Monday, December 28, 2009

I’ve been distracted

A Kindle is a dangerous toy for a book addict. We found this little white device under our Christmas tree.

I’ve been reading since Christmas day. Kindle books will save space in our house, but I am going to have to set a strict book budget.

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Thursday, December 24, 2009

Log cabin Christmas tree

This little log cabin Christmas tree went on the table today. It is 10 inches tall.

If you want to make this little paper pieced tree, click on the small graphic below to print out your own foundations. You will need three foundations. Set your printer margins to ¼ inch all around so it will print out full size. If your printer will not accept such small margins just print out whatever size you can, but remember to add full ¼ inch seam allowances around the foundation sides.

Construct the three sides of the tree on their separate foundations. Fold up the bottom ¼ inch seam allowances before you sew the three sides together.

Trim the point and narrow the seam allowances near the top before you turn the tree right side out. I used a knitting needle to push up the point.

Merry Christmas to all.

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Tuesday, December 22, 2009

The heat is on

This morning we had nature’s heater warming up the house. It did a pretty good job.

The cat enjoyed it.

And, this afternoon Larry from Cypress Air arrived with something green and red – a new main circuit board for the furnace.

All systems are "go" and we will enjoy a warm, cozy Christmas.
Thanks Larry. See you next year. We will invite you over for holiday cookies in December 2010.

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Monday, December 21, 2009

Baby, it’s cold INSIDE

This is deja vu all over again.

Last year, on December 24, our heater went out. With the help of our friendly neighborhood heater guy from Cypress Air we did have a warm Christmas in 2008.

Today, the heater went off again and Larry is here again. It’s getting to be a holiday tradition around here.
The good news is: Larry is here. The bad news is: the main circuit board may be dead. He may have to go to Benicia to pick up a new one. Benicia is a 70 mile round trip.

I’ll report later today.

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Sunday, December 13, 2009

Patchwork tree ornaments

These two little patchwork ornaments are for two of our neighbors with dogs. Neighbor Mary has a rescued Cocker Spaniel named Sam. Neighbor “S” has a Chow dog.

You might be inspired to make some little tree ornaments featuring a friend’s pet or hobby. If you have some novelty fabric you can use a small piece for the center triangle. I had fabric with lots of dogs on it.

The patchwork trees would make good gift tags if you make the center triangle white and use Pigma Micron pens to write the names. (My daughter-in-law gave me some cute fabric gift tags which inspired me.)

You can click on the small graphic (below) for a full size paper piecing foundation to print out for your own personal use. There is a template for the backing fabric, too.

Construct your tree ornament on its foundation. Remove the foundation paper. Make a fabric backing for the ornament in a contrasting fabric. Fold up the bottom ¼ inch seam allowance and press it firmly down. (It is easier to turn the bottom fold before you sew the tree and the backing fabric together.)
Put the tree and the backing fabric right sides together and sew up one side, pivot at the point, and sew back down the other side. Do not sew across the bottom of the tree because you need an opening to turn the ornament right side out.

Clip the corners and narrow the seam near the top point. Turn the ornament right side out. I used a knitting needle to try and poke the top point up. Iron the ornament flat. Sew across the bottom with a blind stitch. I used gold embroidery floss to make a hanging cord at the top.
These little patchwork tree ornaments are pretty darn small. I suggest you enlarge the pattern on your copier to make these easier to turn right side out.

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Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Plate of homemade cookies

There were such interesting comments about my blog post “Nuisance” (see below). I appreciate your concern. I am mad at the bureaucrats at the Contra Costa County Environmental Health Department. It seemed so strange to be categorized as a public nuisance for trying to do the best thing for our environment. We should be getting a pat on the back for recycling.

Terry said, “You, being responsible citizens … are creating a nuisance? Crazy.”

Sophie said, “Neighbor S sounds like a pretty unhappy person.” Paula commented that our neighbor was “an unhappy person with nothing better to do.” Lisa Jo said, “I hate having neighbors like that!” Vicky said, “I think she is taking advantage of you because you were nice about taking down the fig tree.” Brenda Lou said she was a “pain in the pattotie. I think you could make quite a case for organic mulching and runoff, etc.”

However, Brenda Lou added, “I wonder if a plate of home made cookies would help?”

Brenda Lou’s sweet idea really made me think about how to improve the situation. I’m not sure about cookies because of potential allergies, however a nice indoor plant could be a healing gesture.

We sent in our letter of appeal to the environmental health department yesterday. We sent a copy of the letter, with a photo, to our county supervisor, too.

The cookies in the picture above were made by our friend Deana and served at a 40-day memorial gathering for Judy. They were so good.
I’ll keep you all posted on what happens next.

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Saturday, December 05, 2009


We’ve been declared a “nuisance.” Well, our lot next door has been cited as a nuisance by the County Environmental Health Department.

“Nuisance includes anything which is injurious to human health or is indecent or offensive to the senses and interferes with the comfortable enjoyment of life or property, and affects at the same time an entire community or neighborhood. …” (California Code of Regulations, Title 14, Section 17225.45)

Indecent or offensive! That sounds bad.

Our neighborhood consists of five (5) houses and some vacant land

We live in house #2. House #1 is a rental. Neighbor “S” lives in house #3, neighbor “M” lives in house #4, and neighbor “P” lives in house #5. Only three cars drive past the offensive lot. Neighbor M told us she does not find the lot offensive. However, neighbor S turned us in to the Health Department. The photo below shows what neighbor S can see from inside her fenced yard.

We are required by the Fire District to keep our weeds down to prevent fires. According to the district’s Battalion Chief, “mulching is an acceptable weed control method.” So, we mulch the lot with grass clippings and ground tree branches. Every spring we have our friend, Russell, completely clear the lot with his big mower.

We’ve now been told that we must “cease and desist the collection and storage of yard trimmings and any other green material” on our lot. They told us to “remove the yard trimming waste and dispose of this waste to a licensed facility.” And, we have to provide documentation to CCEH within 30 days. They plan to re-inspect the property (at $185 per hour) to determine compliance.

Our complaining neighbor S’s fence is falling down and she is using boards on our lot to keep it propped up. In June of this year we removed our fig tree from the lot because it was bothering her. We called it the Fig Leaf Cover-Up. You can click on the link to read about it.

I’m glad I have a blog so I can whine to the world. We do plan to appeal the complaint and even go to the County Board of Supervisors, if need be. We can tell them that the California Integrated Waste Management Board says Yard Waste accounts for about 8% of the waste discarded to landfills in California. They recommend “Grass Cycling” and using grass clippings as mulch directly from the lawn mower bag.
We are gramineous folks.

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