. Emery's Elephant...

I've been digging.  You know how some blogs post about the wonderful things that they've found thrifting?  Well look what I found digging in my own piles of junk!

It is a neat little book called "Singer Sewing Skills Reference Book", published in 1954.  On each page there are actual examples of the stitches on real fabric.

I would like three yards of this for a nice summer dress, please.

 On the back inner cover is the book owner's measurements.  Florence's measurements:
  • Waist 31
  • Bust 37
  • Hips 41
  • Length from neck to waist back 14 1/2 + 28 shirt 42 1/2
  • Height 55
  • Hem 14 inches from floor
37-31-41  Wow, Florence was a BRICK-HOUSE.  MIGHTY-MIGHTY.

It's funny the things you find in books.  This letter was stuck between the pages.

May 2, 1959
Sat nite

Dear Florence,
Have been going to write to you since you came down but I had a bad cold and was sick in bed.

It has been dark, rainy and gloomy for the last 3 or 4 days, but today it is warm and beautiful out.

Was glad to see you, and wish you would try to get down more often.

How is Robert?  Bet he is doing very good in school.  Tell him to write to me if he finds time.

Why don't you write to me when you can?

I got two letters and stamps from my mother this morning and I wrote back to her.  She is cleaning house, papering, and painting the kitchen.

Well I hope mother will understand everything, because I don't.  I am sorry for a lot of the things that I did, and said, but some things mother said I did I never done, and it hurts and don't help me get better any faster.

She is a very nervous person, and so am I, and two nervous people can't get along together can they?

Well guess I'll close for now.

Good-bye Dear
With Love,

PS:  If you come down to see me don't come Thursday after noon unless after 4 P.M.

Say hello to Bob for me.

Poor Gloria.  I wonder if she ever confronted her mother about those things she never did do but her mother said she'd done?  If she did, I wonder if she got better faster?  And why did Florence keep this letter?  Maybe Gloria actually did do all those things she said she never done but her mother said she did do and Florence knew it.  I guess we'll never know.

There was also a check stuck in the book.  I KNOW!  It is from the Treasurer of the United States, written on December 1, 1939.  I may be RICH.  Well it is for 19 cents but with interest, maybe??? Yeah, probably not.  I wonder why it was never cashed?  It is made out to Maurice Spearin and Wallace Emery.  Probably Wallace received the check and didn't want to share with Maurice and squirelled it away in his wife's sewing book.  Damn it Wallace, poor Maurice probably waited and waited his whole life to get his 9 1/2 cents from the "Gubment" and here it is after all that time.

Florence was called to jury duty on the first Tuesday of September 1961.  On the back of the envelope she noted that she needed:

  • 1 kitchen curtain
  • 1 dining room curtain
  • 2 bedroom curtains
These were to be gray and blue.  She also needed 2 living room curtains and she reminded herself to turn on the lights.  Wait, why did she have to remind herself to turn on the lights?  That's weird.  Besides, she also noted that rent was $55.00 this month and the lights were $3.00.  I'd be careful with just turning on the lights willy-nilly with those rates, Florence.  She also needed some kaopectate-in cursive and print, FOR CAT.  Was she really giving her cat Kaopectate?  Oh, that Florence.

In the back of the book were a few loose pages of hand-copied patterns.  There is an elephant, penguin, kangaroo, bunny, horse and a boy and a girl.  I made up the elephant with some vintage fabric I had on hand.

After doing a little research on the patterns, I found that Florence had neglected to copy the head/trunk grommet which messed up my elephant's face.  Also there were no any directions, so the ears are attached wrong.  This is the way he should have looked...I'll try to recreate the missing piece and try again.  

Have a great day!


Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Liam's Awesome Birthday Present

Yesterday was Liam's 7th birthday.  Wow.  Let me just sit here for a moment with that.  Ok.  Still.  Wow.

Gift giving occasions are getting harder and harder with him.  After seven years of giving gifts to a child who has never developmentally progressed beyond 4 to 6 months, we've pretty much gone though everything he might like at the toy store.

Because I am maxed out on stuffed animals and we have EVERY Disney/Pixar movie every produced, it is time to take things into my own hands.

When the boys were babies I found one of these Sesame Street Infant Gyms at a yard sale for 50 cents.

 Matty loved it to death.  No, really he did.  As he got bigger he tore that sucker A-P-A-R-T.  I was sad when I finally couldn't fix it with hot glue and duct tape.

So, I thought about getting Liam a new gym.  Now, I don't really care that I have to shop for my 7 year old in the infant department, but all of the baby gyms were just that...for babies.  Liam is not a baby.  He's a big boy and I decided that a pastel Winnie-the-Pooh baby gym is not okay.

I thought about it and thought about it and figured it out and bought all the pieces and then brought them back because they were all wrong.  (I was making it WAY too difficult).

I started with a length of 1" PVC.  This was about $5.00.

I decided I wanted the gym to be two feet tall and two feet across.  So I cut three pieces of PVC at that length and four pieces for the feet at about twelve inches each.   I used a hack saw and it cut pretty easily and also messily.  I would suggest doing this outside next time.

I attached these O rings to the top bar.  They were $1.00. To do it, pound a nail in with the heel of a boot.  When that doesn't work, heat up the nail with a lighter to try to get it in easier.  Then burn your stupid self.  After that go get the drill and make four small starter holes.  It's amazing how easy they go in after that.

Then I used two 90 degree elbows (sold right across from the PVC at Home Depot.  I WISH someone had told ME that-duh) to attach my three-two foot sections.

I attached the legs with a T thingy.  What are those called?  Hooker onners, attatchers?  Whatever.  All of these "whatever they are calleds" came to about $5.00.

Well I thought I had more pictures to show how I hooked them all together.  But you probably get the idea.  I guess I got too excited.  Anyway.  After I put it together, I covered it with decorative flaming duct tape ($4.00).  NO PASTELS.

I hooked some clips ($4.00 for all four) and with a jump rope from the Dollar Store and a few toys (yes that is a cat jingle ball-he likes jingly things-don't judge :o)  (Toys=$5.00)  We can switch the toys out when he gets bored or I get tired of hearing the jingly ball.

Here it is!  Awesome.

So for less than $20.00 and about an hour's worth of my time, I'm pretty happy with it.  Now let's see how long it takes his brother to destroy it.  Put me in for twenty bucks on less than a month.


Edited to add:  It took him less than 15 minutes.  No worries, some glue and we're back in business.  I think Matty has a career as a product tester though.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Prom Night

This was prom weekend . Kass only decided to go a week ago.  Unfortunately all of the prom dresses were pretty picked over at the stores.  Luckily, I know my way around a sewing machine.  

I remember my prom.  Or better yet, I remember my dress, my hair, the flowers, make up, shoes.  I can even tell you to the penny how much everything cost, because I have kept all of the receipts and tags in a scrap book.  What?  That's not weird.  The actual prom was pretty boring.  The dressing up?  Awesome.  

Prom 1988

Things have changed a lot in the 24 years since my prom. Kass forgot her eyeliner, but was able to borrow her date's.  That's something I've never been able to say.  There was also a boy wearing 3 inch heels and a red gown.  My grandmother used to cluck her tongue at our 80's androgynous hair and boys with earrings.  Am I my grandmother?  

My little tomboy let me put fake eyelashes on her and curl her hair and dress her in satin and sparkles.

When I asked her if she had a good time, she said.  "Meh.  The prom was boring but dressing up was fun."  So at least some things stay the same.


Sunday, May 13, 2012

My porch is no longer pink...

I've changed the name of the blog to...well you can see the title right up there.  Get it?  Front Porch POSTS.  Right!  Right!

I've even got my very own Earl.

I mean URL.

So now all I have to do is write some posts...and post haste.

I'll get on that.