28 June 2019


This video demonstrates exactly why cameras are one of the most important tools in raising a child.

27 June 2019

My Dyeing Days

Are you ready for color?!?

I've been saving avocado pits in the freezer for probably about three years now. So I have a healthy stash. It finally got warm enough for me to leave dye jars outside overnight, so I pulled out the blender, crushed up my pits...

And it snowed in the mountains that night!!!

Thankfully, it didn't get that cold where I live, but we did find quite a few baby praying mantises seemingly frozen in time. 38 degrees may have been just a tad too cool for the youngsters.

Nevertheless, it's time to start cooking my avocado dye jars.

Some people do avocados the fast and easy way, and then they are very disappointed with the pastel shades.

If you don't want a summer-long (or longer) project, it is entirely okay to put your CLEAN pits, whole, in a dye-only stainless steel pot, cover the pits with tap water, and simmer (NOT BOIL!!!) for a couple of hours, then let the dye cool and ferment overnight. Then you can strain your dye, compost (or trash) the pits, and soak your T-shirt, fabric, yarn or whatever you plan to dye overnight or two. This process will result in a pastel shade. You will not get intense color using this process, but it does work, and it is much faster than what I'll be doing all summer long.

Please note: Boiling any natural dye (except lichen) will cause the dye to turn brown or even colorless. Your dye pot/jar should not go above about 80-90 degrees. If we have a long run of 100 degrees (F) or higher days this summer, my dye jars will go in the shade or possibly even into the garage for that period.

The nice thing about the slow solar process is you can do other things while your dye is cooking. You don't have to stand over the pot, and you can even go on vacation (provided you have a good house-sitter to gently turn you jars every day or two). (Mold will make your dye turn brown.)

The longer you let your avocado pits and/or skins soak, the stronger your dye will be. The longer you dye your cotton, the deeper the color will be.

Let's get started with this summer's project!

Please read through all my instructions below before starting to make sure you are familiar with the process.

Choose a place to prepare your dye jar that you don't mind spills that might not fade for a while. I prepare my dye jars on my front porch because there is an electrical outlet there, and Lizard doesn't throw a fit if the concrete is stained for a while. The sun usually bleaches it out if it doesn't wash clean on the first day.

You also should wear clothing that won't be offended by an extra drop or two of color. Gloves also are recommended.

For my dye jars, I have six sandwich bags of frozen avocado pits, which should be enough to dye six to twelve shirts, depending upon how deep of color I want. The bags may be reused, but I will use them to collect more avocados. I won't use them in lunches, just because it's easier to keep everything separate than to worry what's okay to be around food and what isn't.

This process is going to take at least three months, so I don't have to worry about which cotton I will be dyeing yet. I can wait for a T-shirt sale. I will have all summer to hank some yarn. As we get closer to actual dyeing, I will show how the cotton needs to be prepared for dyeing. Cotton preparation is fast and easy when using avocado pits and/or skins for dye.

Clean avocado skins may be used also. They are saved, prepared and used the same way as avocado pits. They may be easily torn instead of chopped or cut in the steps below. I haven't saved any skins due to space constraints, but skins are every bit as good for dye as the pits. Some people obtain more pinkish shades from pits, and some obtain more pink from skins. Soil in which the avocado grew, water used during the growing season, type of avocado and age of avocado all will affect color, but these are not factors over which the dyer has control.

I have four canning jars with lids, and one of the lids is a bit rusty. The rust is going to "sadden" the final dye color. That jar will be just a bit darker and muted than the others. None of these jars or lids will ever be used for food.

I have a cheap blender that is used only for dyeing. I have a plastic knife for scraping crushed avocado pits out of the blender. I've been using both for several years; I just clean them off with the garden hose after each use.

I have an old towel with stains from past dyeing sessions. I wash it after each session, but I use it just for dyeing because it's collecting quite a few hues, and I think it will have awesome visual stories to tell when I'm completely done with it.

I have two big jars of rainwater I collected from our last storm. Tap water and/or distilled water both may be used, but I'm using the rainwater because I have it. The water's pH will affect the color; adding lemon juice, vinegar or baking soda will alter the pH level.

I have a small bottle of ammonia, which is not required, but it raises the pH of the water and extracts more color than just plain water.

Put 10-12 clean avocado pits into the blender. You also may cut them with a knife if desired, but I'm not someone who should be trusted with knives. Chopping or cutting the pits provides more surface from which dye may be extracted. Oh, and if you have any avocado left on your pits or skins, that will result in a browner dye, less red and orange.

Cover the pits with water, and add about a tablespoon of ammonia, if desired.

Pulse blend until the biggest avocado pieces are the size of nut pieces.

This is what your dye will look like for a while if you don't add ammonia.
It will turn with time; just be patient.

This is what your dye will look like if you use ammonia.
This is what your dye will look like with ammonia.
It will darken faster.

Pour the crushed avocado and fluid into a jar. Add water to fill jar. Cap tightly. Set jar in a safe place where the sun will hit it several hours each day.

Turn the jar gently every couple of days or so to prevent mold from forming. Just gently agitate. You don't have to shake it vigorously. If you do see mold, just spoon it out (into the compost, garbage or flower garden, not into the vegetable garden) and re-close the jar.

The first time I solar-dyed, I put the jars on our white porch railing. As the sun heated up the jars each day, condensation built up and often leaked out, especially when I turned the jars, and our railing was stained. Lizard was not very happy with me. Fortunately, the stains faded in the sunlight and snow of the following winter. I always use an old towel beneath my jars now.

As I was preparing this year's dye jars, I placed them on the railing again, and within minutes, the wind let me know that was not such a wise idea. I'm not sure how I ever made it through previous summers without breaking a jar or two! Another factor to consider is neighborhood cats, dogs, rabbits or other visitors who might be curious or just plain careless as they investigate and/or chase. We've had deer, raccoons and bears in our yard more than a few times. One year, a bear devoured all the dye and plants (with vinegar) in an autumn dye pot. And then came the compost pile...

This may not be the safest spot for my solar dyeing, but it will do for now. I may move the jars to the backyard if my wild visitors quit camping there.

These jars are going to solar cook for the next three months now. The dye will continue to get darker as the summer passes. It will get only better!

See you again in a couple of weeks, when we will start the purple onion skin dye jar. Save and dry your skins!

Linking up with Busy Hands Quilts and Confessions of a Fabric Addict.

25 June 2019

Holiday Out

Twice now I've been contacted by a corporation I actually do business with to inform me my name has been selected in a celebration of something or other and that I've won a free trip to one of five "phenomenal" destinations.

I wasn't interested in any of the 20 locations (each list of destinations had back-up destinations)... Geez! Who would think I could be such a party pooper?!? What is wrong with me??? I don't want to go to Disney World or Disneyland or Las Vegas or Branson or somewhere in Mexico or even Great Smoky Mountains National Park???

As I told one salesperson (yes, a salesperson tries to sell the idea of a "free" vacation), nothing against Tennesee at all and I actually would like to visit North Carolina one day, but I live right near Rocky Mountain National Park and have been to Olympic, Mount Rainier, North Cascades, Crater Lake, Sequoia, Yosemite, Yellowstone and Tetons, not to mention every national park in Utah. The mountains of Tennesee aren't a tremendous temptation, especially if the "free" vacation could be spent in a different national park I'd rather visit... such as Glacier National Park, one of the top ten destinations on my bucket list.

The salespeople might actually be able to win me over if they were ever to offer me a destination I like, but that's not the point of today's rant.

Each time, after berating me for not wanting to take advantage of any of these "luxurious and high-demand" locations, the salesperson hangs up on me.

No big loss; trust me. But there is this nagging temptation to contact the corporation to cue them in to a little secret: The sales pitch and the salespeople are not earning them any brownie points. I'd even like to tell them one of the reasons I'm not doing as much business with them is because I have a sour taste in my mouth after chewing on such "special offers."

To be completely candid, I have not accepted any "free" vacations from this corporation, so I can't verify the offers are scams. They just feel like scams to me. And the etiquette of the employees attempting to bully me into something I don't really want doesn't speak highly of the corporation's ethics.

I tried researching to discover whether these "offers" are worth the heartache. I didn't find anything yet regarding the specific corporation hounding me, but I found some fun comments on an exposé about the "free" timeshare vacations that aren't actually free...

"South Park's 'Asspen' episode was a good portrayal of the nightmare that a timeshare presentation can become." - Guest

"Sounds like a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity! Can I get in on that?! -- if I send my SS number, bank info, birth certificate, marriage certificate, tax returns? Is it too late?" - SKS

"Probably even more people fall for this than for the Money-from-Nigeria scam, so this report is kind of a public service for the gullible." - Laughing Buddah

"What do you mean 'Money-from-Nigeria scam'? I'm waiting for my check to come in the mail! I had an unknown relative who died and left a ton of money over there. I am going to be rich!" - Skip

"There's no such thing as a free lunch (or dinner, or vacation, or anything else for that matter)." - DarqueSideOfTheMoon

"Yes there is, when it's made as part of a friendly sports wager." - Guest

"I got a call saying my name had been drawn. Drawn? By whom? Where? I asked, 'Where was this ballot submitted? I'm a victim of identity theft. The impostor has likely conned you into thinking he's me.' CLICK!!!" - derbradster

"Whenever these people call me, I tell them to leave their name and number and I will forward them to my lawyer. Most of the time I hear click and they hang up. Once - only once, the person asked me why I wanted to get a lawyer involved. Hahahaha." - Tom

"I own part of Prince Ibo Mugabuto's oil well in Nigeria now, all I had to send was $500 to show I was serious, and as soon as Exxon sends his check, he is going to send me $1 million. That was seven years ago, but these things sometimes take time." - Guest

"Never go to free giveaways. It's either crooks like this or cops trying to get you on an outstanding warrant." - DNice

"Won't argue your first point or ask how you know about the second." - Guest

"You guys are just having bad luck. I've been sending my money to a Nigerian prince who says he has a royal family inheritance he will share with me. I'm so lucky!" - Moops

"What?!? You, too???" - snowdogg

"Back in the 80s I got a 'free' set of steak knives. After traveling a 150-mile round trip and spending an afternoon listening to BS. I later found the same knife set at Walmart for $5.95." - Dave

"I just got a call on my cell telling me I won a cruise for two! Can't wait to get on that boat! Getting my $100 fee in the mail to them tomorrow! LOL." - Chris

"Most major corporations use third-party companies so they're not held responsible." - chris32280

"Lots of good lawyers would take this on in a heartbeat--if the company has any assets." - Mike


And then, a few days later, I finally found a review of the very same offer presented to me, and I am SO happy the "salespeople" hung up on me!!!

"A scary notion: Bamboozlement as a sales qualifying tool." - Sebastian Marshall

24 June 2019

Snowflake Monday

I was working on this hand-dyed green snowflake when Lizard informed me we had a serious problem. We'd had some heavy rainfall, and one of the basement window wells has not been playing nicely. Lizard had gone downstairs to see if the basement was flooding again.

It was nearly 10 p.m. I really didn't want to go downstairs and bail again! I'm so tired of bailing! Plus, I needed to be at work the next morning.

"We have a baby bunny trapped in the window well," Lizard explained.

A relief, and yet, not so much. I'd just chased what I presumed is a pregnant mama bunny out of the backyard the day before because she ate everything in one of my veggie raised-bed gardens and then she'd tunneled through the flower raised-bed garden, effectively destroying my hyacinths and dahlias.

When I first discovered her, I snapped at her, and she didn't even flinch. She looked up at me for a second or two, then went right back to digging. I stomped my feet. I told her she was going to be bunny stew. She looked up at me as if to laugh, "You won't eat me!" And she's right.

I shooed her, and she still wasn't about to leave. I told her I was going to trap her and feed her to the Raptor Society. She laughed at me again and went right back to digging once more.

When I finally got her out of the raised-bed garden, she wasn't about to leave the comfort of HER backyard. We sprayed her with water and tried chasing her, but she just wasn't afraid of us. Later, my friends and family told me, "To be perfectly honest, you just aren't that scary."

I guess that's a good thing...

My first thought at the discovery of a baby rabbit in the window well was, "Serves you right. You should have left Mama alone!" Upon seeing the not-newborn baby in the window well, my next thought was to get photos. But also, it was a bit older than I expected. It's probably been kicked out of the nest because Mama probably is about to have a new litter (YIKES!!!). I worried it might be hurt from falling into the deep window well.

I got a couple of fresh baby carrots from my garden out of the fridge and opened the basement window to try to coax Baby into my soft and super-padded gloved hands so I could return it to the wild (my front yard, so it could run away, hopefully). Baby wasted no time jumping clear over me and onto the concrete basement floor, then alluding us for the next two hours as we unsuccessfully tried to corner and catch it.

I tried to reassure Baby with a kind, soft, soothing voice. I repeatedly tried to tempt the tiny little bunny with the carrots and even an Altoid tin with milk.

I finally built a "dead end" with some of the basement boxes, hoping I could trap Baby if I could chase it into the maze. By this time, Baby was crouching behind some of Lizard's weights and very near to sleep. Or, my imagination flared, close to dead from brain damage as a result of the five-foot leap of faith…

When I moved close to Baby to coax it into the maze, Baby didn't move at all. I slowly and gently reached around to pick the tiny little animal up, and nothing. Not even a flinch. So I gently covered it with a T-shirt, tenderly picked it up and carried it out into the front yard, where I unfolded the T-shirt and spoke softly to Baby, eyes now wide open.

Baby didn't move for a second, probably in shock, as well as exhausted, bewildered, disoriented, hungry and thirsty. Within a minute, though, Baby was devouring the bindweed right next to it, then the nearby dandelion, then my California poppies. After about 15 minutes of leveling tender greens, off Baby hopped, back toward the backyard.

I was too tired to bother discouraging it, and quite frankly, I was relieved Baby seemed to be okay. I went to promptly to bed without passing GO and without collecting $200. (Although if anyone had offered, I certainly would have accepted!)

The next night, Mama was back in the flowerbed digging again. I reached in to lift Mama out of the raised-bed garden, forgetting she's not Baby, but this time, she hopped out of reach. She watched from just a few feet away as Lizard drilled metal posts on the side of the raised bed, then completely surrounded it with chicken wire. Mama wasn't scared of me staple-gunning the lower chicken wire into place to prevent her from tunneling and crawling through. I wove in all the wire ends as if I was working on a quilt so none of the three of us would be shredded on impact and went to bed. Mama was still just a few feet from the raised bed when we retired for the night. She's a stubborn one!

So far, Mama has not trespassed the chicken wire, and we've not seen any more babies. Fingers crossed the problem is solved…

UPDATE: It appears we have a very strong-willed child on our hands...

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: 6 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


Popcorn Stitch (pc)

Work 5 dc in designated st, take loop off hook, insert hook through top loop of 1st dc and replace loop on hook, pull loop through top of 1st dc.

Thumper Snowflake Instructions

Make magic ring.

Round 1: [Pc in ring, ch 5] 2 times; 1 pc in ring, ch 2, 1 tr in top of starting pc to form 3rd ch 5 sp of Round. Pull magic ring tight.

Round 2: Pc over post of tr directly below, [ch 3, pc in next ch 5 sp, ch 3, pc in same ch 5 sp] 2 times; ch 3, pc in starting ch 5 sp, ch 1, 1 dc in top of starting pc to form 6th ch 3 sp of Round.

Round 3: Pc over post of dc directly below, [pc in next ch 3 sp, ch 15, 1 sc in 6th ch from hook, ch 4, skip next 4 ch, 1 dc in next ch, ch 4, pc in same ch 3 sp] 6 times; omitting last pc of final repeat; sl st in top of starting pc.
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 4: Sl st into next ch 4 sp, ch 2 (counts as 1 dc), 4 dc in same sp, [ch 5, sk next ch 4 sp, 3 dc in ch 5 tip, ch 10, 1 sc in 6th ch from hook, ch 4, 3 dc in same ch 5 tip, ch 5, sk next ch 4 sp, 5 dc in next ch 4 sp, working up next spike, work 5 dc in next ch 4 sp] 6 times, omitting last 5 dc of final repeat; 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 the 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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