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Wednesday, January 25, 2017

The Old Bench

Sometimes you find the coolest treasures where you're not looking.  Just as when you ARE looking for something, you won't find it.

Last week, during our impending ice storm, I realized that I was completely, and totally out of one of THE most important boredom busters if/when power is lost.  I was out of yarn.  YARN!  I don't even know how that is possible.  Not one skein, not one ball, no bits or bobs, my basket was completely empty.  I think I heard crickets in the basket when I opened the lid.

Luckily, we didn't lose power and I wasn't forced to harvest yarn from another project, shave and spin Doc's leg hair, or worse, figure out if you could knit with chicken feathers.  All I wanted to do was sit down and play with a new (to me), more hand friendly method of knitting.

A few days later the roads were finally ice free, and everyone was ready to get out and about.  I knew I was heading to the yarn shop, but not any yarn shop.  I'm tired at looking at the same old shops, and the same inventory locally.  My favorite shop, Spindle Shuttle and Needle, is just too far of a drive in the winter.  I thought there certainly had to be a small shop in the city that I had missed.  Google to the rescue.  Nope.  But as I scrolled the map out, I was surprised to see a pin in Seward.  Seward?  But I'm there all the time and I've never noticed a yard shop.  Never.  But there it was, right off the main square.  Dare I hope that it really existed?  How could I have missed it for three years?  My finger hovered over the mouse button.  Should I click on it?  Sure, why not. 


It exists!  In my defense, it is on a road in Seward that I've only been down twice in three years, and it's a road that you must pay attention to the road while traveling, not looking up and down at store signage.  Weedy Creek yarn company is a tiny shop that actually shares the front half of an historic long narrow storefront.  The front third of the store is the yarn shop, and the back 2/3rd is a quilting/fabric shop called The Udder Store.  The Udder Store is the little sister satellite shop of the Cosmic Cow fabric store down in Lincoln. 

The quilt store, while small, has some lovely fabrics, especially historic reproduction fabrics.  The yarn shop is very small, but does have enough to keep you sane for the winter, or until you can get your internet order in.  Both are a far better choice than a LONG drive into the city.  I looked around found a couple of great yarns, made my purchase and was looking forward to delving into Portuguese knitting.

As long as I was in town though, I had to stop by and see Pat at Liberty house.  I hadn't been since the start of the New Year. After a whole lot of yackity-yack, I told her that I was going to take a quick spin through the shop and see what she had in that was new before I raced home to let the birds out. (It was after all 52 degrees out!)

There in the summer kitchen I saw it. Actually I saw all the stuff ON it first, then I saw what was hidden underneath.  A wonderfully interesting, paint splotched, crooked legged table sat in the middle of the room where a 1950s kitchen table USED to be.  She looked hearty, and was sturdy, and the price was good, but I really didn't have a place or and idea for her.  That was until I got half way home.  I would, of course, have to hope she wouldn't be sold for the rest of the day, until I could call Pat at 10am to put a hold on it.

While she was too tall, and the legs were wobbly and too small, the bench would make a fabulous coffee table!  I didn't think I would ever bother with a coffee table again.  They always seem to be in the way, cut a room in half, and seemed to accumulate stuff - as any horizontal surface does.  But this table was too good to pass up.  I put a hold on it on Thursday, and picked it up on Friday afternoon. 

We plopped her on the work table in the workshop and on Saturday, in the bright light of day, I took a good look at what all needed done.  OAK.  She is SOLID OAK! Every board is a solid inch thick.  The top is not only an inch thick, but also 24 inches WIDE! Wrap your head around the size of that tree!  The legs were oak as well, but were only 2x3 inches and were far too long and small to support not only the size and weight of the table, but also the aesthetics.  They would have to go.

From Pat I learned that an old man, a very old man, had built this table for his bride as a stand for her wash tubs so that she wouldn't have to move and tote them.  She could just line them up and work from one to the next to the next and then off to the line.  There was even a small hole in one end for the drain on the mangler tub. It is long enough for three large square wash tubs in a row.    Over the years it became a project table, as the many paint drips and splotches can attest to. 

He used nails, many rounds of nails, to not only build, but to repair the joints and secure, and re-secure, the legs.  There was no way those were coming out, so the legs had to be cut off. I then reset all the nails and drilled screw holes to add counter-sunk deck screws to pull it all together as tightly as I could. I filled the holes with putty and walked away so they could dry to their full depth.

While putty dried, I took one of the old legs to the hardware store to have custom paint mixed to match the peeling paint on the table top, and braces to hold the new legs on.  And wood, I needed a 2x4 to make the new legs.  I planned to abut two pieces and keep with the cobbled look of the table instead of using a solid 4x4 post for the legs.

I attached the mountings to the table, and built the legs.  I then spray painted the legs in a blotchy manner with green, tan, brown, and black spray paints and let them dry.  They then were given a solid coat of the custom brown of the table top, and again allowed to dry.

I then roughly rubbed the legs to knock some of the new paint off, revealing the wood grain and other colors underneath.  They look ancient, like they should.  I also painted over the filled screws with the red brown paint, making them look like the peeling stripped paint surrounding them.

When it was all reassembled, I started with layer after layer of water based, satin, polycoat.  I put on a total of 6 layers.  By Tuesday evening, the coffee table was sitting in front of the sofa where it belongs.  I think the old guy would be proud :D

Tuesday, January 17, 2017


It's wintertime in Nebraska, which means anything from 75' and sunny to -20' and a full on blizzard.

This week she decided to go somewhere in between and grant us an ice storm.  We were fully prepared.  The generator was tuned up and ready to run if we lost country power. (We didn't.)  The unused bathtubs were filled with water to be used for flushing toilets if the power to the well went out. (It didn't.)  We had plenty of food that either didn't need to be cooked at all, or that could be cooked on a gas stove top.  Anything that needed baked was baked the day before the storm hit.  The cooler was placed on the front porch for food that needed to be kept cool, but not frozen, just in case.
And we all had fully charged digital every-things, and projects to do to keep us busy.

The storm hit and all went smoothly.

We managed .76 inches of precipitation, but only .40 inches of that decided to become ice.  We were at 32 or colder the whole storm, but at 32' we ended up with a lot of super cooled rain, and not freezing rain.  It sure made for an amazing sunrise.

Saturday, January 7, 2017

Two Days, Two Posts in a Row?



The sesquicentennial celebration in Nebraska has started! What is a sesquicentennial?  It's just the fancy schmancy term for 150th.  The population of the area exploded with the great westward migrations, pushed by the Homestead Act of 1862. Statehood followed in March of 1867.  It's been moving onward and upwards.

The state has an entire year of events planned. Information can be found here for those that are interested.

The one I am most interested in is the Hildegard Center Bridges project- Sharing Our Past to Enrich Our Future. The Hildegard Center prides itself in using art as a means to not only educate, but to also create dialogue and bring cultures, communities, and people together with a common interest.  As part of the 150th anniversary celebration they invited photographers to submit photos from around the state.  They were looking for images to represent not only each county, but images that would bridge the gap between the past and the present.  In addition to the image itself, a narrative describing the bridge was called to accompany the photo.  This proved quite difficult, as a picture is worth a thousand words, and we were limited to a much lower number to get our point across.

The judges started their daunting task of rating and sorting the photos, over 800 photos of historic landmarks, people, homes, barns, livestock, anything and everything that fit the topic of submission.  Going through all of the submitted photos myself on the Virtual Gallery, I am intrigued and awed by the vision and artistic eyes of my fellow Nebraskans.

Of course in the end, only one photo from each county could go on to the permanent traveling exhibit.  93 photos were printed and framed and put on display at the Great Plains Art Museum in Lincoln Nebraska beginning with the Grand Opening Reception on January 6th at 5pm.  I am quite excited!  Not only will it be an amazing exhibit, but I'm in the show!

I never dreamed my obsession with the history of wherever we live and the fact I have a camera permanently attached to my hand, would pay off.  I am thrilled to show off the digital catalogue of the show for those that are too far away to attend the actual show.  I am Butler County, which is both listed under the County Name, but is also the cover of the Catalog!

The narrative is not accompanying it online but can be found below:

"Homesteaders bravely marching westward from their familiar and relatively easy life east of the Missouri River, took a leap of faith towards a better life for themselves and their families.  While the state of Nebraska is no stranger to large Registered Historic places, it’s the smaller, more private histories that hide along the dirt back roads, along cool deep sloughs, and amongst the overgrown windbreaks that tug at my soul.
 “You can’t know where you’re going until you’ve seen where you’ve been.” Our own homestead overlooks a leg of the Ox-Bow variant of the Mormon Trail.  As local tourists to the area are drawn to the state park and speed by, I cannot help but to think back at those that came before.  I ponder the journey, not the destination.  I tune out the stereos and roaring motorcycle engines, and imagine the lowing oxen, rattling wagon wheels, and voices calling out below - only three weeks into a four month journey.  I wonder where they came from, where they are going, and what they will encounter along the way.  What became of them?
While exploring my newly adopted state, I came across this once proud, well-loved homesteader’s cabin.  Knowing the nearest historic railroad stop was half a day wagon ride, the time and effort that went into this home was evident.  Long abandoned and forgotten by the modern era, I have captured it to save it and a little piece of the family that once called it home."
The last line had to be edited out due to character number restrictions, but it read: "When the howling prairie winds fall silent, if you listen carefully you can hear the snap of the laundry on the line, the rhythmic clucking of the hens in the yard, and the happy laughter of children. I can hear them, can you?"

The photo is posted on my FineArtAmerica.com account as well, should you be interested.  Both the award winner and a cropped version, and the expanded version. Thanks for visiting them.

For those with an interest in history and/or the need for educational materials (4th graders and teachers, I'm looking at you), here is the link to the Bridges Educational materials by county. I have also emailed the Hildegard to share some more links with them to include photos of Butler County Wagon Trail ruts, a Map of the side variants to the main trails, and a digital book of first hand accounts of pioneers that was collected by the Daughters of the American Revolution. (free from the Gutenberg project-an amazing source for out of print books-by the way.) And another copy on Amazon, both free Kindle download, or pay for a print copy.

Now for the most important question, what to wear?!


If it were up to me, I would wear my ratty sweatshirt, rolled up blue jeans, and my yellow Sloggers with the chickens on them.  However, an art gallery opening isn't quite the time and place for that outfit. Nuts.

I COULD wear my little black dress with the all over beading and matching shoes, but while it is the perfect time and place for it, I am just not that kind of person.  I would be miserable all evening, and my ankles, knees, and back would punish me all weekend for the heels.

So what on earth did I come up with?

I am going to wear a homesteading dress, patterned after one from the 1860s! It is Navy calico with small light blue flowers on it.  Although aprons and pinafores were not usually worn by women outside of the home, I will be wearing mine.  It is wedgewood blue.  As it will only be 8'F tonight, I will also be wearing all the appropriate underthings, an under dress, two petticoats (one white, one red), and red stockings with my riding boots, and a shawl.  I also have a calico bonnet, but for such a formal occasion, I needed to come up with something better.

Bonnets were for daily wear and for work, but for church and special events, if you could afford it, you wore a ladies hat.  Where to find a ladies hat from the 1860s in 2016?

For a moment I thought to switch over to my Norwegian gown and cap, a completed outfit that was washed and ready to wear.  But I wasn't in the mood for that either.  I was just going to have to MAKE a hat!

Scouring the interweb, I found many tutorials on how to make a ladies hat.  Most required a form of some kind.  Being in the middle of no where strikes again.  Inspiration part 2 struck, and I headed for my local antique mall, hoping a hat I had seen there two months ago was still there!

To my pure glee, the world's ugliest hat from the 1950s was still there.  I can only imagine that this was some woman's pride and joy in the 50s when she snuck it into the house a-la a Lucy episode, but wow.  It was a Juliet style back cap, wired around the edge to keep its shape.  This was covered in just the oddest color of velvet, not quite burgundy, not quite rust. Across the front edge was a gathered band of satin fabric is Century 21 Mustard yellow, covered in rust, brown, yellow, and red florals and swirls.  If that wasn't enough there was a giant wired bow of the same fabric at the right temple. It had to go.  It all HAD TO GO!

I am kicking myself for NOT taking photos of it when I started, but I really just wanted it apart and was just so grossed out I just started the project without thinking.  I used the old fabric as a pattern for the new black duck cotton.  I cut this oversized and put it into the embroidery machine for a couple of hours and let it work its magic.  I chose a Nordic pattern that compliments the Nordic gown.  An evening of reassembly and hand sewing followed.  It came out fantastically well.
Small remade cap on the left, formal Nordic cap and coif on right.

It is simple enough to count as a ladies cap, generic enough to go with either outfit, added the Nordic Homesteader heritage to the homesteading gown, and covered my updo hair- a married lady must.


The opening was fun.  There were about a dozen of the winning 61 photographers there.  Every one was lovely and fun to talk to.  I'm not sure how many visitors came to the event, but it was at least 250. And everyone wanted to talk, talk, talk.  They enjoyed talking to all the photographers and getting to know the story behind each photo. And the photographers had a ball talking to each other as well. And we all made great connections.  A HUGE THANK YOU to the staff of Hildegard, the Judges, and The Great Plains Art Center!

The outfit was also a hit.  And it was COMFY and WARM even at 0'F outside.  I was good with the petticoats, dress, apron, and shawl!

Friday, January 6, 2017

More Fun in the New Year

Typically, from December 26th until January 2nd, the blog-o-sphere is overwhelmed with a plethora of reminiscent, contemplative, memorializing, reflective posts that usually wrap up with an amazing resolution for the New Year.  This will not be one of those posts.  Why?

Because it's January 5th.  I missed the window. I got busy, and just plain let it slide.  We are now fully into 2017, no two ways about it.  So we're just going to continue on as usual on the Dunrovin' Station Blog.

Lots of little odds and ends added up to eat away at the shortened, frigid winter days. 

The final coats of polycoat, all six of them, went onto the new barn sign. That is now in the work shop awaiting the barn raising. ( If you zoom in, you can see that the acorn is indeed an acorn, and not an inverted Bell :)  The detail is lost in the long shot photo.

I also managed a LOT of baking, A LOT.  You can't indulge in all the insane goodness of the holiday season if it doesn't come from somewhere!  The PLAN was to bake a batch of something fantastic and then put half of it in the freezer for later.  That worked really well for the breads, the cake, the cookies, and the pound cake, but was a complete failure for the seven layer bars.  You see, seven layer bars (also known as Hello Dolly Bars, Magic Cookie Bars, Magic Bars, and Hello Dolly Bars) are my kryptonite. It simply isn't Christmas without it, and I cannot stay out of them.  It's not even possible, even if they are frozen solid.

When I was a kid we had a large black tin container that was made by Guildcraft.   I think it originally had either a giant fruitcake in it or an assortment of cookies.  This thing was black and a heavy duty metal and covered is a folk art tulip print.  Every Christmas, we would make an abundance of a variety of cookies and line the tin with wax paper, fill it with sugary goodness, and nibble and sneak from it for weeks until there was nothing left but a wayward bit of nut and crumbs. 

When I got married, the tin moved with me.  Even in the tropical depths of July, I could open that empty tin and smell home, Christmas, and those seven layer bars.  The tin was destroyed by movers 6 years ago, and I miss it so.  Silly thing, I know, but it's just one of those things.  I thought I found one at an antique store this past week, but it was only about 8 inches across instead of about 14. Sigh.

I digress.

The seven layer bars were made, and over the next few days, disappeared.  Every time you passed them on the kitchen counter, you just had to cut a tiny corner off an edge.  I even hid them in the oven to put them out of sight.  The pan still was loosing bits and pieces.  I was beginning to suspect mice.  I was ready to BLAME mice.  Nope, it was me, and the boy.  Poor DH was at work most of the time, and therefor was unable to stick his hand in and fight for his fair share.  Luckily for our hips, it is still about 350 days until the next batch!

The house, closed tightly against the howling winds and arctic chill smelled wonderful with batches of NewYork Style bagels.  Malt water boiled on the range, the smell of rising dough and baking bagels filled the air from the rafters to the basement.

Batch after batch of egg laden challah dough filled my dough rising pails on the counter.  The last of the goodies to use the Station eggs, before the girls decided that it was just too cold to lay.  The rich deeply yellow, braided loaves, bejeweled in seeds glistened on the cooling racks on the porch.  I swear I heard the UPS man groan with envy when he rang the bell, standing in a heady fog of freshly baked bread.

Round Challah makes a great neighbor gift for their holiday table.  I also
sent some to Pat at Liberty House as she was hosting a Christmas
party for the tourism board.

As long as we are discussing round things.  We have yet another doughnut shop in town. ANOTHER DONUT SHOP! Understand that growing up, doughnuts were everywhere in Ohio.  There were a regular fixture of the house too. (Having a dad that was both a fireman and police officer contributed to that.) I always figured they were popular everywhere.

When we moved down south, there was one mom and pop place along the freeway that sold amazing old fashioned doughnuts and the ever present KrispyKreme.  Besides that, it was a tiny section in the grocery bakery cabinet.  I guess fried chunks of sweet dough aren't high on the minds of sweaty bikini clad bodies.  I don't wear bikinis. I was slowly weaned from doughnuts in those three years.

When we moved a little further north, I was sure that I would again find doughnuts. Nope. Apparently coffee is huge in Alabama, but not the glazed delightful disks that typically accompany them.  Grocery doughnuts just don't cut it.  Who needs them anyway, right?

Fast forward to another move. This time further north, where the wind howls and the snow flies in the winter.  A place inhabited with the descendants of Germans, Russian, Czech, and Nordic pioneer stock that WALKED to get here.  Certainly they brought with them the fried dough cravings of their ancestors and grandmother's kitchens.  Certainly I would find donut shops here! Right?! Wouldn't you think? 

Nope. I don't know if they USED to be here back in the day, and they were killed off by Adkins or the economy, or big grocery, or if they just never were.

Two.  I found two shops when we moved here 3.5 years ago.  (I am not counting grocery store bakery cases.) One was a mom and pop shop that serves amazing donuts at a normal price, if you can overlook the interior which is in need of a good scrubbing, and a staff that would rather be ANYWHERE else but standing there serving people.  The second was a high end boutique doughnut shop in a fancy, new, high rent part of town.  The doughnuts were good.  They thrived on odd combinations and uniqueness, but they just couldn't keep up the quality.  We went 3 times.  The single price of a doughnut was about $1.75.  Fine for a fun quick snack, fine for out of town guest destination, but not as a habit.  Once they became popular, the quality went downhill. Then they opened a satellite shop in town to cater to the working city, and the quality collapsed.

Then a DunkinDonuts opened.  (LOVE Dunkin) And a KrispyKreme (too sweet, too soft)  And another Dunkin. (in the parking lot of my dentist's office, how convenient!) And the latest addition to our search for fried dough, Hurts Doughnuts.  (Hurts, Don't it?)  They have the odd flavours and more of the other boutique shop, are in a better location (even if you have to manage downtown traffic and a maze of one way (and two way -sorry Doc) roads that all go the wrong way, and their prices are that of the grocery store.  Bonus, they are open 24/7/365.  But are they a good doughnut?

They are an OK doughnut.  It depends on what you like in your doughnut.  I still prefer a doughnut that can stand on its own.  Hurts as a plain doughnut are great, moist without being wet, fresh without being soggy.  But a plain doughnut isn't what they are known for.  They are known for their crazy number of dipped doughnuts.  They take a normal delicious doughnut and dip it in icing and then odd toppings, putting them (IMHO) too far over the top. Nothing seems to be off limits, marshmallows, cereal, bacon, crushed candy bars, gummy bears, etc.  To make it more off the sugar charts they make things FROM their doughnuts, like milkshakes. Ugh.

Did it stop me from getting a dozen? No.  Will we go back? Probably a couple of times, definitely when company is in town.  Is it our new go to?  Nope. 

Being far out in the country curtails the ability to lay hands on the craving solution, which is a good thing.  SO for now, we'll stick to it being a treat when we visit the dentist.  Fitting, eh?