Are We Walking to Alaska

Are We Walking to Alaska
Are We Walking to Alaska - A True Story

Monday, January 8, 2018

2017 In Review - Part Two

The second half of 2017.  Last week we visited the first half.  It was a busy year.
 July brought lots of summer parties and feasts
 And birds galore - the Great Blue Herons were especially active.
 Barns and boats on sunny summer days.
 Views from mountains and lots of birds
 My favorite tree with a cornfield in the background - and lots of flowers in August
 Barns, apples, mountains and spider webs kept the month interesting.
A cute little vacation cottage on Samish Island in August, china cabinet full of summer dishes and dinner on the deck with friends.
Great and Lesser Yellowlegs on Wiley Slough, Great Blue Herons, American Pelicans - not always seen in this area and lots of our state bird, the little Goldfinch.
 September sightings, Mt. Baker, Great Blue Heron and Tow Mater, seen on Portal Way in Custer, WA
 Disastrous wild fires at great distances from us left our sun red for weeks on end, until the smoke finally cleared.  In September we saw barns with ripe corn in vast fields, Northern Flickers, Stellar's Jays and flocks of Starlings along the power lines.
 Into October we go - my early christmas gift from our son and daughter -in-law was the crow teapot that I had wanted for years.  Jamie has the magic touch when searching for hard to find items.  The dolls dressed up in their Halloween outfits for the holiday and gnomes sat in pumpkin fields.
 My favorite house of all time was repainted this year - when I saw them prepping it I had great fear that it would be painted the obnoxious grey that every second house in Bellingham has been painted this year - but they stuck to the existing wonderful colors -it shines out among all the boring grey houses we are beginning to be drowned in this year.  Barns and the summer moon rounded out the month.
 Along with birds of all sorts - and the colors changing as the year moves on.

 November brought us a freak snowstorm - we had almost 8 inches at our house - and just blocks away there was almost no snow - even farther north there was no snow.  And our snow stayed around for a couple weeks before warmer temperatures finally melted it.  We had to keep cleaning off the hummingbird feeder and brought it in every night to keep it from freezing.  The hummingbirds visited almost constantly  during the day.  Anna's Hummingbirds overwinter in our area.
 My favorite tree with almost no leaves in November - the cornfield has been harvested, and our winter birds are back - including Plovers on the beach at Birch Bay, and American Wigeon in huge flocks.
 A very Christmasy December - parties, decorations and lots of good food.
 Birds abound in the winter - Anna's Hummingbirds flit about the feeders, an American Kestrel on the wire, Trumpeter Swans swarm the farmland fields in Skagit County all winter and a special treat - after four years we again saw the Leucistic Red Tail Hawk.  Leucistic means that some of the pigment is absent in the feathers in random patterns, not a true albino.  We saw it twice, four years ago and return to the general area often, but this is only the third time we have seen it.  One of my most thrilling sightings of a bird.
Lots of rain in December, yards and fields are often flooded, Snow Geese flock by the hundreds of thousands to Skagit Valley, the crabapples hang heavy on the trees, waiting for hungry birds and the sun breaks through the winter mist in the trees across the street from our house.

How was your second half of 2017? And here's hoping for good things in 2018.

Sunday, January 7, 2018

I'm Sort of Back - with Barns

I'm slowly returning to blogging.  I've spent most of this past week redoing my studio.  Pulling everything out - sorting through bins and bags and boxes - and rearranging things.  I moved my dolls to the piano room where they now have a new shelf unit that they can pose on for photos - and the shelves beneath have cubbies for storing their clothes, shoes, boots and accessories.  The studio was emptied of  10 bags of throw-aways and give-aways - things were resorted and tidied and it is much nicer in there now - a place that I can once again use for crafting and sewing.

Now - to the barns.  I've continued to take photos of barns while on my break - so have lots to share.  Don't worry - I'm not sharing them all today.
 Let's start with some from late October - with the leaves beginning to turn.
 A sad old barn, beginning to lose some of its boards.  I don't expect it to be around too much longer.
 This one has been re-sided, has new windows and looks like it might become a home.
 Sagging more and more - poor barn isn't all that old - I've shown it before and like to photograph it now and then to show how it is caving in.
 A little red horse/hay barn in front of autumn leaves and Mt. Baker.

And another view of the barn sinking into the Skagit flats, surrounded by green winter fields.

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

2017 Review - First Half

2017 was an interesting year - looking forward to another - but first, let's take a short trip down memory lane of the first half of 2017 
 January brought us some cold weather, barns and birds.

Fun with silly bears, dolls dressed for winter, art and some crocheted hats for the less fortunate.
February gave us a lot of cold, cold weather, snow and ice.  The Trumpeter swans were back for their winter stay, my favorite tree stood strongly out in the field and I even found a flowering shrub on a meandering country road.
Spring at last in March with daffodils blooming in the commercial fields and home gardens, skunk cabbage peeking out of the bogs, pretty hummingbirds and Easter dinner with the family.
 We jump into April with lots of flowers and fruit trees blooming and plenty of birds.

Tulip and daffodil fields explode with joy and beauty.
 May was varied this past year - some days warm and some days much too cool to enjoy on the deck.
 But flowers bloomed and cheered us up.
With birds, boats and a fun photo session with the dolls on the deck in their new crocheted summer outfits.
 We finish up the first half of the year in June, with a visit from our son and his family from West Virginia.  It was cold and rainy the entire time they were here, but they loved the cooler weather, a reprieve from the hot weather in WV, so if they were happy, we were happy.  In June we also took some country rides, visited Guemes Island and enjoyed the rare sight of White Pelicans flying overhead one day as we sat on the deck.
 Flowers galore - everything grows so well in Washington.

And in June some fun meals with family and friends, and pretty dishes.

We had a grand time during the first half of the year - how was yours?  We'll be back for the second half soon.  

Thursday, November 30, 2017

Taking a Break

I've already started my break - but going to take a longer one.  Sometimes the world is just too overwhelming.  I'll read my favorite blogs when I can - and hope you will all still be here when I get back - not sure when that will be.
 Here's some pretty birds to look at while I'm gone

How do you tell the difference between a crocodile and an alligator?

One will see you in a while - the other will see you later.

Have fun while I'm gone.  Later, After a While!

Sunday, November 19, 2017

Is Your Silver Ready for Thanksgiving?

I love my silver - sterling or silver plate - either one is fine with me.  I like the feel of it - the designs - everything.  But - I don't like to polish silver.  So here's a wonderful method - keep those pretty, vintage, family heirloom pieces shiny and bright.

Of course the best way to keep them shiny is to use them, though most of us don't use them very often, so they might sit in the cupboard and get tarnished.  What to do?

Gather up your supplies - a glass bowl or deep baking dish (depending on the size of the items to be polished), baking soda, aluminum foil - and lots of boiling water.  Don't forget your tongs - they are handy for handling hot pieces of silver. 

What is this you say.  No silver polish - no soft rags for rubbing and endless scrubbing of the silver?  Nope - none of that.

Boiling water
Baking Soda
Glass bowl or baking dish

Let the magic begin!

One of my very favorite pieces - it was black with tarnish - I was so excited to begin that I forgot to take a photo of the before.

Magic, I tell you - plain and simple magic
Line a glass baking dish with aluminum foil - (in the sink is best) making sure it goes up the sides and ends of the pan. 
 Lay the silver pieces in it that need polishing and pour boiling water over it all - to cover the pieces.  I definitely have some pieces that need polishing.
Now the magic - add 1/4 cup baking soda - just plain old baking soda from your cupboard.

Commercial silver polish is extremely toxic - and I don't like handling it - or washing it down the sink.  So this method is perfect.

Stand back and watch the magic!!!!!
Tiny bubbles appear - and the shine begins to return to the silver.
As the pieces become shiny once again I pluck them out of the hot water with a pair of tongs (they are hot from being in the boiling water).  Rinse with cold water and wipe dry with a clean cloth.

If there are a few stubborn spots make a paste of a small amount of baking soda and water - rub the spots and they will disappear.  

Magic - I tell you - total magic. 

And look what you get!!!
 You start with tarnished silver
Your reward for a few minutes of easy work is a nice pile of very shiny silver
 Top - Before    Bottom - After
 Ready for the table. 

A favorite serving spoon - tarnished
 And now shiny bright - a little extra rubbing was required on the flowery part of the handle - but only a little.

 Oh - the poor "before" meat fork
 Two big serving spoons - dark and dingy 
 Before and After
 Another favorite serving spoon - rescued with magic
 Handle of the Pie Server 
 It was sad before
But was a good pie server
 Shiny and pretty now - ready for Thanksgiving pies - what kind shall we make?

 This past weekend we found these two vintage crystal and silver jam jars.  They were black with tarnish - but I knew how to fix them up.  It took just minutes and they were bright and shiny.  Before on the left - and after on the right.  They are ready for Thanksgiving.  They can also be used for pickle jars on the table - if you use a pickle fork in the slot instead of a jelly spoon.

Can you see the slot on the left side of one of the  lids of the "before" photos - that is where the spoon handle will stick out for serving jam - or the fork for serving pickles.
 Lovely, lovely - and all done with magic.  This took me about an hour total to clean all the flatware pieces - and about 10 minutes for the jam jar lids - and everything is eco friendly.  Let's go set the table.