Welcome to my blog!

I used to blog here mostly using local photos about my neighborhood or Washington DC or other places I visited. But I took a break from the blog for a few months and then found myself posting about crafts and sewing projects I have done or are doing. These involve fabric recycling or re-use and refashioning of clothes, or other frugalities. I've left up the previous blogs and may occasionally revert to those topics again. May your days be blessed with miracles, surprises and creativity too!

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Drinking Sunshine Each Day

I'm not sure why I foto'd my making of fresh orange juice today but as I looked out my sunny kitchen window while squeezing four huge oranges I realized that orange juice is like sunshine. It's sweet and bright and you just have to have it every day!
So, using my trusty old juice squeezer (that I found while dumpster diving 15 years ago and it still works!) I squeezed a glass containerful.  You may note that the glass container is a re-used pickle or salsa jar.  You won't find me tossing out such a useful wide neck jar that has a metal lid!  Another day I will make use of the pulp left over, keeping it stored in a baggie in the freezer with other citrus pulp leftovers from other squeezings. Once I have enough frozen pulp squeezings I will make marmalade with it or use it in some fruit compote or toss it on broiled chicken or something that cries out for orange flavoring.
Then, to finish off the oranges, I tossed the cut up peels down the sink grinder; I've heard that citrus fruits are good at helping keep clean these devices and keep the blades sharp.  Then, I poured us two ounce glasses of juice!  Delightful fruit of the earth!


Tuesday, November 12, 2013

My Most Trusty Kitchen Appliances

Everyone knows I'm pretty frugal and when I assessed recently my kitchen appliances I had to agree as many of them I got for free or low price and I keep them for as long as they work.  For instance, my $9.99 white Rival crockpot that I got at Walmart; this has got something heating or cooking in it just about every other day, from sauces to dinners to jams or soups. It doesn't have a timer so I just hook up a timer if I need to set it to start when I'm not at home. Who can not have a crock pot? Then I have this vintage Hamilton Beach juice squeezer. This I found in the trash one day when I was cruising by what was obviously a massive toss-out of someone's stuff. I've had it for 15 years already! It's squeezed a thousand oranges, lemons and grapefruit.  Who can live without fresh squeezed juice?  Then there's my Hamilton Beach hand mixer that was given to me by best friend in college who had received two of them at her wedding shower and gave me the extra one. And I went to college over 25 years ago, so you know this has made a lot of cakes, puddings and whipped cream! And where would I be without a blender?  This I use just about every other day for something.  My son has a disability so we grind up all his food in the blender at just about every meal he eats with us. I also use it to grind granulated sugar into icing sugar, or to make gravies or soups or guacamole. Due to such heavy use I burn the motors out on these every 12 months or so, so I go buy a new one. Interestingly, the price of these has not changed over my 30 years of cooking! They still cost between $20 and $40, depending on quality and sale discounts! Then, this past year I discovered the value of a food processor as a mini processor came free with the Oster blender I bought the most recently. I use this to make hummus and dips and grinding up larger quantities of food that the blender can't handle. Last, but not least, is a microwave oven that my mother-in-law gave to me when she downsized her kitchen. It's made by Samsung who I thought only made TVs! I know some people think these are bad for you, but the occasional re-heating of food or quick melting of something makes it a very efficient device. This particular model has a rotating plate in it so the food or liquid is evenly heated. This model of microwave also talks to me! Yup, after setting and finishing its timed cooking cycle, it beeps.  Then, if I forget to open the door within a few minutes, it beeps twice again at me, as if to say "hey, you forgot you're melting butter here." I have other appliances such as a coffee maker and a food processor and a coffee grinder -- all of which are just as old, or donated to me or bought on sale -- but I just wanted to share my most-used and useful appliances. Only these made it into this all-star lineup! How wonderful to have these! Look what electricity and manufacturing have wrought!





Tuesday, November 5, 2013

So Many Flowers In November Still!

geraniums!
chrysanthemum
morning glories again!
dahlia
It's November and there's still so many flowers in my yard.  Geraniums are still blasting away! Morning glories came back again. Chrysanthemum grew extra large this year! The dahlia plant won't stop flowering and the petunias just keep on flowering! It's just a fantastic non-stop flower festival. So amazing and wonderful. I'm not really responsible for it all; I just put them in plant pots and water them and transplant them and bring them in over the winter if that's what they need. Sometimes just a little pruning and plant food.  It's someone else who is responsible for their wonderfulness.
petunias


Trees in November are So Colorful


This has been a week to take photos of all the trees as they are so full of color after the recent cold snaps. Everywhere I look there's lovely orange, yellow and red leaved trees. I know it won't last long so I just had to snap away and record these splashes of bright color before the browns and greys of winter arrive. Now, who's the artist responsible?



Sunday, October 6, 2013

Our Little Neighborhood Post Office

Lately I've been using that little post office at the intersection of 4th and RI and Florida avenues NW to drop off my mail as I just can't be bothered to drive or bus down to the Post Office at Union Station and, well, I just don't trust the mail boxes on the streets. I expect they are safer now but I do remember learning that the kids would dump their soft drinks in them or light fire crackers and post them in the mail boxes. And when I send mail I really do want it to get to the destination intended.  After all, it's quite a bit of trouble to do real snail mail (it's amazing that email has become the baseline, isn't it?) What I do like about this post office is that it has a  parking lot so I can just drive in, drop the mail, and drive on to the library or whatever from out the other side of the lot.  Very convenient.  I did read some Yelp reviews where there was criticism about how it sometimes opens late or the staffer on duty takes a long lunch hour and it closes at 5pm and isn't open on the weekends. Also, some reviews about how the staffer isn't always so friendly or as helpful as the user would like. But really, does everything have to be open 24 hours, 7 days a week, every day?  Can't some people just have a bad day at work and not be particularly helplful? It really feels more like a neighborhood post office with these kind of attributes, don't you think?



Pink at night, Bloomingdale delight.

Really, the sky over Bloomingdale DC was this color the other night and was quite spectacular so of course I had to snap away and record it. And no, I didn't fidget with the photo software and make it pinker and bluer and prettier!  There's something very intriguing about our peaked roofs; when my mother-in-law came to stay once we were sitting on the back deck and saw a similar view as in this photo, of all the peaked roofs lined up pointing away, and she said it reminded her of ships moored at a harbor.  So here we are, moored in Bloomingdale DC in our lovely Victorian houses, and enjoying the pink at night, sailors' delight! 

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Those Important Neighborhood Support Services


ambulance
UPS truck
Segway cop
Sometimes I don't see all the support services that we have in this city neighborhood and it's easy to forget how useful they are. For instance, there's those cable guys from Verizon or Comcast hanging about on the lines in the alleys. And, every once in a while someone calls an ambulance and it arrives!  It's worth noting that ambulance service is now dispatched much more efficiently than when I first moved to Washington DC when this service was also being used by some for non-emergency visits to local hospitals and consequently, service was more erratic!  Then there's those marvelous UPS (and Fedex) trucks which leave us so much of value on our front porches (ask them to hide stuff under the porch so it doesn't get pinched in the recent wave of thievery!).  And, up until recently, it seemed like we had police patrols using Segways rolling around and preventing drug dealing and other miscreantry. Of course there are other support services, such as police, the US postal service (USPS) and store delivery services like Sears and Peapod (both of which I've used and find very helpful), services that one sees occasionally making a foray into our streets.  And of course now is the season for UHaul and other similar vans as it again is moving time for the more transient population living here. I suppose I could mention the dry cleaners, bars, hospitals and a public library all within walking distance, but I haven't got around to photo'ing all of them yet and didn't want to have too many thumbnail pics jammed into this one blog. I could also mention the mostly 24/7/365 clean running water, gas and electricity but that's really basic infrastructure and might be the subject of another blog about things we take for granted. But these services here really do make our life in the city so much easier, don't you think? And, Thank God!



Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Tomatoes From the Garden

ripening
window ledge ripening
hairy stalks!
It's nice to grow tomatoes in your own garden as they taste so different -- much more sharp and tangy -- and of course watching them flower and bud is very interesting. For instance, I had no idea how hairy the tomato stalks are and I assume that's to stop bugs crawling up to get at the flowers or fruit.  Also, the yellow flowers turn out to be very pretty and you can see how the centers become the fruit and how they get that little star shape at the top.  I generally pick mine once they start turning white to yellowish and then finish the ripening process on my kitchen window ledge so as to avoid feeding critters or birds that might spy them glowing in the garden. This year I've had over 30 tomatoes already so we've had super salads, crock pot stewed tomatoes and tomato snacks for a while. They make a great extra snack to pack into lunches to go to work with (with a little salt added!). And once when I had 5 tomatoes all ripe at the same time, I put them on home-made pizza. Such bounty from the Creator!





Thursday, August 22, 2013

The Maine Thing

18th C house, a B&B
Jamie Wyeth's house
Friendship fishing harbor

sunset view in Cushing harbor


buoys hanging everywhere
lighthouse in mist
19th century church
old car still running
Sometimes we manage to get out of town for a while and this time we went to Maine by flying from Washington DC to Manchester NH and then renting a car to motor up into the middle of Maine, near Rockland.  The scenery is so different and wonderful  you know I just went crazy snapping away with my new digital camera. We saw lovely rocky coastlines, old 18th century and Victorian houses and churches, active fishing ports, lighthouses, colorful buoys, working old cars, vast open fields and lots of lobster pots.  We had a great few days with friends and family enjoying this very different part of the country.  I managed to tank up on some great seafood such as lobsters, prawns, scallops, and shrimp and some creamy ice cream.  What a lovely state to be in!




Friday, July 26, 2013

Battered school buses? Fender-bendered children?

yellow school bus with hood open
DCPS yellow school bus behind fence in parking lot with otherstwo yellow schools buses, one with front door open, other with rear door openSo what's with the seemingly abandoned District of Columbia school buses on the 1400 block of New York Avenue NE? Every time I drive by on this stretch of road -- which is across from the old 'Streamline Moderne' Hecht Company Warehouse -- I see more than half a dozen disabled-looking yellow school buses just parked. Nearly all of them have either the front or rear door open, or the hood of the engine up or a bumper half hanging off or some serious-looking dings and dents or other defect showing them as unusable. I am assuming too that if a door is left open it means the door doesn't work (and surely this is an invitation to homeless people to stay in them at night). On the other side of the street are what I presume are the usable unbattered buses in an alternate parking lot; this lot of buses seems to be thinning out as the battered buses end up across the street. I seem to recall that the local school system bought a bunch of new buses recently -- sometime in the past 5 years -- and most of these buses look pretty new as the bright yellow paint seems fresh. However, the buses in the train-track side parking lot do look pretty battered up as if either the drivers aren't any good and/or they get into a LOT of fender benders. Or is that there's no maintenance? On one attorney company solicitation website they wrote that the "factors that commonly contribute to school bus accidents include: hazardous weather conditions; faulty vehicles; driver negligence; intoxicated drivers; defective roadways." It's pretty nerve-wracking to think that this number of school buses have so many accidents and that these may be caused by some serious driver bad behavior when our children are taken back and forth.


Thursday, July 11, 2013

A Corking Good Time Crafting

4 by 6 inch trivet made of 7 rows of plastic wine corks, 3 corks per row
4"x6" 'cork' trivet
14 in diameter red painted cardboard wreath covered in 45 wine corks
cardboard and cork wreath
interior door with wreath hanging on top of frosted glass portion of door
cork wreath hanging on door
Recently, I came across a box-load of wine corks that had been accumulating in my basement for years. I just don't like to throw things out but watching those Hoarder shows on TV has had an effect on me and I've become more serious about throwing things out. Or, in this case, getting a bit creative with some of the old rubbish lying around.  I sorted the corks by type, that is, whether they were real cork or that new plasticky-cork stuff that you find.  I used these plasticky ones to make a hot plate trivet. I arranged them in some semblance of order and just glued 'em together with some clear transparent super sticky type glue that I found in a tube in a drawer in the kitchen. Yes, I'm dehoarding kitchen drawers too!  Then I sorted all the real cork corks and found a lot of them had lovely little pictures or numbers or words or letters on them.  After finding a wreath-shaped piece of cardboard (yes, I'd saved that too and it was up for either the trash, re-cycling or crafting!) which I painted red with some, you guessed it, left-over craft paint I found in another drawer. I used red paint as it was the only little paint can that was still wet enough to use! Once the paint dried on the cardboard I started to arrange the corks around the wreath, first a lower level and then adding other ones on top, in a sort of higgledy-piggledy design.  I should say here that I went out on the Internet first and searched "What To Do With Old Corks?" and found numerous websites where people had pictures and descriptions of making stuff with old wine corks. So, suitably inspired by their ingenuity, I made a wreath and hot plate rest meself and feel quite satisfied with the final results.  I've already had some compliments from house guests about them, including questions. One asked about "how long it took to accumulate all those corks?" from my brother who is clearly checking up on me to see if I'm a wino or not.  The answer is "about 10 years of tippling," which seemed to disappoint him somewhat.  Another person asked "if the corks smelled?" which was an unexpected question.  The answer is "no as all the corks were quite old and dry when I used them." So, I will use these items for as long as I like and then I can either trash, re-cycle or upcycle them again whenever.  These items really didn't take long to make nor were they too complicated to put together as I had everything at hand somewhere ('hoarded'). And I do take pleasure in keeping things out of the landfill as much as possible though, don't you too?


Monday, July 1, 2013

Thanks to all the people who put the bloom in #Bloomingdaledc

on W St NW


alley behind Adams NW
on 1st NW
on Thomas St NW
I think it's great that there's so many people in Bloomingdale who are putting the bloom back in our neighborhood!  From window ledge pots, to small groupings of pots, to overhanging garages to planting around street signs and in tree boxes, even a short  walk about the streets shows a myriad of flowers and plantings.  Roses, petunias, vines, begonias and geraniums seem to be favorites and so many others I still enjoy despite not knowing their names! I'm just hoping none of them get destroyed in the July rains!




Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Super Decorated Car in #DupontCircle

painting of yellow bird scene in a black circle painted onto decorated car
headlight of car with eye painted above it and other bright colors around lampside view of car with bright painted designs on doors and roofview of front of car showing paisley-type bright colored designs all over carI saw a car decorated with paint designs over near Dupont Circle the other day and was totally amazed at how this Ford had been individualized. There were birds, eyes, flowers and all kinds of designs in bright colors all over the vehicle.  It looked like someone had completely dreamed up a way to make their car look different.  I have no idea whose car it is or why it is like this but I couldn't help thinking what if all cars were decorated like this?  What if you could order up your car with a selection of optional images on it like this when it is delivered? What if there were places, somewhat like tattoo parlors with pages of images for cars, where you can just drive in and get your car done up like this? Wouldn't commuting be more interesting?  And when you're stuck in traffic wouldn't it be nice to see something like this?  Amazing street sight!