Monday, April 4, 2016

Squirrel Alarm Clock

Now that I have a back yard again, I've been thinking that I'd like to turn it into a small wildlife garden. I'm finding that the local tree squirrels already had that idea. Apparently there aren't many cats in this neighborhood, as the local squirrel population is thriving. They like to use the low-pitched house roofs, abundant trees, and tops of fences to get around--sort of a squirrel highway. My alarm clock most mornings is the thud of a squirrel jumping from a tree branch onto my roof.


One pair of squirrels in particular has taken over my back yard. I sometimes feel like a sort of Jane Goodall of squirrels as I eat my meals and observe them, just a few feet away on the other side of the window glass, eating, mating, or just running around. One side benefit is that they are nesting now, so either the female, the male or both of the pair ( I can't tell them apart) have been collecting great mouthfuls of the dead leaves I've been meaning to rake up and taking them away to line a nest. It's very impressive how many leaves and bits of dead grass they manage to stuff in their mouths at one go.

Friday, April 1, 2016

My Non-Toxic Life

In my previous post, I told you that I've recently moved into a mid-century house. Over the past few years, I've been shifting into using non-toxic things around the house. Aside from the health and environmental benefits of using non-toxic cleaners (of which there are many), I've always found the usual chemical-laden household cleaners to be stinky and off-putting. My brain would conjure up images of skulls and crossbones and flashing red  warning lights every time I cracked open the heavy-duty tile cleaner, and so I'd add that to my list of excuses for putting off doing household chores.

As much as possible, I've decided to use non-toxic cleaners and other products as part of my new home routine. I'll share some of the products I'm using, and let you know what works and what doesn't, in case you're looking to detox your own home. 

I don't get compensated for doing this. I'd just like to highlight good products, mainly to encourage companies to make more non-toxic household cleaners. I only have two criteria for picking out products to use: (1) they have to work, and (2) they have to be reasonably easy to find in local stores.

First up: dishwasher soap. I lucked out with my first choice. It's called Wave Auto Dishwasher Gel. I got it from a local coop store, but I've seen it in some of the bigger chain stores, as well (can't recall offhand which ones, though). Here is a photo of the label:


Pros: Smells nice, like something you'd want to wash your dishes with. I got the lavender scented kind, but it also comes in an unscented version. It does a good job of cleaning, as long as I rinse off the dishes and give them a quick scrub (nothing major) to loosen any stuck-on food. 

Cons: You have to scrub the dishes a bit first, otherwise food might stick. I had to do the same thing when I was using caustic dish washing soap, so I'm not having to do anything more than I was doing before.

Overall, I really like this dishwasher soap, and will definitely keep using it.

Thursday, March 31, 2016

Old and New

It's been a while since I regularly posted to this blog. Many things have happened--relationships ending, others beginning. And so it goes. Among other things, I sold my house, and moved to another part of Boise. It's been years and years since I lived in a house that was built after 1925, but my new (old) house was built in 1958. It's in a quiet, out-of-the-way neighborhood of mid-century homes.  The streets curve gently, instead of running into each other at sharp angles, and everything is low, and widely spaced.


Except for the trees, of course. There are trees everywhere, especially evergreens. My house is on a smallish lot, and I've counted fourteen trees here. Many of the trees in this neighborhood have grown so large that the houses often look as though they exist around the trees, instead of the other way around.
 One things I love about my house is that both the living and dining rooms face onto the back yard. Winter is finally ending, and in spite of  night frost nipping at them, things are tentatively starting to sprout and bloom. I sit in my kitchen in the mornings, eating toast and tea, and look out to see what new things have bloomed,




 or are thinking of blooming.




Wednesday, March 30, 2016

I acquired the fabulous remains of an old leather document case a while back. It was one of those moments where I turned a corner in the store, and there it was, beckoning me from the recesses of a shelf.  There isn't much of it, so I've been hording it, but finally made my first journal with it.  It's deep, dark brown, but wonderfully worn, so it has loads of reddish scuff marks. Just listed in my Etsy store:


https://www.etsy.com/listing/274429568/rustic-leather-journal-one-of-a-kind?ref=shop_home_active_1

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Earth Day Musings


(Edna St. Vincent Millay)

Ah, spring, lovely spring! The trees are a-blooming, and I just bought a pot of pansies, deep purple with little yellow centers. I put them just outside the front door so I could smell their fragrance and generally admire their velvety splendor whenever I leave the house. 

On the occasion of this Earth Day, I am reminded that it was nearly a year ago that I decided to change my approach to making my books, and use only reclaimed and remnant leather. Instead of making life more difficult, as idealistic enthusiasms sometimes do, I found that it opened up a new world for me creatively as I happily whipped up ever more odd and eccentric journals -- it turns out that worn, overlooked leather and I go together. So in my efforts to be kinder to our dear Mother Earth,  I benefited, as well. I'm sure there's a moral in there somewhere.

And now, a poem for the season by Emily Dickinson:


A little Madness in the Spring

Is wholesome even for the King,
But God be with the Clown -
Who ponders this tremendous scene - 
this whole Experiment of Green - 
As if it were his own!

Saturday, February 22, 2014

The New York Hat -- 1912 -- Mary Pickford and Lionel Barrymore

For your viewing pleasure, here is The New York Hat, a fine short film directed in 1912 by D.W. Griffith. This is a story in which Mary Pickford's character is given a tres chic hat which excites a great deal of comment.  Lionel Barrymore makes quite an impression (at least on me!) as the dashing vicar:



Tuesday, February 11, 2014

A New Old Look

I've been pondering tea lately. Not the kind in a cup, but the kind one uses to give an antique look to paper and fabric. There is a definite allure to tea-staining, but I've always steered clear of it because of the acid in the tea, which isn't so good for paper. Fortunately, I've discovered a way to neutralize the acid, and I've been tea dyeing everything in sight. What happiness!

A new coptic stitch journal, called "Evening in Paris," made of tea-stained pages, a woman's vintage red leather glove, and a French song, Envoi des Fleurs:





A guest book made with antique linen, reclaimed leather, and tea-antiqued pages:



Currently in residence at my Etsy store.





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