August 2020 Recap

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Unfortunately, Massachusetts reopening was put indefinitely on hold due to an increase in confirmed covid-19 infections. We’ve therefore remained at phase 3 since mid-July. I’m worried – the numbers have remained steady at a higher level for at least a month now, with no change in sight.

If we’re lucky, it’s just the fall weather…

Sunset with Clouds

I had labwork plus my annual physical this month. They had to be rescheduled from spring, and although I thought I managed well with the additional protective measures at the doctor’s office, I felt utterly worn out both after the bloodwork and after meeting with the GP. (In no way is it due to the staff or my GP; all of them have been absolutely wonderful through this pandemic. I couldn’t be happier with my doctor!) Clearly I personally am suffering from some sort of a second wave of coping difficulties.

I’m also struggling with my work. I’m going to be honest: sales have been terrible for a long time. Due to that – plus an upcoming major life change – I’ve known I’ll have to close down Playfully Grownup Home on Etsy some time during 2020; just the exact timing has been undecided. Now I’m wondering whether it should be sooner rather than later…

At the homefront, though, things are much better. Husband and I did a whole slew of home projects, and all of the prep work from July really paid off. We hung a wall shelf, updated our backsplash, moved some furniture around and refinished a few small tables plus an old desk. For the latter, we used pulls and handles saved from Husband’s family’s old camp up in Maine before they tore it down.

Hubby Old Desk Finished

It’s great to be able to keep a little piece of his family history with us and give it new life. (That yellowed bench to the left is also going to be whitewaxed as soon as I get around to it.) We’re currently in the middle of refinishing another table, and building a low-profile wall shelf out of a 2×4.

I also moved some plants around and learned how to weave baskets out of recycled brown paper bags following Ananda’s tutorial at A Piece of Rainbow.

Basket from Recycled Brown Paper

And it works! By that I mean that even I can do it! 🙂 😀

My tester basket had a few problems, but it was enjoyable and fast enough that I made more. I did add a handle, also recycled from a commercial bag. The idea was I can set up a row of these on a shelf and pull them up (or down) when I need to access the contents.

There was also good food, and a lot of it!

The Claw

Local(ish) lobster has been quite cheap, so we’ve splurged a couple of times. This one lobster literally had a claw as big as my hand.

Also, this year we got to actually enjoy our strawberries. Usually the resident critters get there first…

Strawberries and Bunny Pellets

…as you can see from the photo above. (In the background, our first strawberries. In the foreground, bunny pellets.) I’m astounded that they did NOT eat the strawberries, having sat this near!

And wild flowers keep blossoming, like these Asiatic dayflowers:

Asiatic Dayflowers Closeup

Hope you and yours are well. Please continue to be considerate. Wash your hands. Wear your masks. Stay safe. ❤

Random Beauty: The Royal Huntress Owl Quilt

Arts & Crafts, Design & Designers, Random Beauty

This magnificent quilt is not exactly new anymore, but it’s still very much worth sharing.

At the Houston International Quilt Market & Festival in 2018, “The Royal Huntress” quilt by Karlee Porter won third place in the alternative techniques category.

Sulky Karlee Porter The Royal Huntress

“The Royal Huntress” by Karlee Porter, found via Sulky

Just look at the incredible detailing in this closeup:

Sulky Karlee Porter The Royal Huntress Detail

“The Royal Huntress” by Karlee Porter, found via Sulky

Apparently it took over 450 hours to make, and no wonder. The meticulous piecing, incredibly detailed quilting and multiple accents all serve a purpose in the overall design. Serious kudos!

As an image, it kind of reminds me of druids in World of Warcraft. It’s also the kind of sewing I’d like to do; to be quite honest, though, I know I don’t have the skill nor patience. Especially the latter. 🙂

Found via Sulky blog.

Note: I wasn’t paid or perked to mention this; just passing along a good thing.

A DIY Wreath from Paper Bags and Faux Flowers

Arts & Crafts, DIY

Who knew brown paper bags and faux flowers would make such a handsome wreath?

Crafty Little Gnome Adrienne Paper Bag Wreath

Adrienne at Crafty Little Gnome

This wreath is by Adrienne at Crafty Little Gnome. Very nice indeed! She used a commercial straw wreath base, but I bet you could replace that with a homemade base of some kind. And depending on the color of the flowers, the wreath can be as versatile as you want.

Note: I wasn’t paid or perked to mention this; just passing along a good thing.

Shallow Shelves Swing out to Reveal Even More Shelving

DIY, Inspiration

DIYer Eileen, who blogs with her husband Ash at Just Measuring Up, built from scratch a set of gorgeous, narrow and shallow shelving that swings out to reveal even more shelving:

Just Measuring Up Ash Eileen Rainbow Swing-out Wall Shelves2

Ash and Eileen at Just Measuring Up

Doesn’t it look fabulous? I’ve often wanted shallow shelving for smaller paint containers of sewing notions or other crafting gear. Or tea, to think of it. 🙂

Visit Eileen and Ash at Just Measuring Up for the how-to.

Note: I wasn’t paid or perked to mention this; just passing along a good thing.

August 2020 Reading Pile

Books & Mags

Some of the books in my pile this month include the following:

Reading Pile August 2020

Clockwise from top left: The Unspoken Name by A.K. Larkwood, Cloud Roads by Martha Wells, Elysium by Jennifer Marie Brissett and The City We Became by N.K. Jemisin.

I held back and didn’t initially buy Jemisin’s The City We Became since I’m not a fan of NYC, but the reviews I read were so good I caved.

What of special interest have you read lately? Do share!

My Tips for Making Our Home Stay Clean Longer

After Hours, Behind the Scenes

I mentioned before that Husband and I have been together for 20 years. The round number got me reminiscing about various details of our early life together.

After I moved to the U.S. and Husband and I got married, we of course had to figure out in concrete ways how to fit our personal habits and preferences and two cultures together. Some things we had, in fact, already figured out while dating across an ocean – like how to make lasagne – but there were surprisingly many details we hadn’t thought of before we were actually faced with them.

Towel Day 2014

Thankfully, we never had to argue about cleaning since we both have allergies, including of household dust, and since we both prefer a mostly orderly environment; we just needed to figure out the details. And since I’m a lazy cleaner, I want to be as efficient as possible. 🙂

Here are my cleaning tips, all non-appliance, non-product related. They may or may not work for you, but if they do, I’m delighted.

Note that we don’t have kids or pets, so if you do, I’m sorry but I don’t have any magic bullets. A certain amount of elbow grease and willpower / routine building is required.

 

1) Air the House Every Morning

Fresh air is great! We open windows every morning in the bedroom, our offices, the kitchen and the dining room. We picked these rooms so we could get a cross-breeze on both floors. And yes, we do air the house even in the heating and in the pollen seasons, just not as long.

2) Cleaning As You Go

My preference is to clean as you go if at all possible to avoid stains from drying or setting before the next cleaning day. Then you don’t have to scrub quite as hard, and milder detergents are enough.

3) Doormats at All Doors

We were fortunate to have found an apartment without wall-to-wall carpeting (=allergy-friendly) for both of our joint rental apartments AND the house we fell in love with and bought. To protect the floors, we have doormats at every entry into the house (and almost all the way from the garage upstairs) to catch the worst drips, drops and dregs.

4) Everything in Its Place

We’re not 100% successful in returning everything in its place after using it, but everything does have its own home. Makes it so much easier to de-clutter while cleaning.

5) Machine-Washable Curtains

Because of our allergies, all of our curtains are machine-washable. Area rugs aren’t, but we’re pretty fastidious about vacuuming them and do it every week.

6) No Shoe Policy

Also, we don’t wear shoes indoors and wash our feet if we’ve been in the yard barefoot.

7) Pair Up Your Socks, Then Toss Them into the Laundry

I’ve never lost a sock since I started doing my own laundry thanks to this trick: before tossing socks into the laundry bin, roll a pair up so that they stay together. (One sock goes into the leg of the other one; not quite military-style rolling but kind of.) Then, when I do laundry, I separate the pair so they’ll get properly washed, and match every pair while hanging them to air dry. That way it’s very easy to gather and roll them up again for storage.

8) Tissues in Every Room

Well, not quite, but most spaces that we spend a long time in do have their own tissue box. That way we don’t have to look for them when urgently needed. (Curse you, allergies!) Same applies to scissors: buying a few extra pairs of dedicated scissors for every location where we regularly need them means no time wasted hunting for a pair.

9) Separate Dumping Grounds

We both have an individual area in the front hall and at the bedside to dump our pockets and bags into, so that (hopefully!) the odds and ends won’t get lost.

 

Any other useful habits you can recommend? Please share!

Mural Changes Mood with Light

Arts & Crafts, Thumbs Up

Camille Javal is an artist who creates murals, artwork and jewellery in addition to engaging in design work and photography. I was really struck by “Hello to the Ocean”, one of her murals.

Camille Javal Hello to the Ocean Closeup

Camille Javal

The most amazing thing about it is that not only does it have a range of gorgeous blues and greys, the mural’s mood changes with the light – just like the sea:

Camille Javal Hello to the Ocean1

Camille Javal

Camille Javal Hello to the Ocean2

Camille Javal

Stunning, right? However many times I see these photos I’m still agog.

Found via design*sponge.

Note: I wasn’t paid or perked to mention this; just passing along a good thing.

An Easy Way to Store Spool and Bobbin Together

Arts & Crafts, Fabrics & Materials, Thumbs Up

How do you store sewing threads and the corresponding bobbins? Petro at Easy Peasy Creative listed two solutions she found very helpful, and I really liked one of them: joining the spool and bobbin with a rubber band.

Easy Peasy Creative Petro Thread and Bobbin1

Petro Neagu at Easy Peasy Creative

Easy Peasy Creative Petro Thread and Bobbin2

Petro Neagu at Easy Peasy Creative

What an ingenious idea. I just love it when you take a regular old anything and use it to solve a new problem. I’ll have to do this!

Note: I wasn’t paid or perked to mention this; just passing along a good thing.

New-to-Me Music Style: Bardcore

Bits in Spaaace!, Geek out!, Stunt Double

I recently learned of a new-to-me music style: bardcore.

It means making versions of modern pop / rock songs in the style of medieval ballads. And, oh boy, is there a rabbit hole to fall into!

Verily, behold “Sandstorm” by my fellow countryman Darude:

Darude – Sandstorm (Medieval version) by Marcus Aurelius on YouTube

Another neat bardcore version of a song from Finland, this one a trad: “Ievan polkka”.

Ievan Polkka (Medieval Cover) by Middle Ages on YouTube

Sadly, some are merely badly rendered synthesizer versions. When you do hit gold, though, it’s really good!

Below are other bardcore versions that tickled my fancy. (I saved the best for last, so keep scrolling!)

Gangnam Style (Medieval Style) [Bardcore] by Muckwick on YouTube

Macarena (Medieval Cover) by Middle Ages on YouTube

Nothig Else Matters [sic] – Medieval Style – Bardcore by Early Style on YouTube

Walk Like An Egyptian (Medieval Style) (Vocals!) by Mystic Zaru on YouTube

We Will Rock You [Bardcore] by Graywyck on YouTube

Surprisingly, also the theme for X-Files works quite well:

The X-Files (Medieval Cover) by Middle Ages on YouTube

Hildegard von Blingin’ is by far the best, most dedicated bardcorer (if that’s what they’re called) I’ve found so far.

Somebody That I Used To Know (Bardcore/Medieval Style Cover with Vocals) by Hildegard von Blingin’ on YouTube

What is Love (Medieval Style with Vocals – Original by Cornelius Link) by Hildegard von Blingin’ on YouTube

LOL! Love ’em; don’t you? 😀

Note: I wasn’t paid or perked to mention this; just passing along a good thing.