For want of a photographer…

You might think that, because of my silence recently, I haven’t had anything to share. Au contraire, I have made/am making things! I’ve just lost my photographer. Mr. Gren has been unavailable during daylight hours for the past week or so. Hopefully sometime soon we’ll be able to take some pictures and show you all what I’ve been up to!

In other news, Mr. Robin still enjoys running up and down the deck rail, although he has ceased his window visits. Yesterday we had another squirrel in the house. Not a flying squirrel this time, just the regular running kind. After we both scared each other, it scrambled over boxes and suitcases into a storage area where presumably it has an escape route, because then we heard it up in the ceiling. That’s usually where he stays anyways, but I guess yesterday he felt like exploring. Hopefully my very presence freaked him out enough to quench his taste for adventure.

Rana will be out of school on Friday the 14th. I may or may not get more done with her around, depending on how, uh, creative she’s feeling. She’s my high-maintenance child. If I don’t find things for her to do, she will find things to do, and those things are usually elaborate and messy. Then on the 19th, I’ll be leaving for a short trip to see some friends; I’ll post more about that closer to time because there actually is a project associated with it.

So there you go. Now you know a little bit about what’s going on in 2Frogs Land.

Pop of color

The thing I love best about living in the Pacific Northwest is all the green. Green everywhere! It’s my favorite color. Green ferns, green firs, green moss, green grass (if you’re lucky enough to have grass), green clover… But even for someone like me who loves green, all of that green can get a little overwhelming. So when the rhododendrons start blooming, seeing another color is so refreshing!




Some green, just for good measure.

Some green, just for good measure.

Robin in my window

Last Friday, we began getting visits from a very curious robin. First, it would sit on the deck rail and chirp, then it would fly the short distance to the living room window and sit in the windowsill. But it didn’t just sit there, it walked back and forth, stretching its neck as if it were trying to look inside. Then back to the rail where he would run down to the other end, chirp a bit before running back to the corner where he would start all over again. Every couple of minutes he was in the windowsill, trying to peek inside. A few hours went by like this before he added to his routine. After running down the deck rail, he would flutter down to my sewing area window and tap on it. Back to the rail, run to the corner, chirp, jump into the living room window. Back and forth, back and forth. Sometimes he brought a girlfriend or two. They weren’t brave enough to come down in the windows, but they would sit on the rail with him.


This went on for four days. Every two minutes. Hello, Robin.


Then Monday night we began getting very heavy rainstorms and I haven’t seen him since. I wonder if he’ll come back when the rain lets up a bit?

Chilly morning

Although we aren’t dealing with temperatures like the Northern prairie states, it has been cold here for us! Several clear, cold days with a heavy frost is unusual here. I’m ready to get back to 40 degrees and rain!

Both of the girls needed scarves, so I’ve been working on those. I finished Rana’s yesterday and will shortly finish Granota’s. Konik insisted that he did not want a scarf; right now he’s more intent on me making him socks (I do have one in progress). I’ll post the finished scarves later this week. In the meanwhile…

Frost needles

Frost needles


Frozen raccoon prints on the riverbank

Frozen raccoon prints on the riverbank


The lull between projects

It’s another frigid day here, which means, once again, I am staying upstairs with only brief excursions back down to stoke the fire. It’s nice to be warm up here, but, let’s face it: after being up here for three or four days straight (I can’t remember; it all runs together), it starts to get boring. I need a new project, but it has to be portable. There are things in my mental queue — another Axl doll for a friend; different items of clothing I’d like to sew; my crayon drawing! But all of that requires being downstairs in the coldest corner of the cabin. Huh uh. Ain’t gonna happen. So that pretty much leaves me with crochet. The problem is, I don’t really have anything in mind. I’m itching to do something, but if there’s not a purpose behind it… well, it loses its appeal pretty fast. What do you do when you have a restless urge to create but no real direction?

My existence

My existence

Merry Christmas to all!

It’s late on Christmas Eve. Mr. Gren and I are half-watching “It’s a Wonderful Life” after finishing up the wrapping and stuffing the stockings. And you know what else is done?


After weeks of work and no small amount of frustrations along the way, the Axl dolls are finally finished! What a relief! I took it down to the wire, but there they are, ready for Christmas morning. I’ll post more and better pictures later. Can’t turn on too many lights in the cabin once the kids are asleep. I’m looking forward to tomorrow and enjoying the day with my family. It really is a wonderful life.

Merry Christmas!

Mushroom Monday

This is not a cop-out post. I did make something this week, but I can’t show you. It’s a secret. Once its intended recipient has it in her hands, then I will show you.

So I’ve been looking around for something that I can show you today and I wasn’t coming up with much. I’ve attached the heads to the bodies of the Axl dolls and embroidered the mouth and nose onto one. But who wants to see a half-finished doll? I’m going to start on a super cute stocking hat for Konik this week, but dreams and good intentions don’t make for good blog posts (ok, well sometimes dreams do. Thanks, buffaloes!). Then, when I hiked up the trail (that’s not an embellishment; it’s a pretty steep incline on a gravely, foresty path) to retrieve our garbage cans from the highway, I noticed some mushrooms. Lots of mushrooms. Itty bitty ones and big ones and everything in between. There were some particularly small and cute ones in the neighbor’s yard and I really wanted to see if I could find a fairy circle, but I wasn’t sure that the neighbors and their enormous black dog would be too keen on me poking around in their lawn. Nevertheless, I found some pretty cute ones to take pics of. Enjoy!








Burn, burn, burn it to the wick

Before Guns n’ Roses was the hip new thing at the Little Cabin in the Timewarp Woods, Granota was all about Heart’s song “Barracuda.” I couldn’t help but sing this line to myself while working on this particular project.

Out here in the woods, we have frequent power outages. A storm kicks up and pretty soon a branch has hit a power line somewhere and we’re all in the dark. And I mean dark. And somehow, even though it usually happens in the middle of the night, the kids know instantly and start screaming. Last year, I dropped small pillar candles into tin cans to serve as nightlights. With the flame down inside the can, it’s not exposed to anything that may catch fire in the house and the can is able to withstand the heat. Of course the kids know not to touch!

Right before Sandy hit the East Coast, we had a sympathy power outage. But, all of our tin can candles had burned down into unusable lumps of wax. Not only that, they had burned so unevenly, that I couldn’t even drop a new candle in because it wouldn’t stand up straight. I had to rummage through the recycle bin to find a clean can to use for that night. The next day, after the power had been restored, I looked up how to recycle candle wax. I knew we still had lots of good wax and it seemed a shame not to do something with it. I also found instructions on how to make my own wicks.

The wicks had to be started a couple of days before I could get to the actual candle part. I have balls of kitchen cotton that I’ve used to crochet dish cloths that I thought would make pretty good wick material. From what I read, I needed to make the wicks almost twice as long as the finished candle. I measured my string up against the cans and cut off one long length of it. Then I had to soak it overnight in a salt-borax-water solution. I’m really not sure what that does, but everything I read said that this was necessary for making a good wick. Who am I to argue? I don’t know what I’m doing!

2 Tbsp borax, 1 Tbsp salt, 1 cup water, and one long cotton string.

After an overnight soak, I had to let the string dry thoroughly. I hung it up on the chimney where kids couldn’t get to it and the warmth would speed the drying process.

Day 3 I was finally ready to make candles! But first, I had to extract the wax from the cans. I stuck the cans in the fire to heat them enough to loosen the wax and pour it out into a $2 pan I bought at the thrift store just for this. I don’t have many cooking pans and I didn’t want to ruin one of my good ones! I’m glad I did it, because I’m not sure I would have been able to get all the wax out. And now, with a dedicated candle wax pan, I don’t even have to try. Efficiency and laziness all rolled up into one!

The can is not actually on fire, but it does look kinda cool.

So where was I? Oh yes, wax in a pan. Unsightly globs of half-burned candles.

I set the wax pan over a saucepan with water to make my own little double boiler. I didn’t want the wax to get too hot too fast. It didn’t take a terribly long time for the candles to melt and it was interesting to see how certain ones went faster than others. Once everything was nearly liquified, I had to fish out the old wicks and those little metal disks (wick holders? Is that a thing?). At first I tried using a fork, thinking that the hot wax could just drip back down into the pan while I scooped up the wicks n’ stuff. I didn’t count on the wicks also being thin enough to slip between the tines. Nor did I count on the fact that cleaning hardened wax from between fork tines is a pain in the butt. I traded in the fork for a spoon and that worked much better. When the wax hardened on the spoon, it was easy to scrape off back into the pan (Never ever ever ever put wax of any form down your sink!! I know, it looks like kool-aid and you might be lured into thinking it will always stay so beautifully liquified, but you would be wrong. Also, don’t drink it; you don’t want to clog up that plumbing, either. I have to say these things. Just in case).

Pretty! Not yummy!

The next step was to cut my wicks and dip them into the wax. They’re supposed to have a nice coating.

And we’re dipping…

It doesn’t take long for them to dry, but I hung them from this sophisticated drying rack just to make sure that they would stay nice and straight.

We’re state-of-the-art here.

Finally, it was time to pour wax back into cans. Oh, and for the record, these are larger than soup cans. I think they were pineapple cans in a previous life. At this point, my wax melting pan left a little to be desired: when I poured out the wax, a fair amount also dribbled  on the counter. Luckily, if you peel it up when it has cooled but is still soft, it’s an easy clean-up. Just toss it back into the pan to melt again! I didn’t fill the cans to the top because I purposely wanted there to be a good inch or so between the candle itself and the rim of the can, for safety’s sake.

At this point, my internet instructions diverged into two camps: those who advocate inserting the wicks into the still-hot wax, allowing the wax to cool and harden around them, or those who are proponents of letting the wax cool and then drilling a narrow hole through the hardened wax in which to insert the wick. I liked the sound of the latter; it seemed like less hassle. But I was impatient and didn’t want to be caught in another power outage without any viable candles. Into the hot wax we go! Well, not “we.” That would hurt.

As I predicted, this was a hassle. Of course the nice, stiff wicks instantly soften once they come into contact with the hot wax. After a little bit of trial and error, I found a way to keep the wicks up and centered without me having to stand there holding them, ’cause who wants to do that? I set them outside on the porch to cool overnight. They looked like they were going to turn out great.

Still hot

Less hot

Until the next morning.

Not what I had envisioned.

Every single one of them had a sinkhole right next to the wick. Obviously that’s not going to provide the most efficient burn. I needed to fill in those holes with more wax, but I didn’t get around to it that day. Guess what happened that night? Yeah, another power outage. With the help of a tiny flashlight, I found the least-sunken can candle and used that for the nightlight. Once I trimmed the wick down to a little over 1/4″, the candle burned really well. Success!

I’ve now filled in the rest of the candles and trimmed all the wicks so we are set the next time we lose power. If you have leftover candle chunks, I’d suggest doing this and keeping a few can candles around for emergencies. It’s not hard to do and it could be a real help, especially if all the flashlight batteries are dead because your kids keep playing with them during the day.

Yes, it used to be pink. Now the top of it’s white. Guess what? I don’t care.

A note on candles in glass containers: I had a few half-melted votive candles and a large jar candle that had burned unevenly. One site I saw recommended putting the glass containers in the freezer for a little while; the wax would then pop right out, ready for re-use. That was fine for the votives, but the jar candle had a lip that the wax couldn’t get past. I used a table knife to carve out chunks and that was working ok until I put my thumb right through the glass. Amazingly, I didn’t cut myself. The glass was very brittle from being cold and just cracked and broke like pieces of plastic. So if you do put glass in the freezer, be extra careful!

I had one decorative glass bowl with a candle in it that had also burned unevenly that I wanted to try to pour again. I set the glass bowl into a pot of water (lifted off the bottom with a metal jar lid so that the glass wasn’t in direct contact with the bottom of the pan) and heated the water until the glass was hot all the way through. I made sure that the water level was low enough not to spill into the bowl, but high enough to heat the majority of the bowl. Then it was ready for me to pour hot wax into it without fear of cracking it from thermal shock. It worked like a charm! I also ended up with a sinkhole in this candle, so I poured additional wax into it; it’s not quite as pretty now, but once I burn it for a bit, all that wax will even out again.

Hot glass, hot wax, A-OK.

Happy candlemaking!

Toasty warm

The cold weather kicked in all of a sudden up here. I noticed that the girls’ winter nightgowns were looking awfully short and snug (not in a good way). I’ve gotten several seasons of nightgowns from Simplicity 5118, even making tissue paper extensions when the girls outgrew the printed pattern.

But they’re both long past that now, so first I had to find a new pattern. I located McCall’s 6500 which was nearly identical to the previous one, just in larger sizes.

I don’t get the bunny.

The flannel selection at Joann’s was a little disappointing this year. I didn’t find anything that appealed to me, but once I laid eyes on the penguins, I knew that was the right choice. When I picked up Rana from school that afternoon, I showed her the fabric and was met with squeals of joy. Yep, right choice. Granota had a similar reaction when I got home.

Nice and long

Roomy for pulling legs up inside on a cold morning

I’ve made this so many times that I didn’t bother with the instructions. It’s a little freeing to just set to work, knowing exactly what to do. Both nightgowns were completed in two days. Breezing through a project like that got me in a productive sewing mood. I’ve got a dress for myself all cut out on my sewing table! If we can get this cabin warm enough so that I don’t feel paralyzed from the cold, I’ll finish that up this week.

I’m not kidding about the cold. Often, it’s about 52 degrees when we wake up in the morning. But at least the girls are warm at night in their flannel nightgowns (and the rest of us just pile on the blankets)!