Saturday, November 13, 2010

Art Makes Things Better

After my series of meetings yesterday my lovely oldest daughter took Grace and my grandson Grant to the zoo. That means for the second time this week I have a glorious few hours of alone time. During that time I did a bit of knitting (finishing up a baby sweater for a friend) and later (much later) in the evening after some chocolate therapy involving cookie baking. I free-handed a map of the world on my ginormous canvas. The really amazing bit (because I always start these things dubious as to whether I can pull it off) is that the map I sketched looks awesome! Sure the Saudi Arabian peninsula is a tad smoother than real life but hey...I'm all about impressionism. I just pulled a world map up on my computer pulled out a mechanical pencil and went to town.

This painting cannot sit around for more thinking as we are having another open house tomorrow and It is really too big to hang around tucked in behind the TV-I need to get it up on the wall :). When I get home from work today I am going to mix up a greeny-blue ocean and then paint the land masses a plain beige-y brown. The real goal is digging out money, tickets and stuff from our trips. David already has his tube ticket from London. I have 20 pesos from Mexico and I am sure there is some Germany stuff hanging about. Now the question I wire? glue? pin? or use some-other way to fix the stuff on my art.

Now..time to stop thinking about art and start thinking about Pre that art too? :)


Sunday, October 3, 2010

Ages Without A Post

I have spent the last more than a month writing on my other blog but neglecting this one.


My work ramped up I am now working more than full time at two different colleges teaching and writing grants (Three days a week). Two other days I babysit my 2 year old grandson who is a bundle of funny bones and mr. talky talk (all in a good and love him dearly kind of way). Starting last week i was added a worked task and now am up to 4 days a week. I used to have Friday's to myself for crafting but that is the new one claimed for work.

On top of all of the work I volunteered myself onto a neighborhood newspaper in and around July. That continues to take a bit of my time (but a fun bit).

Now we are looking at new places to live (with acreage) and will need to be packing up all of the extra clutter (I have a lot of crafty clutter) in preparation to put our house on the market.


I have been working on a black sweater for most of August and September and it is finally coming to a finish. I have just the collar left to make and am thinking about swapping out the recommended rolled and knitted one for some crochet lace perhaps?

I washed and blocked two sweaters one worked really well the second..still sitting on the towel on the guest bedroom stretched and pulled. I am afraid to go look because I think I overly felted it. I threw it into the washer with just a hint of warmth in the water. You see I have lost quite a bit of weight since I made my pretty green wrap sweater and I was hoping that I could get it to tighten up just a tad. Well it did tighten but really the sleeves tightened and it got shorter. When I finally get up enough nerve to go in and look at it again I will snap a picture and let you know the state of things.

In August and September I did quite a bit of shopping. I have been slowly collected antique linens, patterns and knitting books in garage sales or antique malls. I even found a really nifty woven basket to carry small knitting projects around in. I will snap some pics soon and put them in.

The garden is finally bursting forth with vegetables. I have tomatoes on the vine (yellow, maroon, green and red). I have a small watermelon ready to pick. I have sad little corn stalks trying to produce cobs. There are potatoes, parsnips, beets, yams, green beans, squash and finally bushels of lemon cucumbers.

Monday, July 26, 2010

My Name is Tina and I Have a Project Problem

I had an excuse (David's work) to go down to a knitting shop that I rarely visit. David had an hour before a meeting that he had to attend and I acted as chauffeur as he was feeling a tad under the weather (you know..he 'had' to go but I thought he should have been tucked in bed). While we waited for the meeting to start I dragged the poor guy into the knitting store so I could have a little look around.

Ok...before you get all worried about David..they had a couch he sat on and wifi so he spent some web time in a comfortable place.

Grace and I had a little look around. I said I would not buy anything. Um..well...Grace saw this really cute sleeve thing with beads and ruffles that looks really easy to knit and then of course we needed to pick out just the right shade of yarn (red sock yarn)..then we found a button for her already completed sweater. and then I needed a bit of red yarn for a friends baby due at Christmas time (a boy and I am planning on a pair of socks and hat in red and a green cardigan). Then I found just the right shade of beige to start over on the lace skirt that I quit and frogged in frustration during the lace class (I vowed that I would make the thing and I am holding to that vow even if it takes years).

I will not name the sum of money spent but needless to say it was uncalled for as these projects fall in line at the end of many yet to be finished projects that wait for me to start and/or finish them. I need to put in some serious knitting time during our vacation next week to redeem my self.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Busy Busy

Things have been all action around here for the past couple of weeks. I will try and upload a few pictures tomorrow. The bottom line is we have been spending more time doing stuff than we have been documenting the doing. Here is a run down:

1. David mastered his quest for wonderful sour dough bread. It was very mellow and delicious but in order to keep it going I have to live with a living thing in my refrigerator that must be fed and watered every few days (sounds like a small pet minus the poo).

2. We have gone on several mid-distance bike rides. one 10 mile, one 8 mile and one 6 mile. We are planning on another this weekend.

3. The lace failure has paralyzed my knitting bug. I have only knitted 4 rows since mylast post and those were 'normal' knitting.

4. My job has been picking up. Three of my tutoring students came back from their summer holidays, It is midterm time and tests must be written and finally my third job has had some paperwork to edit. I also have random papers to write for upcoming presentations and such.

5. The garden is perking up. The peas finished and Grace and I replanted with beets, carrots and parsnips. The green beans are now on full (have to pick daily) and I am getting a bit of broccoli every couple of days. I am just a couple of days away from harvesting some brussel sprouts as well.

6. My house is breaking out in mess!! :)

Tuesday, July 13, 2010


I took a class on Sunday in order to learn how to knit lace. I can crochet lace I even learned once how to tat it....knitting it is soooooooooo frustrating right now. I started a skirt out of linen yarn (OK...maybe too big of a leap for a beginner)...It didn't work and has been frogged. I got out an some old leftover green wool and tried the same patterns as the skirt but for a much smaller scarf...I hate scarves....i just ripped it out because although I had something that resembled lace it was not done well...or even close to what the pattern showed. I started a tank top with the linen yarn but the ribbing stitch will take too long to get through before I hit any lace. This is counter-productive.

It feels like this (borrowed picture from

So I don't know what to do now. I have a second follow-up class on Thursday. I need an easy fun lace pattern to make...I guess I need to trawl revelry. Do any of you have any ideas?

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Knitters Abbreviations

From the webpage

I bought a new pattern to make myself a thin black sweatet. The pattern: featherweight Cardigan by Hannah Fettig. The yarn is a fine black sock weight nylon yarn.

I didn't even get past the first row and had difficulty reading the pattern. Until now I have only made patterns from Knitting Pure and Simple. One thing I love about the Knitting Pure and Simple Patterns is that all of the abbreviations are explained on the pattern itself.

On the new Knitbot pattern I had to stop after the first row and come home to look up what m meant---mark...sheesh how is a poor new knitter to know that? and M1 means make one. Here is the glossary of terms. The cool part is on some of them there is even a linked video. After looking up those two simple code words I am off again and can knit during the weekly horseback riding lessons this afternoon.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Cool Kids Sleep-over Bag

I have been looking for ideas to make quick bags for kids to use. I think this one from Clotilde might just do the trick.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

My Creative 'Spaces'

I am having a bit of a problem paying attention to one project at a time and even a bigger one in organizing my supplies for the habits. The other night I was tired of sitting in my usual 'creative space' This space often involves television, a laptop or a knitting project. Instead I moved myself to my sewing room and had a bit of a sort out and some sewing.

My machine came back from the 'spa' last week for its annual rejuvenation treatment. Honestly she rarely gets her spa treatment annually even though she is supposed to and the cost was dear enough to pay for several spa treatments for me!!

I discovered in my clean out that I have several unfinished projects (don't we all?) that need my attention. I have a tree skirt to update for a friend. It is the gift that keeps on giving. Each year I sew on another handprint for each of her children. Eventually they will be full grown and the skirt will be full.

In this stash of yarn (I think that is all I have squirreled away) There is a Christmas stocking that I need to start over on and then there is Grace's sweater that needs sleeves and a neckband.

There are also a variety of loose knitting needles and knitting stuff to find a home for. Perhaps I need to make a needle bag or two? or perhaps a pink ponytail holder and a gallon sized zip-lock bag (reused) will do?

I finished my little tidy and started something new with old-I found an old scrap from a practice monogram for my daughter Meghan in my drawer of laces and trims. I embroidered this when she was 18 (she is now 23). Adding some additional scraps from my stash I am fashioning her a make-up bag...if I finish it before I go off chasing another project.

It ain't pretty but it is MY Sewing Room..other pics of the room with captions.

Built in cupboards. They are a mess but store a lot of stashed fabric bits and books.

An open closet with three heirloom baby dresses from my grandmother and the lining from one of her dresses in the 40's. I am planning to hang them on the wall.

The sewing machine cabinet closes up into a wardrobe sized cupboard. I love it but never close it.

A messy corner. The hatboxes hold yarn, magazines and bits of fabric. The pile of clothes are old linens and silks earmarked for bag-making. The gray jacket is the jacket my husband wore at our wedding. I am having difficulty cutting it up. Does anyone have any good ideas to make use of it wisely?

I love having a room where my ironing board can stay up all of the time.

My cutting/work table was a library table from the public library in Pasco, Washington, USA. It is a beautiful piece of Oak furniture that they likely replaced with melamine. My grandmother had it as her cutting table and then my mother and now I have it. My daughter would like it for a desk (and I have promised it to her) but I just found a good place for it and I am having trouble letting go. At the end is my serger. It came unthreaded and I cannot figure out how to rethread it. My mother-in-law in far away Wales is the only person who ever manages to figure it out. I really need lessons I think.

These Creative Spaces are brought to you because of Kootoyoo the queen of creativity.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Vegetable Beef Yorkshire Puddings.

In a fit of creativity I made my first batch of Yorkshire puddings in order to produce dinner tonight. I figured I wold document the recipe for future reference here.

Stew-8 oz leftover roast beef
one green pepper
one small onion
3 tomatoes
3/4 cup leftover gravy
1 small leftover potato
salt and pepper to taste.
Chop all of this up and put it into a cast iron stew pot. Bake at 350 degrees f for an hour.

Yorkshire puddings-4 oz all purpose flour, pinch salt, 1 egg, 7oz milk.
Mix the flour, salt and egg together. gradually add milk until you have a smooth batter. refrigerate this while you prep the muffin tins.

Muffin tin prep-pour vegetable oil into each tin just until the bottom of each tin is coated. take out the stew and put the tin into the oven and increase the temp to 425 degrees f. Set the timer for 10 minutes.

In 10 minutes pull out the pan and the batter from the refrigerator (give it a quick stir before pouring). Pour the better into each muffin space (this recipe made 8 large ones). immediately put tin back into the oven for about 20 minutes. The Yorkshire puddings should poof up quite nicely.

Assemble dinner-place one or two Yorkshire puddings into a bowl. ladle on the vegetable beef sauce.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Lots of Action No Blogging

There has been lots going on here in the Johnston house-most of it has even involved 'doing'. The garden is growing beautifully and David has been cooking up a storm. He got a new barbecue for father's day and has been carefully devising meals on it. I have finished a pair of socks that actually fit my grandson and started on a cardigan for Grace. I also started the moccasins but am not satisfied with the way the leather is behaving and have put them aside while I think on it some more. My sewing went into the shop for servicing before I put it to work preparing for the August craft fair in our neighborhood. Below is a sample of pictures from the last month in no particular order.

Launching of a neighborhood newspaper that I am participating in. It has been fun to write articles and take pictures. We went online a couple of weeks ago with the inaugural issue.

Grace at riding lessons

Knitting at horse back riding lessons. I sit near the door so there is light and on a stool. I constantly drop my needles and markers in the dirt and have to find them.

I love chickens. They run around the horse barn freely. I cannot have them in my yard so I get to pretend these ones are mine once a week.

Grace did some water color painting today. Independence day is next Sunday.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Oh The Things I Have Been Doing!

1. Gardening-worms gone, problem spot sorted.
2. Cooking up a storm. Turkey Burger Stew was yummy, Cream of Mushroom soup and lemon scones not so much.
3. One moccasin-not happy with it
4. One grandson sock. It finally fits and I wrote down the number of stitches right before I found a source with a table that helps me do all of the math.
5. Grace's friendship pin pants-finished and looking lovely.

I'm off to work in the morning but will post pics of all of the doings tomorrow afternoon.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Cabbage Worms!!!!

During my last farm report I mentioned some difficulty with my poor holy (and not the divine kind) Broccoli plants. Well we had a crack of sunshine today and both David and I popped out for a stroll around the beds. The herbs..good. The peas are now loaded with budding pea pods. The tomatoes..still be droopy but I saw blossoms as did I on the pepper plants. The brussel sprout plant is huge but the broccoli...

HAS WORMS!!! vast quantities of little green wiggly things. In all of my 5 years of gardening vegetables in the backyard I have never had bug problems. Sure I have seen the odd tomato worm but never ever something to this extent. My guess is the little suckers came with the little plant and have now put the entire garden section into jeopardy.

Now the difficulty-I was not raised organic. My garden has largely been organic because nothing has ever tried to invade it. My first instinct was to go dig in my shed and see what hardcore bug killing chemicals I could find (stuff is in there from years ago). I paused...I breathed...I don't want to go off half-crazy and not think this through. I could give up on broccoli this year...I could find some more natural way.

I searched the web. They said neem spray...a light bulb went off in my brain. I have neem oil in my house. I was told last year when we were invaded with the big lice infestation that it would help keep them from moving in again. I pulled out the bottle that has sat in the cupboard since and took it out to have a trial on the plants. neem oil, peppermint oil and water. T sprayed two test plants and am going to wait and see if 1. the worms die and 2. the plants die. If I gain victory over the evil beasts I will spray some more. If not..I need advice!!


Thursday, June 3, 2010

Bejewled Jeans for Girls With Short Legs

Grace my 8 year old is afflicted with short legs. I am always rolling up her pants (It would just be wasteful to cut them off as she will grow right?). This morning we had an epiphany-instead of cuffing her jeans we rolled them up once and then pinned them with friendship safety pins. Grace makes these pins like crazy and sells them for 25 cents to her friends at school. Although the regular kind can be used we prefer the all brass safety pins as they don't have the loop at the end to deal with and can be unbent and rebent much more easily.

I think I will baste around the top of the cuff for more stability and then commission Grace to make more pins for fun.

Another My Creative Space brought to you by Kootoyoo

Monday, May 31, 2010

The Farm Report

Weeding the herb garden of new toadstools (too much rain and not enough sun)

The raised beds

The Peas have gone crazy in this weather. The shorter plants at the end are a different variety of peas.

If all of the pea blossoms turn into pods we will have a bumper crop this year. Does anyone know if you blanch peas before freezing them?

The onions and leeks are growing quite nicely. The brussel sprout plant has grown a bit but the broccoli is not doing as well.

My sad little broccoli-Something has been snacking on the leaves.

The tomatoes are going yellow with water logged dirt. The peppers seem OK but not growing very fast. Along one end of the bed I have plopped in some mixed greens (I figure if we are going to have cool weather i might as well give in and grow cool weather plants). At the other end is calendula an edible flower. Mine come up volunteer from year to year in nice oranges and yellows.

Zucchini sprout with its first real leaf. This is surrounded by green beans (bush variety).

I replanted the corn today as my first planting didn't sprout. I think the seeds were old. I talked to my aunt and she said my grandfather did not plant corn until June 1st. The green starts you can see are zinnias, nasturtiums (I hope these trail down the wall as summer gets going) and sunflowers around the fence line.

Raspberries ready to grow and ripen when the sun decides to appear.

Below are pictures of flowers and plants bursting forth and happy in our rainy May weather.