Saturday, October 1, 2022

My Temperature Project at Three Quarters

At the beginning of January this year I posted my temperature charts that I had put together in Excel indicating the high, low, and median temperatures by day for 2021.  While they were pretty, they were just there on the page.  I've seen people use the daily temperatures to make very colorful quilts - either sewn, crocheted, or knitted.  I've also seen some elaborate needlework projects that use preprinted backgrounds - something I might look into for the future.  But I kept thinking on what I could do that would give me something 3-D to show the history of our temperatures here in Branchburg for the year.

In 2021 I had relied on a site that was nearby for my temperature readings.  I couldn't rely on our indoor/outdoor thermometer because we typically go away for the weekends in the summer and there was no way to read it when we weren't here.  I had a found a website for a weather station nearby that did have a history mode and used that one, but I felt that it really wasn't true to our home site as there were days when there was enough of a difference in their reading and our home reading that would cause the chart to show a different color.  So I did some investigating and found a weather station that we could install and hook up to the internet and it can be monitored from anywhere.  We named our location "Bluebird Hill" because HWNSNBP installed it up the hill on the rail of the pool deck near to the bluebird nesting box.  And while I do still keep an Excel sheet of the temps, I don't need to rely on a formula to give me the median temperature because I get a historical reading of high, low, and average for the day ....... well let me show you what yesterday looked like.

September 30, 2022

Temperature65.3 °F45.1 °F55.0 °F
Dew Point50.1 °F41.5 °F45.6 °F
Humidity93 %46 %73 %
Precipitation0.00 in----
Wind Speed5.8 mph0.0 mph0.5 mph
Wind Gust5.8 mph--0.5 mph
Wind Direction----NE
Pressure29.97 in29.71 in--

So the project that was forming in my head involved a spiral.  I had to find a template for a spiral that would fit on a regular sheet of paper to begin with.  Then I had to figure out the length of the line making up the spiral and as you can see the very scientific method below involved baker's twine and washi tape.

Then I had to put my math skills to work and divide the length of that twine by 365 to find out the distance of the segments.  Once I got the number, I then had to - again, very scientifically - mark the segments.......

which I did twice because it came out wrong the first time.  The corrected markings are in blue.  I made notations at the end and beginning of each month and then I also included the start date of each new season.

I had a piece of white cotton fabric in my fabric stash and was able to transfer the markings to it using my light box. 

I used disappearing gel ink pens that I had ordered from Amazon for this.  The lines will disappear when the fabric is exposed to heat (by ironing or using a hair dryer).

I ordered a set of seed beads from Amazon and from the 24 colors that were available in the box, chose 11 of them to correspond with increments of 10 starting at 0 to 100.  I also picked out 4 colors of embroidery floss - one for each season.  I found some beading needles and an embroidery hoop and started the project ....... at the end of August.

I used the back stitch to get the spiral down following the blue lines that I had made.  I actually had to restart this after I finished the month of January because I realized that I wasn't doing the stitch correctly and the fabric was puckering a lot.  So I picked those stitches out and started over - blue for winter, green for spring, pink for summer, and yellow/orange for fall.

Then, using the beads and the color key, I started adding them at the red dots which corresponded to the day of the month.  The high temp on the inside of the spiral, the low temp on the outside.  The orange threads are just to indicate the end of the month so I can make sure that I am on the right day without having to start at the beginning again.  They'll pull out easily when I'm done.

So here we are at 3/4ths done.  I've learned a few things already that I would change for next time if I do this again.  1) The fabric is too flimsy for this - I should have used a nicer linen.  This is slipping around too much in the embroidery hoop. 2) Some of the bead colors do not show enough of a variation on the fabric.  In the container en masse, they have a deeper contrast but alone some are too similar.  If this really bothers me too much I think I might try to get floss in those colors and do a lazy daisy stitch around each bead.  

And, this does not photograph very well at all.  The beads are sparkly IRL but no matter what kind of light I tried taking the pictures in I could not get that sparkle.

What will I do with this?  I'm thinking that I will need to back it first and then I think I will either make a banner that can be hung in my craft room or a pillow - of course either way, the year will be embroidered on.

Since I still have the pattern, I can try this again next year and make the necessary changes.  Perhaps I'll use larger beads, or sequins.  I'll definitely get a nicer fabric.  Oh, and I won't have to wait until August to start it!  

Friday, September 30, 2022

On the Way...... and Cape May

September 22nd was National Ice Cream Cone day and I celebrated with a pumpkin and graham cracker twist on our way to the condo.  We left on a Thursday this time so we could get an early start to Cape May on Friday morning.  

The sky lit up on Thursday night.  I call this one "Candy Corn Sky".

It was a very brisk morning when we left - jacket weather.  A Goldilocks day - not too hot, not too cold.......just right.  We hit our usual stops once in the town and found ourselves behind this truck.  When is the last time you saw a Studebaker?  The shiny tool box was quite a contrast to the rest of the truck.  I should note that it had a Colorado license plate so it was pretty far from home.

At the West End Garage Antique Mall they had an updated version of the paper dress that I posted last year.  The skirt of this one was brown paper with a smattering of butterflies along the lower hem.  

Those butterflies look like they might be some of the ones that were recycled from the earlier dress.

As you can see here, the brown paper is stamped with the store logo, so I am guessing that since NJ has enacted the "no paper or plastic bag" law, they might have used their leftovers for this display.  In any case, I love to see creations like this.  Here is the link to the dress from last year.

It wasn't too cold to have lunch at the Cold Bar at the Lobster Dock.   And there weren't many people there at the time we got there so we got a good table.  I'll interject here that we went on Friday, the day before our anniversary because I thought that there would be a big crowd on the weekend since school is in session and vacations are over, but let me say that everywhere we went we were surrounded by senior citizens...... which meant that we blended right in.

Got behind another truck with a curious payload.  Beach umbrellas being rounded up for the season.

We got back to Barnegat early enough to take a ride out to see how much of Old Barney had been uncovered. When we got to the condo the day before we could see from across the bay  that the wrapping was off but we couldn't tell if the scaffolding was down.  As you can tell from the picture, it was about halfway down at that point.

I had been caught up in a different project for most of the week before and wound up grabbing supplies for making my anniversary card for HWNSNBP the morning that we left and you can probably tell by the looks of this card.  Of course I didn't have everything I needed in that last minute grab.  The stamps were new and the ink beaded up on them and I didn't have something suitable to season them with.  I didn't want to use a paper towel and leave lint on them, so I tried to blend the ink with an aquabrush.  The gray ink I brought was too dark and had to be stamped off twice before it got light enough to my satisfaction.  And I do have the dies that go with the swans, but I should have die cut them first and then stamped as there are 3 stamps to each one - the body, the black face, and the orange of the beak.  I got the beaks on no problem, but the die has them facing downward so I had to fussy cut them.  

I'll share that other project soon and also update on the caterpillars.

Monday, September 26, 2022

Anniversaries and Backyard Business

Two early September anniversaries warranted a quick trip to the stamp cave a couple of weeks ago, but since the anniversaries had yet to happened I've held back on posting these.  One of the couples was leaving on a two-week trip to Hawaii and I wanted them to have it before they left.  The other couple has moved out of state and I wanted to make sure that they got it in time.  So for once, it wasn't exactly last minute for me to put these together.  

I got my inspiration from a card I had seen on a Facebook group and put my own spin on it.  I was so glad that I rememberd that I had the butterfly embosslits which gave me a collection of different sized butterflies to add to the card front.  They're in wedding white.  

HWNSNBP called me to the backdoor the other day and told me to bring my camera.  He came across this bright green caterpillar on the walkway on its way somewhere.  I grabbed a container to corral it so I could look it up and found out that it is a Luna Moth caterpillar.  I thought that I would offer it to anyone in our community that had a butterfly tent that might want to raise it, but before I got any responses it started to spin it's cocoon in the container.  I didn't get any takers on my offer so now I have this cocoon in a potato salad container in the kitchen.  The question now is whether this cocoon will go through its metamorphosis or enter diapause?  Yeah, I had to look that up.  Not to be confused with hibernation which is what animals do in winter, insects enter a state of diapause which is a delay in the development of the next stage under environmental challenges (weather).  

I dampen a paper towel in the evening and hang it over the side of the container and just place the lid over that without closing the container up.  The towel is dampened to help keep moisture in there so the cocoon doesn't dry up.  In 2-3 weeks we should have a luna moth.  If it takes longer than that it's either dead or in diapause.  And when it does emerge, it will only live for 4-7 days.  Luna moths do not have mouthparts and do not eat - their sole purpose to reproduce.

My swallowtail caterpillars have devoured the parsley and there are about 6 chrysalis' that I have been able to find in our make-shift butterfly nursery.  We'll have to see if they will hatch also.  

So for my word loving friends out there here something more for you that I found in my investigating.  Torpor involves physiological changes related especially to body temp, metabolism, and water balance. Hibernation takes place during the winter and is a long-term multiday torpor. Estivation (or Aestivation) takes place during the summer and is a prolonged torpor during a hot or dry period.  And Stasis is a period of inactivity.   Not that any of that was necessary to know, but we're never too old to learn something, right?

Thursday, September 1, 2022


PHILOCALIST  (n.) - a lover of beauty; someone who finds and appreciates beauty in all things.

August was full of "things of beauty".  How quickly it has passed.  We've been in a drought here so the trees have been showing stress for some time now.  Someone even remarked that it was the first time that they could remember having to rake leaves in July.  Still there is much beauty to enjoy.

This is a picture of the back of our house at dusk.  You can see the volunteer cleome in abundance (what my son refers to as weeds everywhere), and my gypsy rod visible through the golden glow of the kitchen window.  

A view of our backdoor in the daylight.  The tree is actually the three lemon trees that I grew from seed and braided the trunks together.  At one point, back in 2017, they were not doing well and losing leaves like crazy at only about 10" tall.  I put them outside that summer and they rebounded with leaves so I decided to pot them together and to braid the trunks like I've seen done with ficus trees before.  And that pot to the left of the tree is actually a plant called Angelonia and not a shrub as it appears.  It's proving to be a winner with both color, longevity, and especially its resistance to deer and we plan to have more of it next summer.

As I look out the window from my "perch" aka the dining room table I can see our "bird tree" that has pot hangers on the trunk along with hanging plants from the branches.  There is more volunteer cleome there in a bunch.  And I noticed yesterday that the snapdragon plant that we had in a hanging basket that dried up very quickly managed to drop seeds so there are snapdragon seedlings growing on the steps.  I don't think they'll get big enough to bloom this summer, but maybe some of the seed will winter over and surprise us next spring.

Through the kitchen window I can see the bird feeders and the kettle of zinnias.  This is an attraction for hummingbirds, bees, and butterflies.  Not to mention the goldfinches who eat the seeds from the dying flowers before I can try to save them.  We've had both Eastern Black and Yellow Swallowtail butterflies visiting these flowers and more in the yard.

I'm just wondering which of the swallowtails laid their eggs on my parsley plant again this year.  Right now there are about 12-15 tiny caterpillars devouring this plant as we speak.  I know that there is not enough there to sustain all those cats so I put a note out on our local nature Facebook page and I have two ladies coming to adopt some of these critters. 

Our vegies have not faired well this year.  My lettuce and spinach from earlier in the summer never really produced much though it was started in the cool of the spring as it should be.  The deer did get into the area in the back where the raised bed planter is and ate my green bean plants, trimmed the tomatoes off all the foliage that stuck out of the fencing surrounding them, and devastated what was left of the dahlias that hadn't suffered from the heat.  We did get some cherry tomatoes and a couple of cucumbers but it has been a disappointment for sure.  HWNSNBP is going to take my advice and use some pool noodles, dowels, and bird netting to cover the bed so we can plant some fall crops and not have to worry about the deer eating or the chipmunks digging.

We've been stopping at the "corn stop" either on our way to or from the condo on the weekends.  It's always very busy there with people buying their produce.  HWNSNBP grabs a large handled peach basket and I fill it up with corn, squash, eggplant, beans, melons, and peaches.  They have this little patch of flowers lining the driveway adjacent to the stand that looks like a little swath of a rainbow.

I managed to capture one picture of the full moon this month from our front steps at the condo.

And I have a plethora of sunset pictures that I'll save for another time.  

One of the words that came up as the "Word of the Day" this month was PERSE, not to be confused with purse or per se.  I new perse was a word but I don't think I ever knew the meaning - (adj.) of a very deep shade of blue or purple.  Which brings me to the colors of the month as chosen by Marker Universe.  They throw out 2 or three colors each month and offer reduced pricing on markers in those colors.  I saw this months colors and decided to treat myself to some of them.

And I played with them a little in a sketchbook.

I also noticed that my pool noodles are very similar in color.

What you don't see is that something was eating one of the green ones when it fell under the deck.

Because of the lack of rain and the extremes in heat that we've had the last two months one of the plusses has been using our pool.  It was as high as 92º at one point and was at 82º two days ago.  Not sure what it will be tomorrow, but if I do go in, it will be the first time in many years that I've gotten in it in September.  It will be closed up sometime next week as the leaves are now falling and the dang squirrels hang out in the dogwood tree and pick off the unripe berries and don't eat them, but drop them - mostly in the pool.  

Someone said that August in the Sunday of Summer - well, I guess it's Monday now and though I don't have to go "back to school" or work, I feel the change too.  Pool closing, the last concert at the dock this weekend, cooler evenings, sun setting earlier - but there's always time to enjoy and appreciate the beauty in all things Fall too.

Wednesday, August 31, 2022

Octopi or Octopusses

As is most often the case recently, I was looking for something particular and came across something else that caused me to take that fork in the road to somewhere I wasn't intending on going.  I was trying to find a project, or rather the ingredients for a project that I had stowed away when the family came for our family picnic last month.  It should be noted that it doesn't take much to veer off that path when going through my art supplies.  In this case, I happened upon my bag of notebooks and journals - those in various stages of completion, including a few specialty ones that had not yet been started.  It was one of these journals that took me down that "rabbit hole".  In it I found a watercolor I had done back in 2017 for the Scribble Picnic prompt "Octopus".

I thought that this would be nice framed and hung in my "bathroom gallery" at the condo, but, I decided that this octopus needed it's mate and funny how it's mate's given first name also has 8 letters.

I knew the original was done with watercolors but I don't remember which set I used and thought that it might be easier to match the colors with my watercolor pencils than to try to duplicate mixing up that purple.  I actually think I like the second one better as I think that it shows a lot more dimension whereas the original looks a little flat.  

Having both now, it was time to frame them.  The only trouble with that is that this finished size is not a normal frame size.  We took a ride to the ChristmasTree Shop to look for a frame/frames to match those that I've used before.  I decided to put them both in a larger frame but I need to matte them so that means a trip to Michael's or Hobby Lobby for a suitable sheet of paper to use for matting.

Of course, while there at the CTS I took some time to browse around when I noticed this:

This gentleman decided to create his own "husband waiting area".  He looks familiar.

It was on a quick trip to the Dollar Tree that I came across poster board in a blue that I thought would match the background of the octopusses.  It took a little measuring and cutting but I do like the way it came out.  That's my shadow darkening the bottom.  And we're just going to have to live with the rippling - that's what happens when you add water to paper that's not deemed for watercolors.

Tuesday, August 16, 2022

Folded Booklet Challenge

I was invited to join a Facebook art group for ICAD back at the beginning of June which I was able to share my cards to.  The group has decided to remain intact going forward but not just for index cards, though some are carrying through to 100 cards with a prompt list they created.

So what has this got to do with this post?  Well, someone posted a little folded booklet that they created using a sheet of paper that they had worked on, which was then folded, cut, and turned into a little booklet.  I thought that it was a neat idea and some of the members decided to take it as a challenge to make one of our own to share.

I took a sheet of watercolor paper and that was the first thing that I added to it - watercolors.  I used a variety of blues and greens.  Not too visible here.  Then I doodled on it with paint pens and gel markers randomly.

The paper was folded in half and into quarters both ways.  Then I cut slits 3/4 of the way alternating direction.

When folded it compresses to being this size.

While I still had it folded I turned the pages and lightly made a register mark so I would know where the bottom of each segment was because I was going to add writing to it and wanted to make sure that I wasn't going to write upside-down.  This was a good plan, if only I had remembered to check the last 4 segments.  I was able to save it by cutting that strip of segments completely off and gluing it down in the right direction.  I added some creativity quotes that I had been collecting in a journal to each page.

When I was done writing out the quotes (and fixing my directional mistake) I used a strip of scrapbook paper to make a "cover" for the booklet by gluing it to the top and bottom.  I thought I was going to get away without having to glue all the pages together and just the ones that were on the side folds, but as you can see below, this wouldn't work to keep the book together in order to read the pages easily.  Luckily there was enough room for me to sneak some liquid glue in between the backs of the pages to solidify it.  

I added a butterfly sticker to the front and glued a length of rick rack around it completely so it could be kept closed.

This came out better than I expected.