The New New Blog

It’s here…Two Good Acres

It covers everything. Crafting, thrifting, homeschooling, gardening, housekeeping and in the first post, my bloody animals that seem to be determined to rip apart or pee on everything. Go on over and read all about it.

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This Isn’t Quite Right

I thought this was the blog I wanted and it almost is but not quite. I like to thrift, but I also like to be thrifty and there are times the two don’t quite go together. The crafting is fun but sometimes the baking or cleaning or parenting is a joy too and this blog isn’t quite the place to share that.

So, after just a couple of months, I think I need a new blog. One that incorporates what’s here but also what was in my older, long-running blog and all the homemaking stuff and the development of those skills that seems to be interesting me lately. Room for crafts and thrifted finds but also recipes, experiments with homemade cleaners, laying hens (this spring) and more.

Give me a few days. Let me see what I can come up with.

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Some Handmade Gifts

I decided make the majority of our Christmas gifts this year in an effort to save some money and make Christmas more meaningful. I’m still undecided about whether I accomplished either but at the very least I had some fun and increased my knitting skills.

This morning I wrapped everything finished so far but not before I snapped some pictures so I could shamelessly show it all off here.

Scarves for my wonderful MIL and SIL.

Thrummed mittens for my FIL (I haven’t quite got the hang of thrumming yet but there’ll be toasty warm anyway).

My favourite project and one I’ve mentioned here before. I finally finished knitting the second cuff this morning. These are for the woman who gives my daughter violin lessons and my son voice lessons. The mitten bodies are from a thrifted vest that was 70% lamb’s wool/20% angora/10% nylon and the cuffs are from a 50% wool/50% acrylic sweater from a thrift store that I frogged.

There’s still more to wrap and even a couple of things to knit so expect more pictures in the near future!

ETA: Check out more thrifty crafts at Apron Thrift Girl!

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Backwards Thrifting

Every once in a while I sit down and watch A&E’s Hoarders. As I watch the featured hoarder justify the vast amount of stuff they’ve accumulated, sometimes right down to some transparent plastic bag, I realize just how thin a line there is between me and them. A little bit more despair, a little more thought of myself and a little less thought about those around me and I could be there. Not that I have serious problem, just that sometimes the difference between a collection, passion and/or quirk and a harmful obsession is pretty darn small. I’m quite sure that many of those people who are now hoarders were once proud to think of themselves of thrifters.

With that in mind the kids and I have been sorting through our possessions over the last couple of week and clearing out the stuff that we just don’t have any use for anymore. Last week I loaded up my Hyundai Tucson with donate-ables and took them to a local church that will redistribute them to thrift shops, charities and shelters. Yesterday we did more sorting and came up with this pile.

From another angle.

I’m not sure all of this will fit in my vehicle in one trip. And that won’t be the end of it – I’m predicting at least two more piles of a similar size.

On the upside the kids have found some objects they thought were long-lost and I never realized we had so many packs of brand new batteries. We all had the realization that clutter creates loss and waste and resolved to start being a little more careful with what we own and what we bring into the house.

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Christmas is in the Mail

A while ago I posted about some little apples I painted. I’d found them at a thrift store. They were shedding their glitter like mad so I dug out my acrylic paint, fancied them up a bit and sprayed them with a sealer. I had no idea what I was going to do with them but last week I decided to send them off to my sister-in-law and her parents. My brother died last winter and during the following weeks we became quite close so I wanted to send them some gifts to show I was thinking of them. I knit my SIL a shawl (a hug from me – the variegated blue item in the link), found a cute little ornament and some stuffed toys that had belonged to my brother for my neice and used the painted ornaments both for my SIL and her parents.

Along with the cardinal and Merry Christmas ornaments from the other post I also manged to paint two poinsettia ornaments.

Here’s the ornament I found (in a thrift store!) for my niece.

Now I just have to get them mailed which has been unreasonably difficult. I suspect I’m stalling because of all the emotions wrapped up in this but if I don’t get them posted soon they won’t have them for Christmas. As it is I’m going to have to pay a bit more for a faster shipping option. Sigh.

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One Tree Up

We put up our little white tree today. Although it did duty as our only tree several years ago these days our little white tree is a secondary one where we put the shiniest, sparkliest ornaments. This year it’s extra sparkly as we put on some new (to us) vintage ornaments the kids and I picked up at a local thrift shop. We also hung some cheap beads and stuck some of our vintage Christmas tree light reflectors on the ends of the branches. It still needs more but we’re getting there.

Here’s the tree.

Here is a selection of our new favourite ornaments.

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Getting Rid of the Shampoo and Conditioner

This is definitely crafty thrift. Yesterday, in a fit of complete laziness, I used handsoap to wash my hair and diluted vinegar to condition it.

I was in my tub. To get at my shampoo and conditioner I would have had to stand up, take the two or three steps to the shower stall, grab the bottles…You see? That’s a lot of work. So instead I grabbed the bar of soap on the side of the tub and scrubbed my newly shortened hair. When I was done I sprayed it with the vinegar-water (my cleaning solution) that was also on the side of the tub and worked it in with my hands. It wasn’t completely out of the blue. I have been reading blog posts where women were raving about how vinegar was better than Pantene but I hadn’t decided to try it yet.

Thank heavens for my when-at-rest-stay-at-rest nature.

I am happy to report that both the hand soap and vinegar worked wonderfully. My hair came out clean and shiny and smooth and does not smell of vinegar. The vinegar actually worked better than my current conditioner because it didn’t weigh down my hair and so my curls are now bouncing back. True, it doesn’t quite have the same tactile satisfaction you get when working the nice smelling gel through your hair but the results make up for that and I always have the option of adding some essential oils to the solution down the road.

I’m not sure of the science behind all this. The best answers I’ve found so far is that acidic vinegar neutralizes the base that is the soap but that’s still a sketchy explanation for me. My 12 yr. old daughter also tried and loved the vinegar and is curious so I think we’ll do some research and get out some litmus paper and make a homeschool science adventure out of the whole affair.

In the meantime we’ll be using up the last of the shampoo and conditioner and moving on to greener (ahem) pastures.

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A Few Other Little Things

In the last post I shared a few Christmas decorations I picked up at a bazaar. I also picked up a few other things.

First I paid altogether for these dry measure scoops. They’re in ounces and I never measure anything in ounces. But they are shiny.

Then I paid too much for this little owl. I couldn’t help it. Although I love owlish things I try very hard not to collect them since everyone else under the sun seems too but this guy is very different. He also has the name Joe Brook printed in blue ink on his bottom. I’m no sure if that’s the maker or just a possessive former owner.

Last and something I did not overpaid for, in fact hardly paid for is this poor little linen. I don’t know why I had to have it. It needs some serious help to make it presentable. Maybe that’s why though. The stuff that’s dirty, broken or otherwise damaged seems to interest me more then the intact things.

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The Little Things

Our family was up at my parents this past weekend. The kids collected eggs from their laying hens and made Christmas cookies while The Main Man and I lugged Christmas decorations out of their basement, checked lights, dragged trees around and basically did a bunch of heavy lifting to help them get ready for Christmas. They have internet, I could have posted pictures of the decorations I grew up with or the tiny mutant egg one of the kids found but heck, it was family time so I put aside the blog.

But I did get new material for the blog while I was there. There was a little bazaar at the local Legion on Saturday so the women-folk headed to that. It was a little disapointing to be honest. It was mostly squares and table full of the same knitting goods you see at every Christmas bazaar. There was one section full of used stuff that a couple of ladies were selling but they had collected their things at auctions and were resellers so most of the stuff was either junk or a little too pricey for a country bazaar. Still, I managed to find a couple of bags of odd Christmas decorations and had the fun today of opening the bags and seeing what was inside. No great treasures but some charming little things nonetheless.

This little clay bowl was stuffed with tissue and batting and then had some random Christmasy things tucked in it. I think I’ll take it apart and find seperate uses for the lot. The dove is cute and the blue ornaments have a neat rainbow sheen you can’t see in the photos.

Needs to be starched but I like it.

Poor little bear need to have his eyes ripped off and reapplied. I’m beginning to think my calling is as a Christmas decoration repair woman.

Prefect cuteness. Nothing I need to do to this guy.

A very busy little spool.

Weird. I have a feeling this was put together by someone very far away who had only a faint idea of what Christmas was. Still, it manages to remind me of Jack from Nightmare Before Christmas and is my favourite ornament from that bundle.

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Thrifted Theology

I love tacky nativities. Love them. I only have a few yet but happily they’re real gems and I have a thrift store in a town up the road to thank for them.

The only problem is that if you spend a bit of time looking at them they can sometimes become more then good natured weirdness. A little thought and before long you are beginning to study the the theological implications of the scene. A little longer and you begin to wonder if the designer wasn’t the tasteless hack you assumed and maybe had a deeper message.

Thankfully there’s usually a poodle somewhere in the scene to bring you back to reality.

Case in point:

I started writing this post intending to showcase all my tacky nativities and was writing a bit about this one when it all started going wonky. I pointed out the goofy deformed children’s heads, the flood surrounding the shelter, the fire breaking out on the roof. I mentioned the hydrocephalic calf giving the viewer a sinister smile, like he’s got something planned that everyone else is blissfully unaware of. But then I got to Jesus, happily giving the viewer a wave from the manger.

There’s Jesus, in the midst of chaos and threat saying, “We’re okay dude. It’s all good. I’m here.” So doesn’t this nativity nicely sum up a central theme of the New Testament? Must be happy coincidence. But again, there’s the calf. Surely, it couldn’t be a clever allusion to the Golden Calf, the great symbol of idolatry? Oh gosh, and it couldn’t be that the person who crafted this nativity was making a clever statement about his work, that it should not be idolized at the cost of the message of Jesus?

Thankfully, before I got too carried away, the artist stuck a poodle in the picture. See it in the middle, starting up at Jesus with the arm of a little shepherd boy around its shoulder? I couldn’t find any explanation for why a poodle would be in the scene other then a) the artist thought it was cute or b) it was a misshapen bunny (I don’t get the bunnies either, they just seem a tad more reasonable then poodles). It really was just a tacky nativity¬†after all.

As is this one:

The Holy Birth takes place in a cave, octopus-human hybrids are cast as the wisemen and Peter Pan makes a guest appearance to the left. The poodles show up trying to imitate sheep.

I found this set the same day as the Peter Pan nativity:

To be fair I realize that this is a couple of sets grafted together. One of the wise men looks like a giant while the camel is only marginally bigger then the lamb. However, they all came in the same box AND there’s no excuse for putting a fedora on that shepherd holding the poodle. I am impressed that I get to include Jesus’ friend Biff in the moment.

Last but not least is one of my favourite nativities:

I actually have two of these, this one and one I like a little better with frosted figures but this is the one I can find at the moment. No, the musical frogs were not part of the set. They were sharing the sill though and I thought they might want to join in on the fun. Originally not a tacky nativity but I can always be counted on to fix that flaw.

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