April 2020 Recap

Newsletters

Still hanging in there? I hope the answer is yes!

Husband and I are still sheltering in place, for the Massachusetts stay at home advisory is still on; the next reassessment date is May 05, 2020.

April 10 marked a month from Massachusetts’ declaration of emergency, and covid-19 cases were predicted to peak around the 20. (I still haven’t seen statements whether they definitely did or not.) It has been exhausting, and I’ve slept more than usual. This past week my mood has settled, though, which tells me I’ve moved on to adaptation. I’ve even felt quite happy at times, which feels odd in the middle of a pandemic.

I continue to be thankful that we ended up in Massachusetts and that we found this fantastic house in the woods; having a lot with trees keeps me sane. Some people are ocean / lake folks; I’m a tree gal.

My concern is I’m currently having mild symptoms. I’ve spoken with my doctor, and got advice and info; I also know where to go for testing if the symptoms get any worse. For now, though, we hold.

Workwise, I’ve only been able to do the absolutely minimum Etsy paperwork. And blogging, that seems okay (not easy but okay), but I haven’t touched fabric in what feels like ages. It’s a really peculiar, feeling a block stopping you from doing a particular type of activity but not others, and I’m even able to partly look in from the outside and analyze my reaction. I haven’t solved the block yet, though.

Instead, I’ve switched to home projects to keep active and engage my mind. For example, Husband and I organized some of his bookshelves. Here’s a blue section…

Shelves in Blue

…and a study in scarlet:

Shelves in Red

Below is an example of a lovely, colorful bean mix that became very yummy baked beans.

Colorful Bean Mix

The weather has cooled down and is supposed to stay below typical till the end of April. We even had a mid-month, middle-of-the-day snow squall, and a few days after that we woke up to a white ground.

Apr 16 2020 Snow

You can’t quite say that we saw more snow during the first half of April than the whole of March, but it’s close. This seems to be the last of it, though, but there’s a lot of rain in the forecast. Bummer.

We’ve nevertheless been able to do yardwork and go for walks in our neighborhood when it’s nice. Puttering away in the yard reveals all sorts of details you don’t pay attention to in the winter. Like an old bird’s nest in a rose bush:

Old Birds Nest in Rose Bush

Our backyard friends are back, too. Here are two bunnies enjoying the new grass:

Backyard Bunnies Are Back

Trees are really starting to put out leaf buds, and spring flowers are finally out in force!

Apr 2020 Flowering Pear in Bloom

Our flowering pears are absolutely loaded with white blossoms. Ahh, I just love spring! πŸ™‚

Stay safe. ❀

March 2020 Recap

Newsletters

What a difference a month can make!

I’m referring now mainly to the covid-19 epidemic that has finally reached Europe and North America, although here in our corner of Massachusetts the saying usually also applies to the weather and nature.

I’ll first address the former.

Please be aware that even if I continue to post about casual, light topics, I am acutely aware of the human tragedy associated with the situation. I am not lacking in compassion; on the contrary, I am protecting my risk group family and neighbors while actively taking care of my own mental health. (And worrying about family members who work in health care, but I have to keep a really tight lid on that in order not to panic.)

I turned Playfully Grownup Home on Etsy off until April 06, 2020, because both Husband and I are at elevated risk for severe illness and because Massachusetts Governor Baker issued a stay at home advisory. On April 07, after hearing from the authorities again, I will reassess the situation. This way I both follow the Massachusetts recommendations on physical distancing and protect myself and my customers from inadvertent exposure.

I’m very lucky to be able to do this, and I realize others may not be. Husband and I have, accordingly, spent a bit more than usual in our local food joints when getting takeout and placed mail orders online. (The latter I hesitate to do much, however, to reduce the risk to postal workers and other transportation employees.)

Speaking of risk groups, we have also checked that our elderly immunocompromised neighbor has people to check on him, but are keeping an eye out, too, just in case. (Everything is, thankfully, fine.)

I am noticing more stress than usual, but I wouldn’t really say I feel stressed out; that feels somehow too big a statement. At the same time, I’m having a really hard time working, so I’m allowing myself to hang out on social media more than usual and not beating myself over not being as productive as on a normal day.

Thankfully, observing physical distancing doesn’t stop us from socializing online or over the phone. Connecting with my family in Europe has helped so much; even us introverts are social animals. πŸ™‚

Overall, March continued the mild weather we inherited from February. There was very little snow, mostly in the beginning. On the last week of the month, we were even treated to the first turkey tom mating display of the season, a little ahead of the usual like so many other things this spring.

First Rose Leafbuds

Very typically of this winter and spring, too, and funnily just after posting on the blog about signs of spring, snow happened. We got about an inch, but it didn’t last beyond three days. Since then, just about all the leaves are about to come out, and the first flowers have!

First Coltsfoot 2020

First Tiny Wild Flowers

At the moment I’m concentrating on home projects, physical activity that allows me to keep a safe distance from others, planning, and activities that support my mental health. I’m especially heartened by how people are pulling together, organizing help, supporting each other, volunteering, donating. And, of course, by cute animal videos! Here’s one of my current favorites:

Harlequin Baby Bunnies Days 1-25 by Emma Grey on YouTube

Stay safe. ❀

P.S. Please, for the sake of everything that’s holy, treat others like you would like yourself to be treated – kindly. Including Asians!

February 2020 Recap

Newsletters

If there’s one thing I’d rather NOT recap, it’s being sick. Sadly, that’s exactly what happened this February: the whole first half of the month was cough-y and achy. And I was tired; so tired.

Sick in Munchkin Terms

I’m so glad flu shots exist, for this bug was hard enough without having to deal with the full force of a nasty virus.

Despite being wiped out, I was able to return my first tax document of the season. It was a week later than planned, but still very much on time, thank goodness! (And this is exactly why I prefer to start on my paperwork ridiculously early!)

Tax Time Prep

The two-week flu pretty much threw everything off sync. I’d just caught up when I got sick again after Hubby (who was also sick) was well enough to go back to work. Understandably, my sewing was almost non-existent, just a little mending for myself. I certainly wouldn’t want to inadvertently mail this virus (these viruses?) off to anyone else along with my products.

I was able to watch several new-to-me series and movies while sick, so that was a plus. One definitely worth recommending is the HBO miniseries Chernobyl. Excellent, excellent acting, writing and filming; such high stakes and drama almost entirely without guns or violence, and certainly completely without the disgustingly thoughtless gunplay so prevalent on U.S. television.

On the wild life front, we had a fox visit our yard one day. We’ve seen one now and then over the years, but always from further away and only in passing. This time, though, Mr. Foxy took a couple of laps around the house, stayed right outside our kitchen window to enjoy a scratch under its chin, then loped off across the road to visit the neighbors.

Grey Fox Visiting

It was fascinating!

We’ve also had turkey visitors come round the latter half of the month.

Two Turkeys Visiting

These two were a part of a flock of three. The next day we had twelve(!) and the day after that six or so. They’ve clearly been somewhere else for the early winter. I wonder whether we’ll be seeing more of them from now on?

Among my minor home organizing projects, I inserted tension rods vertically inside one of our narrow lower kitchen cabinets to make slots for the big cutting board, the baking sheets and the splatter screen et al. not in the picture).

Tension Rod Cabinet Organizer

It’s so fantastic not to have them fall around the cabinet anymore. πŸ™‚

I really hope you have been well this February!

December 2019 and January 2020 Recap

Newsletters

An early January virus surprise knocked me out for a while and delayed both the shop re-opening and return to blogging. As I didn’t get the December recap posted until now, it makes sense to combine the two months.

It’s getting to be that time of the year again – tax time, that is. I’m prepping already. Even though the federal deadline is in April, I have a property tax deadline for the local authorities in February.

Tax Time Prep

In December, I made a whole slew of recyclable bags as presents, and one of them made me look a more skilled designer than I am: in this cat bag for my niblings, the print matches almost exactly at the French seam.

Xmas Bag Gift Project 2 Closeup

Serendipity for the win!

Reading’s been great:

Reading Pile December 2019

Reading Pile January 2020

Weatherwise, it’s been a ride. We had some beautiful snows in December…

Bright Sunlight Middle of Woods

…then it got surprisingly warm in early January. So warm, in fact, that the first ladybugs came out!

2020 Jan First Ladybug of Year

Then the temperatures swung again. With new snow on the ground and temps well below freezing, I put my brand new mittens to good use.

Kirjoneulelapaset

And speaking of knits, I found the first Christmas stockings that I actually love:

HGTV Magazine Dec 2019 p114

HGTV Magazine, December 2019, p. 114

The image is from the December 2019 issue of HGTV Magazine. Aren’t they gorgeous? As a Finn, I didn’t grow up with stockings, so I find them a bit baffling in general, but these are absolutely lovely.

How was your winter holiday season? What about the beginning of 2020?

Brand New Fair Isle Mittens

Arts & Crafts, Colors, Random Beauty

In early January we had some warm temps, but then the temperatures swung again. With new snow on the ground and temperatures well below freezing, I put my brand new mittens to good use. Aren’t they super?

Kirjoneulelapaset

In a perfect world, the blues would be a little less teal-ey and turquoise and lean more towards grey, but you work with what you’ve got, right?

Thank you so much, M, for knitting them! Lurrrve. ❀

Yarn Winter Wreath from Upcycled Materials

Arts & Crafts, DIY, Fabrics & Materials

Last year I tried my hand at making decorations out of upcycled materials (like the ribbon remnant ornaments I already blogged about). Here’s the quick and dirty how-to for a small wreath.

Yarn Wreath on Vase w Spruce Branches

For the wreath form, I cut out the plastic ring at the mouth of an instant oats tube. I used a sharp knife and went as close to the plastic without cutting into it as I could. Some bits of the cardboard did remain, but they were nicely covered by the fuzzy yarn.

Yarn Wreath Basic Materials

I covered the form with white wool-blend yarn unraveled from a sweater I wasn’t using, and also made three pompoms out of the same yarn for an accent. Finally, I made a bow for the top of the wreath out of a pale pink satin ribbon I’d saved from a gift box.

Yarn Wreath Collage

Granted, the wreath isn’t very big at all – the diameter is about 5″ / 13 cm. But for a whopping $0 it’s not too shabby, wouldn’t you say? πŸ™‚

What crafting successes have you had with recycled materials?

Online Finds: 2x Felt Winter Wreath

Arts & Crafts, DIY, Fabrics & Materials

What lovely felt wreaths these are:

Country Hill Cottage Cyna DIY Felt Wreaths

Cyna at Country Hill Cottage

I really love both versions – they combine the different shades so thoughtfully. And Cyna even provides a file for a precision cutting machine AND a pdf template for hand-cutting, plus measurements both in inches and metric.

Tutorial by Cyna at Country Hill Cottage. Lovely job, and thank you for sharing!

Next week I think I’ll post about a small wreath with pompom accent I made last year. Time to dig it and the rest of our Christmas decorations out of storage! *<:)

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

Snow-Covered Backyard

Random Beauty

We’ve had the first snow storm of the winter. In two days, we got about 12″ / 30 cm. It’s SO pretty with the trees loaded up with snow! And the sun is also trying to get out.

First Snow Storm Morning Fully After

It’s going to be a great day, even if the town still hasn’t plowed the sidewalks. Then again, after two days of shoveling the driveway, I’m not in urgent need of a walk. πŸ™‚

November 2019 Recap

Newsletters

First, here’s the obligatory seasonal self-promo tidbit:

This year I tried a different approach to the holidays sales: the earlier you shop, the bigger your discount. Shoppers have just today and tomorrow left to save 25% on orders of $29 value!

Starting the day after tomorrow, December 01, shoppers can receive 15 % off their orders (same $29 minimum).

Click here to shop: Playfully Grownup Home on Etsy!

2019 Nov Dec Green Blue Collage

Remember, the December sale runs only through December 10, and I’ll close the shop for the season at 9 p.m. EST on Wednesday, December 11, 2019.

That’s so soon, yikes!

In my personal life, too, things are a bit busy, so the Thanksgiving break was very welcome. Each year, never mind how early I try to start my Christmas prep, December always sneaks up on me. πŸ™‚

Xmas Cards

Although perhaps I shouldn’t say β€œalways”, for I do have a rather respectable start already. It’s just that the staff at the Finnish post office threw everyone a curveball this November and went on strike. Even having my cards and packages wrapped and ready doesn’t guarantee that they’ll make it there this year; they might arrive as late as early January 2020.

Simple Gift Wrapping

Fortunately almost everyone is now online or has a phone with texting, so I can at least send holiday wishes electronically, although the packages cannot be helped.

For Thanksgiving – which for us this year was a delightful friendsgiving – I refreshed my rose hip bouquet and added red apples into the bowl as well. Husband made spiced, mashed cauliflower instead of mashed potato this year, and it was good. We might adopt it as a staple.

Thx Rose Hip Bouquet

And even if there’s less light, November definitely has its share of natural beauty, especially around sunset.

Red November Sunset

Blue November Evening

I just love the moment when everything looks blue (sininen hetki in Finnish, literally ‘blue moment’).

How was your November?