30 November 2018

Friday Fortius

29 November 2018

The Bowl of Life

A few months ago, I bought my fall bulbs. I planned to pull up all my rocks with crochet coverings and all the red rock I've incorporated into my garden, thin out the irises, plant the bulbs, and establish new flower triangles, like I did the first year, before putting down another layer of soil. Then I'd have fun redesigning with the red rocks and the rocks with crochet coverings.

Well, none of that happened, and it's not likely to happen now, with our first ice box of the season hitting full force next week.

One of the bags of hyacinth bulbs, which I'd placed in the veggie drawer in the fridge, got moldy. This had always worked before, and I could pull out a new bulb every month and have forced indoor hyacinths in glass jars all winter long, making my house smell heavenly. I was pretty discouraged to lose 10 blue flower bulbs.

indoor  blossoms

I didn't want to risk losing the exotic hyacinth and daffodil bulbs I didn't get in the ground, so I planted them in a terra cotta bowl!

This bowl contains 9 or 10 of the Holland blue/white hyacinth mix and four of the exotic daffodil bulbs! After they bloom, I can still put them in the garden, and next year, I'll have more hyacinths than ever in the garden!


27 November 2018

A Sweet Tradition

Back when I was a child, my parents would give each of us seven kids a book of Life Savers in our stockings each year. This was back when a book of Life Savers contained 10, and later 8, rolls of individually packaged flavors such as Wild Cherry, Mixed Berries, Tangerine, Butter Rum, Root Beer, Cinn-O-Mon, Cryst-O-Mint, Pep-O-Mint, Spear-O-Mint, and our most favorite... Wint-O-Green.

We would quickly break into the packages and dig out the wintergreen candy, then run to the bathroom and, with the lights out, chew the candy in front of the mirror to watch the sparks. It was a Christmas ritual.

Check out those awesome Life Saver snowflakes!!!

Back then, we could buy a roll of Life Savers for a nickle. I think the book of Life Savers was under a dollar. Remember penny candy??? A whole roll of Life Savers for a nickle was such a good deal, and one roll would last so long! ...Unless it was Wint-O-Green.

It's a scientific marvel called triboluminescence.

Now a roll of Life Savers runs about a buck and a half, if you can find one, and the Life Saver books are anywhere from $3 to a mind-choking $6. But these days, a book of Life Savers contains only the five-flavor rolls, and there are only four rolls in the book. The front section of the book now is a piece of heavy paperboard.

Aaaah, the good old days. I recently got the opportunity to spend time with my adoptive grands, and we decorated Halloween cookies. We might not get another chance to get all three or four families together before Christmas, so I shared a favorite Christmas memory with them at the end of the evening.

I bought two packages of Wint-O-Green Life Savers and had the parents turn out the lights after we had distributed candy to each of the 16 kids. I told them to stand in a circle so we could see each other's mouths, then let their eyes adjust to the (not very dark) darkness, and then we all chewed at the same time. I told them about the sparks we loved to watch as kids.

The kids were SO excited!

But nothing happened.

I hadn't tested it before I went to the cookie-decorating party to see if the magic still works. I felt like a heel.

It was time for everyone to go home, so I gave the rest of the Life Savers to the parents and told the kids to try it at home in their bathrooms, with the lights off, looking in the mirror while whey chewed.

The next night, my phone rang, and two of the kiddos called to elatedly and enthusiastically report that it works! They thanked me again for the cookies and the Life Savers, and they told me again and again how cool it was to watch the blue lightning in the mirror!

It was my first phone call ever from any of my grandkids!!!

I think now I'm going to have to teach all 16 of them to build Life Saver trains!

26 November 2018

Snowflake Monday

The Christmas season is officially upon us, so it's time to decorate the snowflakes!

My eighth pdf snowflake pattern booklet was released a couple of weeks ago, and I'm raising money to fight Parkinson's Disease this time around. Read more about the booklet here.

One of the patterns included in the booklet is my Polar Snowflake, and I've picked up a few sweet prizes for the creators of the best Polar Snowflake variations.

You may dress up the Polar Snowflake pattern any way you like, post a photo on Instagram with the tag #PolarSnowflake2018, and we'll have readers and viewers select the winners. If you don't have an Instagram account and don't want one, you may send a photo of your creation to me (flake at snowcatcherphotos dot com), and I'll post it for you with your name or code name.

Prizes will include:

a gift certificate for a crochet hook on Etsy

a gift certificate for Fire Mountain Gems danglies


a gift certificate for a set of Lizbeth Thread from Handy Hands Tatting

I also have a gift certificate for a quad of Elmer's Glow in the Dark Glue for the best design using today's pattern, tagged on Instagram with #SnowboundSnowflake2018, same rules as above.

Each crocheter may receive only one gift certificate, but you may enter as many times as you like. Voting will begin on Monday, December 3, 2018, and winners will be announced on Monday, December 10, 2018.

I do not have any sponsors. I bought these gift certificates with my own money because I want to help in the battle against Parkinson's Disease. I want to help in the search to find a cure. If you haven't already, please consider making a tax-deductible donation to the Michael J. Fox Foundation or the Davis Phinney Foundation to obtain my latest pdf snowflake pattern booklet and to participate in the Polar Snowflake contest.

I've used today's snowflake pattern to give you some creative inspiration.

You may add danglies or change up the points.

You may add beads.

You may work filet crochet, or you may cover a rock.

You may use color.

You may turn it into a mandala.

You may make it smaller.

You may make it bigger.

You may make it glow.

Let's see what you can do to decorate the Polar Snowflake or the Snowbound Snowflake!

You may do whatever you'd like with snowflakes you make from this pattern, but you may not sell or republish the pattern. Thanks, and enjoy!

Finished Size: 4 inches from point to point
Materials: Size 10 crochet thread, size 7 crochet hook, empty pizza box, wax paper or plastic wrap, cellophane tape, water soluble school glue or desired stiffener, water, glitter, small container for glue/water mixture, paintbrush, stick pins that won't be used later for sewing, clear thread or fishing line

Snowbound Snowflake Instructions

Make magic ring.

Round 1: Ch 2 (counts as 1 dc), 4 dc in ring, remove hook from loop and insert in 2nd ch of starting ch 2, insert hook back through loop of 4th dc and pull through ch loop (starting popcorn stitch made), * ch 3, 5 dc in ring, pull hook out of loop (dropped loop) and insert in top loop of 1st dc of this 5/dc group, insert in dropped loop, pull dropped loop through top loop of 1st dc (popcorn stitch made); repeat from * around 4 times; ch 1, 1 dc in starting popcorn to form 6th ch 3 sp of Round. Pull magic circle tight.

Round 2: Ch 2 (counts as 1 dc), 2 dc over post of dc directly below, [in next ch 3 sp work 3 dc, ch 1, 3 dc] 5 times; 3 dc in next ch 3 sp, ch 1, sl st in 2nd ch of starting ch 2.

Round 3: Ch 2 (counts as 1 dc), 1 dc in same ch as sl st, 1 dc in each of next 5 dc, [1 dc in next ch 1 sp, ch 1, 1 dc in same sp, 1 dc in each of next 6 dc] 5 times; 1 dc in next ch 1 sp, ch 1, sl st in 2nd ch of starting ch 2.

Round 4: Ch 2 (counts as 1 dc), 1 dc in same ch as sl st, 1 dc in each of next 7 dc, [1 dc in next ch 1 sp, ch 1, 1 dc in same sp, 1 dc in each of next 8 dc] 5 times; 1 dc in next ch 1 sp, ch 1, sl st in 2nd ch of starting ch 2.
If you're not reading this pattern on Snowcatcher, you're not reading the designer's blog. Please go here to see the original.

Round 5: Ch 2 (counts as 1 dc), 1 dc in same ch as sl st, 1 dc in each of next 9 dc, [1 dc in next ch 1 sp, ch 1, 1 dc in same sp, 1 dc in each of next 10 dc] 5 times; 1 dc in next ch 1 sp, ch 1, sl st in 2nd ch of starting ch 2.

Round 6: Ch 2 (counts as 1 dc), 1 dc in same ch as sl st, 1 dc in each of next 11 dc, [1 dc in next ch 1 sp, ch 3, 1 dc in same sp, 1 dc in each of next 12 dc] 5 times; 1 dc in next ch 1 sp, ch 3, sl st in 2nd ch of starting ch 2; bind off. Weave in ends.

Finish: Tape wax paper or plastic wrap to top of empty pizza box. Pin snowflake to box on top of wax paper or plastic wrap.

If using glue, mix a few drops of water with a teaspoon of glue in small washable container. Paint snowflake with glue mixture or desired stiffener. Sprinkle lightly with glitter. Wash paintbrush and container thoroughly. Allow snowflake to dry at least 24 hours. Remove pins. Gently peel snowflake from wax paper or plastic wrap. Attach 10-inch clear thread to one spoke, weaving in end. Wrap fishing line around tree branch (or tape to ceiling or any overhead surface) and watch snowflake twirl freely whenever you walk by! Snowflake also may be taped to window or tied to doorknob or cabinet handle.

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