Monday, December 28, 2015

Christmas Day is over, but the Christmas season continues for a little while

Hello, everyone.

I was right to think that life would get in the way of blogging for a few days.

We did get some little bits of Christmas decorating done before The Day, though:

The biggest Nativity ended up in our room.

Detail of the angel on top--it had been part of a string of angel lights but the clip broke off.

A nod to Pinterest: peanut M&M candies, candle cups with tea lites, and a condiment tray

DM gave me an ostrich egg a few years back to decorate. This year it is hanging from the chandelier in the dining room.

Two hen eggs--the front one has an angel hanging inside the opening. The one in back--it was just there when I took a photo--is painted gold with some texture. These are hanging in the kitchen eating area, from another chandelier type light. The bows were added to unify the various eggshells on the fixture.

Saturday, December 19, 2015

It's maybe a little early for this but...

Hello, everyone.

We're getting busy as the Advent season winds to a close and with all the family things going on I got a little worried that this one would not go up:

As we commemorate the birth of our Savior, I wish for all of you His blessings of grace and mercy and joy.

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Ants, ants, ants

Hello, everyone.

I remembered again today why I hate ants so much. Well, one of the reasons: Cutter Ants.

I had 2 of these Gold Dust Crotons in the yard. This one is still pretty.

Cutter ants found this one and took every single leaf off of it. It's only now beginning to get new ones.
The Cutter Ants also bite very painfully--but my primary objection is the way they kill plants. Pine trees, roses, pecan trees, grape vines, palm trees, jacaranda trees, figs, redbud trees, perennials, annuals--they even take the leaves from okra!

Sunday, December 13, 2015

Some maintenance required

Hello, everyone.

We were getting out Christmas decorations, unwrapping tissue paper blobs and tubes to see what was packed where, when we found these:

Who remembers the Michelob bottle wise men?
The taller set was made while we were gone on Pilgrimage 2014, by DD2. The shorter set was made many years ago by MIL. As you can see, the kinds of materials available more recently are different.

When DD2 left to go back to school, she asked me to put some gold braid around the necks of the wise men. And, not being Christmas season, similar braid was hard to find. I made right-angle-weave pearl collars for the wise men instead, glued their heads on, and put them aside for Christmas of last year.

Everything was cool then. They were cute and DD2 was happy at how her set of wise men was looking. But that was a year ago. Apparently things got a little too rambunctious in the storage box over the summer and one of the wise men lost his head.

Maybe I should stick something onto the bottom to fit inside the bottle neck when I glue it back together? Must consider.

Saturday, December 12, 2015

Warm Spell in December

Hello, everyone.

The weather has turned a bit warmer lately, and it looks like one of those years when we want to wear shorts and tees on Christmas day.

The hibiscus is blooming.

The daffodils are waking up (paperwhites.)

The salvia that sowed itself around the garden is in bloom. The cage is to keep the animals from trampling the plant.

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

A refreshing bit of memories: Montes de Oca

Hello, everyone.

Yesterday was very busy, with a large party for many children, and the pleasure of working with wonderful ladies! Today I find myself needing to rest a little--rest mentally, that is, with memories of one of our 2014 Camino days.

We departed from the parish albergue in Villambistia at our usual crack-of-dawn time. We walked along seeing the dew on the flowers and watching the cloudless sky change colors. The trail wasn't a completely abandoned place, but we weren't in a huge clump of people, like you may have seen in various Camino movies (like The Way when characters depart from St. Jean.) By the time you get as far as the area of Tosantos and Villambistia everyone is thinned out and less crowded. We got to Villafranca (one of the many Villafrancas, but I can't remember which one just now) about 9:30 and had coffee.

Then we started walking over the range of hills called Montes de Oca. According to the wonderful guidebook The Pilgrimage Road to Santiago: The Complete Cultural Handbook (This book is highly recommended--get it on Kindle, read it before you go and refer to it as needed on the way.) the Montes de Oca had at one point been a nest of bandits. It's not at all flat, and there's loads of cover, and when there was only horse travel, feet travel, and slow clumsy wagon travel it was probably perfect for the robbers to hide in. These days there is a marked trail which connects to some dirt roads that were put in to service windmills. There are no services between the last village before this and San Juan de Orbigo.

A waymark on the side of the road

This looks remote, but in the distance there is another little group of pilgrims.

The bridge at the bottom of the ravine. This bit is steep, both going down and coming up. Note arrows painted on bridge.

Just for pretty!

Another pretty flower
At the end of this forested bit, you come to the old monastery of San Juan. San Juan is one of the Engineer Saints of the Camino. He had been a disciple of Santo Domingo de Calzada. After Santo Domingo (another Engineer Saint) died, he came to this place and made a monastery. Santo Domingo and San Juan were responsible for getting roads and bridges built that would never have been there at all back in the middle ages. The monastery is currently being restored. We saw the casket where the saint's remains rest and the church. The monastery was listed as an albergue in various guide books, but it was too early to stop so we ate bocadillo at the little cafe and took pictures of the church and headed on down the road.

The monastery of San Juan de Orbigo

Monday, December 7, 2015

Stringing materials

Hello, everyone.

It's been pretty busy around here, getting ready for the holidays and for the incoming houseguests, and so this will be a quick post about something kind of timeless: bead stringing materials.

Some of the stash on hand!
In the photo, there are Nymo D, Beadalon multistranded wire, Accuflex multistranded wire, Fireline braided cord, Seaguar braided cord, and elastic Powercord.

I like the way that the Nymo goes into the size 10 beading needle. I do have to pull the end together sometimes, even dampen it a little on occasion, but once the end is through the eye it moves very smoothly. It is if anything too smooth! Placing a stop bead is more of an act of faith than a way to keep the beads from rolling off the far end of the thread. Knots come undone--in fact, I've begun using Fray-check to glue them in place. (Don't use Fray-check in just any situation; it has a potential to dry with a little bit of yellowish tint. So not the thing with white beads!)

The Fireline, and the Seaguar both come in various sizes. The Seaguar, in fact, came home from Wal-Mart with me because I couldn't find any Fireline in the fishing department. This spool is 8 pound braided line, and it's not the foggy-white color of "crystal" Fireline, it's actually transparent. I used it for part of the crystal diamond tree ornament, after managing to break the strand of 10 pound Fireline I was using in the middle. (This did take effort, accidental though it was. I had frayed the living daylights out of the thread with the needle eye trying to pull too thick of needle and cord through the beads too many times. Eventually the frayed part was inside of a bead while it was being pulled on and it just broke.) I find the really transparent line hard to keep track of, but it works well so far with the beads, and I'll probably add it to the pile of threads to keep around. At least, I have a long spool to play with!

The Beadalon and the Accuflex are reasonably similar in uses and characteristics. I have had some bad luck in choosing sizes of crimps to use, but with the correct size of crimp it holds well. It doesn't get eaten by the sharp edges of beads and it's thin. I don't think I'd want to try and thread it through a needle, though.

The Powercord is useful for making bracelets. I don't have the system quite worked out yet, though--wore a bracelet (one strand of elastic and maybe 10mm round beads) to an exercise class once and the knot came undone during the bouncing. Oops. That was before I'd heard of using glue, though, and possibly a second strand of elastic would have helped.

Lately I've been doing more bead weaving than just stringing, so the Fireline and Seaguar have been used much more than the others. The Nymo did get used in making dangling snowflakes for a Christmas tree. Fraycheck was used liberally on those knots!

Dangling ornament for a Christmas tree

Thursday, December 3, 2015

More Christmas Stash-busting

Hello, everyone.

Like many people who have gone on a walking pilgrimage, we returned and found in ourselves an urge to simplify our life--to include getting rid of excess possessions.

We've taken numerous trips over to the Salvation Army drop-off, and we've taken books to the local Friends of the Library for their little bookshop.

And I've been using up craft supplies in preference to buying great loads of stuff. (Still have to buy staples like Black Kona cotton for quilting, though!) Every time I see something that looks Really Neat, I remember that I'm swimming in stash already and promise myself to come back for this Neat Thing when the decks are a little more clear.

This morning I pulled out some more marinating craft supplies and decided to use them up to make more Christmas ornaments--this time, for the Altar Society tree at church. (To replace old ones that had broken over time.)

My Dremel was involved--I drilled a small hole at the top and bottom of each snowflake.

Then I took them upstairs and strung them with beads, also from stash, using Nymo, also from stash. That Nymo D is really, really slick--and not exactly in a good way. Stop beads just slide right on off, and it's hard to get a knot to hold. I did repeat tie them a lot, and I also pulled out my handy-dandy Fray-Check to dab onto the knots. I didn't use up all the little wooden snowflakes in one day's work, but I did get 4 dangly things made for the tree. And used up a bunch of beads--seeds, crackle rounds, pearls, etc. etc.

Probably, since time is short, I'll just hang the rest of the little snowflakes on our house tree, the one the visiting baby will be able to reach, without adding lots of beads for decoration. Beads are not a good food item for babies!