Fire Starters with Wax and Fir

October 12, 2016 § Leave a comment

Amanda at House Revivals shared this lovely crafts project:

Amanda House Revivals firestarter_tutorial_christmas

Amanda at House Revivals.

Such cute – and fragrant, I bet – fire starters! Visit her site for more photos and full instructions. Thanks for sharing, Amanda!

(Note: I do not not publish sponsored content, or accept gifts or discounts to write about products. Blog posts are based on my personal opinion.)


The Return of the Revenge of the Sequel of the Ants

June 12, 2015 § 1 Comment

Damnation and darnation, now we have another population of ants coming in! The ones by the back door haven’t come back. (Hooray for that!) Now we have ants coming in from the opposite corner, though. Grr!

The ants are coming in through cracks in the window corners and under the window sill above the sink, and getting into the dish drainer / dish washer / sink area. Out came the cinnamon again.

Ant Deterrent Window Sill

We sprinkled cinnamon into the window corners, and I’ve since patched the cracks under the sill. So far, so good; they haven’t been back through there. However, the ants’ access into the cabinet under the sink is more difficult to deal with.

Ant Deterrent Under Cabinet

We’ve laid down baits and tried to “board off” the front edge of the cabinet with cinnamon. The cinnamon edging didn’t work, unfortunately. Since the photo above, we’ve pushed the cinnamon into little mounds around the three pipe holes. That seems to work better, although we’re still getting scouts. We battle on!

Quick Project: No-Sew Sheer Curtain for Back Door

June 8, 2015 § Leave a comment

Our back door has a huge window on it. Since the door faces south west, the nook it opens to gets unbearably hot in the summer. For a long time, we’ve wanted a sheer curtain there to block the sun. I finally got one made. Here’s the back door before:

Back Door Before

I used scraps of the same sheer fabric we used elsewhere in the house, round elastic, eye screws and small nails. Voila!

Back Door After

Much better. 🙂

Ant Routine Found?

May 20, 2015 § 1 Comment

We’ve had a pretty persistent ant problem these past few years. The ants seem to arrive in April or May, eventually find their way from the back door into the kitchen, and persist through eradication attempts. A few years ago I tried, with reasonably good success, cayenne pepper and vinegar as ant deterrent. That worked short term, but unfortunately either the colony bounced back, or a new colony stepped in the following year. I got so frustrated with the boomerang ants that last year I caved and bought some ant traps (even though we prefer not to have poisons in the house).

Cinnamon and Ant Bait

The traps helped quite a bit last summer, although the ants still managed their way into our recycling bin and the dishwasher. It was a pain to deal with, so this year I decided to try being extra, extra vigilant. We also switched from cayenne to cinnamon. It’s not an absolute block by any means, but the ants do seem to dislike cinnamon more than cayenne. Plus, as a bonus, the vacuum smells sooo nice after cleaning. 🙂

I started my ant watch in April. In May, I was able to catch the first scouts by the back door, before they found the kitchen. We moved the recycling temporarily into the living room (closer to the front door where no bugs seems to come in), planted the traps by the ant entry, killed the ants we saw, wiped any high-ant-traffic areas with vinegar and laid strategic cinnamon barriers to direct the ants towards the poison.

After the first two surges, the ants seemed to slow down. They did get into the kitchen one night, but it was still early enough that the trail wasn’t fully formed yet. Re-positioning the traps and another round of stomping, vinegar and cinnamon fortunately helped.

Three things really seem to have made a difference: starting early, being very vigilant, and applying a consistent regimen of cinnamon and vinegar to re-direct ants to the poison. Last week’s ant tally was three, total! (And one of them was a stray way off at the other end of the house, so not related.)

This week, we were able to clean up most of the cinnamon, but left a thin band running by the baseboard by the back door just in case. I even pushed doses of cinnamon down into the crack that seemed to be the ants’ favorite doorway. So far that seems to be enough to discourage them from entering again – fingers crossed!

Various Bits of Yard Work

May 15, 2015 § 2 Comments

The weather was unseasonally gorgeous and warm last week. We spent a lot of time outdoors and got a lot accomplished. I moved a bush that suffered from melting snow and ice from the roof:

Bush Move Mashup

The poor bush had quite a few broken branches. Some I cut off, but most of them I splinted with sticks and strips of fabric:

Splinting Mashup

They seem to be doing well; there are new leaves coming in beyond the breaks in each branch. Yay!

Mr. E dug a new vegetable patch and prepared the two existing ones. In the photo below, the left side will be potatoes and the right one already had cucumber seeds planted…

Potato Cuke Patches 2015

…and by the deck we will hopefully get some melons…

Melon Patch 2015

…everything fertilized by authentic bull dumpings from a local farm:

Our Own BS

In addition, we’ve raked, pruned and weeded, sawed off a dead branch, removed another that had fallen on its own but gotten stuck, taken down an awkwardly placed young pine and partly undone a small stone wall to relocate it Somewhere Else(TM).

I still want to dig up and relocate some wild plants that I want to keep but not where they set themselves up. Yesterday would’ve been a good day otherwise, but it was 86 F / 30 C after lunch, which was way too hot this early in the season for me, and I suspect for the transplantees as well.

The flowers have really come out, too. The flowering pears bear a white cloud each, there are both white and purple violets here and there in the grass, and a few other wild flowers have found their way in again. Bees and bumblebees buzz around, and birds are singing. Ah, I love spring!

We also have blossoms indoors: I updated my wreath form with spring colors…

Spring Wreath 2015

…and the saintpaulia is blooming!

Saintpaulia Blossoming 2015

Even with tree and grass pollen making my life miserable, spring is the time of the year I love most. 🙂


May 11, 2015 § 2 Comments

We discovered that it’s possible to play a word game with Bananagrams rules and a set of Finnish-distribution Scrabble tiles that Mr. E’s father made for us. The most difficult thing was to adopt a new set of tricks to play one tile at a time (when someone says “Peel”); it really was a brain exericse! Here is one of Mr. E’s word sets:


He started with the long word in the middle, älypuhelin (Engl. smart phone). I’m seriously impressed!

It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like…

December 16, 2014 § 1 Comment

…a card mess!

Cards and Tags Mess

Woo, holiday cards are mailed! Two languages and two continents makes things, shall we say, interesting. It sounds better than hopelessly messy! 🙂 Apart from the envelopes, two kinds of stamps, address labels, envelope seals, scissors, pens, address books and whatnot, my paper cutter is out to add to the clutter, because I recycle old Christmas cards as gift tags:

Recycled Xmas Card Gift Tags

To counteract the card mess, which for some reason defeats me every year, I made this wrapping cart:

Wrapping Cart

All the gift wrapping supplies (save for larger boxes) are in one place that’s easy to wheel around wherever you need it. There’s dedicated scissors and tape, ribbon, small gift boxes, cards, gift tags, bubble wrap, wrapping paper and tissue paper. Gift bags hang off on one side. We’ve used it for a few years now and I love it. When not in use, it lives in a walk-in closet.

This year, we decided to cut a tree from our lot and chose a small pine. Mr. E, as the resident tall person in the house, got the honor of hanging the lights, as usual:

Hanging Tree Lights 2014

The tree is a little crooked, thin and lopsided, but that’s ok. I like my trees natural-looking, not chainsawed into a perfect cone. (Brr.)

Now, off to sew more presents!

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