Escaping Through Crafts

It’s wonderful having my house back finally. The first thing I did was move all the furniture back into place and scrub the place top to bottom. I forgot just how much of a mess children can make in such a short period of time.

We baked together, played board games and shared books. Can’t think of a better way to entertain guests.

The birthday girl had a lovely day.  She asked for a Mulan inspired day. We weren’t sure how the boys would enjoy it, but enjoy it they did.  Dad even arranged for a face painter who was very talented.  You can see my youngest brother behind her (in the green shirt). Baby brother is the only sibling I keep in touch with but he lives a couple of hours from me so it was good to catch up with him and his wife.


Once everyone left I needed to unwind and turned to books and crafts. I’ve been reading the Hidden Life of Trees a bit at a time. The book is wonderful and I am in awe of the scientific evidence of the intelligence of trees.

The other book I read was Toxin Toxout, by the authors of Slow Death by Rubber Duck.  Slow Death has a place of honor on my book shelf and has been passed around to family and friends.  I had high hopes for Toxin Toxout but it didn’t live up to its predecessor.  The book was supposed to cover the methods that work, or don’t work, to eliminate the toxins we’ve built up in our bodies.

While several detox methods were covered there were experiments that left you  hanging.  For example, the author sat in a storage unit in a new car for an entire day to measure how many toxins entered the body from that new car smell but didn’t follow up with the test results.

Another complaint I had was with the amount of time given to telling the reader they should embrace the chemical companies because they may come around to making greener products (I don’t see that happening as I see too much greed for the shareholders being the main focus of these corporations). Considerable pages were also dedicated to the many ways science can make a safer chemical (one day) by replacing petroleum products with a water base, along with all the reasons this is so hard.

In the end the authors could have summed up the entire book with a couple of sentences. Some detox methods are downright dangerous.  And…..The best detox is to eliminate exposure and eat a clean diet. That’s the entire crux of the book.

Getting Crafty

I pulled out paint for a couple small projects.  I started with this picture given to me a couple of years ago.

This print isn’t really me, it has too much mauve and pink in it but it does go with the rest of my art which is all nature inspired.  What I couldn’t live with was the frame. The gold and mauve screamed 1980 and not in a good way.

A touch of white chalk paint changed the look completely!

And now it pops on the wall over my bed.

In case you are wondering those sconces are metal with a blue glass shade (no plastic for me) and such a nice addition for late night reading in bed.

Crafting for Others

My daughter-in-law grew up in Arizona in a poor school district. When she was entering her junior year in high school her mother asked me to take her to schedule her classes because she couldn’t get the day off work. I was blown away when every class had a price attached to it. History cost $10, Gym $35 and so on. These weren’t electives these were required for graduation. So much for public school being free. In Pennsylvania where I, and my sons, attended public school there had never been a charge for classes.

As a result of her experiences, my daughter-in-law still seems to believe the schools here in Pennsylvania need help providing materials for students. She is obsessive about collecting box tops for education and has family and friends saving them for her.

I happened to spot this on Pinterest and forwarded it to her.

She loved the idea and said that would be much more useful than the baggie she tries to keep them in.  If I had to guess I’d say the container in the photo is from either oatmeal or bread crumbs, containers I don’t have.

But I did have a pint mason jar with a chip near the outer edge of the mouth, which would make it unsafe for canning in.  I store my staples in quart and half-gallon mason jars but a pint is way too small.  Finally I had an idea for my flawed little mason jar.

Together with this lid from grated cheese (which I collect because they fit all but the wide mouth canning jars and make pouring things like popcorn easier) I could create a much more attractive container for storing those box tops.

These lids give you the option of opening to use either a single large hole or three smaller holes for easier control of how much cheese comes out in a shake.

After painting the jar white with two coats of chalk paint I lightly sanded over the details of the jar for that shabby chic look my daughter-in-law likes and finished it off with a coat of poly urethane (low VOC) so it could be washed without damage to the paint. You can see the wider opening above which is perfect for dropping the box tops through.

She loves her new storage jar which will be attractive even sitting out on the hutch or in the window.

Another relaxing activity for me is cross stitch. I completed this dock scene and now just need to find the right frame.  It will be hung in the living room and reminds me of the lake and streams of my hometown area.  In just a few months this will be the longest I’ve ever lived without access to water within minutes of my home. I do miss it but the trade off is a milder winter which is better on my body.

And then there is the Weather

In other news I am still amazed at how meteorologists don’t stress job loss when they are so wrong so often.  And Please Quit Naming Snow Storms!!!  The Pittsburgh area was warned that we were about to be hit by Stella the biggest storm of the year. Monday people ran out and stocked up on food and water, many schools and businesses canceled everything for Tuesday.  When we got nothing we were told it was still coming and would sock us with eight inches by Wednesday at noon.  By Wednesday evening we had barely half an inch.  I wish I could be wrong that often and still have job security, don’t you?

Any way this “storm” (yes I know some of you did get the snow you were forecast) reminded me of the year I was in eighth grade. It was the winter of 1976-7 when we had more snow than any other year in my lifetime along with sub-zero temperatures for nearly six weeks.  The city closed down. Schools were closed for a month and a half. Parents had no jobs to go to and yet we didn’t panic.

This was a time when families still stocked up on necessities. We were a family of seven yet the only thing we ran out of was milk and even that was supplemented with the powdered version in the pantry.

Adults didn’t panic over being without a pay check for six weeks because they knew they had savings to dip into if need be.  It was still ingrained in us not to spend everything we made.  Of course this was a time before credit cards and buying things on time.

Home ownership, in my opinion, was both harder and easier.  Home prices in most areas were low enough not to drain the household or require two working adults to make ends meet. On the other hand to get a mortgage you had to have a 20% down payment, and none of it could be gifted to you and you had to have six months of expenses in savings as well.

Yes, the Red Cross with the help of snow plows delivered medicines to individuals who needed it, such as diabetics who needed insulin but this was a time when few people were on daily medications. About half way through the closures the Red Cross also offered to deliver food to anyone running low, although I don’t recall knowing anyone who needed the help.

When I think or talk about simple living, this is what I envision. A life without credit card debt (which is why I have no credit cards and pay for everything with cash.   To live without stress is to be prepared for any disaster. That means having a few weeks, at least, of food. Plenty of warm clothes. Games, books and hobbies to occupy our time should we be snowbound for a while. And most of all, to have emergency funds to see us through.

What do you have on hand for emergencies? How do you pass the days of winter?



  1. Your granddaughters facepainting is a beautiful piece of art. What a wonderful treat for her. I’ve never seen facepainting as nice as that. Also beautiful is your cross stitch picture.
    We had Hurricane Matthew last fall, four days without electricity and three days before the roads were cleared enough to get out at all. We are very contented reading and writing, and we had gallons of water saved and plenty of food. We cooked on a one-burner campstove outside and ran out of nothing important. The main difficulty was having no contact for information and news, feeling isolated, wondering what was happening. Local radio stations are non-existent and our phone batteries ran out quickly so no internet. By next hurricane season we will have some kind of backup for those.


    • Wasn’t her face painting gorgeous? The boys all had dragons painted on them (a dragon is Mulan’s best friend in the movie).

      I remember you going through the hurricane last year because I was waiting to hear from you and hoping you were safe. Can you imagine how bored those who have no hobby other than being out all the time were being stuck at home? I feel sorry for them to not know the pleasure of their own company.

      I recall being without a phone for most of that storm in 1976 but the hardest part as a child was being stuck indoors, we were always outside even in the winter.

      I’ve seen small solar batteries for phones that might work for you and are priced quite reasonable (under $100). For myself I have a crank flashlight that has a port for charging a phone. I thought that was my best option because the sun is questionable during storms. I would like to upgrade to a better crank flashlight but for now this works and only cost $10. It’s made by Red Cross.


  2. I don’t do much in prep for a big weather event. I usually have plenty of food in the house and plenty to occupy my time while being kept in. I guess if I lived in more northern climates, I would be sure have to have plenty of wood for the fireplace and and gas in the car, but the mid-atlantic area doesn’t usually get anything much – even when they are predicting it – like with Stella! I agree. Stop naming storms.


    • I wouldn’t expect any less from you. We were raised with values that put family above material showmanship. I do wish I had a fireplace or wood stove and was bummed when I found the fireplace closed off in this house. I learned young that you can close off one room of a house and keep that room warm with a few supplies and have done that many times when we lost heat in a storm….although it’s always a pain to need the bathroom which isn’t heated. 🙂

      When in the world did they start naming snow storms any way? It’s just another way to try and scare people in my opinion.


  3. Your granddaughter is growing up so fast. She’s missing teeth now which I think is really cute.
    I like your cross stitch. I’ve done cross stitch and I recognize the amount of work that piece took. It will be very nice framed.


    • They are all growing so fast it’s amazing and a bit sad. I love young children and their curiosity.

      I’ve said often it’s a good thing children lose their teeth when they do. Little ones think it’s funny where give it a few years and pre-teen or teens would lock themselves up until a new tooth was in place.


  4. Thanks, yet again, for sharing the sweetness of life with your family…Very nice to read/see.
    I am glad to hear you keep in touch with one sibling…Family (at least mine) is tough to manage. Sometimes we keep in touch, sometimes not so much.

    Love your new color on the picture, and your box top jar looks cool (I can see your grand daughter or little guy one day doodling an artwork on the white finish…grin). The needlework is amazing. Love it.

    Are we prepared for emergencies…?
    yes and no. Pretty much, but there are many aspects I would like to improve. A better radio. Better alternative heat. Some kind of flashlight/portable light which “somehow” will stay in one place…so when it is needed for an actual emergency, it is there. Over the yrs, we have had many many flashlights/portable lights. Would you believe that “some” mysterious ghost always seems to nab said unit, and when power actually goes out, it is a mad trip in the dark to “find it”, upon which the battery is inevitably low or dead. I have visions of a flashlight on a chain (which cannot be removed)…

    We are well stocked for food and water, and such.


    • Ha! I too can see Little Guy deciding to add his touches to that jar one day. He’s gotten to the point that if he’s here and one of us is working on a painting job he insists he wants to do it. I’ve gotten to the point that I have little scraps of wood here that I will set him down to paint on which seems to satisfy him for a little. 🙂

      Like you, I am and I am not prepared for lasting emergencies. I don’t have a radio at this time and I would like to add another crank flashlight. Food isn’t a problem, where water it would depend on how long things were disrupted. A week or so I’m good.

      My biggest problems would be heat in the winter and keeping my chair charged. I’ll sort those things out in time.


      • HI Lois
        I wonder if a small solar charger would put out enough to charge your chair? Am thinking that having your chair working would be a big priority.


        • Yes, I do think it might. I’ve been looking at mobile solar units that fold up and store similar to a folding card table. My chair is a big detail that I need a solution for without it I could not live on my own.


  5. Your granddaughter is adorable in her painted face!! We’ve come a long way with birthday parties. She looks very happy. I was wondering how you were doing and see you have been quite busy. The artwork looks SOOO much better in the painted frame. I have never seen a lid like that for a jar but love the effect of the painted jar. So many good ideas here. The queen of the show here is your beautiful cross stitch!!! I LOVE it!!! I have a friend that is working on a cross stitch that I would love to make but can’t. I had asked her for a copy of the pattern. I’ll get a photo of it soon. I thought about doing it in larger aida cloth. 🙂 Much larger. I’m glad you are finally having some quiet moments. Having a visit with your brother is always news worthy. I have one that still keeps in touch on occasion and hopefully will come visit someday. They can be a treasure. Spring is here and we had sun yesterday. Cold and windy but the sun was a nice reprieve from all the rain. I don’t mind though. It could be so much worse. Giant hugs. M

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Marlene! Yes, I am still around. 🙂 Yes, birthday parties have come a long way and while throwing these kinds of parties would be too much thought for me I love seeing how much the children and their parents enjoy them.

      I didn’t realize you had a brother. I’m glad you keep in touch with him from time to time. That’s pretty much how my relationship with my brother is.

      Spring is attempting to come back here. I’ve got my fingers crossed. We had snow, didn’t last, on the 17th. I do hope that’s the last of it.

      Now about that cross stitch you love. If you want to work it I understand but if you would like I’d be happy to stitch it for you.

      Liked by 1 person

      • My youngest brother is very busy and has a wife no one cares for. Very, very odd. So we don’t go visit him. He comes to see us with his grown daughter and her family. I saw him more than 8 years ago but once or twice a year, we send e-mails. I haven’t seen or heard from the other brother since 2001. Don’t know where he is. I do miss him though. As for the cross stitch, my friend has agreed to get me a copy of the directions. It may be awhile as she is still working on it. I was thinking seriously of paying you to do it for me. It’s not an easy project but we can discuss that later after I get the pattern. 😉


        • My brother married a woman who we all had trouble getting to know for a long time. Turns out she just suffers from social anxiety and low self esteem. She and I get along well now.

          I do hope you hear from your other brother one day soon. I have a half brother I haven’t been able to locate and miss deeply.

          As for the cross stitch, I offered as a gesture of friendship, no money necessary.

          Liked by 1 person

  6. Love your cross-stitching Lois and your transformation of the picture frame.. Your granddaughter is growing and looks lovely.. 🙂 I have been spending time on my painting.. My latest post shows some Penguins I painted for my sister whose birthday it is soon.. 🙂
    xxx Love and Hugs Lois and good to know all is well.. ❤


    • I just visited and saw your lovely painting. Your sister is lucky to have a talented artist in the family

      I finally like the picture over my bed now that the frame has been painted. I wasn’t sure I ever would.

      Liked by 1 person

          • That is right, Lois I have had to set my settings that way as I have had a troll.. hopefully He?she will get fed up soon from being ignored.. ❤ xx Your comment was held in moderation and I replied.. 🙂 xxx


          • Trolls, I don’t understand them. One would think people could find better ways of amusing themselves. I’ve had a series of hackers hit me. First it was my blog, then someone locked me out of my online banking, luckily I caught it before they had a chance to get any money. Now my facebook account was hacked. They wiped out everything. I only use it for family but had to go through the process of requesting them to add me as friends after those hackers were done with me. I’m not very tech savvy so things like this frustrate the heck out of me. Makes me want to give up on technology all together.

            Liked by 1 person

          • The trick is to have a strong password and keep changing it.. and not to keep the same one for several things. xxx Yes I remember your blog got hacked.. Which is why I now download mine every so often just in case.. You never know.. xxx


          • Glad you learned a lesson from my hacked blog. 🙂 I thought I had strong passwords but if someone has a password generator I suspect they would eventually get what they need.

            Liked by 1 person

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